Recently, I received a message from a reader regarding the crush grip. His question was more a complaint, but if you look past the complaint what I see is a knowledge gap.
Drinking From the Spring
Often times we find ourselves drinking from the same spring. We stay close to the spring because it is a known source of something we deem essential. I don’t see much wrong with this type of thinking other than it can limit your true potential growth. But that’s the point, if you are open to growth and the desire to improve then my reply will only be an “ah-ha” moment you use as a stepping stone. If however, you have no desire to grow or even challenge your convictions then this may come across as a negative commentary. I cannot tell you the right answer, you will have to discover it out for yourself.
Label the Fear
The first thing we do with a new shooter is try to identify their greatest fear. Whatever the fear it will be the biggest barrier to entering the world of shooting. The overwhelming majority have a great fear of loosing control of the firearm as they are shooting and possibly hurting someone else or themselves. This is not an irrational fear to the new shooter. Our curriculum is designed to address this head on by talking and explaining how the forces produced during firing can be managed and controlled through proper technique, namely the crush grip.
Talking Through the Problem
We start off with a simple drill that describes how the hand works. How it articulates and produces force. Afterwards we have the shooter hold the firearm and apply what we dubbed the “crush grip”. The details of which can be read on other blogs such as this one. With the firearm loaded and a crush grip applied we observe the shooters demeanor to make sure they are okay. Then we will grip their hands with one of ours. This allows us to “feel” their crush grip. If it is tight we will mimic the tension. If it is loose, we will mimic the loose fit. This gives the shooter a tactile association with what they are actually doing. The dialogue during this process is always enlightening. It usually starts by asking them if they feel my grip on their hand. Do they recognize it as strong or soft. This dialogue naturally triggers them to squeeze towards harder to achieve the crush grip and the light bulb moment.
Consistent Application of Pressure is Key
From there, we can start adding to their plate. Without the crush grip achieved, the confidence to hold the firearm will be illusive and prevent them from achieving their true potential. At some point we get into the details of how it works. When we teach the crush grip it starts by applying pressure with the bottom two digits, your pinky and ring finger. You must squeeze hard and hold for the duration you intend to shoot. The reason for this is actually quite simple. When the firearm discharges it is displacing force into your hand, where it first makes contact is literally under the trigger guard where your middle finger is located. That is the fulcrum point and as we all know, the further away from the fulcrum the more leverage. It is leverage that allows the new shooter to gain the confidence they need to firmly hold and fire the gun. When this crush grip is not obtained or consistent pressure not applied you will see the negative result, both in confidence and in performance.
It’s Not That Simple
The confidence was something I touched on earlier in the blog, but the performance is often misunderstood. People think that to shoot fast they only have to pull the trigger fast. They are correct. However, it is a trick question because if I changed the question to shoot accurately fast, then you have to start talking about the sights. The crush grip allows the firearm to remain in what we call the sight box. Albeit it is an imaginary box at arms length. If you can maintain the sights in the sight box, your speed of sight acquisition is greatly increased thereby increasing the ability to shoot fast as long as you understand trigger control.
Quality of Movement in Isolation
At some point there will a conversation about how the trigger finger must move independently from the rest of the hand. That is virtually impossible and we prove it in our class with a silly coordination trick. Your hand is a complex mechanism and it is tied together through nerves and tendons along with muscles. It is very hard to get it to do things in isolation. With a powerful crush grip you will have to put effort into moving your trigger finger smoothly following all the current wisdom. The trick is to concentrate on your pinky finger, keep it tight. The rest of the hand will stay tight allowing you to concentrate on moving your trigger finger smoothly. It is not easy in the beginning and we acknowledge that with our students, but it is achievable.
Reading this blog is valuable as it provides you with a different point of view. Getting out there and experimenting with the techniques described is a good start to truly understanding. Getting into a training class with someone who truly appreciates the crush grip and can share all the finer details is the best.