My hands shake!

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My hands shake!

Post by Bullseye10X on 7/17/2013, 9:57 pm

Hello all,

I am new at Bullseye shooting, I just started shooting monthly at my local gun club.  Though mostly the same as the official NRA Bullseye comp, we generally only use one gun throughout the comp.  I am just a beginner and I am using a Ruger 22/45 Lite with a TRS-25 red dot.  Eventually I plan on expanding and going further in the sport.

I am an experience pistol shooter and consider myself to be a "decent shot", but I have noticed a problem.  When I "practice" at home, I aim my pistol at a refrigerator magnet and practice hold, sight picture, breathing, stance, etc.  I am steady as a rock.

When I go to the range and practice, my hands shakes so much that my red dot looks like a red line over the target.  This has happened to me twice now.  Besides being at the range, there is no difference in what I do at home.  

Any suggestions?  Thanks!

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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Rob Kovach on 7/17/2013, 11:15 pm

I have that exact same problem.  In practice I shoot easy expert scores with the .22 and .45.  When I go to certain matches my hold goes to crap.  Sometimes the hold makes the dot look like a line, like a fast tremor that goes from 5 ring to 5 ring.  Other times it's just wavering across the black.  Yet other times I have a great hold, just like in practice.

I learned at Camp Perry last year that this problem came and went in relationship to how worried I was about a good score.  It is all in my head.  I have been working on different relaxation techniques to mitigate the problem.  The method I am using now is to inhale deeply through the nose then exhale very slowly through the mouth with lips pursed to leave an opening the size of a straw.

The other thing I have learned was to center the lazer line (cuz when it's shaking that bad it doesn't look like a dot anymore) on the target as best I can, and I focus on a good trigger pull.  If the shot lands anywhere in that line, I take comfort that I made the best shot I could at that time.

Usually by the 3rd slow fire target like that, the jitters are mostly gone and I have some measure of control over it by then.

This game really is more mental than physical for me.  If I come up with any other solutions I will let you know.  It's not something you can fix in a day, but it will get better!
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Jack H on 7/18/2013, 3:30 am

For a drill, make the exercise one of holding the gun still.  Go to the old place a nickel on the gun muzzle and do not let it fall off in dryfire.  For a few dryfires look at the gun a bit from the side. 

Note that steadiness does not come from a monster grip.  It comes from muscle control.
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by DeweyHales on 7/18/2013, 8:13 am

Rob Kovach wrote:I have that exact same problem.  In practice I shoot easy expert scores with the .22 and .45.  When I go to certain matches my hold goes to crap.  Sometimes the hold makes the dot look like a line, like a fast tremor that goes from 5 ring to 5 ring.  Other times it's just wavering across the black.  Yet other times I have a great hold, just like in practice.

I learned at Camp Perry last year that this problem came and went in relationship to how worried I was about a good score.  It is all in my head.  I have been working on different relaxation techniques to mitigate the problem.  The method I am using now is to inhale deeply through the nose then exhale very slowly through the mouth with lips pursed to leave an opening the size of a straw.

The other thing I have learned was to center the lazer line (cuz when it's shaking that bad it doesn't look like a dot anymore) on the target as best I can, and I focus on a good trigger pull.  If the shot lands anywhere in that line, I take comfort that I made the best shot I could at that time.

Usually by the 3rd slow fire target like that, the jitters are mostly gone and I have some measure of control over it by then.

This game really is more mental than physical for me.  If I come up with any other solutions I will let you know.  It's not something you can fix in a day, but it will get better!

 This is good advice.  Remember, no one cares about your score but you.  Focus on executing one or two key fundamentals.  The more you concentrate on the right things, the less you can be preoccupied with the wrong things.
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by DavidR on 7/18/2013, 10:45 am

Lay off the caffeine or other stimulants before a match, a coke before a match will make me shake.
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Bullseye10X on 7/18/2013, 11:39 pm

Thanks so much for the advice fellas.  I do consume caffeine, but I do that even when at home and it doesn't seem to effect me.  I will try the breathing technique that Rob suggested and the coin on the sight practice that Jack mentioned.  I guess I forgot to mention that when I am shaking at the range, I was there by myself practicing both times.  No one else was on the line.  It's just a weird thing.  My next match is this Saturday, so we'll see!

I CAN shoot!  Smile  Off the bench, I can consistently shoot 5-shot groups less than 1-1/2".  One of my groups was a mere 15/16".  This is with a 22/45 Lite and a Bushnell 3 MOA red dot at 25 yards.  Only upgrade to the gun so far is a Sam Lam bushing in place of the mag disconnect safety.  Right after I shot like this, I tried to shoot off-handed and shook like a leaf.  I'll narrow it down eventually.

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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Jack H on 7/19/2013, 12:08 am

Is is challenging to employ the best and correct muscles to maximize the quality of your hold without forcing something into alignment or even simply holding the gun up and steady without stress.

One thing you need to discover is the muscles that can firm your wrist that are in your forearm near your elbow.  IMO
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by sixftunda on 7/19/2013, 6:14 am

My own experience with caffeine was that I did not realize how much it affected my shooting until I stopped ingesting it.
In February of this year I got a vicious bug that lasted for three days. When the three days were over I realized I had not had any caffeine, so I decided to quit it. No more soda (except Sprite), Starbucks, RedBull.  I now will have a cup of coffee in the morning but if I am shooting early then I will wake up earlier to have my coffee. 
In the last five months I have broken 2500 and then shot my first Master score and I attribute a good part of that to stopping caffeine. 

To help your hand and wrist strength I strongly recommend going to Gunny's website and buying a Powerball. They are cheap and you can use them anywhere.  I don't use mine as much as I could but for the price it is good exercise that specifically targets muscles you use to shoot. Just do not drop it! 

With dry fire practice, one thing I have changed is that I now aim at bigger targets. Originally I thought aiming at something very small, like a screw head or bug would help me hold still at a match.  However, I was finding that at a match my dot was moving around more than it did at home. I think the difference is that the black on a target is so much bigger than what I was aiming at during dry fire practice.  I will have to report back on this since I just started that this week.
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Rob Kovach on 7/19/2013, 8:23 am

I think my shake is related to some mental anxiety about the quality of the shots I'm trying to make.  When I'm really trying for a high score--shake.  WHen I'm ok with whatever I get--no shake.

When you get to the range with live ammo in your gun, you shake.  Perhaps because you are about to see the best result of the dry fire practice you have been working on at home.  It doesn't need to be a match to cause "match anxiety".  These are functions of the mind and its something guys like us.  Keep after it!
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by DRNurse1 on 7/20/2013, 10:34 am

Good information in this thread.

I drink a LOT of coffee. But I lay off 48 hours before a match and a week before Perry (Tylenol or Ibuprofen for the headache that accompanies this). I shoot open sights (still) and use standard grips not custom so there are a lot of things to think about when preparing a shot. It seems the 'trick' in competition is to clear your mind of all these distractions.

The shot process (to each their own) needs to precede concentration on front site, then nothing else should intrude until the follow through is complete. MUCH easier to say this than to do this. 

For dry fire, I spend a few minutes just in the prep: Stance, grip, breath, relax, raise arm/gun as a unit, sight alignment,....start over. Then I add sight picture, breath, sight picture, relax, breath and hold, TRIGGER  SQUEEZE - TRIGGER SQUEEZE - TRIGGER SQUEEZE.... 

It seems to be more about perfect practice, developing the right muscle memory and not being tense rather than trying to think about all the things you can do wrong. The flip side is you need to remember what you did (call your shot) in order to correct your process on the line.

Just my $0.02 as other folks here have the inside track on this skill set.

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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Chris_D on 7/20/2013, 2:09 pm

Hands that shake, grrrr, it is tough to overcome and tough to figure out the cause.  At Perry this year I had the shakes real bad and I also had them bad last year at Perry.  I had myself convinced that I was suffering from performance anxiety, however I don't believe that is the actual cause for me.

Since the problem was so bad in 2012, I really paid a lot of attention to my "hold" during the last year.  I have noticed that one day to the next can make all the difference in the world.  I have had the shakes bad, many times at practice and there is no performance anxiety during practice for me. I shoot at different times of the day, different days, before meals, after meals, etc. and I have found no common thread with which to blame.  I don't consume caffeine so I know that isn't a cause for me.  

There are many things that can cause the shakes: Caffeine, anxiety, adrenaline, nervous disorders, over stimulation, being cold, squeezing too hard on the grips, dehydration, blood sugar levels, fatigue, too much alcohol the day before, body temp being too high, etc.  Some people may suffer from many of the previously stated causes and I am certain there are many more possible causes.

I have competed and won state level tournaments and did not have the shakes, again, an indicator that competition is not the primary cause.  During the sectionals I didn't have the shakes.  

So, I continue my quest to find a cause but frankly don't believe I will. As result I just deal with it.  I can't stop the shakes and I can't reschedule a tournament, match, or league night.  I am getting better at accepting the shakes as a fact that I can't control so I put more effort into working on the things I can control - concentration and trigger control. 


Chris D (who sometimes has the shakes so bad I don't see a red dot, but rather a blurry red line)

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Re: My hands shake!

Post by davekp on 7/21/2013, 7:20 am

Is it the shakes, or hand tremor (a medical issue)? I've always had a slight tremor, but suddenly in April it got severe. Medication prescribed by a neurologist doesn't seem to help me. Do you shake when you use your off hand? May be something more than anxiety. Get checked out.

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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Jack H on 7/21/2013, 7:31 am

I suggest you go back to an arm rest shooting with the wrists forward are not supported.  Eliminate factors.  Then rebuild with a good study.
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Bullseye10X on 7/21/2013, 11:04 am

Well fellas, I shot a match yesterday, and performed dismally!  Worse than I did last month.  I was pretty disappointed.  However, for some reason, I shot MUCH better at the timed and rapid fire than I did at slow fire.  I THINK I am trying "too hard" and begin to shake when I concentrate hard on aiming accurately.  I am heading out to the range this afternoon to get in some much needed practice.

I have tried some of the suggestions you guys mentioned and they seemed to help.  I know my gun shoots, it's me that's the problem!  Laughing 

You guys have been great!  I never imagined I would get as many informed responses.  Thanks for helping out a noob like me!

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Re: My hands shake!

Post by DavidR on 7/22/2013, 9:50 am

The more time you have to make the shot the more time for your mind to screw it up, i sometimes can clean rapid fire targets regularly because i dont think i just shoot but many times the mind still has time to slip in and grab a few shots and send them in the 7,8 or 9 ring or worse!
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Bullseye10X on 7/23/2013, 10:30 pm

DavidR,

If I could make the 7, 8, and 9 ring consistently, I would be doing pretty good!Shocked 

Do you guys think the position in which I have my red-dot mounted would make a difference?  As far as better balance or being able to keep the gun more steady?  Right now the red-dot is mounted just in front of the rear "iron" sight.

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Re: My hands shake!

Post by SMBeyer on 7/23/2013, 11:01 pm

Steve
Position of the dot could help some because it changes balance point.  There are many things that affect your hold not to mention some people just have a better hold than others.  Over griping can cause shaking.  Your classification says unclassified so are you new to one handed shooting?  If so some arm, wrist, shoulder, grip exercises can help.

Scott
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by SMBeyer on 7/23/2013, 11:09 pm

Just went back and reread yor posts.  You are 39 and shooting a very light gun.  Sometimes more weight can actually help.  Personally I like a heavy gun and would have more issues with a light gun like yours.

Scott
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Bullseye10X on 7/23/2013, 11:28 pm

I never even thought about that, thanks Scott!  I did shoot better with a borrowed Buckmark during a match, and those things are like a brick.

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Re: My hands shake!

Post by DavidR on 7/24/2013, 9:39 am

The lighter the gun the more concentration it takes to keep it on target. Im adding weight to the nose of my AW93to try and controll some of my flyer shots.
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Bullseye10X on 7/24/2013, 9:10 pm

Scott,

Yes, I am new to one handed shooting.  As a matter of fact, up until two months ago, I never did it, at least not from 25 yards.  The gun is VERY light.  A full 10 ounces less than a comparable 22/45 with an all-steel upper.  The site only adds 3 ounces or so.  

I plan on trying what all of you suggested.  If I still need a heavier gun, I may try the Tac Sol compensator for the muzzle too add a little weight and to balance the gun a bit better.  Right now, nearly all of the gun's weight is at the rear; grip, magazine, red-dot, etc.

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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Wingshot on 7/24/2013, 9:29 pm

As a new to BE shooting student, I've learned that the advice regarding caffeine intake is very important as well as not shooting on an empty stomach. I have been using a 3# weight to to build some additional strength in the muscle groups that get stressed during shooting. I hold the weight outstretched just as my pistol would be for 10 second intervals in sets of 10. My scores are improving due in part to this training and more emphasis on my breathing as well. This may offer a solution to your steadiness problem and perhaps others could share what type of weight training they practice?
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by CrankyThunder on 7/26/2013, 7:09 pm

Dear bullseye:

Here is a trick that was taught to me a while ago....

First off, consider that even the top bullseye shooters dots wobble a bit... the good ones wobble within the 9 ring, some of us can keep the wobble in the 8 ring, most of us wobble in the black, and newbies have a tuff time keeping it in the black.  Consider yourself a above average shooter and your wobble is within the 8 ring (on a slow fire target).  Now, if you can keep the wobble within the 8 ring all the time, if you to the correct trigger pull 100% of the time, all your shots will be within the 8 ring!  Furthermore, a lot of those shots will be in the 9 ring and a couple will be in the 10 ring.  with that being said you will probably have a score of 87 for slow fire.  three consecutive 87 slow fire targets is pretty good for an expert rated shooter!

Now, as you line up your shot on the bullseye line, you will see your dot wobbling on the target..go ahead, let it wobble, do your correct trigger pull.......if you believe what I just told you above you know your going to shoot a 8 or better on this shot so let it wobble and concentrate on your trigger pull.

there is a name for this exercise.........its what you repeat over and over in your head.....its called   "Watch the dot, wait for Bang!"

I have this saying on my timer that I watch between shots in slow fire.  When I am having problems on the slow fire line, I repeat Watch the dot, wait for Bang in my head and it helps settle me down quite often. 

Now for the matches where the boss cursed you out at quitting time, then the wifey nagged you about the lawn not being mowed, and that idiot cut you off on the way to the bullseye match, well I haven't found a way to settle down for that one!

Regards,
cranky
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Re: My hands shake!

Post by Bullseye10X on 7/27/2013, 2:40 am

Thanks Cranky.  I have a lot of work to do, since my wobble (at times) far exceeds the boundaries of the black rings.  I have been working on it lately and things are SLOWLY improving.

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Re: My hands shake!

Post by CrankyThunder on 7/27/2013, 8:21 am

Hey bullseye, you know that you need to get your shot off between 3 and 7 secs after acquiring the target?  after seven secs you might as well put the gun down cause the shakes are not going to get any better.  Sometimes your best shot is the one you abandoned!

Regards,
Cranky
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