Old Shooter Shake

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Old Shooter Shake

Post by oldsalt444 on 12/14/2017, 11:23 am

When it comes to older shooters, much is discussed about eyesight. But I don't hear much about what causes the gun shaking more than it used to. Oh sure, we know about coffee, sugar, not eating before a match, certain meds, etc.  I'm not talking about Parkinson's or essential tremor either.  This shaking is just more noticeable and it tends to cause "chicken finger" and plays hell on your scores. Yes, I dry fire and shoot air pistol in the garage, but probably not enough. I can't tolerate beta blockers like propranolol, but I've tried primadone which seems to help. Of course, a pill is not the answer to good shooting, but I'd like to know where this shaking is coming from and how to stop it. Of course, practice, practice, practice is a good thing, but can anyone (perhaps with medical experience) with a shed some light and help us old farts out?
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by Aprilian on 12/14/2017, 11:44 am

Those are called Postural Tremors - here is some bedtime reading google search
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by Magload on 12/14/2017, 2:15 pm

At 71 I am feeling those shakes.  I just don't have the strength in my right arm anymore.  I need to work out with some weights but there just isn't time to do it being retired.  To many hobbies and not enough time to do them.   I can lock the arm and whist plus grip all up tight and shoot some fine shots.  I might shoot a 5 shot X ring group and miss the target on the next shot.  It is keeping my scores in the low 80s.  I can feel the arm go slack on the bad shots.  I had another post about this called Changing my name to Rag Arm.  BTW I am on 3 blood pressure meds and went through a rough month with them trying to find out which and how much to take.  Don
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by tceva on 12/14/2017, 6:20 pm

Don,
I am not an expert on the subject, but am told that the most important type of exercise after 50 is some type of weight training.  The key is finding something that is easy to add to a daily regimen.  You will see the benefits after a very short time.  The key is you have to do it.  The old saying "use it or loose it" is  very true.  We are all heading down the tube as we age, so it is important to eat right and stay active. No need to become a gym rat or body builder. Just find something you can integrate into everyday life and stick with it.
Tight groups,
Alex
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by BE Mike on 12/15/2017, 8:57 am

I had a car accident many years ago that tore a lot of tendons and muscles in my right side. As I age, I find that I get pain in my upper back and have tremors in my right arm while shooting. My last year at Perry, I couldn't continue to shoot the match as the pain and weakness in my right side made it impossible. I still shoot recreationally and when I shoot a light pistol, like my air pistol, I sometimes can overcome the shakes. It seems like when I dry fire I don't notice the shakes as much, so I was thinking that there was a psychological component to my problems, as well as, physical. I try to stay physically active and do some mild weight training once or twice a week. Don't get me started about my once superior and now poor vision. I know that this is a loosing battle, but I want to fight it for as long as possible. Too bad we don't have a geriatric sports medicine specialty in the world of medicine!Laughing
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by Mike38 on 12/15/2017, 10:46 am

At 58 yo, I’m starting to notice some unexplained shakes. I have noticed that the shaking seems less in the PM. The later, the better. I try to dry fire 20-30 times as soon as I get home from work. Then another 20-30 right before bed. That late, I see no shaking, and my wobble zone is way smaller. Wish matches were held at 10:00pm, I might be damn good at this game! As it is, I try to shoot PM matches if at all possible.
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by Rob Kovach on 12/15/2017, 12:08 pm

My physician was talking to me about my lead levels and he asked questions about aging and performance.

He stated that someone with very low blood pressure like mine might see significant increases in tremor with adrenaline or elevated blood pressure relating to competition.

I declined, but he said that there is a prescription medication called Propranolol that is prescribed to other competitive athletes to keep blood pressure steady and reduces tremors. It might be helpful.
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by xmastershooter on 12/15/2017, 2:35 pm

Propranolol is a banned drug in competition as I recalled from past discussions.

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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by xmastershooter on 12/15/2017, 3:10 pm

https://www.usada.org/wp-content/uploads/wada-2018-prohibited-list-en.pdf

Yes, my statement was correct.  Scroll down to beta-blockers and you'll find this drug not allowed for in and out of competition.  What this doctor has been doing would not be ethical for serious athletes by allowing an unfair advantage. Top athletes have been stripped of their medals after testing positive.  However, for the casual shooter, no one cares.

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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by Rob Kovach on 12/15/2017, 7:41 pm

Does someone have time to check the NRA and CMP rulebooks for rules about beta-blockers?
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by LenV on 12/15/2017, 11:58 pm

Viagra probably not legal either. I hear it is a performance enhancing drug Laughing
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by John McCormick on 12/16/2017, 7:48 am

I knew an eye specialist who would take a small dose of propranolol before operating under the microscope. He couldn't afford any nervous shaking, and neither could his patients.

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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by BE Mike on 12/16/2017, 9:02 am

xmastershooter wrote:Propranolol is a banned drug in competition as I recalled from past discussions.  
It may be banned for international competition, but I doubt that it is banned by NRA rules.
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by CR10X on 12/17/2017, 9:37 am

Oldsalt444:

First, I have no medical background outside of considerable research on certain human physiological areas related to shooting.  I am not an expert (yet) on dealing with the "shakes" or "tremors"; but I'm becoming pretty good at observing them.  And I am not recommending any medications, prescriptions, over the counter, or alcoholic. 

In the beginning, we must begin with ourselves, our body.  In the process of addressing getting older and getting more tremors, I revisited the physical aspects.  I lost a great amount of weight, added quite a few pounds of muscle mass and in the process got off of all the meds.  So first step if fix the body as best you can.  Remember, we're looking for endurance and conditioning, not muscle mass.  (Training, strength and commitment will generally get the mission completed.  Endurance, determination and desire will get you back home.) 

The next body part is core strength and balance exercises.  The inner ear controlling the balance is also getting older.  As such, look for things to help get better at being aware of and maintaining body balance and position.  This is a hard one to identify, but when working out with dumbbells, work on keeping the posture completely in balance when moving the weights.  That's all the way down to the feet.  You should be about to feel when you are working to keep the body balanced when doing the exercises, that's what helps when shooting. (Think Tai Chi, Yoga, etc.) 

Next is the mental aspect needed to deal with this issue.  Remember that no one can hold the gun perfectly still.  Just look at a SCATT trace.  Any apparent stoppage of the movement is simply either (1) so small that our visual references do not allow us to identify the change of position over time or (2 and most probably) we are looking rather than seeing and not recognizing the movement by capturing only snapshots of the process.  

(By that I mean that we are simply capturing a snapshot of the continuous process and because we are consciously looking for approval or release of the shot, keeping that "single picture" for a few milliseconds, thereby giving the impression the sights seem "motionless".  This is my own personal opinion, but when I thought about it, it seemed to fit some of what I was (not) observing.  Remember the brain sees in snapshots and I believe its easy for us to hold on to one single snapshot too long and not pick up on the subtle change.)

Anyway, to move on, accept the motion and do not let it interfere with the shot process. Incorporate the acceptable wobble into the acceptable shot process. The best shot process is for me is when I'm just observing and the only thing I have to do is abort if the wobble starts getting larger or abort when I get that feeling of trying to actively return the dot to the center because of big excursion before the shot goes off (for slow fire).  That not recognizing that last one is a sure way to snatch off a shot. 

And so, we are going to need to see the whole process so we can tell when the excursion is leaving the acceptable hold area and abort the shot.  While we have the motion, or wobble we are going to accept, we need to keep the trigger moving until we see the wobble area begin to increase.  So, get good vision.   Make sure you can see clearly.  Old age tends to creed up on the vision more than we want to admit. 

Next, we need to get back to holding the gun as aligned as possible (parallel) with the intended path to the target. Experiment with shooting with the arm more fully extended or more fully contracted into the shoulder joint.  Also experiment with increasing grip pressure, not the fingertips, but from the center of the fingers directly to the rear.  As we get older, we lose some sensation and muscle tone.  Really work on position and arm extension and strength.  I tend to do better controlling the "twitch excursions" when concentrating on a really full extension of the arm and really firm and consistent grip throughout the process. 

Anyway, these are some starters.  Have I found a perfect solution?  No.   Am I getting better?  I think so.   Is all this perfectly correct?  Heck no. 

But you work and look for improvements.  If there is improvement, then keep working.  If performance stagnates or gets worse.  Try something different.

Good luck and have fun shooting.

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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by oldsalt444 on 12/17/2017, 10:59 am

Some interesting discussion here.  I appreciate the input.  Here's a brief summary:

The Google search stuff on postural tremor is quite technical in medical terms and somewhat hard to follow, but the main idea which is echoed by the other posts is that certain exercises - weights, arm & wrist, help the most. That's where I'll start. 

Accepting your wobble and keep moving through your shot process. Easier said than done, but it's what you gotta do.  It all comes down to trigger control.  Practice, practice, practice.  Dry fire and air gun. 

Propranolol is just alcohol without the buzz and addictiveness. It helps those who can tolerate it, but don't plan on going to the Olympics.

The USAMU has a school of thought that using optics first helps you identify errors easier and helps when shooting irons after you've corrected the mistakes. I not sure how that would work for me, but it seems to work for these young, strong soldiers. The highest scores ever were shot with irons, though.

I'm 61 and still shooting with irons. My plan is to try optics after I make distinguished. Almost there. 
Most of my shots hit the black, but I always have a couple of zingers out in the white, sometimes way out. Still pisses me off.
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by Jon Eulette on 12/17/2017, 11:47 am

When I was younger....no shake ever!
Older now with 1cm tear in my labrum. Upcoming surgery in near future (few months). Psychologically its hard to overcome the brains memory of holding awesomelly still vs. the now no hold shakes. But I have changed the way I shoot to accomodate the lack of hold. I can't hardly hold black at 50 yds and some days 10 ring at 25 yds is small. So I break many of the fundamental rules to compensate. Still breaking 2600 but far from the glory days. So one thing I've learned is that I can still have a great performance mentally and somewhat on paper. If I shoot a 96 SF with two 8's that I called 8's and had good performance....I'm good with that. I know I cannot physically hold 10 ring like I used too. So I have to find solace in the good and bad. The bad really wasn't bad.....it's my reality. So I still strive to 100% follow the fundamentals, but I break some rules to keep'em in the middle. So I recommend finding some way to have a good positive attitude in the storm. Once I did this I started enjoying shooting again.
Jon
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by xmastershooter on 12/17/2017, 1:00 pm

https://coach.nra.org/media/4247/coaching_ethics.pdf

This was the only reference to a no drug policy by the NRA during my casual search.  See page 5, C. Training Athletes, 4. Drug-free sport.

Big fan of what Cecil and Jon posted and glad that this thread didn't turn south.  Do a search and you'll find many articles about beta-blockers, in particularly Propranolol.  It has been widely known that Propranolol is used for decreasing anxiety and tremors in sports such as shooting, archery and golf. 

A Swedish controlled study showed that a group of shooters improved an average of 13% upon administration of beta-blockers.  Maybe a stretch but that means a sharpshooter may be shooting master scores.  In 2008, North Korean Olympic shooter Kim Jong Su was stripped of silver and bronze medals after he tested positive for propranolol.

It becomes a matter of ethics.  Athletes in the world stage are subject to drug testing.  The NRA can rule on the spacing of the mesh on your brass deflectors, wrist/arm supports, trigger pull weight and so on but it would not be practical to perform drug testing.  Yes, propranolol could provide some unfair advantage but your score would not reflect the "real" you.

We had a discussion on exercising for seniors recently and there were responses that some shooters would not change their habits to include additional exercising.  That's your choice.  However, consider listening to Cecil and Jon.  Identify the problem, fix it, and then move forwards.

I just turned 66 and traveled 6 times this year.  With each travel, my shooting suffered.  I experienced terrible jet-lag from my last trip overseas and then caught a cold.  I knew my arm would be weak and not steady when I start shooting again.  Towards the end of my RF .45 training session on Friday, my worse shot was one 9 close to the 10 ring out of 40 rounds.  I considered that a good training day.  Identified the problem(s), fixed it, moved on!

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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by mikemyers on 12/19/2017, 11:13 am

I'll be 74 in three days, so I guess I'm close enough to "old" to comment.  I won't suggest this will work for anyone else, but it did for me.

When starting Keith Sanderson's dry-holding drills, holding even a 1911 as he suggested was tough - gradually the gun started shaking worse and worse.  So, I did the opposite of what made sense, I put a 1.5 pound wrist weight on each arm, and struggled.  The gun still shook all over, and I couldn't complete the full 10 rounds as Keith suggested.  

So, my next thought was to do five rounds of holding drills, then remove the wrist weights for five more.  Wow.  The 1911 then felt like a plastic toy, and the shakes were gone. For the remainder of that session, I was doing great!  The gun still didn't stay "still", but since then I've learned to accept that.  


Now I do this most times I do dry-firing or holding drills, and while I occasionally have a tendency to "shake", it's nothing like what it used to be.

Wrist weights at Walmarts are cheap.  They helped me.
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by LenV on 1/21/2018, 11:54 pm

I don't feel the need for wrist weights. Between all the running (nose) and jumping (to conclusions) I stay pretty active. The hand and fingers get quite a work out with the remote and bladder keeps me constantly on the move. Going to be 68 next month and I do feel like I might be missing a step or two. I do find it helps if I dry fire with my Reeves gun if I want to keep my arm in shape. Very Happy

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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by chopper on 1/22/2018, 11:42 am

Len, what grips are those and would they be okay to use in distinguised revolver also. They kinda look like Nills or something. I want to start shooting either my M-28 6" or the 686 4". I don't have large hands, gramps always said I had hands like a priest, he never lived to see the devil I turned out to be.
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by LenV on 1/22/2018, 12:06 pm

Stan, You nailed it in one. Those are Nills grips. They are legal for DR. They make them in different sizes. Those happen to be Xlarge. I don't try to understand what S&W was thinking but their X-frame revolvers take K frame RB grips. That pair came off my 14-6.

Len
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by Amati on 1/26/2018, 9:26 am

Jon Eulette wrote:.....So I still strive to 100% follow the fundamentals, but I break some rules to keep'em in the middle....
Jon

Please elaborate, which rules are you referring to?

As for Keith Sanderson his advice in this video will be my guide.

http://preparedgunowners.com/2016/01/21/brand-new-dry-fire-technique-can-double-your-speed-accuracy-in-6-days/

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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by mikemyers on 2/21/2018, 10:09 pm

Keith Sanderson has several excellent videos you can find and watch, but this one is what meant the most to me.  It's not really a "brand new technique", as he has been doing this for years.

In my opinion, from my own practice, the holding drills allow you to get used to the weight of the gun, so holding it up for so long becomes easier.  I changed his timing to one minute "on", then one minute "off".  I guess I was in a hurry.  I also started wearing the 1.5 pound wrist weights as much as my body would tolerate.  Over time, my muscles built up, and the shakes went away.

I'm not sure how people dry-fire a 1911.  I decided I would pull back the hammer, hold up the gun, slowly aiming it as needed at a small target, take two deep breaths, then fire into the middle of the "buzz" being created by the red dot sight.  Hold for a bit longer, pull the hammer back again, and repeat.  When my timer buzzer went off, I pulled the hammer back one more time, and sat the gun down for a minute of rest.  I did this for ten "cycles", and tried to do it numerous times a day, every day.

Lots of ideas listed up above - I'm interested in all of them except taking medication to minimize the shakes.  

We should have a "post your targets" thread, open only to those over 70 years old!
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Re: Old Shooter Shake

Post by ANDYZ28 on 5/8/2018, 1:02 pm

I was searching for some sort of explanation as to why my shooting has gone south. I will be turning 70 in a few days, I have a 60% disability from the VA, I also have Parkinson's and I will consider it a nuisance more than a handicap. But the information offered by Sanderson's video makes all the sense in the world, I will try it and let you know how I make out.
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