Every shooter wants to be a great shot, and that means spending a lot of time behind the trigger, right? While trigger time is important, it isn’t the only thing you can do to improve your aim. What if I told you there’s something you can do away from the shooting range, at home, lying in bed that can make you a better shooter?
Time at the range is only part of the equation. Physical fitness absolutely plays into sports shooting success, and one aspect of accuracy that many less-experienced shooters need to address is their physical connection to their firearm.
For the best shooters, a firearm becomes an extension of the body. And that means they spend time focusing on building up that link through one key training secret: grip strength conditioning.
Having iron-strong hands is vital to improving your skills, and in this article, we’ll look at how you can go about training hand strength specifically to improve your accuracy.
Unless you’re shooting a rail-mounted gun, recoil is going to be a thing for you. Every shooter has to deal with it, and as you become more experienced with larger calibers and different types of firearms, you’ll find that having control of your weapon is vital to effectively putting shots on target.
During the recoil cycle, a lot of things are happening. You’ve essentially just directed a controlled explosion, and now your goal is to re-center your aim and do it all over again. The most effective way to do that successfully is to have a firm grip and control of your weapon.
This means three things: you have to train your grip strength, you have to train for wrist and forearm strength, and you have to do it all without hurting yourself in the process. Let’s take a look at a few tools and techniques you can use to build your hands up.
There are a wide variety of hand-strengthening products on the market, and many of them are excellent, though there are DIY objects you can make to help you train, as well. You can also use more advanced and difficult methods to train grip.
As always, you need to gauge your own level of fitness to engage in these activities, and you should always consult a healthcare professional before beginning any physical training regimen.
These are a great place to start. You can simply fill a plain-ole’ rubber balloon with rice or flour, securely tie off the end and squeeze that for this exercise. Start with 4 sets of 20 repetitions each day, making sure you don’t overdo it in the process. If you notice your hands are becoming tired or cramped, back off and do 3 or even 2 sets of 10 reps each.
The V-shaped grip devices we’ve all seen before offer another great way to work out and target our hands, and specifically our grip strength for recoil control.
After you’ve been squeezing your DIY ball for around 2 weeks, close these grippers 20 times at a go, for 4 sets daily total. Again, you have to gauge this for yourself and be ready to back off if your hands are becoming too fatigued.
There are several options here, from spring-loaded piston grip trainers to torsion-style grippers specifically designed to target your trigger finger. Or you can use a rubber band. Put it around your trigger finger, palm up.
Connect the other end to the index finger of your other hand, palm down. Now, create tension, keep your off-hand finger straight, close your trigger finger and open it back up for 30 seconds. Do this 3 times. Again, judge your own level of fatigue and adjust accordingly.
Rubber Band Resistance
This exercises the opposite side of the equation; your ex-tensor muscles, which are the ones that open your hand, rather than close it. Use a rubber band or two to start, and insert all five fingers on one hand inside of it. Now, without letting it slip off the ends of your fingers, open them up. The rubber band should look like the outside beginning of a spider’s web. Now close your fingers back together. Do this 10 to 20 times per set, and do 3 to 4 sets daily.
Forearm and Wrist Training
It isn’t all about hand strength. You also want to target your wrist and forearm to help keep shots on target.
Rice Bucket Challenge
This is an old favorite of boxers. Get a decent-sized bucket and fill it with rice. I prefer a long grain variety for its culinary versatility and light, fluffy composition in most dishes, but you can get whatever rice is cheapest at your local market.
Now, make a claw with your hand, stick your new claw in the rice, and squeeze. Do this for 45 seconds, 3 times a week to start. Voila. Your hands and wrist are getting stronger together.
Pull-ups or Chin-ups
Climbers have some of the best grip strength around, and they got that way through using their hands for the functional task of pulling themselves up.
Done properly, pull-ups are a great way to build hand, wrist and forearm strength, and with repetition, this exercise alone can improve your shooting performance. Start with 3 sets of 6 repetitions around 3 times weekly, and build from there.
This one’s simple. You need a bar, a rope, and a 5-pound round weight plate. Securely connect one end of the rope to the bar, preferably through a hole in the bar to keep the rope from slipping.
Your goal is to coil the rope up around the bar. Connect the other end to the weight plate. Now, holding the bar parallel to your torso with your forearms outstretched, use both hands in an alternating twisting motion to try to coil the rope around the bar.
Be careful not to drop the weight on your toes. Do this 5 times to start, around 3 times weekly. You can add greater weight and more repetitions as your strength increases.
You don’t have to become Hercules or a performing strongman ripping telephone books in half to greatly improve your shooting. This basic regimen will get you started, and you should notice a significant improvement in your accuracy and overall hand strength in just a few weeks.
Hand strength is important for overall health, and because you can do many of these exercises while seated, you have little excuse not to get started right away. Make it part of your routine, and you’ll build an unbreakable connection with your firearm in no time.
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