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Grip Strength and Recoil Control


DonovanM

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I had originally posted this on a different website, but it was removed due to severe personal differences with the site's leadership... since then I've had a few requests to repost it (Hi Esther!), so here you go.

What is your first thought when viewing this video?

Other than "God IDPA is boring" or "holy s*** he's good," my first thought was that holy s***, his gun doesn't flip. Barely at all.

Now there are differing theories on the eye's ability to actually perceive muzzle flip (ie here) which are way beyond my intellectual capacity and I'm not going to get into here. Needless to say, I think Bob has supremely good control over his gun as evidenced by that video and others and I think we can learn something from it.

Why is less muzzle flip a good thing? Well, the less the gun flips, the less finesse it will take from the shooter to direct it back to its original position, and the more predictable and easy it will be to return the sights to where they were. I don't think the importance of this is really seen inside of maybe 10 yards or so - distances where more coarse sight pictures are used and hair-splitting accuracy isn't needed - unless only the upper A zone is available or something akin to that. The tougher a target is, and the less apparent available target area we have, the more finesse it will require to get two hits in its A-zone at warp speed. And the better we're able to control our gun, the less degree of finesse is required, because we have less sight lift to account for in driving the gun back on target.

It can't be denied that one of the reasons Bob and other shooters are so competitive in the practical shooting circuit right now are their extremely well developed recoil management, which grants them the ability to mow down the hardest targets in the game faster than anyone else. I'm talking 20 and 30 yard+ partials here, swingers, steel arrays, that kind of thing. Not the static 7 yard targets that a misinformed few seem to think is all we shoot.

So, how do we get there? Well the obvious answer is technique, and that is an extremely significant part of it. Common to current grip technique dogma is to get as high as you can under the bore axis of the gun, with as much support from your arms and body behind the gun as possible. This is Technique 101, that hopefully everyone reading this is aware of. If not, let's start a new thread about it!

What I want to talk about here is grip strength, and how it can supplement our technique to help us achieve our goals of being fast and accurate on tough targets. Bob has been a vocal proponent of the Captains of Crush grip trainers and has used them extensively to improve his grip strength - see his post here quoted below.

Bob Vogel:

Thought I would weigh in here since I've been using Coc grippers since Manny Bragg turned me on to them at the last World Shoot. For me controling the gun is paramount. The way I see it "all else equal" the less the gun moves in recoil the more accurate your going to be, that is at least how it is for me.(especially shooting Limited Major with a 30oz Glock) I grip the gun hard but I can't overdue it or obviously I will lose agility. I will guess and say I use approx 75% of maximum force in my support hand and maybe 60% in my gun hand. As someone else mentioned its very simple-the stronger your maximum is the stronger those pecentages are.

My thoughts on getting a stronger grip: First, you have endurance and then you have maximum strength. To get better endurance you need to train high reps with low weights. To get more maximum strength you need low reps with near max weights. This is common sense of course. I AM NOT concerned with endurance, I will almost never be gripping and shooting my gun for more than 25 sec at a time, AND I get enough endurance with just my regular dry/live fire practice. If you want to bench 300lb you'll never get there doing 100 lbs all day long. Its the same with gripping. All that counts for me is my maximum strength, therefore I use only the heavier grippers. When I first started I could do a #1, but not by much. Within a couple months I could do a #2. I think I've topped out doing a #2.5 but can do a #3 with a "deep set". I would never have got to that point if I hadn't severely pushed myself with heavier grippers. Now, to maintian it I rarely use them more than once a week. The catch to all this is avoiding injury. Some people are more susceptible to this than others so you have to know your own body....but it is amazing what the body will get used to. I know this is long but its whats worked for me and hopefully it can help someone.

Here is what they look like.

ironmind_captains_of_crush_hand_grippers.jpg

These trainers come in a number of levels, from a few lighter versions like the Trainer to a 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, on up to the 4. As a point of reference, Magnus Samuelsson - a household name in the World's Strongest Man circuit - can do

. These aren't the same grippers you can walk into a Big 5 or a Walmart and buy. They are high quality, durable, made in the USA, purpose built grip trainers that are calibrated for increasing resistance levels, just about as high as you want to go. Personally, I have a set of BIg 5 grip trainers, the "Extra Heavy" ones. They were not even as hard to close as the CoC Trainer, much less the #1. There are also other versions out there that are high quality, such as this adjustable Ivanko contraption.

If you're just starting out, you may have some faculty with the #1. If you can close it, that's awesome. If you can't, that's awesome too. Either way get to work! Magnus also dispenses some good training advice in that video. He warns against overdoing it, because the muscles in the forearm are comparatively fairly small, and thus easily damaged. I asked Bob how often he used the grippers when he was chasing after closing the 2.5, and he responded that he used them every other day. If you start training with them, you'll just have to see what works for you. Listen to what you're body's telling you. If your hands and arms are still sore or tired the second day after your workouts, back it off a little. It's very easy to develop tendonitis, or worse.

A tertiary benefit of grip strength training is in trigger control. The stronger your hands are - specifically, your dominant hand - the better you'll be able to shoot a stock-weight, or really any weight trigger. I hate to keep pounding the Bob Vogel drum, but he won the World Shoot in Production with a Glock, which meant he was running the stock 5.5lb trigger due to the minimum trigger pull rule.

A good first purchase, I think, would be the Trainer and the #1. I am now on to multiple reps of the #2 with both hands, and am still using the Trainer and #1.5. I sold my #1 to a buddy, which you can always do if you outgrow one. Before you buy the #1.5 though, be aware that in my experience it is only marginally stronger than the #1. I think it would be more aptly rated the #1.25 or something. I can do 10-15 reps on it, which was near to the same as my #1.

As a side note, you may also want to train your extensor muscles along with your flexors (those worked with the crush grip) to balance out your strength gains and reduce the risk of injuries like tendonitis. I use Ironmind's Expand-Your-Hand Bands but there are other solutions out there such as these.

So, the moral of the story is, if you want to shoot like Bob Vogel, get really extremely good at everything, and also have good grip strength. The end. :D

There is an excellent FAQ at Ironmind you may be interested in reading here.

To buy CoCs visit Ironmind's e-store here. You can also get them on Amazon. I am not aware of any retail stores that carry them or similar products.

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Good write up.

I have found that the stronger my grip strength gets the less overall tension I have while shooting a stage. With increased grip strength I know that my "Firm" grip on the gun is more than enough to manage the recoil when shooting aggressively and still maintain fine motor control of my trigger finger. Not feeling the need to "Death Grip" the gun greatly reduces my tension level while shooting and it allows me to shoot and move through the stage far more efficiently. Being able to shoot from a lowered overall tension level is the HUGE benefit of increasing your grip strength.

I use the CoC grippers for my grip training. I use the Trainer for reps and the #1 for the timed hold closed. My workout consists of 4 sets of 25 reps on each hand with the "T", then a 30 second grip and hold closed with the #1. I perform this exercise routine all in one string with the only rest being the time off while working on the other hand. I basically pass the same gripper between hands back and forth. After doing this exercise routine my forearms are pretty much nuked. I only do this workout once or twice a week for maintaining my current grip strength. I have the higher numbered CoC grippers but only use those for testing my maximum grip force. Currently I can fully close the #2.5 with both hands. I might buy a #3 some day to see if I can close that one. But from what I have found having enough grip strength to fully close the #2.5 with both hands gives me more than enough grip pressure with a "Firm" grip to effectively manage the recoil while shooting Major PF loads though my Limited gun.

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Good write up.

I have found that the stronger my grip strength gets the less overall tension I have while shooting a stage. With increased grip strength I know that my "Firm" grip on the gun is more than enough to manage the recoil when shooting aggressively and still maintain fine motor control of my trigger finger. Not feeling the need to "Death Grip" the gun greatly reduces my tension level while shooting and it allows me to shoot and move through the stage far more efficiently. Being able to shoot from a lowered overall tension level is the HUGE benefit of increasing your grip strength.

Oh absolutely. Thanks for the addendum!

Nice progress too... I'm still nowhere near the 2.5 :(

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At the Florida State Match I ran into a lot of people I have not seen in awhile. After shaking Manny and Smitty hands I realized one reason those guys shoot limited so well. Their hand size and hand strength were very noticeable. Like shaking a damn bears hand.

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Good write up.

I have found that the stronger my grip strength gets the less overall tension I have while shooting a stage. With increased grip strength I know that my "Firm" grip on the gun is more than enough to manage the recoil when shooting aggressively and still maintain fine motor control of my trigger finger. Not feeling the need to "Death Grip" the gun greatly reduces my tension level while shooting and it allows me to shoot and move through the stage far more efficiently. Being able to shoot from a lowered overall tension level is the HUGE benefit of increasing your grip strength.

I use the CoC grippers for my grip training. I use the Trainer for reps and the #1 for the timed hold closed. My workout consists of 4 sets of 25 reps on each hand with the "T", then a 30 second grip and hold closed with the #1. I perform this exercise routine all in one string with the only rest being the time off while working on the other hand. I basically pass the same gripper between hands back and forth. After doing this exercise routine my forearms are pretty much nuked. I only do this workout once or twice a week for maintaining my current grip strength. I have the higher numbered CoC grippers but only use those for testing my maximum grip force. Currently I can fully close the #2.5 with both hands. I might buy a #3 some day to see if I can close that one. But from what I have found having enough grip strength to fully close the #2.5 with both hands gives me more than enough grip pressure with a "Firm" grip to effectively manage the recoil while shooting Major PF loads though my Limited gun.

I have used this workout since you posted it in another thread. It's a good one, any other workouts for building max strength? I don't have the 1.5 and the jump from the 1 to 2 is steep but from what DonovanM states it may not be worth getting. I'm thinking of using a higher rep workout like yours, with a low rep max workout alternating them working the grip twice a week. Thanks.

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I close the #2 for four sets of 5 reps each hand, twice a week. The #2.5 and #3 arrive Monday and I'll be moving up to them as soon as I'm able.

I never used the T or the #1.5. I started with the #1 and went straight to the #2.

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Great info here.

I have also found that the slower the frame rate on my cameras; the flatter my gun looks. I use a 30fps camera for down range shots and a 60fps for behind me. My gun is way flatter viewing the slower camera.

Bob's recoil control is amazing, but fps has to be taken into consideration when viewing videos.

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I close the #2 for four sets of 5 reps each hand, twice a week. The #2.5 and #3 arrive Monday and I'll be moving up to them as soon as I'm able.

I never used the T or the #1.5. I started with the #1 and went straight to the #2.

Thanks, I'll try that. I usually warm up with the sporting goods store cheap ones.

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Good write up.

I have found that the stronger my grip strength gets the less overall tension I have while shooting a stage. With increased grip strength I know that my "Firm" grip on the gun is more than enough to manage the recoil when shooting aggressively and still maintain fine motor control of my trigger finger. Not feeling the need to "Death Grip" the gun greatly reduces my tension level while shooting and it allows me to shoot and move through the stage far more efficiently. Being able to shoot from a lowered overall tension level is the HUGE benefit of increasing your grip strength.

I use the CoC grippers for my grip training. I use the Trainer for reps and the #1 for the timed hold closed. My workout consists of 4 sets of 25 reps on each hand with the "T", then a 30 second grip and hold closed with the #1. I perform this exercise routine all in one string with the only rest being the time off while working on the other hand. I basically pass the same gripper between hands back and forth. After doing this exercise routine my forearms are pretty much nuked. I only do this workout once or twice a week for maintaining my current grip strength. I have the higher numbered CoC grippers but only use those for testing my maximum grip force. Currently I can fully close the #2.5 with both hands. I might buy a #3 some day to see if I can close that one. But from what I have found having enough grip strength to fully close the #2.5 with both hands gives me more than enough grip pressure with a "Firm" grip to effectively manage the recoil while shooting Major PF loads though my Limited gun.

I have used this workout since you posted it in another thread. It's a good one, any other workouts for building max strength? I don't have the 1.5 and the jump from the 1 to 2 is steep but from what DonovanM states it may not be worth getting. I'm thinking of using a higher rep workout like yours, with a low rep max workout alternating them working the grip twice a week. Thanks.

I think it's well worth the investment to get the in between grippers when you want to work your way up. Making too big of a jump up where you can't close the gripper defeats the purpose. When you can't close the gripper you really don't know how many lbs you are gripping it closed to.

On another note I got a chance to try a #3 this weekend and I couldn't close it. I got really close with my strong hand but there was still a 1/8th inch gap.

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As a side note, you may also want to train your extensor muscles along with your flexors (those worked with the crush grip) to balance out your strength gains and reduce the risk of injuries like tendonitis. I use Ironmind's Expand-Your-Hand Bands but there are other solutions out there such as these.

According to my Doctors, if you do not do this you can easily end up with tennis or golfers elbow or exacerbate it. They stated that too much difference in strength between the extensor and flexor muscles can cause this.

(The MIA and Breast cancer, and other large rubber wrist bands can be used also if you have high extensor strength... :goof: )

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As a side note, you may also want to train your extensor muscles along with your flexors (those worked with the crush grip) to balance out your strength gains and reduce the risk of injuries like tendonitis. I use Ironmind's Expand-Your-Hand Bands but there are other solutions out there such as these.

According to my Doctors, if you do not do this you can easily end up with tennis or golfers elbow or exacerbate it. They stated that too much difference in strength between the extensor and flexor muscles can cause this.

(The MIA and Breast cancer, and other large rubber wrist bands can be used also if you have high extensor strength... :goof: )

+1, it seems silly expanding your fingers with a rubber band but it is necessary to avoid injury. For a revolver shooter I also think it helps to prevent short stroking the trigger.

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Good write up.

I have found that the stronger my grip strength gets the less overall tension I have while shooting a stage. With increased grip strength I know that my "Firm" grip on the gun is more than enough to manage the recoil when shooting aggressively and still maintain fine motor control of my trigger finger. Not feeling the need to "Death Grip" the gun greatly reduces my tension level while shooting and it allows me to shoot and move through the stage far more efficiently. Being able to shoot from a lowered overall tension level is the HUGE benefit of increasing your grip strength.

I use the CoC grippers for my grip training. I use the Trainer for reps and the #1 for the timed hold closed. My workout consists of 4 sets of 25 reps on each hand with the "T", then a 30 second grip and hold closed with the #1. I perform this exercise routine all in one string with the only rest being the time off while working on the other hand. I basically pass the same gripper between hands back and forth. After doing this exercise routine my forearms are pretty much nuked. I only do this workout once or twice a week for maintaining my current grip strength. I have the higher numbered CoC grippers but only use those for testing my maximum grip force. Currently I can fully close the #2.5 with both hands. I might buy a #3 some day to see if I can close that one. But from what I have found having enough grip strength to fully close the #2.5 with both hands gives me more than enough grip pressure with a "Firm" grip to effectively manage the recoil while shooting Major PF loads though my Limited gun.

I have used this workout since you posted it in another thread. It's a good one, any other workouts for building max strength? I don't have the 1.5 and the jump from the 1 to 2 is steep but from what DonovanM states it may not be worth getting. I'm thinking of using a higher rep workout like yours, with a low rep max workout alternating them working the grip twice a week. Thanks.

I think it's well worth the investment to get the in between grippers when you want to work your way up. Making too big of a jump up where you can't close the gripper defeats the purpose. When you can't close the gripper you really don't know how many lbs you are gripping it closed to.

On another note I got a chance to try a #3 this weekend and I couldn't close it. I got really close with my strong hand but there was still a 1/8th inch gap.

They are made really well, seems like they will last forever. At this point I can do the #1 about 15 times and the #2 about 7 times. It seems like you make good gains for a couple of workouts and plateau quickly. I want to keep mixing it up, alternating heavy light workouts. Probably would be a good idea to get the 1.5 and a 2.5 at this point. When I can close the #2 for 10 good reps I'll get the #3.

If I don't use the rubber bands my thumbs hurt in the base of the joint. I also rapped the grips with a little cloth athletic tape because the knurling was tearing my skin.

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After reading this thread I decided to go to the range and see what my grip was doing and by making a few changes in grip tension I was able to flatten the recoil on my Para 16-40. I keep about a soft 50% grip with my strong hand and a stiffer 70% with the support hand and that changed my recoil a lot.

First string I was getting consistent A's followed by C's AC Ac AC... when i adjusted to the above percentages it resulted in Double alpha every time. Now for my dry fire, I keep my attention on the grip solution for 3 - 15 min practices a week.

Now for the next area match to see if I can maintain when the buzzer goes off.

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