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Ask the Instructor: Flinch Much?

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

Q: I have a flinch, a bad one. I used to flinch every once in a while. I changed guns about three months ago and ever since, I flinch constantly. What do I do?

A: Ah, the dreaded flinch. It is perhaps the most misunderstood affliction in shotgunning. Contrary to popular mythology, the flinch is almost never caused by anticipation of recoil.

That’s right. If you have a flinch, you can switch to a lighter shell or even install sub-gauge tubes in your shotgun and shoot .410, and you will still have a flinch. The cause of a flinch is “visual interruption.” It occurs when the flow of visual information to the dominant eye is interrupted.

The cause of this visual interruption in usually one or more of the following:

1) Improper gun fit: For a shooter with a high cheekbone or smaller facial structure, the dominant eye may wind up below the rib of the shotgun when the shotgun is fully mounted and the shot is executed. With this shooter, a higher comb is the solution. Have an adjustable comb installed or use a comb riser product like the Beartooth Comb Riser.

2) “Spoiling the line:” When the movement of your gun to the breakpoint is such that the muzzle gets between your eye and the target, you inadvertently block your visual connection with the target as you execute the shot. This most often happens on targets that are descending at the breakpoint. It also happens when a shooter is not particularly committed to a breakpoint and “rides the target.”

3) Gun mount: Even if a shooter’s gun fit and movement to the target is perfect, I have often worked with a shooter for the first time who presses his head into the gun at the end of the move. This positions the eye below the rib and blocks the shooter’s visual connection with the target. Your best path to “flinch-less” shooting is to seek the assistance of an experienced instructor who can diagnose and help you resolve your flinch.

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