Recoil Management

Ammo Crunch!

Ammo crunch is rough.  So don't let it stop you!  In fact use every live fire round with maximum returns.



  1. get quality reps with integrating skills (e.g. forward deceleration, reloads on move, lateral deceration)
  2. train with partner down range (SIRTs only) to get used to moving no shoots down range.



Set a drill with natural apparatuses.  Use a SIRT and hit the drill with a partner if you have one.  Work on getting into position low and aggressive.  After five sets or so, hit the drill live fire to validate that your grip and stance (shooting platform) are keeping that sight coming down in a consistant manner (on follow up shots).


You can hit drills like this off the range of course too.  But even on the range try some dynamic drills with your fellow shooters.  Be sure everyone only has SIRTs when going down range from one another.  Dilligently safety check everyone on range.  Do not point the SIRTs at one onother (don't "muzzle" or "flag" your buddys) and get the finger off the trigger when not engaging targets.  As you can see in this drill we hit the run dry 5x, then once live.  Thereafter, we did this cycle 5 times.  We generally engage more targets on the dry sets and conserve ammo on live sets.  So 5 sets of four live fire rounds per set is only 20 rounds total (~$.20/round = $4.00 for drill).  Now with the SIRT repitions at 25 sets at about 12 trigger pulls per set we have 300 trigger pulls.  

Beyond the cost savings of ammo, when you train with the SIRT you are giving yourself "permision to fail".  Permission to push youself and break shots aggressivly.  Push you self till you miss and you learn that you need to make a correction to align the muzzle (not slow down, but make a correction).  


Not Allowing Recoil Flinch to Take Foothold in the First Place

Anticipating recoil is an issue that plagues new shooters. This short video shows a method of training a new shooter numerous skillsets in an immersion type teaching method.

This was quick impromptu video on the range capturing the concept of immersive learning to get the student aware of what she need to be aware of and let go of uncecessary reactions to recoil.


1.shooter learns muzzle awareness (via sight alignment-picture). Namely sight alignment in this drill (can have variations with Natural Point of Aim).

2.Trigger control on demand. Meaning, breaking the shot with a short time window.

3.Occupying the brain so it does not worry about shot anticipation flinch.


To properly train a new shooter not to flinch is an objective that plagues trainers. "Don't Flinch!" I am not saying this is "the" solution, but it is a training tool and it certainly provides food for thought. It is critical to use a SIRT Training Pistol first and make sure the shooter understands sight alignment and has cleaned up their trigger control. Otherwise when the student jumps into the drill they just send rounds without knowing what to look for. It is common to see new shooters just pull the trigger and have shots (or laser pulses) go everywhere.

Resist the temptation of training them how to shoot on the move. In other words don't say shoot in between strides, heal toe.... all good points, but 1) they can learn these implicitly and 2) this is a great opportunity for them to learn acceptable sight picture/alignment and on demand trigger control. In fact the worse their movement technique is the better, their sight picture will be bouncing all over the place making the demands higher on executing trigger control on demand.

Disturbed Sight Picture:

I love the fact that the sights bobble around in this drill. It provides natural movement and forces the eyes to track the sights and understand when the sights are sufficiently aligned to hit in the acceptable accuracy zone (AAZ) (target). Now the shooter is seeing the hits (laser hits with SIRTs) and building the intuitive database of feel of the gun and sight alignment and where it hit. Draw out the AAZ so they clearly know what is in and what is out*.

Trigger Control:

Breaking a shot clean without disturbing the muzzle is one thing in ideal conditions, but now when we have to break the shot while the muzzle is only in the AAZ for a brief moment... that requires even better trigger control. Its like going from mastering free throws to mastering jump shots with the defender in your face. Is this too much for a new shooter? I would argue no. I think the methodology of getting the shooter to break the shot on demand is teaching them running form when in the end they need to be running. Yes in the "crawl, walk, run" learning model students start with crawl...but what do crawling mechanics have to do with running mechanics. In the end, we need to break shots on demand not with a slow prep, pause, surprise break**. With the SIRT in the first phase (not shown in video but same drill in lower right picture but with a SIRT) the student learns quickly that the dashes (laser sweeps) are not desirable, "bad", and clean dots (breaking shots without disturbing muzzle) is "good". So implicit learning begins. If the student is struggling on getting dots not dashes, there are cueing points for trigger control shown in other videos.

Teaching "Rationalized Apathy" for the boom (...Oxymoronic??)

We have to teach students to not give the boom (recoil) excessive focus. A 12,000 psi explosion in a new shooters hand is not "natural" ***, but the shooter can be put in a position to get "rationalized apathy" on recoil in 2 steps. First get their grip and stance dialed in. I have a few videos on grip with emphasis on the cueing points of c clamp grip and chest squeeze (like a chest fly). Secondly, occupy the shooters brain so they aren't concerned about things they shouldn't be concerned about. Meaning the massive stimulus of moving and shooting, tracking sights, breaking shots on demand, the coach pushing you to move faster and not "shoot on the pause", interjected cueing points from instructor such as chest squeeze,... this immersive learning occupies a lot of neurons... hence no grey matter left for worrying about the 12k explosion. The theory is that 1) we want recoil management to be subconscience 2) recoil management is simple, we don't contract more muscles or less muscles during recoil, 3)the brain wants to control!  The brain wants to "do something".  The blast from the gun and stark force on the hands creates a response to react to it.  It normally takes time to get apathetic to this explosion and simply let our grip and stance take care of the recoil without additional reactive effort.  However, if we don't let the brain react to the boom because it is occupied with all of the other things going we are

Post Analysis:

There is much more to explore here.  Like everything, a module whether it be a drill, a technique, a concept, cueing point, a methodology,... must all be in context, what is the objective, what are the deficiencies, where is the module placed amongst other modules for a proper progression, what is the cost (time) for implementation, what are the gains... All this considerations should be addressed at some level without being tied down to the point where no action or experimentation  is taken.


One major negative of this technique is that it is very resource intensive.  We have to have one shooter on the line, it requires a 1:1 instructor:student for that block of training. On way manage resources is to have the dedicated dry fire location on range that students rotate through.  That way they are always active, engaged and getting in training.

Follow up Training:

What is next after this drill?  More of the same? Is there a progression? Is there a layer where now slow aimed fire is better? Do we progress and provide cueing points for teaching shooting on the move?  I am not sure but I will continue this lane where I am going to maintain a regimen on Angie (wife) of having her shoot in a manner where she is mentally overloaded so any mental instincts to control recoil is pushed down the list to the point of not taking motor neuron action.  My methodology is to give cueing points that are most relevant for the particular drill/module.  For example right now she has issues with a constant grip so I provide my array of verbal and tactile grip cueing points her conscience is placed on those critical mechanics grinding them in with repetition to the goal of unconcience competence.

End goal-Objectives:

Unconscience competence. The shooter has chunked in the most robust, fungible, streamlined, mechanics that are are as natural as possible and pulled to the most coordinated, explosive motor neuron patterns.  The techniques have to be robust and work well in any environmental, mental and physical states.  In this module block we are down stream from the grip module and getting the shooter to maintain follow through post recoil so the muzzle comes back down in a predictable location.  Our methodology of accomplishing that is not recruiting unnecessary muscles post  "boom".




*the skill of defining a AAZ from clothing on targets etc can be layered on later. To start out with give a clear AAZ with boundaries.

**this requires more dialog. There is a place for these progressions but a shooter should not leave with only being able to break shots with a super controlled trigger that takes a lot of time and is executed under no time constraints.

*** I think we can have arguments a fired shot can feel natural. With a solid grip and proper upper triangle (shoulders, arms), the recoil pulse is no more than someone hitting the front of your palms with a medium swing.


This video carries out the rapid shot drill discussing your focus during a rapid shot drill. Generally a rapid shot drill is done at a closer range say within 12 yards (however of course I encourage you to try it at 25 yards sometimes). Some people question whether we should be target focused, or front sight focused. The reality is it is a variable axis from close to far as well as target difficulty, how target focused and how front sight focused we are. At the end of the day, I would not get too wrapped around the axle on target focused/front sight focused. I think it is good to track the front sight during live fire in a rapid shot drill even at a close range. Overall, the objective really stems from grip and stance to maintain that muzzle control so those follow-on shots are within an acceptable cone of accuracy.

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High Speed Camera Analysis of Recoil Management

This video looks at the cycling of the live fire gun at about .15-.17s shot splits with a high speed 1000 fps camera.  The results are quite interesting.

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Starting Out: Refresher of the Basics

Have to start with the basics.  Fundamentals are critical and before starting high volume training we must have the best technique possible.  Grip and stance are absolutely fundamental.  To test grip and stance we strongly suggest engaging in rapid shot drills to validate grip and stance.  The Heckens videos go through the the fundamentals with a slant to providing information for instructors.  The series of 6 videos are directed to shooters whether they are starting out or experienced.  A few of the queuing points are useful to get you body in a versatile shooting stance and grip.

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Mike Hughes Top Shot Train Up Videos #2

The two week train up was fast and ferious.  Here are two videos taken the week prior to going down on Top Shot Season 3.  In these videos I am focusing on training with an open gun.  The open gun has a red dot optic mounted to the slide.  This handgun has muzzle compensator so it shoots flatter (muzzle lifts less when fired).  This video shows some training related to driving reloads fast, pushing the guns limits with controled pairs.

NLT Performance SIRTification Course

NLT Performance conducted its first SIRTification course 7/16- 7/18. The course filled to capacity with a short two week notice. The 16 trainers that attended were a fantastic group. The course consisted of a first day of lecture and practical exercises. The second day followed up on the range with live fire. Although the course is geared for instructors, the information is valuable for any shooter. We received fantastic feedback from the course participants. The next course is at the NLT Facility and NLT range on 8/13 and we are signing up trainers to sponsor a courses at their location. The second video is a final test on day two. All the shooters had a blast finishing this stage. This is a 500 m run with targets along the way. The test is not previewed by the shooter. The student holsters the pistol between shooting positions. The Top Shooter was George Williams of This video is courtesy of Butch Sapp of

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Live Fire and Dry Fire Barricade Shooting/Awkward Shooting Positions

This is one of my favorite drills. Shooting in a crouch, around a barricade or anything other than upright is a deficiency in our performance. Shooting in these positions is a 1000 mile journey. It takes a lot of reps to get into position and shoot fast-n-accurate.

Live Fire and Dry Fire

I always train with the SIRT on the range even when I have a ton of ammo. Basically I work my shooting skill sets with drills and then go live. This saves time from loading mags, but moreover I tend to push my self harder when I shoot dry. In part because I am not burning $.20+/round, but in the end my live fire is much more productive.

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