Among the skills I see the most problems with in training classes, follow through and recovery issues are two of the most common.
Many shooters don’t realize the need for either, much less understand the distinction.
I believe the root of the problem lies in watching television and movies. On the screen, an attacker hit with a single pistol bullet is propelled over the balcony or through the plate glass.
Once your brain sends the impulse to fire, the message has to travel down the spinal cord and through nerves to your finger…
In reality, it often takes several well placed, rapidly delivered hits to stop a drugged up, psychotic, or just plain angry assailant. No pistol bullet can be relied on to drop such an attacker with one shot unless the upper central nervous system is struck—something very difficult to do with one shot under gunfight conditions.
For this reason, we often have to fire several accurate shots in rapid succession, and this requires an understanding of follow through and recovery.
Follow through refers to keeping the gun on target, and as stable as possible while the bullet gets out of the gun and en route to the target. There is actually quite a delay between your decision to shoot and the bullet’s exit from the muzzle, and you can move the gun during this interim, spoiling the shot.
Once your brain sends the impulse to fire, the message has to travel down the spinal cord and through nerves to your finger, which then has to contract, moving the trigger as much as a half inch from its resting position. The sear has to release the hammer or striker, which must move forward to strike the primer. The primer detonates, sending fire through the flash-hole to the powder charge, which must burn, building up gas pressure.
This gas pressure must overcome the bullet’s inertia and get it started accelerating down the barrel, and out the muzzle. All of these actions, occurring in sequence, take several micro-seconds to complete. Without follow through, your muzzle can move off the target before the bullet is actually clear of the gun’s muzzle.
Resist the temptation to “eye sprint.” This refers to running your visual focus from the front sight to the target and back between shots. This just eats up time and usually results in sloppy hits.
As soon as you see the front sight start to lift, you can be assured that the bullet has left the gun. High speed photography shows that the slide doesn’t start moving, nor the front sight start lifting, until the bullet has exited the barrel, so once you see the front sight lift in recoil, you can shift from follow through to recovery.
Recovery entails getting the gun back on target and ready to launch the next bullet. As soon as you see the front sight lift, let the trigger reset. Keep your visual focus on the front sight. As it settles back into the rear sight notch, you are back on target and ready to launch the next round. If the target is still there in your sight picture, you probably need to shoot again!
Resist the temptation to “eye sprint.” This refers to running your visual focus from the front sight to the target and back between shots. This just eats up time and usually results in sloppy hits. Stay on the front sight until shooting is no longer required.
The illustration shows how the act of firing shots is actually a cycle that is simply repeated until a desired result is achieved. Work on your follow through and recovery and I believe you will see a dramatic increase in your ability to deliver fast, accurate shots.