Mastering the Blast: Noise and Recoil Inoculation

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As firearms instructors, we tend to focus on the basics of trigger control, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, stance and so on when teaching a new student or remediating one with some experience. The reasons why the student is closing his or her eyes, flinching or mis-manipulating the trigger is often overlooked in either process. Usually, the attempt at fixing the problem is bringing the fault to the student’s attention and telling him or her “not to do that again” More often than not though, the inaction or inability of the student to respond to what was suggested frustrates the student and the instructor, and the result is a continuation of more of the same. The instructor might suggest that more shooting will eventually wean the student away from the negative actions and leave it at that, which is hardly an ideal solution.

Retention takes place through repetition and understanding the subject matter, which results in what could be considered a download of information into the subconscious mind.

There is, however, an easy and effective way to eliminate mis-manipulating the trigger, involuntary movement at the moment of discharge and closing the eyes just as the trigger is pulled. In fact, if the student is started with these methods of training, he or she will rarely, if ever, experience the aforementioned issues. The concept could be called “overcoming the self-preservation response.” It consists of two short drills that attenuate, and often eliminate, the natural response to unexpected loud noises and moving objects that threaten our ability to see.

Some Background

Fully understanding and utilizing this method of improving shooter performance requires some study of adult learning and a cursory knowledge of how the brain works concerning its innate programming regarding self-preservation and personal safety.

In order for a student to learn and retain information, it is important for the instructor to realize the average student can process only approximately five bits of information at the conscious level at any given time. This means if the student is fully involved in sight alignment, sight picture, smooth operation of the trigger, grip, stance and a host of other tasks he or she has been given to think about, his or her system is effectively overloaded. The retention takes place through repetition and understanding the subject matter, which results in what could be considered a download of information into the subconscious mind.

With all of this processing taking place and with all of what the student is being told, there is little room to recognize and rationalize the sound of the gun firing or the movement of the gun during recoil.

If we were to step back for a moment and think of our, or another person’s, automatic response when we hear an unexpected loud noise, we get a sense of what the student is experiencing every time the firearm discharges. He or she simply hasn’t been conditioned to accept that the noise of the gun firing is of no consequence to his or her personal safety.

If we were to step back for a moment and think of our, or another person’s, automatic response when we hear an unexpected loud noise, we get a sense of what the student is experiencing every time the firearm discharges. He or she simply hasn’t been conditioned to accept that the noise of the gun firing is of no consequence to his or her personal safety.

Atop that is the movement of the gun when it fires and recoils toward the shooter’s face and eyes, which we as humans are programmed from birth to protect at all costs. Without vision, it is virtually impossible to find safety in times of danger. When these realities are considered, it becomes starkly apparent why the majority of shooters close their eyes and move involuntarily when they pull a trigger.

This also explains why a brand-new shooter easily hits the target with incredible accuracy on the first shot and fails to do as well on subsequent shots.

Solving the Problem

In order for a student to be able to effectively defend herself with her sidearm, she needs to be able to confidently and accurately send shots where they need to go. In order for that to happen, she has to be shooting with her eyes open. As silly an observation as that may seem, it’s a very basic element of shooting that is ignored by far too many instructors.

In order for a student to be able to effectively defend herself with her sidearm, she needs to be able to confidently and accurately send shots where they need to go. In order for that to happen, she has to be shooting with her eyes open. As silly an observation as that may seem, it’s a very basic element of shooting that is ignored by far too many instructors.

In order to overcome and eliminate these two innate fears, students need to understand that neither is a threat to their personal safety. In fact, they will become empowered as they learn to control both on demand.

This is where the noise and recoil inoculation drills become effective in reprogramming a shooter’s automatic responses to loud noises and moving objects close to his or her face. After the shooter is allowed to listen to the gun discharge in close proximity without other distractions, he or she learns to embrace the sound as a positive, which downloads to the subconscious as a nonevent and in no way a threat to his or her personal safety. Shooting this drill individually, while supervised by an instructor, the shooter should keep his or her eyes shut to minimize outside sensory input to the brain. This is particularly effective in tempering or removing any negativity caused by the sound of the gun.

The recoil inoculation is similarly achieved by a shooter simply watching the movement of the gun when firing single shots with no other distractions. The students receiving the inoculation should be standing at either side of the instructor on the first few rounds the instructor fires so as to keep their heads out of the line of recoil. Only then can they finish with several shots looking at the back of the slide. After the shooters realize the rearward movement of the gun as it fires is not going to even come close to injuring their faces or eyes, the subconscious ceases to be in the protective mode and sees no need to blink or push the gun away when the trigger is pulled.

When running such demos, it’s important to pay close attention to where the students are standing and that none of them get too overzealous in their observation. Like any other drill, everyone must remain behind the firing line and any discharging firearms.

Mission Accomplished

Both of these drills can be accomplished in a few minutes and can help new shooters avoid a lifetime of error. These noise and recoil inoculation drills can be performed effectively in a variety of ways, with the end result being the same: eliminating a shooter’s natural response to the noise and recoil of a gun firing and replacing that fear with a sense of power and control over a tool that he or she can use safely and effectively. After your students can react to their own gunfire in that fashion, they will be truly well armed.

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Published By USCCA

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