AAR of Paul Sharp’s Recoil Management

Paul Sharp is an interesting cat. He’s almost suspiciously pleasant for as dangerous as he is.

I was fortunate enough to get in on his Recoil Management block at Tac-Con, and the way he broke things down really made things click for me.

You’re generally not going to find one single class that will solve all your problems and answer everything for you, but they tend to build on one another. Here’s my write up on his class. If you have the means, I highly suggest picking one up:

Knowing what I do about Paul, I half expected this course to be a crossfit workout. To my surprise, some of the first words out of his mouth were “recoil control isn’t about strength”. He also make sure that everybody was clear upfront that he was more concerned with what the gun was doing in our hands than the results on the target. His course was big on kinesthetic learning, and he structured things so that we were paired up and coaching each other through the whole process. 

Like Gabe’s class everything started dry first and then progressed to live fire from there. Paul talked a lot about internal vs. external coaching cues. External cues are your body interacting with something in the world around you, like using your thumb to push the button in the elevator. Internal cues are your body interacting with your body, like tucking your pinkie into the base of your thumb. With internal cues, you generally have 2 tactile reference points (the toucher and the touchee) instead of just the toucher for external.

When it comes to managing the handgun, Paul’s approach is to build a 360 degree framework around the gun, and lock that support in structurally, so that you’re able to consistently replicate it. If you’re just “muscling the gun”, regardless of how strong you are you’ll eventually gas out because of endurance and muscle fatigue. Paul’s grip/posture breaks down as follows:

  • Strong hand positioned so that there is as much surface contact as possible with the grip
    • It’s more important to have meat behind the backstrap and along the slab of the grip than it is for the muzzle to be in line with the bones of the forearm
    • “Knife Hand the target”
  • Support hand taking up as much real estate as possible on the opposite slab of the grip
  • Rotating heels of the hands inwards against the backstrap of the grip
  • Pulling pinkies in towards the palm/heel of the hand, creating “tire chocks”
  • Locking the tendons of the wrist to help reduce muzzle flip
  • Slight bend in the elbows to help act as shock absorbers
  • Elbows flared out slightly (not pointed down at the ground)
  • “Flexed” biceps, traps, and lats to provide additional structure/rigid
  • Pushing forward slightly with the strong arm/shoulder, pulling back with the support arm/shoulder
    • This can help offset grip issues
  • “Crunched” core
    • Trying to pull your sternum & navel together
    • Maintain upright posture, don’t “turtle” or overly roll shoulders
    • More natural/relaxed posture is less fatiguing, more stable, and easier to replicate consistently
  • Aggressive fighting stance
    • Weight front-loaded
    • Chin/chest to target
    • Nose over toes
    • Weight on the balls of the feet
    • Toes digging into/ “gripping” the ground

Paul didn’t go into too much detail about trigger manipulation, since trigger control is generally tied more to what the sights are doing than what the gun is doing. The tip I took away from class that I did find very useful was that he only bends the trigger finger at the 2nd knuckle joint, which helps him push the trigger straight back.

By the end of the class, I found that I was consciously able to witness the reciprocation of the slide, and that the sights “tracked” (staying in place) the entire time. I left not only feeling significantly more comfortable with my grip, but with a much clearer path and understanding of what I needed to practice moving forward. 

Shamelessly stealing the Short Barreled Shepherd’s 3×3 Model for AARs, here’s the breakdown:

The top 3 things covered in the class:

–          Breaking the grip down into sections (fingers, wrists, arms, core)

–          Focusing more on the movement of the slide than the results on the target

–          Learning by doing/teaching

The top 3 things I learned from the class:

–          Having the slabs of your hands up against the slabs of the grip is more important for control than having the bore axis perfectly in line with the bones of your forearm

–          Proprioceptive “checkpoints” for better control of the gun

Top 3 things I’ll do differently:

–          Work on building my grip, focusing on each of those checkpoints

–          Work my trigger by bending the 2nd knuckle joint of the finger vs. the 1st

–          Grip the gun harder

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