How Handgun Marksmanship Overlooks Recoil

   03.28.17

How Handgun Marksmanship Overlooks Recoil

Over on The Arms Guide, there is an interesting article that talks about how certain things affect handgun marksmanship. As usual, one main factor that is often overlooked is how recoil affects accuracy.

As recoil goes up, accuracy goes down, period. Or rather, as the shooter anticipates recoil, accuracy goes down.

I am sure this will start a flame war about how shooters can learn to deal with recoil through training, and they for the most part can. However, the average shooter is not going to invest the time, money, and effort to live at the shooting range.

The handgun accuracy argument does not take into account calibers that are unpleasant to shoot. For the average person, no amount of training will help someone who cringes every time they pull the trigger.

Also, how many gun owners make it to the range monthly? How about yearly? The vast majority of deer hunters only shoot their rifles or shotguns just a few times a year. The average hunter may shoot once or twice in the summer and once in the fall to make sure their firearm is sighted in.

Let’s get back on the topic of handguns.

This is the diagram most shooters are taught to use to diagnose accuracy issues.

Pistol target analysis diagram
Pistol target analysis diagram

Where is excessive recoil to the shooter addressed in this picture? Rather than saying, “Maybe you do not need to be shooting a 40 S&W,” instructors tell the shooter not to do this or that.

Why do you think the popularity of the 40 S&W is fading away? To me, the recoil of the 40 is too harsh, and that is why I do not use it.

Somewhere around 1992, I bought a Ruger P91, which is chambered in 40 S&W. Even though I had been shooting handguns for years, right off the bat I did not like the snappy recoil. Every 40 caliber handgun I have ever shot has been very unpleasant.

I ended up letting that Ruger P91 go, and good riddance. Chances are I will never buy another 40 simply because the recoil is too harsh.

Let’s go back to the chart. Nowhere on the chart are my issues with the 40 addressed.

Some people may say jerking is a direct result of recoil, and they may be right. However, If the shooter feels the recoil is excessive, chances are they may never overcome trigger jerk.

What is the answer? How about we stop forcing calibers upon shooters who do not like them? When I express my disgust with the 40, people look at me like I am crazy. How could you not like the 40? It is the perfect solution to the 9mm vs 45acp debate.

Rather than accepting what I do and do not like to shoot, I have had people try to change my mind by saying stuff like “You must be holding the handgun wrong!” That type of argument harms otherwise good shooters by forcing them to try and use a caliber they do not like.

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