Grip integrity is one area that allows for increased performance, it pays high dividends with little costs. Most people fail to grasp this concept (ha-ha, couldn’t resist) and as a result produce a variety of shooting errors that can easily be corrected with a more powerful grip.
We teach as part of grip integrity five contact points that if consistently in line will allow the shooter to achieve superior performance. A powerful grip starts off with trigger finger isolation, which means the trigger finger is placed in such a way as it has no contact with the firearm other than the trigger face itself. Another mistake is placing the trigger finger so it contacts the corners and not the true face of the trigger. So many folks work on the grip backwards, they try to get an overly aggressive high grip and as a result, they have very poor trigger finger placement. Trigger finger placement is first on the grip priorities, if not you get grip that places the trigger finger in a position that fails to apply correct technique.
Once the trigger finger is properly placed, the pinky should lie naturally across the front strap. It applies pressure rearward, squeezing the frame into the heel of the hand. The grip pressure cascades up the rest of the fingers until a powerful grip is achieved. The weak side pinky will then wrap naturally around but on top of the strong side pinky. It applies pressure equally, squeezing the frame into the heel of the hand as the rest of the fingers cascade up. The weak side thumb is pointed downrange on the potential target and it lies parallel with the barrel against the frame. There should be a physical contact point on the frame that allows the thumb to return to the same point over and over. The strong side thumb will rest on top of the week side thumb and applies downward pressure. This downward pressure closes the grip. With the exception of the trigger finger, all contact points apply pressure equally. The amount of pressure applied is greater than what one thinks, but not to the point of shaking the pistol.
The mistakes we see start off by not following the above and having a poor grip to begin with, then failing to apply enough grip pressure. You really do have to apply a sizable amount of force to achieve a powerful grip. Another big mistake we see is folks that start off with a powerful grip, but then relax their grip during the shooting string or we see a disparity of force between their two hands. In an attempt to be ultra-precise with their trigger finger, they subconsciously relax their strong side grip. Their weak side overpowers creating a a common shooter error.
Folks will sometimes ask me what’s a good exercise to help strengthen the grip. One I find particularly creative is to take a set of medium weight kettle bells or dumbbells. Grip normally but point both trigger fingers straight down. Apply pressure between your pinky and the heel of your hand as this most closely replicates a proper grip. Start off with a short distance of about 10-15 yards. Farmers walk with the weight for about 2-4 sets. Gradually increase the distance, but always maintain the grip integrity by squeezing the pinky and thumb into the heel of the hand.
It should go without saying that a firm handshake is a sign of a strong man. A powerful grip, is the sign of a solid shooter.