Active Shoulders

How many of us grew up hearing “stand/sit up straight” from our parents, if you grew up in Texas probably a lot of us. I know my mom was constantly correcting my slouchy posture and who knew it would pay off down the road.

So, what does that have to do with shooting? Simple, proper posture and tension has a dramatic effect on your ability to manage the recoil impulse. You can pull the trigger fast, but if the sights aren’t back on target it really doesn’t matter.

To help explain this concept we look at body movements with heavy external loads. Proper posture and tension is absolutely necessary to be successful with these heavy lifts, but it serves a dual purpose in protecting you from getting hurt.

When we are teaching folks how to be successful at shooting we place a heavy emphasis on marksmanship. That has to be the priority in the early development. Yes, there is a delicate balance of accuracy and speed. However, placing speed as the emphasis over accuracy brings a lot of luck into the picture.

Once students have solid fundamentals, we try to get them to move as fast as possible maintaining correct technique. We put a heavy emphasis on not moving so fast your technique breaks down because missing fast is still missing.

When we reach the point where we need to shoot faster we talk about a several points. Shooting fast is not necessarily all about pulling the trigger fast; it’s more about getting the sights back on target fast. Getting the sights back on target fast requires you to engage your shoulders and back. When you couple dynamic tension with a powerful grip you will be amazed at the results. Sounds simple and truthfully it actually is pretty easy. It’s how well you can connect the muscular chain from the grip all the way down to your stance and the shoulders and back are hugely overlooked by so many.

What we see a lot is the disengagement of the shoulders or the elevation and forward roll of the shoulders, literally pushing them downrange. This action disengages the shoulders from the upper back; think of it as if you are running on six out of eight cylinders. So, if we are really talking about managing the recoil impulse then engaging the entire muscular chain would be a serious part of the conversation.

Keeping the shoulders in a more neutral position and then retracting the shoulder blades will give you dynamic tension. Let’s face it; the upper back is comprised of some of the largest muscle groups. Compare them with the muscles of your arms and which do you think are truly stronger. It’s no different than getting ready for a heavy lift, the dynamic tension connects the individual parts to create the sum.

Shooting fast is a major goal for anybody serious in the art. Engage your shoulders and get the sights back on target fast, then it’s just about pulling the trigger.