How an Action-Pistol Champ Manages Recoil

Action-pistol champion Julie Golob

Action-pistol champion Julie Golob has no shortage of experience when it comes to handgunning, and one of the most important lessons she has learned is to control recoil. Here’s how she does it.

GRIP: Take a high grip on the gun, holding it as firmly as you can with your strong hand, but not so much that your hand shakes. Also, cant the wrist of your support hand downward so that your thumb is pointing straight downrange. Then, wrap your fingers around your strong hand, with the fingers overlapping. Get your supporting thumb under your strong-hand thumb like a puzzle piece—don’t leave any gap between your hands. Squeeze your supporting hand’s fingers toward your palm. Use your chest muscles to compress your palms together around the back of the grip.

TRIGGER FINGER PLACEMENT: Ideally, the full pad of your trigger finger will rest on the face of the trigger. Gun fit here is key. For a larger-framed gun you need to adjust your grip to get your trigger finger in the right spot—so you will have to be flexible with your grip depending on the firearm you’re using. But if you’re going to shoot a handgun a lot, you want to make sure it fits you.

STANCE: The smaller you are, the more aggressive your stance needs to be. Golob likes to stand with her feet more than shoulder-width apart, which is wider than what most shooting instructors suggest—in fact, her stance is about double that. If you’re a right-handed shooter, get your right foot a bit further back than the left (reverse this if you’re left-handed). Lean forward into the gun, bending at the waist, your weight on the balls of your feet. The wider stance helps get you low to the ground and you’ll have less of a teeter-totter effect when shooting.

RESET POINT: Another key point for rapid and skillful shooting, says Golob, is to learn the reset point of each gun’s trigger—this will help you gain more speed. One thing that separates action-pistol shooters from precision-pistol shooters is that trigger control isn’t a big concern, as action shooters are aiming for speed. The biggest problem for action shooters is when they anticipate the recoil and yank the gun off target during the trigger stroke. The fix is the old classic of learning how to just let the shot happen. You want to train to pull through an entire trigger stroke while watching your sights stay on the target.