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#577370 - 08/09/20 11:29 AM Flinch
Drew Hause Offline

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 7948
Loc: AZ but dreaming of KS
Not much else to do here in the desert. It is almost impossible to shoot at Ben Avery, still can't swim at the neighborhood fitness club, and "church" is still on-line frown SO, might as well discuss flinching. Words (should) have meaning, and the more precise we are with our words, the better we communicate; our thoughts, our problem, our needs, and corrective measures we might try.

Links to previous threads on are here, and with more good and very bad information than anyone probably wants to review

“Target Panic” in archers; “Yips” in golfers; “Cueitis” in billiards; “Dartitis” in dart competitors; Musician’s and Embouchure dystonia; Mogigraphia or “Writer’s Cramp”; Computer mouse-related dystonia; and the various shotgun sports “flinches” (including lunging at the trap house in response to the “trigger freeze”); as Bro. Buzz said are all variants of Task-Specific Focal Dystonia or “a psycho-neuromuscular impediment affecting the execution of fine motor skills during sporting performance.”
I would add “visual” to the definition as some flinches are clearly precipitated by some visual error ie. losing sight/focus of the target.

“Tics”, de la Tourette syndrome, and Meige’s syndrome are related dystonias

Excellent review of “The Yips”

Sports psychologists think "yips" is all psychologic.
Neurologists think it's a neurologic/physiologic disorder.
Likely a bit of both.
Certainly, after the first flinch, there is apprehension/anxiety about having another, which leads to loss of focus, which leads to more flinches. Telling oneself "don't flinch" before calling for a target is a good way to flinch.

Stanley Fahn M.D., professor of neurology at Columbia University, and the scientific director of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation
“It’s beyond their control. It’s not psychogenic; it’s an organic disease of the brain. But we still don’t understand why… It’s some kind of a physiological-biochemical problem that we don’t understand.”

"What are the yips? Experts say it's not just in your head" in Golf Digest
Debbie Crews PhD, a sports-psychology consultant for the women's golf team at Arizona State, and Aynsley M. Smith PhD, a sports psychologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota studied “yips” in golfers and found it to be “characterized by the ‘co-contraction’ of groups of arm muscles that don’t ordinarily operate at the same time: one group that extends the wrist and one that flexes it.”

The Task-specific Focal Dystonia that shooters call a “flinch” is a 2 part event (though occurring almost instantaneously):
1st is the “trigger freeze” from involuntary and dysfunctional contraction of opposing small muscles in the hand and forearm, followed by
2nd an entertaining variety of bodily reactions; lunging, jerking, stumbling toward the trap house, etc. involving large muscles.

The reason we can't pull a pull trigger is because the extensor muscles (Extensor indicis and Extensor pollicis longus) are contracting rather than relaxing, and the flexor muscle (Flexor digitorum profundus) will not contract (that’s the short version and ignores the contribution of the Lumbricals and Interossei).

Recoil clearly contributes to flinching, but there is no recoil in putting or throwing a dart, and people still "yip" or have "dartitis"

Almost all of us push our bodies forward with recoil (obvious when we have a dud), but that is recoil compensation, not a flinch.

Recoil/noise avoidance flinching before the shot (ducking the head, closing the eyes, being unable to pull the trigger without jerking) is a physiologic response to an unpleasant stimulus, is not a task-specific focal dystonia, and one can become accustom to the stimulus, and the response thereto attenuated.

BTW: I've come to understand that my trigger freeze and flinch trying to click my mouse (which BTW doesn't bite) is a visual flinch; if I'm not precise in placing the cursor arrow exactly where it needs to be, I flinch.

The dystonia in ‘dartitis’, archer's ‘trigger panic’, and throwing a baseball or cricket ball is failure to relax the muscles ie. inability to “let go”; the opposite of a shooter’s ‘trigger freeze’.

Releasing a release trigger is not a passive action; the extensor muscle must contract. Releasing an arrow from a long bow requires contraction of that same extensor muscle. Archers still have “target panic”; and some release trigger users still flinch.

Moving the gun before the target appears has been called “forecasting the target” and is purposeful, rather than an involuntary dystonia.

What a flinch most certainly is not is ALL anything; recoil fear, focus, vision, grip, slapping vs. pulling, trigger pull, gun fit, performance stress, hold point or anything else, for everybody. And claiming "it's 95%" anything is simply wrong, and not helpful. LOTS of things contribute to the dystonia, and many of us have found effective ways to suppress our flinching without a release (for me dealing with my cross-firing, firmly gripping the gun, intense focus, and low recoil loads) but as said over and over, usually a release will work (but often requiring dealing with vision issues also), and we don't know why.

Anyone claiming to understand focal dystonia, and who demonstrates a cure thereof will very quickly be a gazillionaire. The big money is in professional golfers with “the yips”, but maybe the secret will trickle down to us flinchers.

Fortunately, a release trigger CAN be a cure, but may not be for everyone. And adjustments in ribs, hold points, target focus points, and vision training may indeed help visual flinches.

#577372 - 08/09/20 11:30 AM Re: Flinch [Re: Drew Hause]
Drew Hause Offline

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 7948
Loc: AZ but dreaming of KS
There are 34 muscles in the hand, wrist, and forearm that work together to MAKE AND RELAX A GRIP
One must grip the gun in order to either pull a trigger or relax a release trigger, or we drop the gun. All those muscles are not involved in contracting the trigger finger - 3 do that. And 2 extend the trigger finger.

The amazing thing is that we can volitionally, but with time subconsciously, command our hand to firmly grip (contraction) our gun while, at just the right moment, command our pointer finger to extend. It is my only slightly learned opinion that the contraction then extension has something to do with blocking the dystonia.

The yips, the strange condition affecting sportsmen
“something as simple as clenching your left fist before putting or bowling (throwing the ball toward the wicket defended by a batsman in cricket ) can make a significant difference”
Clenching would be setting the release trigger!

It has long been suggested that not firmly gripping the gun can contribute to flinching.

Guns, Ammunition, and Tackle, 1904
Capt. A.W. Money “The Shot-gun And Its Handling”
The grasp of the stock with the right hand should be very firm, the thumb well over the grip. The right hand guides the gun more than most shooters are aware of, and if not firmly grasping the grip, is not able to do so properly. A loose grip also is the common cause of flinching, that most uncomfortable but prolific cause of misses.

My swing is much smoother and I am much less likely to flinch if I purposefully tell myself “squeeze the gun” before calling for the target.

Interestingly, Col. Courtney cured his flinch after smashing his fingers, requiring changing his grip

#577375 - 08/09/20 11:35 AM Re: Flinch [Re: Drew Hause]
Drew Hause Offline

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 7948
Loc: AZ but dreaming of KS
Charles Barkley’s flinch. Telling him to “get over it and toughen up” would likely not be well received.
Something must have helped

Or these extremely well paid professional athletes with the “yips”

There Is Yips Hope! Tiger Woods and 2019 Masters

It is interesting, but not yet understood, why golfers with hopeless "yips" do not flinch when there is no ball in place; the stroke is smooth. And the flinch of putting, dart throwing or releasing a bow string occurs from a dead stop ie. no movement.

MLB hall-of-flinching-fame

#577376 - 08/09/20 11:46 AM Re: Flinch [Re: Drew Hause]
Drew Hause Offline

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 7948
Loc: AZ but dreaming of KS
Lost Move Syndrome (LMS) is even less well understood, and different from “yips”; it is “I no longer knew how to pull the trigger” and not “I couldn’t pull the trigger”.

It has been described as a psychological condition in which athletes find themselves unable to perform a skill that was previously automatic. Lost Movement Syndrome affected athletes remain in possession of the motor program for the skill, and are still physically capable of performing it, but are temporarily prevented from accessing it.
Some parallels can be drawn between the yips and LMS, specifically related to cognitive anxiety, ineffective focus, and a switch to conscious processing.

Kate Hays, English Institute of Sport, “Yips and Lost Move Syndrome: Exploring Psychological Symptoms, Similarities, and Implications for Treatment”, 2015

Jennifer Bennett, "The Psychology of the Yips and Lost Movement Syndrome in Sport", 2015

#577390 - 08/09/20 02:09 PM Re: Flinch [Re: Drew Hause]
Stan Offline

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 10174
Loc: somwers in Jawja
LMS describes my former (almost) source of angst. I've never triggered the gun when "it" happens, until it passes and I can trigger the gun a split second later.

I never heard the formal name for it. Thanks. I've a shooting buddy who flinches a time or two per 100. He always pulls the trigger, but with other accompanying muscle jerks, causing a miss, usually. He can't understand my never shooting when mine occurs.

Now I can tell him why. We have two different ailments!

Doves ain't hard to hit ........ they're just so easy to miss.

#577422 - 08/09/20 08:56 PM Re: Flinch [Re: Drew Hause]
Brittany Man Offline

Registered: 02/10/12
Posts: 488
Loc: Midwest
I have suffered of & on from a bad flinching problem for the past 35 years on clay targets but I have never (that I know of) flinched on any game targets. I've had long periods where it is not present but it always returns.

The only temporary cure I've found is to lay off the shooting for a month or so & sometimes I can go for a year or more before it returns. I shoot 1200 fps 7/8 oz loads in guns of around 8 lbs almost exclusively for clay targets so I don't think the flinch is recoil induced.

I once flinched in a game of horseshoes (a game I seldom play) & was unable to release the shoe when I intended & I came close to braining a bystander. Since that flinch was on muscle relaxation rather than contraction I never tried a release trigger.

#577434 - 08/09/20 10:53 PM Re: Flinch [Re: Drew Hause]
Tamid Offline

Registered: 05/12/11
Posts: 934
Loc: Calgary, AB
Being from Canada we are not allowed to have suppressors of any kind. Owning but not using is still against the law. This past winter while at the Shot Show I had the opportunity to shoot a few high power rifles with suppressors. A 300 Win Mag, 7.60NATO and 30.06. It was quite unbelievable. My fear of the rifle report and subsequent recoil vanished in about 5 shots. I could settle down and very clearly and precisely control the trigger squeeze, focus on good bench rest technique and call the shots. My shooting, i expect, would improve dramatically if I could use suppressors constantly. And I expect my trap and skeet scores would put me into the AA league.

My suggestion to anyone starting out shooting is to get a suppressor and learn from there on.
Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

#577442 - 08/10/20 08:05 AM Re: Flinch [Re: Drew Hause]
AZMike Offline

Registered: 02/15/19
Posts: 141
I noticed your reference to your flinch, I don’t presume to know that much on the subject but would like to share my flinch experience as I had a fairly terrible time of it!

After Kathleen and I bought the Double Adobe Campground in 1990 we immediately started adding the trap fields as this was the clientele we were attracting. I built a 25’ flag pole with a draw rope in pulleys. The rope got fouled in the top pulley so I stood on the bottom pulley to try and shift the rope, it rolled and I fell only far enough to be impaled on the tie off cleat. I was hung through my right bicep about a foot off of the ground. Dr Susini told me the 3” tear was very close to the brachial artery and between muscles. The accident messed up the nerves in my right arm pretty bad, when shooting I would have a strange delay and stutter on trigger pull. I best described it as a small electric shock. This created my first FLINCH. I was shooting an old straight stocked Model 32TC but flinching badly.

As the owner/operator of a fledgling shooting facility I felt that I better figure out how to keep shooting—in comes the release triggers first a single Perazzi then my doubles Beretta EELL and so on. I did fine, made the 27 yard line and a number of 100 straights. We sold the operation after 17 years. My interest in competitive shooting waned as I revisited my collecting of vintage Remington’s especially clay target/bird guns.
I love my “oldies” but had an awful time trying to shoot them, I have actually stepped off of the shooting post while flinching! Very funny for my buds watching—not too fun looking from my view point! Pulling the triggers was tough and double triggers were nearly impossible.Too long shooting release triggers although my bird guns are all pull.
After so many years of talking and reading about nerve damage I felt that some degree of restoration had occurred to my right arm. I decided to remove all my release hooks, sell off the triggers and guns (buy more Remingtons) and do my best to learn to shoot double triggers.

I decided that if I wanted to continue shooting shotguns I needed to take an aggressive adjustment to the way I shot. I figured I would try to re-wire my brain and years of muscle memory. The first thing was to not shoot the guns that I had been shooting with release triggers even though they were converted to pull. It seemed like the feel of the fit prepared me to the “old ways”. I pasted a mock doubles trap house and set of 4 targets on the front of my gun safe, I make my gun mount then move to shoot the first target while pulling the front trigger—then make a good move to the second target as I pull the back trigger. All this is done as I shift my weight and execute the two shots just as if I am shooting the pair. I don’t cock the gun just pull/move/pull dead triggers. I mount and shoot 50 targets (25 pair) twice each AM, this plus my stretching and light dumb bells for shoulder mobility. Over the last few months I have been doing this with my 32TC as it feels good, I’ll change to the FE when the stock is finished.
I think the exercise has helped me a lot. I have been shooting 25 straights often and shot a 94 in a registered competition a couple of months ago. I know that I can and will flinch once in a while if I am not focused on the shot. When I do I ignore the result as if I got a broken target or no bird. I avoid shooting any of my guns that have hard triggers, the 32TC and FE have very smooth ones. I hope to stick with my rehab program until I feel totally comfortable and automatic with the double trigger guns.

#577460 - 08/10/20 12:47 PM Re: Flinch [Re: Drew Hause]
Drew Hause Offline

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 7948
Loc: AZ but dreaming of KS
Thanks for sharing Mike.
The story of Markelle Fultz illustrates the multi-factorial aspect of "yips", which can be precipitated by an injury

He was finally diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
but despite all the therapy (physical and mental) he is nothing like the player he once was; now with Orlando.

From 6-2020
"He simply didn’t know how to shoot the ball anymore."

re: pull triggers. I had Dan Lammers tune the locks of the Smith I was primarily using for recreational skeet and sporting. A crisp let-off is a thing of awe and wonder, and did help my flinch, but totally ruined any chance of my using a heavy mushy trigger.

#577461 - 08/10/20 12:54 PM Re: Flinch [Re: Drew Hause]
Drew Hause Offline

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 7948
Loc: AZ but dreaming of KS
Brittany guy's example "I was unable to let go" is the dystonic reaction with throwing; a baseball, cricket ball or dart, and also archer's "target panic".

Tamid: A recoil/noise/sonic concussion anticipation “flinch” is an avoidance response, and very likely has a survival advantage. These videos are from the Boston Marathon bombing. Everyone, to some degree, “flinches” ie. closes their eyes, turns away and ducks.
It is called the “startle response” in babies, and an exaggerated startle response is an almost universal finding in PTSD.
This “flinch” is not a dystonic reaction however

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