Pistol Shooting Drill – How To Get Rid Of Your Flinch [VIDEO]

Rob Leatham helps a student by pulling the trigger for him.

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- Do you want to get rid of your flinch? You know, that one that makes you shoot low and left (if you are right-handed) consistently? Who wouldn’t?

I reached out to two of my good friends who are excellent pistol shooters and top-rated trainers, Steve “Yeti” Fisher of Sentinal Concepts and Chuck Pressburg of Presscheck Consulting. They both told me that I sucked and then gave me some great advice, shoot ball and dummy. A lot.

Disclaimer: There are a TON of types of flinches, not just one. This drill focuses on you noticing the flinch, not diagnosing what kind of flinch you are displaying.

As much as shooters poke fun at other shooters for having a flinch, many time it isn’t because the gun scared us, but instead has a lot to do with bad habits formed after thousands and thousands of rounds shot over several years without formal instruction. Maybe you are trying to mitigate the recoil of the pistol before the shot breaks like I was.

Before we go any further, you will need a couple of things to make this drill a ton easier on you:

Dummy rounds – I prefer the Glock brand ones since they are really cheap and I tend to lose one or two each time I do this drill. You can find them on Brownells for about $37 per 50 with an included box but they can go for about $15 cheaper if you happen to catch them on sale.

3″ Bullseyes or Target Pasters – I normally get mine from Amazon where a 25 sheet package with 9 targets per sheet will set you back $14.99 for the 3″ bulls or you can opt for the 1″ paper dots that run $10.00 for 1,000 little brown dots.

Cardboard Targets – You can also use scrap cardboard if you like but I prefer using IPSC/USPSA targets since I have several hundred of the Action Target brand ones tucked in the garage.

Something that I have struggled with for years as a handgun shooter is flinching just prior to the shot breaking. It wasn’t until Rob Letham showed me exactly what I was doing in a pretty unconventional way. He told me to take aim at the target and then proceeded to pull the trigger for me. The result? A nice tight group that I couldn’t have replicated if my life depended on it at that time in shooting career.

Now there are a ton of really old targets out there that will “diagnose” your flinch, but they are really centered around old style bullseye shooting.

When I asked Steve Fisher about the “diagnosis target” he simply replied with “Junk.” When I pressed him for more info he explained it in more detail saying “It’s a carryover from one-handed pistol shooting taught by the military around the same time that bullseye shooting was popular and has little bearing on the modern defensive and ‘gaming’ techniques taught today”

The Drill:

So I already told you that ball and dummy is the name of the drill. As you might guess it involves some ball ammunition and some dummy rounds. The idea is to have someone load your magazines with dummy rounds loaded randomly so that you have no idea where in the magazine they are.

The goal is to have no idea if the round you are pulling the trigger on is live or a dummy. Now if you are by yourself at the range like I often am, just take a ton of magazines and load them all at once randomly and mix them up so you have no idea what is in each mag.

Once you get all loaded up, head to the 3-yard line and start shooting at the 3″ bull or paster. As you come across a dummy round and you flinch, clear the gun and perform 10 dry fires, then reload the gun and continue. Make sure that every time you flinch on a dummy that you take that 10 dry fire penalty.

That is about all there is to the drill. It isn’t super hard but the benefits that I saw with my shooting was incredible after two full range days and 1,000 rounds of 9mm.

A few hundred bucks is well worth taking your shooting skill to a new level.

I want to thank Chuck and Steve for letting me bug them for advice. I strongly encourage you to look into both trainers and see if there is a class in your area, you won’t regret it.

About Patrick R.Patrick Roberts

Patrick is a firearms enthusiast that values the quest for not only the best possible gear setup, but also pragmatic ways to improve his shooting skills across a wide range of disciplines. He values truthful, honest information above all else and had committed to cutting through marketing fluff to deliver the truth. You can find the rest of his work on FirearmRack.com as well as on the YouTube channel Firearm Rack or Instagram at @thepatrickroberts.

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James Higginbotham

now i don’t, anymore i just point and shoot.

Robert Pollard

Need a lesson on how not to flinch with my S&W 500 Magnum. I think I’m doing pretty good as I don’t flinch most of the time but my biggest problem is not settling before pulling the trigger.
Feel like a sissy when I first realized I was flinching. 🙂


A revolver is the easiest way to do this ball and dummy drill. Just load an empty case in one of the chambers, with the remaining chambers loaded with live ammo. Then spin the cylinder without looking at it as you close it up. You won’t know which chamber contains the empty case.

You’ll be astonished how much you jerk the gun when you pull the trigger.

Roy D.

I see many people doing this without intending to do so at our local USPSA matches. Poor reloading skills and lack of gun maintenance are the main culprits.

Clark Kent

What in the world do either have to do with flinching?


I’ve done this with my group. Also added empty shells to (often) cause FTL malfunctions.

It is both fun, practical, and an eye-opener for folks.


FTL? The shells are for use in revolvers. None FTL as they occupy the cylinder and only the ball goes through via the forcing cone and barrel. Are you saying you’ve attempted to load a “shell” into a semi auto?