I’ve complained before about my wimpy tendency to flinch from my anemic 30-06, 185 gr., 2724 fps load from my 8.4 lb. rifle. I’m still working on eliminating the flinch. One method that helps very much is called “Ball and Dummy”. No, this does not involve me and a ball.
What ball and dummy entails is tricking the shooter, whether that be yourself of a partner. In my case, no one wants to hang out with me, and I’m easily fooled, even by myself, so I mostly do this alone. I learned about this from an Appleseed shoot, to give credit where it’s due.
To sum ball and dummy up, it involves interspersing dummy rounds and live rounds during a string of fire. The shooter should not know beforehand whether there’s a dummy or a live round in the chamber. Ideally, to start out with, give a live round to induce the flinch. A rimfire may not induce a flinch, so this is probably more applicable with centerfire cartridges. After the first live round, go heavier on the dummies until the flinching and blinking goes away. Then reintroduce live rounds. If a flinch reappears, go back to dummies.
What’s nice about this drill is that it gives the shooter instant feedback on what is happening with the rifle at the moment the shot breaks. This doesn’t happen with dry fire, because you don’t expect there to be any recoil. There are several variations of what is generically termed flinching; these are flinching, jerking, bucking, and blinking. Some people throw their shoulders forward to counter the recoil. This is called “bucking” and will cause the shots to go toward the support side. Some people pull their shoulders away from the rifle butt. This is a true flinch, and causes the shot to go toward the firing side. Jerking is exercising poor trigger control, and will probably result in horizontal stringing. Blinking detracts from your follow through, and is usually associated with one or more of the others mentioned above.
If you are at the range, pointed in on a target, with a live round very likely in your chamber, you are likely to see things that don’t happen in dry fire when the trigger breaks. If you’re lucky enough to have a partner with you, they will probably see more than you do.
I made a set of dummies to practice with. I had to seat the bullets a little deep so that they would “live eject” (ejecting a case with the bullet still in it) rather than get stuck. I learned at the aforementioned Appleseed that drywall screw anchors work perfectly as .22lr dummies. I have also done this drill where there are no actual dummies, but the partner either chambers a round or pretends to. I can feel and hear the difference, so that doesn’t fool me.
When I’m alone I just grab one live round with four dummies, mix them up while keeping my eyes busy with something else (something else means looking from my lost brass, all the time, every time), and loading my 5 round mag. If I had more than one mag, I would just load them and mix them up, but my mags are on backorder with Brownells. If you work at Brownells, howzabout speeding that order up, huh?
This is a drill to come back to periodically. You’ll get a lot of visual input that’s very useful. Good luck, and may the force be with you.