The Incredible Wrist- The Fine Tuner in Shooting?


Orange Belt
Jul 28, 2006
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Yesterday I had the pleasure of training a Sgt. from a major city here in Arizona in the art of Quick Kill; Enhanded Peripheral Vision using two guns; The zipper, The Hammer, Compressed Ready and a few other unorthodox shooting positions.

I was standing to the shooters left, his being left handed, while he practiced drawing from his duty rig into the compressed ready position and firing from there straight through his extending the arm toward the threat till his elbow was locked out and the gun had been brought to just below his line of sight into the Quick Kill position that was between his nose and chin level at about 12 feet.

I happened to be watching his drawstroke and my attention went to watching his wrists action through this exercise. I noticed his wrist was moving like a lever to keep the barrel parallel to the ground once he was into the compressed ready positon and while the gun and wrist moved higher to just below his line of sight. The barrel was being kept parallel to the ground at every point while his arm moved higher.

I started to really watch his wrist and how it was used to keep the gun parellel/level to the ground no matter where the gun was in relation to his arm or body. This made the hits from just above waist stay in the same plane as the hits while extending the arm forward/outward and higher until he "locked out".

The wrist was being used as a lever without conscious thought on his part to keep the rounds as close to each other as possible on the threat. His rounds were grouping near 3 inches at 12 feet in rapid fire with considerable arm speed while it extended out and moved to different planes of height throughout. I made note of this wrist action yesterday and would test it later in my own practice. It seemed I must have been doing the same thing when I had similiar results on my own, but I had not been conscious of this.

Today, I went back to the range for some hip shooting practice leading right into extending the arm up and out while continuing to fire to full extension. I had mentioned to numerous students to keep the gun barrel level/parallel with the ground while shooting in various skills sets over these courses.

While that is good for keeping the hits on an acceptable plane with the threat whether you are using elbow up/elbow down, shooting from compressed ready, or from any other position really, when we start stringing these drills together in training, it is no less important to keep that barrel parallel to the ground.

In most of these skills the forearm is also kept parallel to the ground individually, but once the arm is moving, using the shoulder and elbow to move the forearm out and up vertically, if the wrist remained in the original position, the shots would not stay in the same relative plane [ the COM of the threat ] as they do during our drills.

The shoulder and elbow play a significant role here, and are the gross motor skills for most of these actions, however, the wrist is becomes the "fine tuner" of these gross motor skills, keeping the barrel parallel to the ground as much as possible throughout this motion or movement of the arm.

This all happens with nary a conscious thought for those who have held and fired a handgun over an extended period of time utilizing this movement of up and out of the holster, then extending up and outward further, pushing the hand toward the threat.

It has major implications in our proprioceptive abilities as humans. Repeated movements, refined to the point of unconscious thought, of just doing, of a form of muscle memory, without really ever fully understanding the incredible ability our body has of "learning" and refining all these little things that allow us to act without thought. To know where we are in time and space without direct visual imput after awhile.

These wrists movement is really the fine tuner of the action of drawing and keeping the gun barrel parallel to the ground in different planes througout the drawstroke. Over countless repetitions of the draw and extending the arm, the wrist remembers where it has to be to keep that barrel parallel at all times.

We've all heard the saying at one time or another if we have been around shooters long enough that someone is shooting low or high because they are breaking the wrist/s. Perhaps we should be more concerned that the shooters wrist has not developed the proprioceptive ability it is capable, to "know" subconsciously the position it needs to be in to make the shot no matter where the arm, elbow and shoulder are within their drawstroke sequence.

If the shooter has always drawn and fired at full extension, the wrist has not needed to "learn" where it is within the drawstroke. It has not learned the sequence of fine tuning to allow firing with the barrel parallel to the ground from anything but extension. Is it any wonder that when we ask students to then do just that, that they find it difficult to make the shots go into the same area naturally?

I worked this today for some hours, stopping at various points along the extension of the arm and checking the orientation of the barrel to the gound. The barrel was always parallel no matter where I stopped the action. As my arm moved up and out into my sight plane, from the holster, the wrist was fine tuning the movement and keeping the barrel level, acting in the manner of a fine tuned lever automatically, from years of the same actions being repeated, and making adjustments for shots to keep them where the brain wanted to put them.

Interesting body mechanics that are easily learned by practice. I suppose we all tend to ignore the how and why things are working better as we progress in our training, settling for getting "better" at the goals we set for ourselves. We think in terms of muscle memory, and it really does come to that in the end. It's the reasons behind how the body remembers these actions, our proprioceptive abilities to just do things after some time that others are want to think are near impossible.

How about your own experiences and observations based on your own "practice makes perfect" and the successes you have experienced in developing skills in this or other areas that would correlate to this subject in some way.

The wrist, being a fine tuner at the end of several levers, itself being a lever, allowing us to perform subconsciously at levels of competance that are simply amazing. At times taken for granted and thought of as simply "practice makes perfect" or "muscle memory" and just plain old "training".