Developing good grip strength is one of the most important parts of being a competent shooter. In order to maintain a steady sight picture and have good recoil control grip strength is essential. Building grip strength requires working proper muscles that are not often worked on a regular basis or in normal workouts.
By integrating grip strength workouts into a consistent routine, shooters can develop the muscles necessary to master their craft. Grip strength workouts can be added easily into an existing workout schedule or onto the end of a dry fire routine. Ten minutes, three times a week is all it takes to strengthen the muscles that will help to stabilize your sight picture and improve recoil control.
There are many options for grip strength training, here we’ll explore several of the most popular:
Captains of Crush
Captains of Crush hand grippers, known infamously as the CoC, are popular among top tier shooters for developing the crushing hand strength that gives them the best grip. The silver strength trainers are available in eleven different strengths, from 60 pounds to 365 pounds and are quite affordable, at only $20 each (available around the internet).
By doing several sets and ten reps each on each hand several times a week, users will find that they can increase the weights and rise through the ranks of grip strength quickly. Simply hold the CoC with an extended arm, much like you would hold your firearm when shooting one handed (some shooters even choose to get in their shooting stance when practicing) and pull the CoC closed with a smooth motion.
The same company that makes the CoC also makes the IMTUG, a two-finger utility gripper which can allow shooters to focus on the trigger finger, or trigger finger and middle finger, and establish a smooth and strong motion for their trigger pull.
You use the IMTUG in a very similar fashion to the CoC: by extending an arm, even getting into the shooting stance, and pulling the gripper smoothly closed, much as one would pull the trigger. Different people will find they have to use a different number of fingers on the IMTUG, based on their own grip strength and hand size. Those with smaller hands may have to start out with, or even continue to use, multiple fingers on the IMTUG.
Again, a key here is consistency. Doing several sets and five to ten reps each on each hand several times a week will develop the strength, just be sure you are tracking what you are doing and have a routine.
One of the simplest, and least expensive methods, is to use a rubber ball of tennis ball. All you have to do is squeeze it. Again, many people may choose to get into a shooting stance when doing so. Squeezing a rubber ball and holding it for ninety seconds, three sets each, on each hand will develop the grip strength and forearm flexors frequently used in shooting.
Different types of balls can be purchased at different difficulty levels in order to develop the strength further over time.
The most important thing with grip strength training is to make sure you have a schedule for it and are not just mindlessly squeezing a grip strength trainer. These muscles get pulled and strained just like any others, and it’s important to be aware of your own limitations and to train yourself carefully. However, developing grip strength is a key step in becoming a competent shooter who can handle a variety of firearms under any conditions.
Originally published in the May 2013 issue of GunUp the Magazine.