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Thread: shaky hands?

  1. #1

    shaky hands?

    I still have so much to learn. . .

    So what causes shaky hands when gripping a pistol? It must have something to do with the recoil, but I don't really understand what/why. I can't replicate it when dryfiring unless I REALLY grip hard. But after several magazines of live ammo it seems that my hands shake quite a bit just trying to maintain a firm grip. The more I squeeze the worse it gets.

    Go home and try a few snapcaps after cleaning the gun - my sight picture is steady as can be.

    I'm shooting a Micro 9mm - so it is a small gun for that cartridge. But it doesn't hurt. I don't feel any pain. Not during shooting, not after.

    Am I doing something wrong? Or is it just a fact of life with a subcompact 9mm?

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    I have no idea of your physical condition. Is it possible your hands and arms are just getting tired?
    If so, practice and exercise are your friend here. You may just need to get stronger.
    My hands shake when I shoot. It used to be far worse than it is now after several years of working on it. No magic cure that I know of.

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master

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    REcoil, muzzle blast, fatigue all contribute to the shake you see. Dry firing a few rounds when fresh doesn't reproduce the blast recoil and fatigue. Try dry firing 100 rds some evening and see where it goes. The shake comes both from the physical and phycological of firing a firearm. The nervous system dosnt care for the blast, and flash in front of you. The body dosnt care for the recoil. THe muscles used to grip and pull the trigger need to be "trained" to work together

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Squeezing too tightly can cause shakes. Anticipating the recoil of firing can cause shakes. Certainly a subcompact 9mm has more than the average felt recoil. You might try reduced loads to gain familiarity and confidence, then go back to the full power defensive loads. I have found that to a big extent it's "mind over matter". If you concentrate on the sight picture and squeezing the trigger you may forget to shake. Just some thoughts....

  5. #5
    Boolit Master gnostic's Avatar
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    Your sights are always going to move around on your target. As long as you don't try to force the shot, making gun to go off when the sight picture looks good, you'll be ok.

    I usually practice with a revolver, I leave an empty case or two in the cylinder, when the hammer falls on an empty case, I can see what I'm doing. You might consider making up a few dummy rounds to get a read on what's happening when the trigger breaks. When your dry firing at home, you're probably not tired like you'd be at the range....
    Last edited by gnostic; 09-30-2019 at 11:00 AM.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    My hands shake. Some days worse, some days better, just a fact of life. My goal in shooting any handgun is to keep the rounds in an area where they will be effective. I don't use regular bullseye targets, I use 8x11 yellow carbon paper. The target is easy to see and doesn't have any distracting patterns or colors on it. If I can keep all my rounds somewhat centered on the paper then I am doing good.
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, .30 WCF, .45-70 Gov't.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I have shaky hands & it gets worse each year, but I have neurapathy in both arms as well as familial(essential) tremors. The neurapathy was ongoing as I got older from the work I was doing, but the familiar tremors did not begin until I was 55. Had UNT surgery in 2015 on left elbow, and 2017 on right elbow.

    Like tazman said, I do not know your physical conditions, and I would think that it is unlikely that you have neurapathy like I do, but the possibility of familial(essential) tremors is there, IF you have the family background( family genes) for it.

    Otherwise, it could be like some of the others have said & you are gripping to tightly(maybe because that firearm is small sized), anticipating recoil, or maybe even both.

    I do know that I do not own any firearms that I can't put my little finger of my right/shooting hand on the grip because of that uncomfortable feeling that i get when holding one like that & perhaps it is the feeling that it is going to not stay in my hand like I would like when shooting & thus I would probably hold it too tight from that feeling. I have put larger grips on firearms I have owned, just due to that reason in the past. ( My missus even felt that way with the 357 LCR snubbie I bought her and she has small hands. After putting larger grips on it she was much happier. Although I might mention she has had surgery for carpal tunnel in both hands as well, she can still shoot pretty good with the larger grips where she was having difficulty with the smaller grips before.)

    So perhaps it is the size of the pistol causing the issue.

    Do you have the same issue with larger gripped handguns?

    That would help tell you if it is the grip/pistol size as causing an issue, making you having the tight grip, recoil issue, or both.

    Anyway, just trying to help you out with some thoughts.

    I know that I have gone from very small groups to larger groups due to my "shakes", but I understand why it is happening to me & accept it, even though I don't like it.


    G'Luck! in figuring things out. I hope it is not physical for you & is something you can adapt to, or correct yourself to stop shaking.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    I left for the pistol range right after my previous post. I was thinking about this topic the entire time I was there so I decided to try to check and see how much different things affected my hold.
    On a good day, I will typically shoot 3 inch groups at 12 yards. This is my normal practice distance since the distance from my bedroom door to the center of my living room(where the front door opens) is slightly less than that far away.
    I was having a good day today. I fired several groups with the four revolvers I took with me, and all were 3 inches or less at 12 yards.
    I found that changing my normal grip to something less familiar made the shakes worse.
    I found that gripping significantly tighter made the shakes worse.
    I found that longer strings of fire without any rest in between made the shakes worse.
    I found that hurrying the shot(trying to shoot rapid fire) made the shakes worse.
    I found that removing part of my hearing protection(I wear muffs and plugs) made the shakes worse due to the blast anticipation.
    I didn't have a different set of grips for any of the revolvers. They all wear Pachmayr grips and all feel nearly the same, so I couldn't test that part.
    It seems there is a lot going into how much a person shakes. Undoubtedly, your health on that particular day will effect things.
    When I go to the range, I try to prepare in a consistent manner so my body will be in nearly the same condition when I shoot. Hopefully I can use the results on a given day to compare with what I have done in the past. Some days things just don't work for whatever reason. I try not to make any changes in my form when that happens. It probably would be a mistake.
    I have been told by some very good shooters that exercising the muscles used in shooting will make you hold steadier as you get stronger and more used to the particular grip and stances you use.
    So much is dependent on how you feel while doing the type of shooting you participate in as to how much stress it puts on your body, mind, and nerves.
    Best I can tell you is work on getting comfortable with your gun(s) and become stronger. Try to be consistent with your form when shooting. Control and fewer shakes will come with time until you reach the best you are capable of.
    Be safe, shoot as much as you can, and enjoy what you do.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy OldBearHair's Avatar
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    My oldest son began to have shaky hands at 60 years old, but his problem came from drinking diet coke. Quit drinking anything aspertame and has very steady hands now. Good shooting pistols, He is. I thought this might could be some of you guys problem as well. Should that be the case , then it is an easy "fix".

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Sounds like nerves to me. If I shoot a gun I'm uncomfortable with I will shake like you describe. Have to remember to breathe and relax. I will do live and dry fire together if this is the case. I'll dry fire a few and shoot only one round and dry fire more. Then maybe shoot two. I might do this quite a while. After a lot of shooting, I'm pretty much comfortable with anything smaller than 44 mag now.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Well if you still smoke or vape, that can cause it. Nicotine is what makes you more shaky. Caffeine causes it too. You get it in coffee, sodas, energy drinks, etc. Some other things could cause it too. Some prescription drugs, maybe aspartame a artificial sweetener, too much sugar.

    Now if you have exerted yourself and have your heart rate up high and your breathing hard, you are definitely going to be shaky. I don't know how those biathlon guys do it with such incredible accuracy along with all that high powered cross country skiing they do.
    Last edited by Earlwb; 09-30-2019 at 05:20 PM. Reason: add more info

  12. #12
    Wow. Lots of things can contribute to shaky hands.

    My physical condition is generally pretty good. But I am just recovering from a nasty bout with bronchitis, for which I've been taking Guaifenisin. It definitely got worse the tighter I gripped, and would get bad as I increased pressure on the trigger, and would get bad when I tried to be quick with a follow-up. Not to mention it was the first time out in probably two months.

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Thank you taz-man! I appreciate the way you went and researched this topic.
    Since my shoulder rebuild it seems like I shoot a handgun better with one hand vs2 hands- weird, huh?


    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  14. #14
    Boolit Master


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    It can be performance anxiety. Shoot a .22 pistol. If you shake with it...it is not recoil or muzzle blast...just fear of shooting poorly.

    Next step up would be a light load in a .38 Spl.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texas by God View Post
    Thank you taz-man! I appreciate the way you went and researched this topic.
    Since my shoulder rebuild it seems like I shoot a handgun better with one hand vs2 hands- weird, huh?


    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk
    Not really.
    You used to be steady with both hands. I expect you were steady with either hand. Now the weakness in your rebuilt shoulder puts shakes in your form when you use two hands. When you use one hand(strong side) you don't include the shake.
    You may not even be able to shoot one handed weak side.
    If the doctor says you can work with it, do some strength exercises for your shoulder. You may well be able to get it all back.

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    I got a real eye opener when I put a cheap red dot sight on my Ruger Mk III 22/45.

    Within a couple of 10 round mags I'd trigger a round off, and as the red dot crossed the middle of the bullseye I would pulse the trigger again. With a big of practice at 20 feet I could put 10 rounds inside a pop bottle cap 10 out of 10. But the second you start to delay, trying to get everything lined up perfect your small corrections cause bigger and bigger wobbles.

    So I have been trying basicly the same thing with revolvers in larger calibers and some days have pretty good luck with it.

    I have to admit I do prefer the .32's. .32sw longs are just right, and I'm looking forward to trying some .32acp in a Beretta 81 shortly.

    9mm's and up just rattle my cage, part recoil, part muzzle blast, part noise. They just bang too loud and hard for me to enjoy.

    .45acp takes a good double handful of intestinal fortitude then pick up the gun and try to make sure I keep them all on paper.

    My Ruger New Model Single Six in .32H&R I have only shot .32sw longs in. It is a lot like shooting a .22lr single six with as good or better accuracy and more whump on the far end. But even there, the second those sights are lined up to put it where I want it let it fly.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy poppy42's Avatar
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    As a person with many orthopedic problems ranging fro wrist reconstruction to knee replacement and on to several back surgeries and the list goes on and on. I speak from experience. If you have no specific physical problems causing your shaky hands I would suspect your problems stem from anticipating the recoil. 3 inch groups at 12 yards aren’t the worst in the world but they’re certainly not fantastic. Without being able to watch you shootIt’s tough to say what the problem is try to relax a little bit which is kind of a tough thing to do. If Shooting is semi auto and you relax too much especially with compact or subcompact’s you can wind up limp resting, which will cause your firearm not to function properly. That’s not so much of a problem with the revolver. I also suggest you try you alternating/ mixing up your rounds. One live round, one inert round( Best to have someone else load the rounds for you so you’re not sure which ones are alive and which ones aren’t . And that way you wouldn’t know which rounds we’re going to cause recoil. Overtime in practice it’s definitely a correctable problem. If you have a specific physical disability that’s causing your hands to shake that’s a whole different problem. I would also suggest if it all possible have someone with knowledge and experience firing various different handguns watch you holding and shooting . Possibly get some professional training to help you with your grip. It can be a lot more common then you might think. For instance when I was younger my hand gun of choice was the 357 magnum in a Ruger GP 100. I picked up a Smith and Wesson 22 caliber revolver I believe it was a model 17. it seem like I couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with this 22, but I was fine with the 357 magnum. when I had a gunsmith friend of mine check out the gun, I swore the sites were bad or something. After checking the weapon out and firing several boxes ammunition out of it my gunsmith Buddy told me there was absolutely nothing wrong with the gun and asked me what the problem was . When I told him accuracy was horrible I couldn’t keep my groups under to 3 inches he chuckled and said it made perfect sense to him. I was used to firing 357 magnum‘s and above and I was actually overcompensating for a perceived recoil that didn’t exist with a 22 and it was causing me to throw my shots all over the place. after I realized what I was doing I managed to correct the situation . So without really knowing your situation I’m just trying to throw a couple ideas out there that might help you. Anyway these are just suggestions and hopefully they will be of some help to you. Good luck , be safe, and have fun!
    Long, Wide, Deep, and Without Hesitation!

  18. #18
    Boolit Master RU shooter's Avatar
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    I have a similar issue as the OP if I shoot a heavier gun like my 686 with target ammo I'm fine for about a half hour before my hand shakes pretty severely . After one magazine full in my light weight 45 auto I'm done it will take about an hour to be steady again . My issue is due to past trauma to my wrist and carpal tunnel
    If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by RU shooter View Post
    I have a similar issue as the OP if I shoot a heavier gun like my 686 with target ammo I'm fine for about a half hour before my hand shakes pretty severely . After one magazine full in my light weight 45 auto I'm done it will take about an hour to be steady again . My issue is due to past trauma to my wrist and carpal tunnel
    So do you experience pain when shooting the .45? Or is it just the recoil?

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    I generally have steady hands but if I shoot too long and get fatigued I will start to wobble. I read somewhere that you should not shoot till you get shaky. Stop shooting while you are still going good and don't build bad habits was the theory. I do know that in my case that if I continue to shoot when I get fatigued I had just as well throw boolits in the berm. I tend to believe that a dozen or so shots where you are steady beats 100 shot where you are shaky.
    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

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