The Surprise Break Technique: Not Practical, Not Tactical

The Surprise Break Technique: Not Practical, Not Tactical

One of the best ways to get an inexperienced person to improve their accuracy on target is to get them to implement the surprise break. That is to squeeze the trigger back slowly and constantly so that they don’t know when exactly the gun is going to shoot and when it does, it’s a surprise to them.

This works for one reason, if the shooter doesn’t know when the gun is going to shoot, they can’t react to it so recoil anticipation becomes much less of a problem.

The problem is that it takes a long time to shoot your magazine. It might take you a minute to shoot 5 rounds. And those 5 rounds will have a nice tight grouping that you can take a picture of it and show to your friends. However, in reality that is a useless skill. There is no real situation requiring you to use your weapon that you would have that amount of time to aim.

Being accurate with the surprise break isn’t something that you will get better and better at until you’re able to shoot quickly. It doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t work because you’ve never learned how to deal with the recoil properly. As soon as you intentionally squeeze the trigger to shoot faster, you will be as inaccurate as you were before you knew anything about the surprise break technique.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use the surprise break technique if you are at the range and want to shoot a tight group. The surprise break has some advantages in that it allows you to confirm that your technique is on point. But that proves that your technique is right, but your motor skills are the problem. Many people think if they shoot enough rounds accurately with the surprise break that they will get faster and faster at it until they are shooting quickly without any recoil anticipation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work this way. You can’t squeeze the trigger quickly and be surprised at the same time, they are opposite functions.

So what do you do? It’s time for drills and training aids I’m afraid. Have a read of my post on Technique Vs. Basic Motor Skills to understand why…

Check out Rob Leatham 6x IPSC World Champion talking about learning to fire quickly:



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