From fear of recoil to recoil control

By on 12. February 2015

By Claus Shishu, summer 2012


It was an early and chilly Thursday morning when I left for the POMW camp for chief instructors and future POMW instructors. In fact I would rather describe it as night, as it was no more than 4 in the morning. Most people are asleep at the time, and I could easily have done with a few more hours of sleep. There was just no time for sleeping as the ferry left at pm. 7.00 (be there or be square). I was therefore quite drowsy when I drove to Ringsted to pick up the other instructors. The other instructors were there with broad smiles and the first cup of coffee of the day when I arrived. After the last sip of coffee and the usual warm greetings the car packed. We would only be away for 5 days but we had to be prepared for a bit of everything. Everyone had 2 bags and a small suitcase. It added up to 4 small suitcases, 8 bags and 4 adults in a car. Some talked about visiting the border shop when coming back, but I could tell that it would take more than a miracle to squeeze just a single box of sodas into the trunk that was jammed packed. We had to move the bags around a few times in order to close the trunk, but we finally managed and out travel down south could begin. Once we were in the car, the talk of POMW and the coming days continued. What plans would Sensei have for us? We had received a schedule which we, however, had been told could change according to our needs. This would most certainly be the case.

Our journey went smoothly. There is hardly any traffic so early in the morning and we arrived well ahead in time for the ferry in Gedser. Sensei had not arrived yet, but we had heard from “Car 1” and knew that they were on their way. We therefore parked on the side, went out in the cool morning air, and stretched our legs. Even though everyone was a bit bleary-eyed, our mood was great. About 20 minutes before the departure of the ferry Sensei appeared with his usual driver, Jens Hanshi-dai. As always he was fit as a fiddle. We exchanged handshakes and greetings and were given a series of short instructions. Then we drove the last bit to the ferry. We had just arrived at the ferry landing and switched off the engine when the first cars got on board and shortly after so were we.

We had already our tasks. A team of 2 were to block a table so that we would have a place for our breakfast. It consisted of a few Italian buns with cheese and butter, juice and instant coffee. It was not exactly luxury but it would keep the hunger away until lunch. During this “feast” we talked about POMW and its future. Soon the ferry arrived and our trip to Prague could begin. Our journey to Prague was only interrupted by a few pee and eating breaks. Kimu Sensei had said that we were in a hurry as we should spend our time optimally. We therefore arrived at approximately pm 4 at our hotel in Prague. We just managed to empty the car, get our rooms and change clothes before the first shooting lesson.

Loaded with all our gear we went towards the shooting range. Unfortunately, they were not quite prepared for us and it took some time before we got started. This meant a bit of a delay before our first lesson could begin. We were to shoot on a traditional shooting range at 15 metres distance with a calibre 22. There was a lot of emphasis on customising our techniques and I had a few eye opening experiences. This is probably why it went amazingly well. I beat my personal record and got the best result in POMW so far (287), not calculating Kimu Sensei’s result in ultra-rapid shooting (297).

After a few hours of being locked up on the shooting range everyone was pretty tired. The smoke hung in the air like in fog and our heads were dizzy after all the noise and smoke. It was just as well as for the first lesson was completed and it was time to get something to eat. We went back to the hotel at a brisk trot, had a quick shower and then headed out for a meal. After dinner we were given individual assignments and we prepared for the following day.

Friday started with breakfast at. 7.00. We talked about yesterday’s results and the shooting of the day. There was a tough schedule with several hours of shooting in both the morning and in the afternoon. The day did not start well as only one person managed to reach the stunning results of the previous day. Sensei therefore changed the schedule, so that we instead of the planned shooting in the afternoon got instructed in dry training. Besides the instruction the dry training took 2.5 hours. It was quite hard to pull the gun, change the magazine, do transitions and shoot with both strong and weak hand for 2.5 hours. It was nevertheless necessary and later we could see that it has been very useful. It had been a day, of close to 10 hours intensive shooting practice, at the shooting range and so were the other days too.

We kept practicing until we were pretty beaten up and by then we knew it all by heart. Now it was time to consume some carbohydrates. We found there at a restaurant in the city of Prague. It was excellent and not very expensive food. When we had filled our stomachs, there was some time for sightseeing before heading back to the hotel. I saw Charles Bridge and Prague Castle from a distance before going back to clean the guns.We had been assigned the task of cleaning the guns of Sensei and had we had received some instructions, or rather there was one who cleaned and the others looked him over the shoulder to learn. We took turns every day. We did this to learn how to disassemble, clean and assemble different guns. Sensei has a special pistol for competitions, which was a bit difficult to assemble. It is on the edge of rocket science. Therefore, it took close to 1.5 hour to assemble it the first evening. It did not help the person assembling it that we all pointed at the gun, so that you couldn’t see it. As a consequence, it was rather late before we went to bed. The schedule was fixed and as on all other RR camps the sleep was insufficient.

Saturday morning started, just like on the Friday, with breakfast at. 7.00. From 10 o’clock we had 3 hours of shooting practice. Then we rehearsed the theoretical part of the A-license exam, followed by 2.5 hours of dry training. After the dinner in the evening we had once again to clean the guns.

In the shooting lesson the emphasis was again on the POMW technical shooting manual. We were to use this manual when we changed from the 0.22 to a 9 mm pistol. The recoil of the calibre .22 is not nearly as powerful as for the 9 mm. After a while you practically don’t notice the recoil from the .22 calibre. You therefore have to be careful not to become careless with the technique. It is important to remember the techniques and never to be careless and unfortunately I have to admit that I had been forgetting this. That is probably why I had had some problems with the recoils of the 0.22 before attending this camp. This meant that even if I could shoot 270-287 on a 25 metres distance on a DDS target with a calibre .22, I could hardly hit the target with a 9 mm. Pistol. Fortunately, I got control of this and went from having fear of recoil to gain back the control. It also helps to fire one 9 mm magazine after another, while Kimu Sensei continuously adjusts your techniques.

After the dry training, it was my turn to disassemble and clean Senseis “rocket science” gun. I was a curious to find out whether I would be able to reassemble it again. It was relatively simple to take it apart, and the cleaning was merely a matter of spotting where the dirt was. After spending a lot of time cleaning the time to assemble it had come. I placed the pipe in the extractor spring, added the sledge and pushed it forward. I looked through the hole and clicked the sledge in. I pulled the sledge and pushed the sledge stopper in. Bingo! The gun was assembled in just over 30 seconds. No worries here. I felt absolutely fantastic; especially considering it had taken 1.5 hours the day before. To my colleague’s defence, I would like to say that had he not spent all that time the day before, I would probably not have been able to assemble it in such a short time. I had carefully observed the functions of the pistol and I benefitted from that when assemble it.

After a good night’s sleep, which fortunately was not too short, Sunday started like the previous days with breakfast at. 7.00. Sensei asked how it had gone with “rocket science” gun, as he had heard about the incident the day/night before. This gave rise to some snide comments and teasing, as we could inform him that it was assembled in 30 seconds by yours truly.

After breakfast it was time for a short meditation session with some instructions. After the meditation we went back to the shooting range. Today we would shoot with 9 mm pistols only, but with both hands and with a strong hand and weak hand respectively. I was getting so used to the recoil of a 9 mm and basically no more fear that I forgot a few of the things that had been corrected the day before. I therefore got a brief pause to reflect and a minor earful by Sensei. It helped me and I came back in great style. I did, however, fear the shooting with strong and weak hand. We had practiced it during dry training, but we had tried it with a 9 mm. It should be noted that strong and weak hand is shooting with one hand only. The idea is that you have been hit in one arm and therefore only can use the other. My biggest fear was to get the gun in my head when firing the pistol.

To my surprise, this did not happen. I believe that all that dry training and possibly my brief pause to reflect, had improved my attitude and skills considerably. In fact, I shot fairly well with both strong and weak hand. I had a feeling of having found the best solution to the one hand shot. It was all really very simple. It was very encouraging to have found something within shooting that I was really good at. Nothing could get me down after that. There were very few shots outside the black on the target, and it had typically been the times when I was too overconfident and had shot before aiming.

After 3 hours of shooting time had passed, and it was just as well because I was getting really worn-out. We went back to the hotel at a fast pace to review the IPSC rules and to prepare ourselves for the theory test. After having been through the test, everybody on their own, with reasonably good results, none had more than 4 errors out of 100, we went go to a restaurant, to fill our stomachs. After a few kilometres of brisk walking, we arrived at our restaurant, where we ordered food and some wine. Since this was the last evening and our track record had been excellent, we felt that a bit of celebration was acceptable. The atmosphere was good, as we talked about the events of the day. After dinner, we had time for some sightseeing Prague. This time we managed to get to the middle of Charles Bridge and to see most of Prague down town. That was all we achieved to see, as there were a few guns that needed to be cleaned. We also needed to get up early the following morning to do the last shooting before heading home to Denmark. This time there was no problem with the “rocket science” pistol, as by now we all had figured out the trick of how to assemble it. We were therefore all in bed reasonable early. I think it was just a bit past midnight.

Monday morning started much like the other days with breakfast at 7:00. We were scheduled for an hour of so-called ’fun shooting’. After breakfast and some instructions from Sensei, we all went to the shooting range to try out some different calibres and weapons. We were to take note of the recoil when firing the different calibres. We were to shoot with a calibre .40, a .45, 2 different Glock pistols (Tupperware pistols), a magnum .357 S&W (Smith and Wessen) and finally a .44 magnum S&W which is a revolver.

My partner and I had to start with the revolvers. We started the hard way with a .357 which is a serious weapon. Our experience was that the .357 revolver has a recoil considerable, but not unmanageable and the length of the barrel makes the aiming easier. This was not the situation with the “Dirty Harry”. The Magnum .44 kicks some serious ass with a barrel length of 41 mm and a diameter of about 11 mm. You need to show it respect. I got a huge knock-back when firing my first shot. As it says in the manual “it has also shown to be effective against elephants.” After having fired numerous rounds with each of the two revolvers, we swopped weapons with the guys that had the Glocks. Glocks are quite different from the CZ we are used to, as they are partly made of plastic and hence much lighter (Tupperware pistols). They shoot, however, extremely well and are very reliable. The Glock recoil was not much bigger than with a calibre .40 and .45 compared to a 9 mm. Finally we shot with shotguns, both with standard hails and magnum slugs. Even at very short distances the shotgun spreads the hails quite a lot and the target was completely perforated. There is quite a bit of recoil in hail and you have to keep it close to your body to avoid breaking something when it backfires. I have earlier shot with a shotgun so I was prepared for the recoil. Nothing could, however, have prepared me for the recoil of a magnum slug. Here you really needed to hold tight. My partner flew close to half a meter out of the booth at the first shot. Everyone had sore shoulder muscles, when we had completed the “fun shooting.” It had taken longer than expected and we hurried back to the hotel. After a quick shower, to wash off the worst stench of gunpowder, we packed the cars and left Prague.

It had been some nice but hard days in Prague with approximately 20 hours of sleep in 5 days. On the way home Kimu Sensei gave us one last task to solve now that we had 7 hours in the car ahead of us, and nothing better to do. The drive proved to be somewhat longer, as we along the way realised that we could not make the ferry and therefore had to take the bridge instead. I was consequently completely exhausted when I finally arrived home at 1.30. I managed just a few hours of sleep before I had to go to work the next morning. It was, however, very educational and gave me a lot of experience that other shindenkan students can benefit from. I’m sure many others would have liked to go there instead of me, so I’m not complaining; so far it’s been great to be a participant.

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