Lessons Learned about Shooting after Tearing a Bicep
For those who don’t normally follow this channel or who don’t normally give a shit; I was training BJJ on July 3rd and during a scramble my opponent hit a standing switch and while I chasing the hips trying to recover my position I got my hand stuck in his shorts and rolled over a bit awkwardly. I heard a little pop and crack and thought I had just tweaked my elbow and was having a forearm cramp, 2 days later the Doctor told me I had totally ruptured my Bicep Tendon from the Ulna and I had surgery the following morning to fix it. After surgery I spent a couple weeks in a full splint and sling, a few more in a sling full time and a couple more after that where I wore the sling only when I was away from the house, primarily to deter strangers or passersby from accidentally or innocently interacting with that arm. I kept up my usual regimen of weekly shooting and even attended a Mike Pannone Covert Carry class that I was already signed up for and fired about 1,000rds in 2 days in a sling and Strong Hand Only or 'SHO' (I actually just took to calling it ‘The Sling of Humbleness’); here are some things I learned in the process.
1. APPENDIX CARRY!!! Up until the summer of 2016 I had only religiously carried concealed at my 3-4 o’clock and I finally bought a purpose built Appendix rig so I could feel it out and so when people asked me for advice or opinions on the matter that I had a first-hand POV. From the 3-4 o’clock position I am probably an on demand 1.2-1.3s Draw-to-first round from concealment shooter on an IPSC or IDPA A-zone, make it a BC-zone steel and I can hit a few sub 1.00s and a lot of 1.1s. With the Appendix Carry I hadn’t really adjusted to the typical support hand only garment clearance that yields so much speed as I use what I call ‘The Stupid Proof’ 2-hand clearance for 3-4 o’clock.
3 o'clock-2 Hand Garment Clearance- 0.97s
Once I hurt my bicep I realized that having to do all of my manipulations SHO would be much better served from the Appendix position and I basically drank from a fire-hose on everything therein related. I’ll post the video below but after a few dozen forced reps I was able to consistently get my draw-to-first round on an IPSC A-zone under 1.4 with the occasional 1.2s by improving my reaction time and by moving more deliberately. Not to brag but out of 20 shooters in the July Mike Pannone Covert Carry Class, I still had the fastest draw times despite shooting everything SHO. I attribute this to my being more experienced to begin with than most of the shooters but comparatively, I did everything ‘Sooner’ in my fundamentals without the typical hesitation or lack of aggressive movement typical of newer or less confident shooters when put on the spot by a guy like Mike.
SHO Draw from Concealment
Once I regained my support hand I stuck with the AIWB carry and never looked back and consequently my purely speed draw times have decreased to sub 1.00s for an A-zone hit and I’ve been getting some .80s BC-zone hits(yes, these are faster than I can accurately use but represent my pure speed). My most recent runs on the F.A.S.T. Drill over Thanksgiving have been with consistent 1.15-1.20s draw-to-first round hits on the 3x5 card. Add to this my affliction for combative and force-on-force realism and you quickly realize that when fighting/grappling/wrestling an opponent with the aim of accessing a firearm, the Appendix position is a bajillion times more accessible and more universally accessible from fighting position to fighting position than the 3-4 o’clock position. With that said, the 3-4 o'clock position is still very relevant and by no means useless, it remains an excellent choice when hiking/running/walking for extended periods.
Speed Work from the AIWB Carry Position
2. If you’ve watched enough videos of Officers Involved Shootings and Civilian Defensive Shootings like I have and as I'm sure many or most of you have, you know that a 2-hand firing grip is optimal but proximity and circumstances quite often dictate that the initial round/s or indeed perhaps the entirety of the rounds fired will be done from a single-hand firing grip. While being force fed my SHO work I was able to see where I was actually at in this regard and able to make a lot of progress. I also learned that I was sort of getting away with a less than optimal firing hand position because my support hand position was so strong and so forward/aggressive, in making a small tweak I was able to get to where my hands were much more mutually supportive and without the noticeable positional change from 2-hand to SHO. Another key component was that I tended to relax my hand when shooting SHO if I was going for pure accuracy as to not disturb the trigger with the same force I can get away with when using 2 hands, this proved to be bass-ackwards and keeping a firm grip was crucial. This may personal preference but when I shoot SHO, my accuracy will suffer unless I can feel my pinky finger actively engaged in the grip process as it seems to be a component of maintaining optimal grip position in SHO that is not noticeable or as noticeable in a 2-hand firing grip.
3. This one I have to give credit to Mike Pannone for as I had noticed this phenomenon for some time, years in fact, but never bothered to consult anyone on it and Mike talked about this exact thing when discussing the timeline of shot-to-shot actions on his little Mike Pannone graph (I’ll see if I can find a picture). But basically he talked of the body’s natural cadence and rhythm in relation to shot, recoil, recovering the sights, resetting the trigger and then the follow-up shot. We’ve all experienced this as we’re trying to burn down a falling plate rack and we miss a shot but either keep traversing to the next plate or blow multiple shots on one target without being able to redirect our speed to match the needed recovery accuracy. For me it was nice to see a highly respected guy talk about something I had been trying to put a name to since my days in the Corps. Now, where this became really interesting for me was when I was shooting 25-30yd pure accuracy drills. Aside from the aforementioned issues of grip and whatnot for SHO accuracy work, I was consistently stuck in an infinite loop of shot-reset trigger-reset sights-sights not solidly on target-bad flinch and missed shot or noticeable flinch and no shot-start all over again. My issue was that everything was prepared for the next round to be fired only because of the stability issues of using only 1-hand, my sights were not on the target where I needed them yet my body’s instincts said ‘break the shot’ because of my natural cadence and because everything else was ready. This will sound stupid but the thing that actually broke me through, controlled/rhythmic breathing… Yes, the same breathing BS and usage I was taught to use on the Known Distance Course in the Corps was the thing that allowed me to realign my bodily cadence with the actual reality of my sight alignment and picture. I won’t claim that I am some magical stud at the 25, especially not SHO, but I was able to knock most of the fliers out and trim my consistent groups to around 6 inches or smaller for SHO work.
When I finally got my support back it wasn’t all candy and nuts right away, I was actually slower on the draw with 2 hands for a bit because the nerves in my left arm and hand were still messed up and recovering and the corresponding coordination of my 2 arms was off. I actually remember texting my buddy Rick, who I am in a never-ending competition for Shooting Alpha Maleness with, to tell him that ‘the worst possible scenario had happened’ when I found out I was slower with both hands, but it eventually worked its way out. After a couple training days I was sure that I was about to take a leap forward in total shooting prowess, one of those things you get every so often when something clicks, and I figured I might as well shoot the next USPSA event by me. I chose to shoot Limited because I still didn’t want/trust my left arm to make a lot of explosive movements on the reloads I would need shooting Production and thank God, Limited is wayyyyyy more fun but I digress. Sure enough, there was a stage that had a 6-falling plate rack flanked by a silhouette on each side and there was a free-style/2-hand, a SHO and a WHO run from the holster. I assumed I would murder the SHO, do well 2-handed and had no idea about WHO as it had literally been months since I had even shot with my left hand. As it turned out, I absolutely smoked it and beat every single handgun competitor, to include a Grand Master and a couple Master class dudes(on that stage), and only barely was edged by a couple Pistol Caliber Carbine dudes, one of whom is a Grand Master Steel Challenge shooter, who don’t even have start from the holster…….cheating bastards
I guess the moral of the story or the point of it is that I would certainly not recommend tearing your bicep to facilitate training improvements, however, humbling yourself in training and removing the ego to be able to truly work on and truly see the inner workings of your skill set is an absolutely invaluable approach and will absolutely enhance your skillset. As I am infinitely competitive, this sort of forced humbling was exactly what I had been missing as I was getting a little big for my britches in some regards and it absolutely gave me an abundance of new training and instructive data for future use.