Mike Seeklander is a top practical shooting competitor, classed as a Grand Master by the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA). Currently he is chief operating officer with the U.S. Shooting Academy at Tulsa, OK.
The USSA is one of the nation's premier training centers. It provides a broad range of firearms training for private citizens, including basic gunhandling and marksmanship, CCW classes, personal defense and competition training. The Academy also provides training for the military (National Guard and some "Special Ops" personnel) and for police agencies and individual police officers.
Seeklander has the qualities I look for in an instructor. He is observant, analytical, articulate and enthusiastic. And believe me, he can really shoot. Watching Mike Seeklander shooting Limited and Limited-10 Divisions at the 2008 USPSA Nationals (held at the U.S. Shooting Academy), I was impressed by how little muzzle rise his pistol had during recoil (even by Grand Master standards), and how fast he was from shot to shot.
Certainly physical strength and fitness play a part in recoil management. Seeklander believes any shooter can improve recoil management by gripping the pistol correctly. One of the key lessons he teaches his students is to get "behind" the gun. Many shooters want to grip the gun by the sides, between the hands, like a slab of meat sandwiched between slices of bread.
No one, no matter how strong, can adequately manage recoil by gripping the gun by its sides. Instead, says Seeklander, the pistol should recoil directly against the hands, which are behind the gun, and indirectly against the shooter's arms and upper body mass.
Most of the top shooters I've met, including Mike Seeklander, seldom use the term "recoil control." Instead they talk of "recoil management," of "driving the gun." One of the fundamentals of practical shooting is to make the gun ready to fire with the least possible delay.
The objective is to have the pistol follow a smooth and predictable pattern as it recoils and cycles. As the gun fires the sights lift in recoil, then track smoothly back to their original position. During recoil the gun cycles to eject the fired case and chamber a fresh cartridge; the trigger finger moves forward to allow the trigger to reset, then preps the trigger, taking up trigger slack. As the gun settles back on target the system is ready to deliver the next shot.
For more info: www.usshootingacademy.com.
The sequence of four pictures shows how Mike Seeklander teaches an effective shooting grip. The pistol is his Limited-10 competition gun, built on an STI frame b gunsmith Kevin Toothman.
1 The shooting hand is high on the gun with the mass of the hand pressed hard against the grip tang. Note the space at the base/rear of the grip for the support hand.
2 Support hand fits into the space at the base of the pistol's grip, getting the mass of the support hand behind the gun. Note there is no gap between the hands.
3 This top view shows how the hands are placed "behind" the gun as much as possible.
4 Closing the hands completes the shooting grip. The shooting hand thumb is locked clown on the support band With a 1911-style pistol, it's also pressing on the thumb safety shelf.