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Shooting Accuracy: The Dilemma of mixing Recoil with Dry Fire

Whenever you become engrossed in a subject, you inevitably begin to notice the nuances that color any discussion. You see the different trains of thought, the camps folks come from, and even the hills on which people are willing to die.


One such camp in the firearms training space deals with dry fire training and RECOIL! I hear it already--Ben, do you want to go there. . . ? Yeah. Leave it to me to not care about wading into controversial topics--oh, help me and those at the Thanksgiving dinner table.


Before I purchased LASR from the previous owners, I always thought airsoft was a cool way to train with tactics and firearms without the risk of live ammunition. You could buy almost any model of firearm that looked like the real thing. Sometimes they even seemed to cost just as much as the real thing. The slide reciprocated, "just like the real thing," or so I thought. But does it?


At the 2021 USCCA Expo, I met Ron Norton, the owner of Inland Manufacturing, a competitive shooter and Army Vet. Ron also introduced me to his friend Fred Swensen. After talking with Ron & Fred, I learned they had been working on laser training systems and tactics for at least 20+ years, going back to their BeamHit days. But, as Ron put it, he and Fred have probably forgotten more about the laser dry fire and shooting than most people remember.


During one of my early discussions, I brought up the topic of recoil in dry fire training. Ron's response was similar to what I heard from LASR's previous owners, many competitors, and firearms professionals, the FOLKS WHO UNDERSTAND FIREARMS TRAINING DON'T TRAIN FOR RECOIL!


You've probably heard the most common argument that recoil is merely a by-product of shooting live ammo, so don't focus on it; maybe you've heard that recoil from live ammo masks a lot of issues, so why do you want to include that in your diagnostic-training sessions? Or that constantly training with the recoil from the live fire creates the problematic flinch you want to work out during dry fire.


But it was this one point that Ron and Fred brought up that I had never heard before, which was that, Recoil-simulating devices produce the REVERSE of recoil you are trying to "manage" compared to shooting a real gun and projectile.


For the longest time, I didn't understand what they meant by that. Then, finally, Fred had to explain it to me. When working with early laser dry fire systems, they were doing post-shot diagnostics observing firearms muzzle movement just 10ths or 100ths of a second after pulling the trigger.

One of the early systems they developed provided post-trigger pull diagnostics, similar to the diagnostic feature you can activate in LASR Classic that shows a "tail" or trail from your shots or the diagnostic dial you see in LASR X.

To do this, they developed their system to look for the laser light emitted from a training device in the space ABOVE the initial shot to anticipate the firearm's muzzle moving upwards as with live fire.


However, they received complaints that there was no diagnostic trail and no post-trigger pull diagnostics. This prompted them to reprogram their software to look for a laser trail below the initial shot on the target. Fred told me that's when they realized recoil simulation devices produced the OPPOSITE type of recoil a shooter experiences with a real gun. The recoil simulators caused the muzzle to dip for a split second as the recoil-simulating device's slide reciprocated--a reverse recoil.


I found an excellent six-second segment showing this effect. In the gif I created, you can observe the airsoft pistols, which are often used as platforms for recoil-simulating devices. As the gentleman fires off the airsoft pellet, the muzzle drops down. The team was testing for the airsoft pistol that came close to simulating a real firearm's recoil. While the GHK Glock 17 model won for most felt recoil, it also exhibited this reverse "recoil effect" that Ron & Fred had described to me. Compare this to the gif of an actual firearm's recoil, which I show above.

Gif from the YouTube Video: The Most Recoil Airsoft Pistol ? GLOCK 17 - 4UAD MythBusting by 4UADSmartAirsoft
The recoil on airsoft gas-powered simulators has a noticeable and felt dip at the muzzle.

This 6-second gif was captured under "fair use" from the YouTube video by 4UADSmartAirsoft entitled "The Most Recoil Airsoft Pistol? GLOCK 17 - 4UAD MythBusting". You can watch their entire video and test here. They did a great job researching and testing their specific hypothesis, which also produced great collateral for this post.


In full disclosure at LASR, because folks have different use cases and needs, we support recoil simulation with LASR Classic. To do that, you will need Classic, and a LASR Classic Advanced Camera (LCAC) set to its high-speed shutter setting. However, we don't push recoil simulation nor promote it for the beginning shooter.


One reason is that recoil devices are expensive, and more importantly, there are many more pressing fundamentals the beginner needs to focus on before worrying about recoil management. However, for the instructor or shooter who wants to have something to fight against to train to keep their sights on target, a partner yelling at them for distraction or pulling on their belt as they fight for well-placed shots is an effective alternative.


As a practitioner of the 2A lifestyle, I don't just sell stuff to make money. At LASR, we want to ensure that if someone draws a gun out of necessity, they are correctly prepared and trained. And because folks I know focus on fine motor skills and are concerned about potential training scars when the wrong motor skill is repeated, I believed this was a good topic to broach.


If you have an opinion or thought on the topic, leave your comments. Whether you think reverse recoil is a negative for training or just the fact the practitioner must fight to keep, a good sight picture & sight alignment on the target is what counts. Let me know.

So for my next divisive topic, I'll write on the easily answered 9mm vs. .45 ACP and which is the best round, hands down!


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