Everyone should leave the shooting range having had a positive experience and NOT looking to ice your shoulder, neck, or wrist. Recoil is the reaction of the gun to the energy created in the barrel and expelled from the muzzle. For every action there is an equal reaction and with high powered firearms, that can be a negative experience. Your exposure to a negative experience induces a subconscious reaction called flinching.
This is your body's unconscious reaction to the anticipated pain from pulling the trigger. It manifests itself in several ways, such as eye squinting, trigger jerking, shoulder hunching, and turtling. Anticipating recoil is something that can mentally break down your shooting form and drastically affect accuracy.
Cartridge makers have developed cartridges which allow for high velocities but relatively low felt recoil. Firearms manufactures have developed a wide variety of firearms in different sizes, calibers, and designs to fit almost anyone. Aftermarket producers have developed devices such as recoil pads, muzzle brakes, and mechanical reducers. Shooters using proper form, stance, and technique can also minimize the effects of recoil.
Fortunately there is a pistol, rifle, and shotgun manufactured for everyone. Rent before you buy. Most gun shops and firing ranges allow customers to rent guns and try them out. Start with the smallest caliber and work your way up. With experience you will feel more and more comfortable with larger firearms. Remember bigger is not always better.
Taming the 12 Gauge: Shotgun Recoil Management
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