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Dealing with the Shakes while Shooting

Dealing with the Shakes while Shooting

Is it possible to be a good shooter if you have unsteady hands? It’s the fear of every artist, surgeon, and shooter. What happens when finely tuned motor skills, developed over decades of practice and experience, become useless thanks to a disease or a debilitating condition? Hunters in particular hate “the shakes” since the slightest quiver means the difference between a clean kill, tracking a blood trail through the hostile woods for hours, or a complete miss followed by some choice words and disappointment. 

There are several reasons why one might get shaky hands. Some are the result of old age or natural circumstances, while others are the fault of the shooters themselves. Arthritis, for example, is no one’s fault. This hereditary disease is more common in the elderly but may show up in younger people as well. Your body’s own immune system attacks your joints, resulting in annoying pain and impaired motor skills. This severely limits a shooter in terms of choice of caliber, weapons system, and how often he can fire. 

Parkinson’s is another debilitating disease dreaded by many who use their hands for precision work. Parkinson’s is characterized by involuntary twitching in the hands, affecting one’s ability to eat, drink, or write. A mysterious genetic disease, there are currently no known ways to prevent it from manifesting. Fortunately, people like David Smith, a competitive shooter who suffers from Parkinson’s, have shown that consistently training at the shooting range may mitigate some effects of the disease as long as the shooter enjoys what he’s doing. The combination of the dopamine and the need for steady hands can train the brain to fight against the symptoms of Parkinson’s. 

Meanwhile, some shakes come purely from a shooter’s psyche. For hunters, buck fever is the phenomenon where a person starts uncontrollably shaking the moment they spot a good-looking deer. It’s comparable to the same feeling teenagers get when they’re around their crushes. If you’re one of those hunters prone to buck fever, concentrating on the shooting process can help take your mind off the excitement enough to land that killing shot. Remember your shooting fundamentals, think about how you’re holding your weapon, take distance into consideration and control your breathing. Ticking off all the boxes on a mental shooting checklist might work for some people, but others might have buck fever for as long as they live. 

An outdoorsman on an extended hunting trip running on nothing but a single piece of MRE wheat snack bread and a cup of water will be in for a bad time. Malnourishment, especially during activities with a high amount of physical activity, will lead to nasty jitters. Eating foods rich in Vitamin D (fish or eggs) as well as Vitamin B12 (meat, milk or cheese) – or simply making sure you eat well before breaking camp – helps prevent shaking. 

Caffeine has been a staple of American camping since Union soldiers ground up coffee beans with the buttstocks of their rifles (a particular model of the .52 Sharps rifle had a built-in coffee grinder). However, too much coffee boosts your adrenaline which can lead to increased stress and jitters. Flushing the coffee out of your system with water seems like the fastest way to get the caffeine out of your system. 

If remedies fall short of your expectations or if you simply can’t stop shaking, Kopfjäger has the solution for you. A Kopfjäger tripod with a Reaper Grip is one of the most secure shooting platforms on the hunting market. Firing a weapon properly nestled between the clamps of a Reaper Grip is just as accurate as shooting from a bench, thanks to the Reaper’s grip strength and a highly adjustable ball-joint system which allows the user freedom to aim while still maintaining a secure platform to shoot from. 


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