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Nickname: Doc. Came with wild hair and a DeLorean
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Posted: 6/23/2013 6:31:22 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/24/2013 7:12:00 AM EST by RocketmanOU]
I've suffered from essential tremor for as long as I can remember. As I age, it has gotten a little worse, but there are ways to combat its effects on shooting. Here are some tips and tricks I have found:

For practical shooting, where the rifle is somewhat in your hands:

1.) Use a low-power scope. I have found that no matter what I do, anything beyond about 12x is pretty much useless for me when I'm supporting at least part of the rifle. The lower power helps me focus on the other fundamentals while keeping the reticle in the right spot on the average. I use the lowest power scope that still allows me to discern the target to the necessary level of detail.

2.) Drink lots of water, nix the caffeine, eat and get lots of sleep. While there is little outside of drugs like beta-blockers that do anything to reduce tremors, there are plenty of things that can exacerbate them. Caffeine, lack of sleep, dehydration, exhaustion, heat, hunger and anxiety are just some. If have a cup of coffee, I literally have trouble completing fine motor tasks, much less keeping my sights on target.

3.) Along these lines, relaxing before the shot is INCREDIBLY important. Systematically slowing down my breathing and pulse reduces the tremor to a manageable level, but I find that I really have to focus on these to make things work well. Any body position where any muscles are tensed will make my sights dance all over the place. It's important not only to get into a position where I'm not 'muscling' the sights into place, but also a body position where my body (especially my upper body) is pretty much completely at rest. Prone is good, but still takes work.

4.) Tremors are usually at a pretty regular frequency. Unfortunately, it's a different frequency from my heart rate and my breathing, so placing the shot in a 'lull' is a little more difficult. Where it's usual to see your heartbeat as a twitch in the reticle, when my tremors are dominating, the beat pattern is irregular since the two don't sync up. I still have to wait for the right moment to pull the trigger - the fundamentals are the same - it just takes practice to get it right. It's a lot like watching

5.) I find that clearing my mind before shooting is effective as well. If my mind is elsewhere, it definitely manifests itself in my physical tremor. Stretching out from head to toe also helps somewhat.

tl:dr: focus even harder on the fundamentals, and learn what works for you to minimize the tremors. I was afraid as I took up shooting that I would enjoy it, but the tremors would be too much for me to be any good at it. I'm no pro, but I do a lot better than I ever thought I would. They're always there, but they're manageable.
"We're all new here, kid. The old ones are either dead or in the hospital. What the hell did you expect, a two week pass to Paris? Get in line and do what you're told, or you'll be dead before sunup."
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Posted: 6/24/2013 2:29:42 AM EST
+1 thanks