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Thread: Training question(s) for arm/hand stamina and strength.

  1. #1
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    Training question(s) for arm/hand stamina and strength.

    So OK, here's my sad story. In 1978 I was 22. I raced off-road motorcycles for fun, so was young, healthy, and had good hand and arm strength. I had also become a police officer and I carried a 6" Colt Trooper Mk lll .357 mag. I loved that gun and could shoot .38's all day. Sadly, that revolver was stolen about 30+ years ago. When my department transitioned to semi-autos, we carried the S&W 4006, so a DA/SA .40 cal semi. After retirement I started carrying a 1911. I kind of missed my Colt, so just picked up a S&W 586 6" .357. I'm hoping to do some USPSA stuff, but due to a bad back from racing that may not be a possibility, so NRA Precision Pistol (Bullseye) was recommended as something to look at.

    Got my new 586 in so decided to go to the range and break it in and get some practice for USPSA or Bullseye, etc. Shot about 26 rounds from my 1911 as had to check some stuff out. Shot about 10 rounds of .38 out of my S&W 638 "J" frame 2", which has a LOOOOOONG trigger pull, and shot maybe 75+ rounds through the 586, mostly .38's but some .357's just for fun. Ya know what I discovered? I ain't 22 anymore. I ain't in good shape anymore, and I don't have good hand and arm strength anymore. I think we got spoiled shooting nothing but SA semi-autos all these years! My arms were shaking like crazy and my poor ole trigger finger was so stiff I could barely pull that last bit to get the hammer to fall by the end of the day!

    Guess I need to get on an exercise program of some type to build up my arm and grip strength. I assume that the best thing would be to just hold the 586 out in position and dry fire it over and over, building up my arm and hand muscles. I also have a S&W 25-5, (a 45 Long Colt with a 8 3/8" barrel on an "N" frame). I figure this would also be a good gun to try something like this with. It's big, heavy, and should build up my arm and grip strength just holding it, etc. My main question is, and I can never remember, is it OK to dry fire these revolvers (and my 1911's) over and over, or should I get Snap Caps just to play it safe?

    Any other suggestions of exercise and training I should do besides going to the range and shooting as much as I can? I figured get some dumbbell type weights and maybe a hand-grip spring ( they make a great one for guitar players!) where I can work my hand and arms while just sitting and watching TV?

    Just figured this is not something new and that you folks would have good ideas, so hope it's OK for me to ask. I figure there is a ton of info out there, but a 62 year old with a bad back may require a little more specific of an answer.

    Thanks is advance.
    Last edited by HIPCHIP; 11-07-2018 at 09:15 PM.

  2. #2
    Hammertime
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    Apr 2016
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    Desert Southwest
    Hand and grip strength in general follow
    overall strength. You can do grip specific exercises, but you will be better served with an overall PT program. Weight lifting on a progressive program such as Stronglifts 5x5 will markedly improve your grip strength along with everything else and generally make your life better.

  3. #3
    Hillbilly Elitist Malamute's Avatar
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    Ive dry fired Smiths quite a lot over the years with zero parts breaking, however,...after breaking 3 transfer bars in supposedly unbreakable Ruger single actions, I decided dry fire with no snap caps probably wasnt a great idea.

    Dry fire helps develop the muscles required for shooting, the grip squeezer things can help also. Ive found something else that helps develop the arms as well, and is interesting in its own right, and an excuse to buy a training aid thats fun to have. Something like this isnt as problematic as longer training aids for use inside. Theres a brown version and a black version.

    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/11...d-handle-brown

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sasBCdY6ulg

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYGLtIDc1vQ

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enel View Post
    Hand and grip strength in general follow
    overall strength. You can do grip specific exercises, but you will be better served with an overall PT program. Weight lifting on a progressive program such as Stronglifts 5x5 will markedly improve your grip strength along with everything else and generally make your life better.
    I agree with Enel - though his opinion holds greater weight here.

    You are not just using hand and arm strength when shooting a hand gun. Improving your overall strength, particularly your core strength / stability will aid both your shooting and your back.

    What you are experiencing at the range, the realization you aren’t 22 anymore is actually good. Guys who jump in and try to do what they did 20, 30, or 40 years ago wind up hurting themselves. We see this so often in in service training we have a name for it- Al Bundy syndrome.

    Consider investing in either a personal trainer or getting your doctor to refer you to a Physical Therapist to developed a scaled plan for you to improve strength without hurting yourself.

    If you have a gym or community center (YMCA) etc with a pool nearby there are execercise programs you can do in the water which can help mitigate the limitations of your back.

    An example here: https://www.moveforwardpt.com/Resour...-to-do-in-pool

  5. #5
    If you get into heavy grippers, allow enough rest. Treat them with the same frequency you would do with other heavy lifts. Tennis elbow sucks BTDT.

    Vogel had a grip program, there was an earlier thread about Paul sharp and 3-5 sets of 1 minute hard holds in your shooting grip.

    No strap deadlifts and farmers walks will give you strong hands.

  6. #6
    LE Forum Moderator BehindBlueI's's Avatar
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    When I was doing physical therapy, they had these things sort of like a pool noodle they put over the bar of a weight. It made you really have to squeeze your grip to lift the weight. I liked it better than the gripper thing, although I had to use it as well.
    L'otters are not afraid.

  7. #7
    Member
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    If I do the math correct you are 62....

    Shoot 9mm. I just don't see the need to bang on your body shooting anything more. Especially when it's all about having fun.

    You can probably shoot USPSA if you want too. I shot with a guy who was in his 80's once and the course had a very low shooting position where you'd have to get on the ground. He looked at me and the RO and said.....-ok, I'm going to shoot everything else first and then shoot under there...because I can get down there, but you guys are going to have to help me up.

    And there is always Speed Steel which is plenty fast.

    Hand strength. Everyone I've ever talked too about grip training has said they've just ended up hurting themselves with grippers. You pointed out Dry Fire practice and I agree, that will work just fine.

    Metal framed 9mm and Speed steel!
    A71593

  8. #8
    Hammertime
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    "While not yet widely used in the medical community, a grip strength test can be an important screening tool in assessing a person’s overall health, says Bohannon, a professor of physical therapy in the Department of Kinesiology at the Neag School of Education.
    “Weakness is one of those cluster signs of frailty,” says Bohannon. “There are other things, like unintentional weight loss and a particularly slow gait. But grip strength gives you an overall sense of someone’s vitality. It is reflective of muscle mass and can be used to predict things in the future like post-operative complications and even death.”"

    http://today.uchc.edu/features/2011/...pstrength.html


    I would use the grip strength issue as a wake up call that perhaps you are not as healthy as you could be at age 62. You have a lot of life left in you, and I would encourage you to go for it with some sort of exercise program, anything you like, so long as you do it consistently.

  9. #9
    Average Guy cor_man257's Avatar
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    Florida
    Quote Originally Posted by nwhpfan View Post
    And there is always Speed Steel which is plenty fast.
    The only matches I've shot were local level outlaw steel matches. Less then stellar physical shape did little to hold back anyone. There was an older gentleman who could absolutely mop the floor with most shooters, a 16 year old kid who was right there with him for times, a really fat guy who was constantly in the running, and an average guy who beat us all with a police surplus M&P.

    It's an accuracy game disguised as a speed game. But don't take your time either.


    I'd think regular dry fire and a metal frame 9mm could get pretty much anyone to be competitive at outlaw steel matches, and probably the more official ones as well.

    -Cory

  10. #10
    Member
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    Oct 2018
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    Kalifornia
    I've got a bad back from too much MX, and had a massive heart attack in 2014, which required a triple bypass, so haven't been able to do a lot of exercise. I've been going to a physical therapist on and off for over 10 years, but the back just keeps getting worse.

    The local range only shoot USPSA and SASS. I don't have the equipment, nor the cash, for SASS, so if I want to shoot at the local range it's USPSA. I have a 9mm I can shoot, but just wanted to have some fun with a revolver like I used to do. I go out to watch another meet this weekend so I'll see what I feel I may be able to do in the future.

    The other range shoots just about anything I can dream of, but it's about an hour away. Not that far, but with a bad back and intestinal problems an hour out and an hour back can be disastrous. If I have to run & gun I may be in trouble. Bullseye was recommended because it's more stationary, but just gotta build up the arm and hand strength again. I have a Masters' in Kinesiology and my wife has a Masters' in Health and is a personal trainer, so we have all that covered. Just trying to get ideas that I might not have thought of.

    Thanks for all the help.

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