The Todd Jarrett…

…Sooper Sekrit Kung Fu GripTM

[Update]:I fixed the formatting problem that was making the text so small. Sorry. I didn’t realize it was messed up because I had the resident page font sizes over-ridden because of my rapidly deteriorating old-ass eyes. Thanks to reader Richard for e-mailing me about it.[/Update]

Before anyone says it, I know I’m way behind on CZ-82 posts. These types of posts take a while to put together what with formatting the pix and uploading them and formulating the descriptions and all. This is the first time I’ve had to sit down and hammer out a post of this length in a while and I really want to share this with everyone. I promise that I’ll get the CZ series finished up soon.

The first time I had any exposure to Todd Jarrett’s grip philosophy was with this video. I’ve seen it posted by several different bloggers and I’ve watched it several times. He covers a couple of facets of the proper grip in it, but not everything.

The remainder of what I got was from Robb Allen, JR and a couple of others after they got back from their training session with The Man.

I got a chance to try it out during my range trip last week and I was very impressed with the results. It feels a little unusual at first, but after I got used to it, it made a significant improvement in my rapid fire shooting.

I’m posting this for a dual purpose: First to share my newfound knowledge with others. Something that I take great satisfaction in. Also, so that any of the bloggers who actually attended the training first hand can correct any mistakes I may be making. I incorporated this grip based on descriptions, not first hand training with feedback, so if I’m doing anything wrong, or describing anything incorrectly, I hope that one of the bloggers who were there will correct me either in comments or through e-mail. If that happens, I’ll update this post immediately.

First is the stance. It’s kind of strange, because I was initially taught the Isosceles stance in boot camp with my first “official” marksmanship training. I’d shot with my dad and other family members over the years, but the emphasis had always been more oriented around safety than technique and marksmanship…especially with handguns. Handgun shooting was more “for fun” than anything else in the rural area I grew up in. Long guns were what put food on the table and protected the homestead. But I digress (as usual).

About ten years later, the isosceles had gone out of vogue and the Weaver was all the rage. I was assigned to security and served as a Naval Police Officer and Ship’s Response Team (SRT) member. As such, we received some pretty extensive training using the weaver stance and that’s what I’ve used ever since. I actually resisted the Weaver at first because it wasn’t what I was used to, but once I became accustomed, it came to feel natural.

Now, full circle. fifteen years later, one of the most accomplished shooters and instructors in the world, Todd Jarrett, says “don’t use the weaver, that’s old-school, use the isosceles.” [not an actual quote…my interpretation -ed] His contention is that the isosceles is easier to be consistent with and, if movement is necessary, easier to stay on target while moving. To be honest, I really hadn’t thought about it for years, but I have to admit, It didn’t take long to fall right back into the stance I’d been taught from the get-go and it really did make a difference in my accuracy while moving.

So, the stance is isosceles: feet about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, leaning slightly forward toward the target, hips and shoulders perpendicular to the target.

Now to the grip.

NOTE: I verified and double checked that the chambers were empty before taking these photos. If you look closely you will be able to tell that the magazines have been removed. Even so, I was sure to keep the firearms pointed in a safe direction at all times while taking these pictures.

NOTE 2: I am left handed so these pictures are backwards for those poor souls born using the wrong hand for everything. I tried to avoid using “right hand” and “left hand” but if it’s still too confusing, feel free to download the pix and use your favorite photo editing tool to flip them right to left.

This is the part I got out of the video and had tried with limited success in the past. Most people…including myself…tend to grip the firearm with the center of the grip lined up with the innermost thumb joint like so. (as usual, click pix to make bigger)

This grip tends to feel the most natural because of the hinge point of the thumb joint and because the fingers can wrap further around the front of the grip.

There are three disadvantages to this grip. First the barrel is not aligned with the bones of the arm. I had my hand turned a little bit in this picture, but even if the barrel is held so that it is parallel with the bones of the forearm, the centerline is off axis. They are not directly aligned.

Secondly, the trigger finger goes farther into the trigger guard with this grip…typically all the way to the first knuckle.

And, finally, there is not much of the weak hand side grip exposed. This means that the weak hand cannot make good contact with the firearm.

By rotating the pistol just slightly in your grip, you can alleviate all three of these issues.

The barrel and bones of the forearm are not only naturally more parallel, but they are aligned. That means that more of the recoil will be directed straight back into those bones rather than to one side or the other.

Less of your trigger finger will be through the trigger guard. Unless you have very long fingers, you will be much less likely to use “too much finger” to squeeze the trigger which will cut down on the possibility of “pushing” during the trigger squeeze.

It also exposes more of the weak side grip to ensure good contact between the non-shooting hand and the firearm.

Next is the non-shooting hand. This is what I picked up from Robb Allen that I’d never heard before. The key is to bend your hand down at the wrist as far as you can. It should stress the tendons on the top of your wrist and will probably be uncomfortable at first.

It definitely felt awkward for me at first.

With your fingers angled down in this manner, place the palm of your non-shooting hand against the exposed portion of the grip.

Wrap your fingers around the front of the fingers of your shooting hand. The tip of your shooting hand thumb should be somewhere near the first knuckle of your non-shooting hand thumb. I would imagine that different grip widths and hand sizes would make this different for everyone, but it should be somewhere in that general area.

Both thumbs should be pointing toward the target.

Depending on your firearm, you may have difficulty with the slide rubbing your thumbs. I had no trouble with that with my Ruger, but it was a minor consideration with the CZ. I got used to it. I would imagine that blood running down your hands from the slide rubbing holes in your hands would be problematic and you may have to adjust the grip a little to fit your situation. But that is the basic idea.

The bloggers that attended Todd Jarrett’s training said that they were instructed to put their shooting hand thumb atop the safety. That may work for a 1911 pattern pistol but my Ruger doesn’t have a thumb safety. I still used the basic technique and just adapted it to my specific situation. The concept is the same.

The final consideration is the tightness of the grip. Tipping the non-shooting hand down naturally causes your grip to pull down on the front of the pistol which helps minimize muzzle flip. I found that the tighter I gripped with both hands, the quicker the sights came back onto the target after each shot. Basically, I was holding pretty tight. I also tend to put pressure on each hand toward each other. The way I always describe it is like punching your non-shooting hand with your shooting hand. You should be pushing the gun forward with your shooting hand and pulling it back with your non shooting hand. This also tends to reduce muzzle flip.

I will say that when I first tried the grip, the sights were not coming right back down onto the target but slightly to the right. I think this was just residual muscle memory from holding the pistol slightly more rotated in my shooting hand. After just a little bit of practice, this tendency went away and the sights were coming right back onto the target every time. Basically, I could shoot almost as fast as I could pull the trigger and still hit the target consistently. The grip reduced felt recoil, cut way down on muzzle flip…even with the blowback operated CZ which has a quite snappy recoil…and sped up my recovery between shots considerably.

I used this technique with good success with all three of my pistols, even though the grip widths, angles and controls are different on all three. I just had to adapt the grip very slightly to work with the different setups. I didn’t take pix of the S&W 22A, but I did take pix of the CZ so I could show a different configuration with the same grip.

My old “natural” grip.

The new shooting hand grip.

Proper wrist/hand angle.

Placing the palm.

And the final grip.

You’ll notice that the CZ does have a thumb safety and placing the shooting hand thumb on top of it worked well with this pistol.

Not only does placing the thumb on top of the safety help ensure that your hand is properly and consistently positioned, but it also ensures that the safety is off and cannot be accidentally actuated by your thumb while firing.

That’s it. If you are interested in accurate and consistent rapid fire shooting, I’d recommend trying this grip. Give it an honest try. Don’t give up on it after a magazine or two just because it feels a little weird. Anything different feels weird at first.

If you do try it, be sure to post a comment about your experience and the results. Pro or Con, all comments are welcome here.

2 thoughts on “The Todd Jarrett…

  1. As to placement of the non-shooting thumb, I find that, for me, on both my XD and S&W, that the thumb lands precisely on the takedown lever. Not being an "expert" or even an "instructor", I don't want to tell others to try this, but it works well for me.
    Interesting that this grip is coming into "vogue" now. It's what I was taught in 1968 in training with Uncle Sam, although with a more relaxed grip.
    Shy III

  2. I learned the Isosceles stance in boot camp, but they didn't teach us a high thumbs grip, more of a crossed thumbs and, yes, more relaxed in the forearms.

    When I was in the Naval Police, they taught us the Weaver stance with a crossed thumbs grip and that's what I used for years. I didn't switch until Having Todd Jarrett's techniques demonstrated to me and I'm glad I switched. I'm much more accurate and get quicker follow-up shots now.

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