The 7 Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting: Doin’ the Bernie

bernieWe’ve all seen it, and most of us have done it. Men, women, kids, competitive Steel Challenge Llamas. It doesn’t matter. Doin’ the Bernie is a universal new shooter offense.

What exactly is doin’ the Bernie?

It simply refers to leaning backwards from the waist, so your shoulders are behind your belt line. Your head also leans back, like you’re trying to stop a nose bleed. It looks like you’re trying to shoot into a Category 5 Hurricane headwind.

Why do perfectly respectable people do the Bernie?

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Perhaps they’re afraid that the gun will turn around and start chasing them. Or maybe it’s a subconscious move to show other nearby shooters just how relaxed they are shooting this huge, powerful pistol. Sort of gansta in a way.

More likely it’s an instinctive protective reaction to get as far away as possible from the big explosion about to happen in front of their face.

Whatever the reason, doin’ the Bernie really hurts your ability to shoot well.

First of all, you’ve given the gun a huge head start in the battle against recoil. If you’re already about to fall over backwards, it doesn’t take much more of a push to send you off balance. That gun is going to shove you around and make you its bit…never mind that, let’s move on.

Second, the general weakness of this stance increases the odds that your gun will malfunction. If you’re shooting a semiautomatic handgun, that gun requires forward force in order to cycle correctly. If you’re not pushing forward against the gun with enough force, it won’t cycle correctly and is likely to jam. If this happens at the range, you’re only embarrassed. If it happens in a real-life self-defense situation, the consequences are far worse.

Third, it just looks kind of ridiculous. And isn’t that the most important thing?

If you don’t know if you do the Bernie, just munch on some brown sugar and cinnamon Pop Tarts while you shoot. If the crumbs fall on your belly, then you might be doin’ the Bernie.

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