Diagnosed with ARFS


Apr 30, 2016
Started a week or so back. I realized something wasn't quite right, something has changed, and the symptoms were clear on paper. I have ARFS (Age Related Flinch Syndrome) ;)
Yes, for some unknown reason my groups on paper have opened up and I've picked up a flinch. Not sure why it came on, but I put the big boys away and picked up the 223 and grendel to try to work it out. Could be just everyday stresses, and 90* temps. I think it'll work itself out.
I picked it up in about 1989 with a Magnaported 300 Win Mag and have learned to deal with it every year since...one of the reasons why I refuse to use a muzzle brake.
Usually takes some time every year at the range with the 22LR for a few hundred rounds until I can shoot while keeping from blinking, my "flinch" so to speak (ear plugs and muffs together help; as like most people I blink/flinch more from the noise of the firearm than I do the felt recoil), and then I move on to centerfire rifles and work my way back up to the larger cartridges slowly. Usually takes a couple hundred rounds of centerfire to get me back to where I can shoot the rifle without blinking/flinching and for those cartridges of lesser recoil, be able to call my own shots.
When I had it, I found the 204 Ruger good for starting out with the centerfires. Today I will be able to use the 218 Bee and then the 250 Savage, then the 6.5 (Swede and CM), and then on up to the cartridges that I am planning on hunting with...non-magnums and magnums, and on to the medium bores.
When I was shooting 600-700 rounds per summer with the 6.5x55, I found this extra practice very beneficial for me and was able to concentrate on keeping from blinking/flinching during recoil and keep my groups from opening up. I can tell the difference when I do not get as much range time to work on this when it comes to shooting and/or hunting.
My extra time with my new Bergara 22LR Trainer has helped this year, and the practice with the 6.5 CM as we readied for our New Zealand hunt this spring has made a positive impact on my shooting this year compared to the last few years where I didn't spend as much time shooting.
Hope you get through it too!
Back around 1973, a year in which I bought quit a few guns, I bought a Remington 660 in .308. I was looking for a rifle that weighed significantly less the the heavy 30-06 I'd been packing. That rifle with a 20" barrel was quite load and I develope a pretty healthy flinch. My kids bought some hearing protection muffs damn me if the kick I thought was the source of the flinch not only seem greatly diminished but didn't hurt my ears. It was the noise that accompanied the recoil that was causing the pain. Funny thing is I never noticed the noise/recoil when shooting at game. Last time I used my .300 Win. mag. was on an elk hunt. When I took the shot all it sounded like was, "POOF". I thought I'd had a squib load except the I saw the elk go down.

I do have a few rifles that shooting more than one or two rounds at the range from the bench will cause a flinch. The .404 Jeffery and .416 Rigby will do that, and I can do about half a box of full power .375 H&H without a problem. The first two aren't too bad shooting offhand but from the bench? OUCH! One other nemesis in a Winchester M70 Stainless Classic in .338 Win. Mag. Even adding a muzzle brake didn't help. It gives me the worst recoil headache of any rifle I own and the incldes the elephant guns.
Paul B.
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Thanks guys. I think I'll take your advice and use plugs in conjunction with my muffs. Funny it never bothered me before.
308win always (well used too) sounded scary to me for some odd reason? Yet I've been shooting 264wm around 12 years of age and 270win around 20-22 years of age. I guess that 30cal wasn't near as scary as I thought! So with having a 338lm doing cartridge comparison to 300wm it looked like a pre-teen. I can believe how soft it shoots. Yes it does have a brake. I'll be 58 next month and unsure when I'll get hit with ARFS :whistle: :whistle::rolleyes:🤣🤣🤣
I would suggest the following:
Leave a rifle out someplace conspicuous in the house. I want you to see it regularly and be used to it.
Take a few minutes each week to dry fire it at home. Please, take care that it's unloaded.
Dry fire your first few strings at the range, fire one round, then dry fire the next one.
Take it slow and make it deliberate.

If nothing anyone suggests works for you, I'll be happy to take your big boomers off your hands. I won't even charge you for it ;)
Cant remember the exact numbers, but your brain registers as pain any noise above a certain level. From what i remember it is a sound level LESS than the crack of a .22. Best thing I ever did for my shooting was to start wearing hearing protection. Plugs give me problems so I dont "double up", but I always wear muffs when shooting now. Good advice offered so far. Shoot he .22 air rifle and digital camera. Camera really helps me a lot. Makes you use very similar motor/ eye coordination skills and makes you work on timing. Try getting good photos of butterflys for example. Also gives you immediate feed back. Years ago, I watched a video of a wildlife photographer who mounted his 35mm with big lens to an old gun stock. trigger on a cable release and all. Havent done that yet... but think about it. CL
I can't figure out why it came on suddenly after 40 years of shooting without flinching. Maybe my old bones are more sensitive to getting rattled? Also I have shed 40 lbs since last fall, so I do feel the thump a smidge more.
buy you a 10 ga. single shot, shoot 1 3.5" turkey load off a bench each week for 10 weeks, you will find out those sissy rifles you shoot that you thought kicked, don't. pay my receptionist on your way out.
Growing up my brother had a H&R 12ga break action that we would target shoot 3” 1oz slugs with at 50yds. For pigeon control we used 3” with 1 1/4oz of #4. When you’re young getting a bruised up shoulder was fun , not so much today.
Howie, I have to admit that when I first saw the topic, I thought it was going to be some form of disease far worst. Glad it's not. Lot of good suggestions given. Try them see what works best for you. I developed a flinch when shooting in traditional muzzle loader matches and it was a pain to get rid of. As for shooting centerfire I read one time that before firing any rounds sight your rifle as you normally would and squeeze the trigger, dry firing to see if the crosshairs jump off the target. I practice this every time if for nothing else to get use to the trigger of the rifle I presently am shooting. You'll overcome this. Dan.
I agree with double hearing protection. I also have another thought. I got a bit flinchy out of the blue a few years ago. My dentist found a cracked tooth. Got a crown and flinch seemed to vanish.

I also have a mantra I repeat when shooting the heavy hitters. "I have been kicked into next week by a horse. This ain't nothin."
yesterday I warmed up shooting 50 rounds with a 22 and shot it very well. Then without pause moved to dry firing 280 AI, then live rounds. I saw a nice improvement after warming up with a 22 and dry firing. I think if I keep repeating that for a while, I'll get back to how I was. Also doubled up on hearing protection. But I'm ordering custom molded plugs for the future, to in use conjunction with muffs.