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Trigger Control

Eric Loden

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Pressing and releasing the trigger "consistently" without disturbing the sight alignment or sight picture is a great goal, but some of the finer details of what great "trigger control" might be are often overlooked.

First I know there is a lot of debate about trigger finger placement... some say that in the heat of battle or the random chaotic nature of a gun fight you will loose the fine motor skills of placing your finger on the trigger in just the right spot, and that instinct will take over and you will just grab the gun like a baboon and clinch it with your meat hook however you happen to grab it. I disagree.

Trigger control starts in the holster. The way you present (or "draw" for some of you) your weapon, is very important in good control over recoil, muzzle flip, and yes even trigger control. The way your hand wraps around the firearm determines how much trigger finger you stick through the guard.

For a right handed shooter if you have too much finger on the trigger, lets say for exaggeration, the tip all the way to the first knuckle then inevitably you are going to pull your shots to your firing side as you pull the trigger the curling action of that first joint will affect the horizontal alignment of you sights at the last moment. In contrast for a right handed shooter if you use too little trigger finger say just the tip just below the nail then you have a tendency to push the weapon to your support side as you add pressure to the trigger.

The perfect trigger finger placement should be somewhere across the center of the pad or the swirl of the fingerprint on the index finger.

DA or Double Action shooters with a heavier trigger press might need a bit more of their finger on the trigger to serve as a mechanical advantage in order to pull a heavier trigger, but they should start off at the swirl and if more is needed work their way in towards the first knuckle, however find a place that is comfortable and stick with it. I often see a movement of the finger from the deeper placement to a shallower placement between shots, and not even slow shots. In the middle of a good controlled pair in recoil the finger flies off and moves to a different position.

If accuracy is a result of sight alignment and a good smooth press how can we expect to achieve this on a follow up shot if we change our grip and trigger finger placement every time the gun goes bang? Do we wait until we have adjusted our grip and find the trigger again? NO! You don't have time to waste, but you also don't have time to miss either.

The goal is a smooth steady “PRESS” directly to the rear to not alter your sights. Its a physics fact that the round will go exactly where the sights are when the shot breaks.

In order to be ready for a perfect follow up shot or shots as quickly as possible, you must keep trigger finger placement for consistency.

In order to keep the trigger finger in the same place on the trigger between shots you should "TRAP" or hold the trigger to the rear of the trigger guard during recoil as opposed to letting it "fly" off. Some shooters let the finger fly completely out of the trigger guard and then are forced to find the trigger and press again. If you are attempting to shoot quickly this usually results in "slapping" or "mashing" the trigger forcing the shots low and usually to the support side.

In addition to pressing the trigger at the same speed which is great for revolvers or double actions (Once you begin adding pressure to the trigger don't stop! Often times DA shooters will "stage the trigger waiting for the sight alignment to be just right and then "rushing" the trigger the last 1/32 of an inch (estimation), throwing or pushing the shots low.

For SA or Single Action shooters you might have "slack" in your trigger before it gets tight. Sometimes this "slack" is getting the gun ready to fire, in the case of a Glock it is disabling the internal drop safeties, pulling the hammer back (technically making a Glock a double action, but lets forget about that for now... ) and then finally as you add or build pressure to the trigger the sear drops and releases the hammer firing the weapon.

So there is a lot of internal movement that is going on inside the weapon before the shot breaks. Don't make the gun shoot, you press the trigger smoothly and let the mechanics shoot the gun. In order not to rush these mechanisms and let them do their job effectively we should be looking forward to the bang, but not making it happen. Hence a "SURPRISE BREAK!"

A surprise break is not a negligent discharge (or accidental discharge, for those of you that believe that the gun just goes off without your finger pulling the trigger) the surprise break means that we know we are on our sights and the gun will go off because we are building pressure on the trigger with the intention of shooting, however we don't know the exact millisecond that it is going to happen or worse making this happen when we want and rushing the gun. If you rush any part of the press then you are going to cause misalignment of your sights, and again the shot goes where your sights are.

And last lets talk about the “TRIGGER RESET” the reset is the act of easing the trigger back out to the point where the gun is ready to fire again but no further. For most weapons there is a definite “click” when the trigger reaches that point, some weapons have a short crisp reset, others have a long way to travel before they reset (as in the case of revolvers or DA only’s) either way you gun operates find that point and get used to resetting the trigger to that point between shots. Some weapons will even have more “slack” in the trigger after the reset, if your does then you have to take that slack back up immediately after the reset. Get back on your sights and follow up with another perfect shot.

If you think of this phrase as your trigger control mantra then it should help. Start slow and then let the speed develop naturally.

Placement (Find the proper finger placement)

Pressure (Get the slack out of your trigger if there is any)

Press (Build pressure until the shot breaks by surprise),

Trap (hold the trigger to the rear in recoil) (Get back on your front sight)

Reset (gently ease the trigger out until the click)

Pressure (Get an additional slack out immediately, for some there wont be any)

Press (Smooth steady pressure until another surprise break)

Trap (hold the trigger to the rear in recoil) (Get back on your front sight)

Reset (gently ease the trigger out until the click)

Pressure (Take the slack out for a third shot, but you should be training a controlled pair)

(Rinse and repeat until desired results are achieved.)

HINT: If you want to get back on your sights quicker for a perfect follow up shot then you need to work on your isometric tension in your grip. Locking that weapon in place so that it returns to the same exact spot after recoil is in the grip and stance. But we will have to talk about that later.

Practice and this will smooth out....slow builds consistency .... consistency is smooth... smooth is fast.... fast is perfect. Perfect Practice doesn't just make it perfect it makes it Permanent.

Download our Target Diagnostic Handout here to help diagnose some of the issues that may be showing up on your targets when you are shooting.




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