Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Trigger Control

There are a few things that make all the difference in your shooting. I feel those things are:
Sight picture
Target acquisition
Trigger control
Learning to maintain your trigger control while you shoot is one of the most important skills you can learn to shoot like a pro. Shooting a gun is not as difficult as some will make it sound or look. But there are basics to learn. The problem with concealed carry guns is most are designed to be small and light. The lighter the gun the less control you will have. Some sub-compacts are so small for someone with large hands, that I’ve seen people abandon a sub in favor of the larger weapon. I myself own sub-compacts but prefer my compacts for concealed carry because of the ease of shooting in comparison. I carry and shoot both, but if I had a preference, I’d shoot a compact or full sized 1911. My wife has slightly smaller hands than I (mine aren’t really big) and she doesn’t seem to have a problem with a sub-compact. So each must experiment and test, especially when buying your first gun particularly if it is for concealed carry. The difference in ratio between the gun weight and the trigger pull makes such a difference. Rifles are normally heavier than the trigger. A 7 pound rifle with a 2 pound trigger pull is a ratio that makes it easy to handle the weapon. But with polymer handguns you could realistically have a 2 pound gun. An acceptable trigger pull on a carry or duty weapon is 4 to 6 pounds. More than 6 and trigger control gets difficult especially on a 2 pound gun! Under 4 pounds is just asking for an negligent discharge. If you have a 2 pound gun and an 8 pound trigger pull it takes 4 times the weight of the loaded gun to make it fire. That opposite ratio doesn’t “feel” right and makes the target acquisition and control of the weapon more difficult than the above example of the heavier rifle.
Basically there are 4 aspects to a trigger pull: contact, stage, press, reset.
Contact with the trigger is when and where your finger touches the trigger. The index finger should be the only finger you shoot with. If you are used to something else, change that. The pad of the fingertip should be the touching point in my opinion although some instructors may say the first joint is acceptable. I feel you have better control with the fingertip pad.
Staging the trigger is the slack between the reset trigger (all the way back in the guard) and the mechanical release of the trigger or striker. Basically it means pulling the trigger until just before it breaks and holding it before it fires. There are several schools of thought on staging. I myself would rather press on through the slack straight to the firing of the weapon. Most competitors will tell you the same. Under duress of a fight or flight situation you can you’re your finger enter the guard too soon breaking safety rule #3 which is to keep your finger out of the guard until ready to shoot. Law enforcement are the biggest offenders of this when going into a stressful situation such as a raid. Sometimes it’s done without the knowledge of the shooter because of the stress. This is how negligent discharges happen and friendly fire incidents occur. Be mindful of this as you train.
The press is the actual firing of the weapon. The press should be even and smooth. We call it a press because there is a difference between a press and a squeeze. Some instructors will say and teach squeeze. The problem with squeezing is, try to squeeze with only one finger. Pretty difficult isn’t it? Yet we can press or pull with one finger and not the whole hand. Your hand is already gripping the gun so there is already some squeezing going on. If you squeeze you tend to squeeze with the whole hand and that tends to lower the shot because of the downward pressure. A press that is smooth will follow through the whole trigger action discharging the gun.
After the shot has been taken there is a natural spring back in the trigger to reset the mechanism. This is where staging can be beneficial. Sometimes the tendency is to remove your finger from the trigger. This is too time consuming in a life or death situation. Resetting the trigger is at a point before it is back in its original position and can be felt with an audible “click”. The trigger is ready to fire again at this reset point. In shooting your gun you will learn where this is. Each gun make and model is a little different. Double action revolvers are a little different in that they require a long pull and a full forward reset to rotate the cylinder.
Correct trigger manipulation is the difference between missing your target or being a dead eye shot. It’s really worth your time and determination to get it right. Luckily, it’s not a difficult skill to acquire. It does take some training and lots of practice. That is what I believe dry fire is for among other things. (See blog Benefits of Dry Fire 5/19/2015) Become proficient at working with your trigger and you may see a noticeable difference in your shooting. You will be more confident on the range and feel safer as you carry.

Semper Paratus
Check 6