Thursday, July 7, 2016

Trigger Press Drill: Drill Of The Month

Trigger Press Drill
99% of all misses when shooting are related to trigger press and recoil anticipation, not a sight problem or mysterious mechanical problem with the gun itself (trust me – I’ve tried to blame a few “bad guns” in my day). Because proper trigger press is the foundation on which all accurate shooting is based upon, this first installment will deal with this all-important issue. Trigger press and recoil anticipation (or lack thereof) is just as important with the rifle as it is with the pistol, but harder to properly apply to the handgun. Therefore, this drill should be conducted more frequently with the pistol. If you can successfully apply these principles with the handgun, the rifle will be easy. The converse is not always true.

In order to condition ourselves to not anticipate recoil, usually manifested by pressing down on the gun when the shot breaks, and to press the trigger straight to the rear, we must practice the ideal scenario with dry fire. Paul Howe conducts a drill known as the 5x1 drill, and Larry Vickers and Ken Hackathorn add a variable of placing a spent casing on the front sight post during the trigger press to aid in keeping the gun absolutely still through the entire trigger press. For guns with a smaller or oddly shaped front sight post, and penny or dime can be balanced on the front sight post. Here is the drill:

1. Check, double check, and triple check that the gun is unloaded and no magazine is in the magazine well.

2. Present the gun toward the target and have a partner balance a spent casing (penny or dime if sight will not allow a casing to be balanced), taking care to not pass his or her hand or fingers in front of the muzzle of your gun.

3. Perform a trigger press as if firing the gun, taking care that the object balanced on the gun does not fall off. Concentrate on pressing the trigger straight to the rear, with the only movement in your finger taking place perpendicular to the face of the trigger. Look for movement up and down as well as left and right. If the gun moves left or right, adjust the amount of finger on the trigger (more if gun moves left, less if gun moves right for a right-handed shooter).

4. Reset the trigger by manipulating the slide (double checking the gun is empty), and repeat for a total of five repetitions.

5. Load the firearm with ONE round, and fire for accuracy.

6. Unload the weapon. Check, double check, and triple check the weapon is unloaded and no magazine is in the magazine well, and repeat the process as many times as needed.


Check your target for the grouping of your fired shots. Are the groups tightening? Are they on target? Low and left? Vertically strung? Your target will tell you a lot about what you still need to work on. We recommend firing your shots at a minimum of 10 yards. The further you are from the target, the more precise your fundamentals must be to get your hits.

One criticism we hear of this drill by the uninformed is that it is easy to keep the gun steady when you know it is not going to fire. Our response is yes, exactly! That is why we use this drill to help hone that skill set into subconscious muscle memory by performing many repetitions. The more trigger presses you perform properly, the more likely you are to perform the task the same way when the gun is going to go BANG. This portion of the drill can be performed at home sans the live fire, in a room with no magazines or live ammunition, and facing an outside wall.


See “Overwatch: Drill of the Month” page

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