Thought of the day.
Have you heard any of these? “Trigger control is the most important part of shooting.” “He doesn’t know how to pull the trigger, that’s why he missed.” “She missed because she jerked the trigger!” “Squeeze the trigger slow…let it surprise you when the gun goes off”
They are wrong. I am going to rock the boat with this post and I would encourage you to read it (not just glance at it), think about it, and hear what I am actually saying versus what you want to hear. Then post your comments or questions. I will be happy to expand. The single biggest lie in the handgun shooting universe is that trigger control causes most accuracy-related problems. I strongly disagree. How you pull and reset the trigger might have an effect on your speed, and a slight effect on your accuracy, but not much. Please hear me out while you sip on that cup of coffee.
Count your fingers. Most of you have ten. Now, look at your little ole trigger finger. Count it. You should not have difficulty, you have one. So you are telling me that while you are gripping the handgun with nine fingers (and your palms if you have built your grip correctly), that the little ole trigger finger is overpowering the other fingers in the hand and pulling the gun offline? That is NOT what is happening. What is happening is a series or single movement that moves the gun out of alignment with the center of the target.
We ALL (even Rob Leatham) move the gun all the time when we fire it. The best shooters in the world have simply learned how to minimize the movement of the gun. So the question is, WHAT is moving the gun? You. It is you. And the trigger finger is NOT the culprit. It is the other fingers in the hand that is holding the gun that moving it out of alignment. Sometimes this translates to movement in the wrist as well.
Try this: Grab an unloaded handgun (double-check it). A gun with a red dot or laser is even better, but you don’t need either. Now I want you to simulate shooting the gun by applying pressure to the trigger and at the same time, I want you to watch the front of the muzzle for any small movement as you press the trigger. If it is moving, then I want you to repeat the test, but this time squeeze with the three fingers on the handgun grip as hard as you can, and whatever you do, do not release those fingers. Now press the trigger several times and you will see less movement in the front of the gun. Repeat again, but let the three gripping fingers increase and decrease in pressure. You will see the movement. Now (and remember this) GRIP THEN PULL, and the movement will minimize. Notice I did not say stop. We all move the gun all the time. Your goal should be to minimize it.
Read these and tell me the difference:
- Grip (the three gripping fingers) AND pull
- Grip (the three gripping fingers) THEN pull
The difference seems small, but if you are gripping the gun hard and increasing the pressure in the controlling fingers while you pull the trigger, you will be moving the gun. Switch that to gripping and THEN pulling (while maintaining the pressure) and you will fix your issue. The main reason is that you would not have much movement left in the control hand fingers if they are already clamped down on the grip.
By the way, the problem often comes in the way of releasing pressure in the gripping fingers at some point during the shooting sequence, accompanied by an increase of pressure to fire the next shoot and thus starts the process of moving the gun out of line.
Of course, this quick post only discussed the gun hand (whichever hand is holding the handgun). The support hand is a completely separate story for another time.
Until Then – Train Hard!
11 thoughts on “It’s NOT your Trigger Control”
I absolutely love this post by Mike. I hear people talk about why they shoot low and to the left (for a right hander opposite for a Left) I explain to people that this is caused by anticipation and the squeezing of the whole hand rather then isolating the movement of the trigger finger. Great training Mike Thanks..
IWe have found an EXCELLENT almost free universally availble training tool to isolate the trigger finger pull as needed for accuracy. I’ve been involved in Proect Appleseed as an Instructor for ten years or so, and when WE demonstrate proper form and use fo the trigge finger, the one demonstrating will pull a click-type ball point pen out of his pocket. Hold it vertically to show, hold it in the other fingers, and propery shape the trigger finger. Put JUST the pad of the last segment of the finger on the clicker. Practice push, trap back, release just to reset, without moving the pen at all. The shooters ‘get IT very quickly in principle. Then the real battle starts, making sure they are all DOING IT that way on the firing line. THAT always takes a while. As they get it, their accuracy iproves dramatically.
I went to a class that was taught by Marty Hayes, J.D. at Firearms Academy of Seattle (FAS).
Before range time, he said that your (dominant hand) thumb and middle finger are gripping the gun, your index finger is pulling the trigger and the other fingers are just there for “moral suppor”.
His words clicked and accuracy improved.
Exactly what I needed to read this morning. I’m struggling to get to the next step and this helps me re-evaluate……Will be consciously working on this! Thanks
I have been focusing on adding palm pressure to the weak hand grip has improved point of impact. Lots of laser training has revealed quite a fit. I also recommend shooting a QT99 target 50 times each from the low ready or holster. Draw a vertical line through the center. If you are aiming at the center … 50% are on each side. If not you are adding a bias.
Relatiey “green’ when it comes to handguns, though I am a decent shot with mine. BUT.. I’ve been teacing rifle marksmanship now for around a decade. We instruct, as part of the various positions from which one might fire a rifle, HOW to hold the rifle. We call them “the steady hold factors”. Your explaation comports with what we teach. Along with other things, we teach,, and assure they “have it”, in regards trigger hand.. firm three finger handshake grip, PULLING the buttstock backi into the shoulder pocket. Trigger finger is a ?C shape, resting the pad of rhe first section of the finger on the lower part of the trigger, and not “dragging wood”.
I believe that “FIRM three finger HANDSHAKE grip, PULLING the buttstock into the shuolder pocket , then the separate cinfiguration of the trigger finger, is the equivalent of your SQEEZE (three finger grip, pulling) THEN pull. we demonstrate the action of the tirigger finger as completely independent of the other three. But we emphasise the FIRMNESS….. and explain that with rimfire rifles today, you can get away with a dead fish grip…. but move to centrefire smallbore, that changes a lot. Move up to high power hunting magnums, if you don’t hve that FIRMLY gripped, you not only will not be accurate, you will HURT yourself.
Next time out with the ol BHP I shjall pa attentioin to this method. Thanks.
I think you’re right. For 35 years I used and taught the 60/40 grip and it worked well as long as I was using a 1911. But when I switched to a “modern” trigger on a Shield and P365 I found the down/left syndrome. When I switched back to the 1911 things improved somewhat. Then I trashed the 60/40 idea and held on to the gun like it was, well whatever, but really tight, like a death grip and things improved. Good trigger and good grip seemed to be the answer.
I would also add that when I started grip and arm weight training, my groups shrank significantly.
When I studied with Jim Cirrillo he often encouraged students to “crush” the trigger. He was training us to win gun fights.
I made application of this (above) upon signing up for your Intro to Competition Handgun course. I watched the Vids and then went to the Range to test out my new ‘DeathGrip’ (that’s what one would call it compared to what I was doing before) and son of a gun the muzzle don’t jump NEAR as much as it used to. This single enhancement to my actually already pretty darn good grip (though not as strong as you and Rob always suggest) made a HUGE difference in my shooting and I am STOKED! Now I can work on RIGHT THINGS! Thanks!
As ALWAYS from Mike, great technical gouge for understanding what is going on affecting the gun. Thank you Mike!