MARKSMANSHIP BASICS - Trigger Control

Discussion in 'The Basics, Starting Out' started by Ian M, Sep 3, 2007.

  1. Ian M

    Ian M Well-Known Member

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    I would sincerely appreciate the experienced shooters on this site giving me a few minutes so we can discuss some basics. Very simple. Please answer the following questions, doing so will provide info for new shooters and perhaps also for the experienced guys. Plus this will give me something to think about for the book I am working on.

    #1 Describe what portion of the trigger finger touches the trigger. (My personal description is 'the trigger should be placed directly under the cuticle of the trigger finger'). Agree?

    #2 Describe the position and tension applied by the thumb.

    #3 Describe the position and tension applied by the bottom three fingers.

    #4 Describe the importance of follow-through and how long you consciously remain on the trigger after the shot.

    #5 Do you try to cup your palm if your stock does not have a palm swell? Some instructors teach that you should have "air in your palm", no direct contract with the pistol grip. Comments.

    #6 Do you practice trigger control by dry-firing?
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2007
  2. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    Agree.

    With a thumbhole stock which I really like, it seems I can get a more neutral pressure that is more aligned with the gun. For guns that are heavy or have a brake and recoil is minimal I just lay the thumb along the top of the stock pointing toward the end of the barrel. For a light rifle with significant recoil, I wrap the thumb on around

    I try not to get a death grip on the stock so I don’t choke the life out of it but if there is a lot of recoil you got to get a good grip.

    I believe what Shawn Carlock said, if you think you might miss you shouldn’t shoot. Consequently, I never immediately move off of the scope nor make any movement until I am certain that the animal is dead or for some reason I need to shoot again. Most of my rifles are single shot so I am in no rush to move off the scope and chamber a new round. If I though I was going to miss then I would buy repeater rifles.

    I have no set preference for a palm swell nor air. My preference is for the pads for my three grip fingers to have contact and pressure. One of the problems I am having with the 40X factory stock is my trigger finger is winding up very, very, low on the trigger to the point it is making contact with the trigger guard and this is highly bothersome to my trigger pulling routine. I can hardly concentrate on the sight picture it bothers me so bad.

    No. I hate practice.
     

  3. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    for the book I am working on. (I figured something was up. Its about time;))

    #1 Describe what portion of the trigger finger touches the trigger. (My personal description is 'the trigger should be placed directly under the cuticle of the trigger finger'). Agree?

    Agree. (after some anatomic study of my thumb:))

    #2 Describe the position and tension applied by the thumb.
    I'm a stickler on this one. I build my own thumb holes with palm swells for both hands. When finished it amazes me how different the swells are on each side. How does one describe position and tension? Think of testing 'doneness' of a grilled steak w/pressure. I'm right handed. My right thumb muscle is medium well and the left is medium rare. It takes great attention to that difference to achieve similar accuracy when switching sides. Thumb tension is important!

    My other LR rifle is one sided (lefty) and is designed with a straight/vertical pistol grip w/swell. The swell is the "indexer" for consistent thumb position. The forearm and elbow follow the thumb as indexed by the grip and swell.

    #3 Describe the position and tension applied by the bottom three fingers.
    With the vertical pistol grips and thumb holes w/vertical pistol grips, position of the bottom finger is against the small ridge that I build in to the grip with the thumb gently fitted into the thumb hole or thumb groove and very delicate three finger pressure kind of like gently squeezing a :rolleyes: with a gentle straight pull back to the shoulder. Note, all of this after checking the "natural POI" that is, none of this moves the natural point of aim. If it does then the shot is being forced.

    And, if your pinky is ever under the pistol grip, you have problems, IMO.


    #4 Describe the importance of follow-through and how long you consciously remain on the trigger after the shot.

    My next expected experience after the trigger clicks is seeing the impact of the bullet. What ever I do to achieve this experience must be follow-through. Mostly I concentrate on not blinking at the shot. I am on the trigger until its time to reload.

    #5 Do you try to cup your palm if your stock does not have a palm swell? Some instructors teach that you should have "air in your palm", no direct contract with the pistol grip. Comments.

    My opinion is that since one can't 'feel' air' is what drove the development of the palm swell. I have an very hard time coming to grips with a sporter stock.

    #6 Do you practice trigger control by dry-firing?

    Roger that, big time? I do way more dry firing that I do actual shooting. I have a 1200yd dry firing range in my back yard. That's where I imagine many different shots under all kinds of conditions. I've made some wonderful shots well beyond 1.2k with an empty 222.;) because it has the same well adjusted trigger as my LR guns.
     
  4. Misfire

    Misfire Well-Known Member

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    The only place I feel confident about offering any advice is dry firing. I was shown this routine several years ago and it has helped me a lot. It is probably common knowledge for many here but I thought I’d share anyway.

    Exercise 1. Have a buddy or preferable a video camera, assist you. Get into the prone position and acquire a target in your scope. With your buddy or video camera closely watching your dominant eye, squeeze off a “shot”. Repeat. Did your eye move? You would be surprised at how many people will blink or flinch their eye upon squeezing the trigger. Practice dry firing until there is NO eye movement upon the shot. (This works better if the shooter doesn't know that he is being observed for eye movement so that he/she is concentrating soely on the shot and not his/her eye. Be honest with yourself.)

    Exercise 2. Once you have “mastered” exercise one and can confidently squeeze the shot off without any eye movement you can retrieve your friend or video camera. Repeat the same exercise but instead of focusing on the entire eye or eye lid, focus only on the pupil. Many people’s pupils will dilate upon the shot even if they aren’t blinking their entire eye. This is a subconscious “flinch” that can be unlearned with dry firing.

    Exercise 3. Retrieve your buddy. While lying prone with the rifle supported in a shooting position (preferably on bags or bipod) have your buddy balance a coin on the end of the barrel an inch or so back from the muzzle. Squeeze off a “shot”. Did the coin fall? If it fell off due to flenching then try again.

    The difficulty of this exercise can be increased or decreased due to barrel diameter and finish but the overall feel will remain. It is much harder to balance a coin on a thinly blued featherweight pencil barrel than it is an inch diameter parkerized barrel. Either way it can be done. For me, this exercise is much like sneaking a “dead” load into a gun to embarrassingly demonstrate to a buddy how much he is flinching.

    These short exercises should be performed while holding the crosshairs on a target.

    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2008
  5. Weda

    Weda Guest

    just my .02
     
  6. Joaquin B

    Joaquin B Well-Known Member

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    A: Dry firing is a MUST.

    Finally, there is no better sport to fine-tine your trigger control, breathing and wind-reading skills than HIGH POWER RIFLE SILHOUETTE, where no slings ortight vests are allowed as one shoots off-hand, standing on one's hind legs, at targets varying in distance from 200 to 500 meters. Small bore rifle silhouette is a more economic way of reaching your goal.

    These are many things I've learned over the last 20 years, most of them the hard way. I really started improving after reading books by David Tubb, Margaret Murdoch, Lanny Bassham and other shooting greats and experimenting with their recommendations.

    When you consider the money spent on gear, ammo, etc., spending another $150.00 on books to help you make good use of your gear is the best investment of all.

    Regards,
     
  7. PDA

    PDA Well-Known Member

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    #1 Yes, that is how I shoot. Others may be more consistent with other methods. General rule of thumb is you should be pressing straight back with a prtion of the pad of your trigger finger.

    #2 Thumb just gets in the way. I lay mine across the stock in a natural grip with minimal tension. I know of people who lay it on the side of the stock, the theory being as the gun rotates up and back the thumb doesn't get in the way of the natural motion caused by recoil.

    #3 Bottom three fingers are pulling the rifle snug into my shoulder. I shoot a 300 WM and this helps me with follow through and watching my shots

    #4 Follow through is needed to be consistant, and see your shots!

    #5 Nope, feels like a handshake.

    #6 Absolutely! Getting intimately familiar with the feel of YOUR rifle and trigger is the first big step. Dry fire lets you accomplish this, plus practice breathing, sight picture, and builds follow through if done correctly. Once you get familiar with your rifle try dry firing in field posistions.
     
  8. maxxlogan

    maxxlogan Member

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    A some what relaxed hold....slow trigger pressure (concentrate on feeling the sear movement)....and what happens is that I'm totally surprised that the rifle has fired....my follow through is to let the rifle do what it does, I don't man handle it...
    This has improved my shooting more than anything I have ever learnt and applied...every shot should feel like a surprise, no anticipation of the shot.....
     
  9. thewileyone13

    thewileyone13 Well-Known Member

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    First off I highly recommend getting a trigger job done on the rifle, not so light that it goes off when the gun if bumped hard but light enough that it will kind of surprise you. Too hard of trigger makes you hold your breath too long and sometimes jerk it because it does not go off. I prefer 2.5 to 3# for a hunting rifle. This is heavy enough not to accidentally go off but light enough to make a long range shot.

    #1 Place the trigger in the middle of the tip of your finger (the trigger will be directly behind the cuticle). If you put too much of your finger thru the trigger it will cause you to push your shot.

    #2 and #3 should be a solid grip with even pressure but definitely not a white knuckle grip.

    #4 Concentrate on the target, no sudden movements because it will throw you off target. Reacquire target in scope after shot, do not look over the target.

    #5 I am not a fan of a pistol grip for a stock. I only use palm swell.

    #6 Dry fire, concentrate on target and breathing. Try to clear your mind and make sure that when the firing pin drops, you did not jerk the trigger or move the gun. Practice, practice, practice...

    One thing that was not asked was breath control, long deep breath will help calm your nerves. Exhale half of your breath and hold for the shot. Do not hold it too long, the first thing to go is your eyesight if you hold your breath too long. After the shot or if you have held your breath too long, exhale completely and breathe in and out a couple to times to oxygenate your blood. If you have to make another shot, follow same steps from above.
     
  10. thomas1234

    thomas1234 Well-Known Member

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    Wow this seems like a great practice. especially after putting a muzzle brake on a magnum cartridge that you just developed a flinch for
     
  11. Phoenixlee

    Phoenixlee New Member

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    Thanks for that, it's much appreciated!
     
  12. FearNoWind

    FearNoWind Well-Known Member

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    #1 Describe what portion of the trigger finger touches the trigger.

    The pad of the trigger finger makes contact with the trigger surface. The "pad" is the area near the tip of the finger, midway between the end of the finger and the first knuckle.

    #2 Describe the position and tension applied by the thumb.

    The thumb rests along the side of the stock. It is not allowed to grip the stock or apply pressure in any other way.

    #3 Describe the position and tension applied by the bottom three fingers.

    The bottom three fingers press lightly, straight back, on the pistol grip portion of the stock. The assure that the butt maintains proper contact with the shoulder without introducing stress or strain within the torso.



    #4 Describe the importance of follow-through and how long you consciously remain on the trigger after the shot.

    I remain on the trigger for a second or two after each shot or the amount of time it takes for the rifle and my body position to completely absorb and recover from the shot.

    #5 Do you try to cup your palm if your stock does not have a palm swell? Some instructors teach that you should have "air in your palm", no direct contract with the pistol grip. Comments.

    When you don't wrap the thumb around the stock your hand naturally cups, if only slightly, to form that "air in your palm" hold. I think the concept is sometimes overworked so that some shooters (especially new shooters) exaggerate the position and that it often becomes an obstacle to progress in development of accurate shooting practices.

    #6 Do you practice trigger control by dry-firing?

    Yes, but only with a dummy round in the chamber to protect the firing pin.
     
  13. BergerBoy

    BergerBoy Well-Known Member

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    I have been shooting over 30 years but this is the MOST misunderstood and under studied topic of shooting IMO. So much so that I do not truly feel comfortable in all areas but I do have some techniques that helped me improve that I believe will help.

    I always just use the tip because it's the most sensitive and you don't wan't to "hook" the trigger or be heavy on it. I think this is pretty much common sense.
    Pull straight back very subtle until shot breaks. I never understood why guys wanted such a light pull but I have a 2 pd. now and I am leaning toward 1.5 so it breaks with min. movement/effort.

    I NEVER wrap my thumb around. Always point forward-parellel to barrel.

    My three fingers mildly firm grip but a completely relaxed trigger finger

    Another gentle man said he like to video and I ABSOLUTELY AGREE with that. If you have any type of understanding about shooting YOU are your best critic.

    Good luck

    *** The BIGGEST thing I know that helped me is use dummy rounds. I load my 5 round mag with 3 dummy rounds and 2 live rounds in any unknown order. You will be surprised at how even the most seasoned shooters flinch/move before the shot breaks or at all.
    I can't stress how much this has helped everyone I have shown.
    Example- My wife is the WORST flincher on the F-n planet!!! After several beatings (just joking) and using this technique even she was able to stop moving/flinching. And most people have no idea they move until they try this drill.

    If possible I will try to stay on target and never break position until I'm ready to chamber another round. I am still working on this step.

    YES dry fire!!! But when possible reload some dummy rounds and use the methode I wrote about.