Basics Time Again - Trigger Control and the Firing Hand

Discussion in 'The Basics, Starting Out' started by Ian M, Apr 5, 2004.

  1. Ian M

    Ian M Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2001
    OK, we did Breathing, now it is time for trigger control and what to do with your firing hand.

    Q. Where do I put my finger on the trigger?
    A. Current instruction for hunting and tactical style rifles is to use the tip portion of the finger.
    Q. Why the tip?
    A. Better control - more sensitive.
    Q. Anything not to do?
    A. Lots. First, don't let any other part of your finger contact the trigger guard. Many guys prefer to cup their palms slightly, as opposed to pressing the palms flat to the pistol grip. Never jerk the trigger, practice a smooth, controled break. Don't forget to incorporate trigger control with your breathing.
    Q. How do I practice trigger control?
    A. Easy, dry firing is essential to learning smooth trigger control. Examine your sight picture at the moment the trigger breaks, evaluate crosshair movement and practice till there isn't any.
    Q. What about the rest of my fingers?
    A. The three below your trigger finger can be used to excert uniform backwards pressure on the pistol grip to assist in controling the rifle during the shot and particularly during recoil.
    Q. Where do I put my thumb?
    A. Depends on the shape of the stock, pistol grip vs thumbhole, size of your hand. Some people shoot best if their thumb is over the tang, some go along the tang with the thumb facing forward. Some guys try to excert a bit of control with thumb pressure, many prefer to use minimal pressure.
    Q. What is the bottom line?
    A. The tip of your finger is the final control - jerk the finger and you jerk the shot.
    Q. Anything else?
    A. Follow through, you've got to remain on the trigger for a second or so after the shot breaks.
    Q. How heavy should my trigger pull be?
    A. Most experienced shooters can hunt safely with 2.5-3.0 pounds of trigger weight.
    Q. What are the elements of a good trigger?
    A. Three considerations - weight of pull, movement before let-off (called creep) and movement after let-off (called slack or over-travel). Creep and Slack should be minimal - but there has to be some to ensure that the trigger operates safely.

    OK, look forward to any other comments and input on TRIGGER CONTROL stuff.
  2. Mysticplayer

    Mysticplayer Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2001
    Ian, as always great simple concise info. Big area for people to practise with is follow through. Just like golf, keep you head down and "watch" the impact.

    With a lot of practise, you will learn when the trigger is going to break and can time with breathing and body movements (especially useful in offhand shooting). If the trigger is inconsistent or creepy, change it. Most commercial actions have triggers that are easily adjusted by a gunsmith. For those that have non adjustable triggers, get an aftermarket one.

    Trigger is one of the most important parts of accurate fire. Certainly a whole bunch more useful then an accurized action or premium barrel.

  3. sakofan

    sakofan Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2003
    Perfect timing, Ian. Was at the range today, and noticed my groups were not real good. Seems I have picked up some bad habits. Jerking, breathing is not controled, etc.

    I love to dry fire, at least a few times a week. Everyday is best, especially when you are NOT in the groove!! Like me...sakofan.. [​IMG]
  4. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Well-Known Member

    Jun 13, 2007
    I have found a good way to see how the sights move while in the act of pulling the trigger. Do a small amount of dry fire practice on a "fired" bolt.

    Keeping mindful of all pertinent safety rules close the bolt and safely trip the trigger then without lifting the bolthandle simply line up the cross hairs on your practice target and squeeze the trigger with a firm pressure.

    As you put pressure on the trigger and release that same pressure you will see where the gun wants to move in relation to the trigger muscles being tightened. This is a way of "amplifying" what is happening as your trigger is being pulled.

    We often dont see this type of movement because we dry fire a light trigger and we only pull untill the firing pin drops. Pulling to a more firm pressure than our normal trigger pull weight gives us visual feedback that allows us to develop muscle control and a "feel" of how to keep the gun stationary.

    Bottom line is: If you can keep the gun steady on a firm pull, a light pull should be a piece of cake.
  5. Guest

    Guest Guest

    An observation I have noted and probably many others here on the board is that with a good follow through [ especially with low light ] you see the muzzle flash.
    This means there has been zero "flinch" as flinching also incorporates eye closure.
    You instinctively know when there has been good trigger control - the rifle returns to the original aimpoint and everything "feels' right!
    A major factor is focussing on bringing the pressure to bear upon the trigger straight back in line with the bore line / web of the hand. that is - avoid any side pressure.
    Old target shooters actually sandpapered the tip of the index finger to increase the sensitivity of the trigger press.
  6. Ian M

    Ian M Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2001
    A while back a fellow named S1 provided an excellent suggestion for uniforming your trigger release. He said to put a small piece of closed cell plastic between your lower three fingers and the pistol grip, simply pull back until you compress the foam solid. I tried it and like it, when I remember where I put the little piece of foam.