Trigger preparation, not to be confused with slapping the crap out of the trigger is a fundamental shooting skill. It is well within every shooter’s ability to become proficient at trigger preparation if you understand the why first.

Putting in the time

Are there other techniques, absolutely. However, a large majority work for a small minority of folks. The reason why is simple. The average defensive student either does not have the time or does not invest the time to maintain proficiency. Most folks will expend less than a thousands rounds of ammunition per year and that is being generous. Think of ten visits to the range where you expend approximately 100 rounds per visit. I like this number, it tells me the shooter is putting effort to learn new skills and sustain current ones. If I could get 80% of the student shooters to invest in this training plan I would consider this a win. This level of practice provides an ideal environment to reinforce fundamentals skills necessary for sustainable trigger management.

Trigger management defined

And that is what it takes, sustainment. You can see a lot of improvement in a 16-hour class, but to keep the momentum going you need sustainment training. I have mentioned it before, the two most important skills for any level student to master are crush grip and trigger management. I have talked about crush grip so you can visit these articles to learn more, but in short it means holding the gun both firm and still during it’s entire operational sequence. Without this skill your trigger management limps along. Trigger management is about having the correct finger position on the trigger, lower third and placed on the face of the trigger. Then using the correct position on your finger, sunk in deep up to the first joint for power. Lastly, moving the trigger to the rear with minimal if any gun/sight movement. A big part of trigger management is understanding each of these three phases.

Three stages of trigger movement

First stage is taking out all the slop or free play. The movement the trigger has before you feel tension. Second stage is taking out the slack or the movement under tension. I get students to take out the slack so they are resting on the sear wall. Third stage is the squeeze. Where the student squeezes past the point of detonation and allows the gun to recoil. These three stages are easily taught, but difficult to master. Isolating them into these stages allows the student to “feel” their trigger. A common response is “I never knew my trigger could do that”. I’m not surprised with many of the techniques taught these days. The secret is to be patient in the beginning. To learn your trigger and how it moves. All the seemingly insignificant details most do not pay attention to or know exist.

Work the “2”

The most common trigger error we see is when the student fails to properly work the second stage, removing the slack. We call this “no two” meaning if you count down, 3,2,1…bang the two is taking out the slack. They may touch the trigger and take out the slop, but there is still plenty of travel that at real speeds cause significant gun/sight movement or what I call gross movement. When the student can take out “2” the trigger breaks more genuinely. Combined with a crush grip, subtle errors are hardly noticeable at real speeds. For homework assignment I ask students to dry practice,  become intimate with their trigger’s movement. Especially, the second stage. I give specific drills to practice emphasizing control over all three stages.

The results are higher awareness of trigger movement; which ultimately leads to a better hit ratio. This is the ultimate goal for any shooting student, the best hit ratio under any conditions.


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