Trigger Awareness

This issue’s Drill of the Month isn’t exactly a drill.

Rather, it is a series of exercises designed to help you become more aware of your trigger finger and better able to control its motions. No matter how fast you can draw or how dynamically you can move, you will not be prepared to defend yourself with a firearm until you can hit your target reliably. You cannot hit your target reliably until you develop good trigger control—and good trigger control starts with awareness.

Exercise #1: Feel the Trigger

Start this one with an empty firearm. Check it two or three times to be sure it is really empty, then choose a safe aimpoint for dryfire. Point the empty firearm at your chosen aimpoint, then close your eyes (so you can focus on your felt sensations) and press the trigger as slowly as you can. Your goal is to produce at least 30 seconds of continuous, slowly increasing pressure before you feel the trigger reach its break point. When you reach the break point, you will feel the trigger “click” to indicate that if the gun were loaded, it would have fired. How slowly can you make that happen?

Reset the action and repeat the same agonizingly slow trigger press. While you very slowly increase the pressure on the trigger, think about the sensations in your trigger finger. Is the trigger stiff and hard to move (“heavy”) or is it easy to move (“light”)? How far will your finger travel before the trigger reaches the break point? To make the gun fire, will your finger move the trigger just a little to the rear (“short”) or will it need to move a long way (“long”)?

Reset and repeat. This time, pay attention to any changes you feel in your finger as the trigger moves. Does the trigger seem light at first, and then get heavier as it reaches the break point (“stacking”)? Can you feel any other changes in the trigger weight? Do you feel any bumping or grinding sensations (“grittiness”) or is the trigger movement smooth?

If you have a DA firearm with an external hammer, try watching the motion of the hammer a few times while doing this exercise. Can you make that hammer move at the same speed all the way back, with absolutely no change in momentum?

Exercise #2: Watch the Wobble

With the same unloaded firearm (check it again!) and the same safe aimpoint, hold the firearm on target without pulling the trigger. How long can you keep the sights perfectly aligned? Press the trigger as slowly as you did before. This time, watch the front sight as you gently bring the trigger all the way to the rear. How still can you hold the front sight while bringing the trigger to its break point? Can you keep the sights perfectly aligned throughout the entire trigger press? Or does it wobble a little?

Because human beings are not robots, you will see that perfection eludes you. No matter how carefully you try this exercise, your front sight will always have a slight tremble or wobble in it. This is utterly normal and not a cause for concern. Many people yank the trigger back suddenly during a brief moment when they see the front sight wobble into perfect alignment with the target. This doesn’t work well because it invariably drops the resulting shot. A right-handed shooter with this habit tends to produce targets with a lot of shots that hit low and to the left; a left-hander produces shots low and to the right. In either case, the solution is to accept the wobble for what it is—a benign natural artifact—and instead concentrate on creating a very smooth trigger press. To compensate for the wobble, simply keep realigning the sights as you press the trigger steadily to the rear.

Exercise #3: Follow Through

This is a live-fire exercise, so go ahead and load the gun. Place your target at 5 to 7 yards. Just like in dryfire, you are going to press the trigger very, very slowly while keeping your front sight as well-aligned as humanly possible. Do not speed up just because you’re going live. Keep it agonizingly slow so you can continue to feel the trigger as you work.

When the shot fires, continue to hold the trigger all the way to the rear. Do not allow the trigger to come forward as it naturally will. Do not immediately flop your finger off the trigger. Rather, press the trigger slowly to the rear and hold it there while you realign the sights. Count one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi with your sights aligned before you allow the trigger to move forward again.

Did you find this exercise surprisingly difficult? Many people do. That’s because we tend to immediately stop controlling the trigger when the shot fires. But if we want to be able to fire multiple shots quickly and accurately—or even just fire single shots as accurately as possible—we need to follow through by holding the trigger to the rear as we realign the sights. Once the sights are realigned, we can let the trigger move forward to take the next shot. This reduces unnecessary motion and wasted time between shots. It also ensures single-shot accuracy because many people have the bad habit of relaxing, and thus moving the gun, before the shot has actually exited the muzzle end of the barrel.


Cornered Cat Training Company (CCTC)


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