Trigger Control

Part V: The Back To Basics Series

Trigger control is a non-negotiable key to accurate shots, and there are different ways to accomplish it, at different speeds. The first World Champion of Combat Pistol Shooting, Ray Chapman, was one of my mentors. He famously said, “Pistol shooting is simple… it just isn’t easy.” In all the years since I was privileged to work with him, I’ve never seen anything to credibly contradict his statement.

If you ever saw my video StressFire, Part I, Handgun, you heard me say trigger control was “the heart of the beast” in terms of getting good hits under pressure with a pistol or revolver. I haven’t seen anything lately to contradict that, either.

Once the firearm is aligned with the target, we need to bring the trigger straight back without exerting pressure in any direction that will deviate the muzzle from point-of-aim, until the shot “breaks.” Over the years, lots of folks have experimented with “staging” the trigger, a 2-step event in which the finger first takes up most of the trigger’s movement, and then performs a second, separate press to break the shot. It sounded great in theory, but doesn’t have a great history in practice. We in the gun world all seem to agree that once the decision to fire the shot has been made, the exact instant of the shot should come as a surprise, so we don’t subconsciously say to ourselves, “Now!” and convulsively jerk the trigger, pulling the muzzle—and the shot—away from where we intended it to hit.

In earlier segments of this “back to basics” series, we’ve talked about grasp, trigger finger placement, etc. At the moment, we’re talking about that simple-but-not-easy rearward press of the trigger that allows the shot to fire while the gun is aligned with what we want to hit.
By Massad Ayoob

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