Every now and then we have a student who struggles with trigger management. We can work through all the diagnostics and learn why they slap the trigger physically, but on a few occasions it’s the emotional issues that are the real problem.
That pesky emotion
Firing a weapon is a bit intimidating at best and scary at worse for a lot of people. Those who seek out the training typically work through the intimidation factor early on because they want to learn, have fun or get better. They are motivated themselves. Then there are those who are forced by their profession and sometimes this “triggers” what is basically a fear response.
So, what is really going on that makes it an emotional issue. The discharging of the firearm can reach deep into the psyche and trigger some serious reactions. There are three; the sound, the flash and the recoil. Combine all of these at once and it can create one hell of a full body flinch. Some will flinch in anticipation of the recoil, some from the flash and some from the sound. When they react to all of them at once it is a serious flinch, that is transmitted all the way to the tip of the trigger finger. This can at some ranges cause the round to impact in front of the target, sometimes several feet in front of the target.
Using the force
If you watch this under slow motion video you can see it all happening, but of course in real time it’s difficult to pick up. It’s not easy to track your sights while shooting, even the best shooters take years to develop this skill. When you close your eyes it makes it that much more difficult to see what’s going on (ha-ha). However, that is exactly what is going on with some folks, they literally close their eyes before the shot breaks.
The tidal wave of a missed shot
Again under slow motion, you can see the hands, arms and upper body flex like a tidal wave and when this happens it’s almost impossible to apply smooth trigger movement as the trigger finger is flexing at the same time. This response can be intense in some shooters, the body has been taught to anticipate the recoil and the result is it literally starts to push the gun down pre-ignition.
Fear mechanism at work
So, what can you do about it? First advise and it is pretty simple is to wear double ear protection. Doubling up will help reduce the sound and that sometimes delays the start of the flinch allowing the shooter to apply their fundamentals in a more pure sense. The next one is the tough one and that is knowing you are doing. Incorporating randomly loaded dummy rounds will help isolate and “show” the shooter. Which should progress to trigger management techniques that isolate the trigger finger movement. That doesn’t mean you will all of a sudden stop, but what is critical is you acknowledge what is happening; which is a response generated by your fear mechanism. The key will be in a little self introspective and acknowledging what’s the root cause. It’s not really you being afraid, its more a feeling that triggers the body’s response to fear; such as blinking and body flinches.
These responses are deeply seeded and take time to root out, but they are correctable. The first step is the hardest step; which is owning up to it.