Trigger Management

The majority of shooting errors are a result of poor to improper trigger management. Each shooter may experience slightly different errors, but they generally fall into placement, position or movement.

Defining correct trigger movement

It is important new students have the knowledge, skills and ability (KSA) to move the trigger in a manner that disrupts the sights as minimally as possible. As an instructor, there is the desire to best prepare a student for the worse possible scenario they may ever face. Focusing on the outcome along with the process is what allows us to make positive gains. Another major factor is how important it is for the student to have a positive experience. While there is something to be gained by negative experiences, new shooters develop better with positive experiences. These requires a higher order understanding of shooter errors.

Power vs. force

The first area we tackle when it comes to trigger management issues will be how one places their finger on the trigger. Specifically the location on the trigger to achieve optimize trigger movement. Since most modern firearms use a trigger based around a lever design, placing your finger lower on the trigger gives you more leverage, helping minimize time in the stall point typical with precise movements. Keeping the finger low on the trigger gives you more power and power is what allows you to move the trigger smoothly through all trigger movement stages. Force on the other hand still produces a fired shot, but by it’s nature will disrupt the sight picture to the point a miss is the outcome.

The devil is in the details

However, placement has been the biggest step towards helping shooters improve trigger management. So much,  we start every class by having students sink more of their finger into the trigger. While opinions vary, results are what we use to make informed decisions. Having the finger deeper on the trigger gives you the power mentioned above. The one downside to this technique, but this is possible with other errors is when the trigger finger rubs the firearm’s frame. This is possible regardless of trigger finger depth. When applying pressure to the frame while pulling the trigger it shifts the point of impact. Once you trigger finger is placed and positioned properly attention to where you are applying pressure is important. Most believe they are on the trigger face, but often they ride the edges creating windage issues.

Three stages of happiness

Trigger movement is often lost on instructors much less students. Modern striker fired pistols have three stages; sloop, slack and squeeze. The new student needs to feel each of the stages. They will more than likely need to slow the movement down or isolate each stage in order to feel them real time. The sloop is referenced as free travel or take up and the slack is the incremental movement up to the sear wall. The squeeze is breaking past the sear wall all the while minimizing sight disruption. Trigger movement for most is looked as a single motion and while that may be your goal it is less than ideal to start that way.

Trigger management is what allows you to achieve peak levels of performance. Everything else is semantics and subject to debate, moving the trigger without disrupting the sights is not.

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