Trigger Control A Pressing Issue

Trigger Control A Pressing Issue

This is a discussion on Trigger Control A Pressing Issue within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; “Trigger Control” A Pressing Concern for Instructors By: Tom Perroni I have been an Instructor for about 20 years. I have been an Instructor Trainer ...

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  1. #1
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    Trigger Control A Pressing Issue

    “Trigger Control”

    A Pressing Concern for Instructors

    By: Tom Perroni

    I have been an Instructor for about 20 years. I have been an Instructor Trainer (Someone who trains Instructors) for about 5 years and I have been a Firearms Instructor Trainer for 4 years.

    My father, who was a U.S. Marine Corps small arms Instructor & NRA Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor, taught me anyone can call the line… it takes an Instructor to fix the students problems. He would always say, “Watch the shooter, not the target.” In this way you can see what they are doing wrong and then verify it by looking at the target.

    I teach that there are seven fundamentals of handgun shooting, and that each one is important to get accurate hits on a target. Whether we are talking about “Target Accuracy” or “Combat Accuracy” is something I will discuss in a future article. The most important thing in a gunfight is to hit what you aim at. However there is one fundamental that causes the most problems for students and instructors: Trigger Control. The vast majority of the time, a bad shot on an intended target can be directly traced to trigger control, or a lack thereof.

    Here are some of the facts that I teach Firearms Instructors about Trigger Control:

    1. It is the most common problem in shooters.
    2. If not done correctly, you will not hit what you aim at.
    3. Has to be done properly, even when hurried.
    4. Trigger jerk and anticipation of recoil will consume 75% of your corrective action as an instructor.
    5. This is the cornerstone of shooting fundamentals.
    6. Once mastered, it must be practiced to the point where it is a subconscious act.
    7. A shooter can practice with dry fire or ball and dummy exercises.
    8. A shooter's target clearly tells the instructor whether proper trigger control is being employed.
    9. Too large a percentage of firearms instructors do not know how to correct this in shooters, or themselves.
    10. The exact same fundamental should be used no matter what weapon system the shooter is utilizing double action (DA), single action (SA), double action only (DAO).
    11. Shooters will find a hundred excuses before they admit they are jerking the trigger or anticipating recoil. Most single action systems allow the shooter to jerk the trigger with minimal sight movement. Up close this is not a problem. To find out about trigger control, shoot from 15 to 25 yards.
    13. A firearms instructor MUST be able to teach the proper method of controlling the trigger.
    14. No matter what terminology you use, the trigger must cause the hammer to fall without disturbing the proper sight alignment!


    All too often instructors will tell the student about their trigger control or lack thereof; however no one seems to be able to tell that student how to fix the problem. I will attempt to give you a few tools to fix this problem in your students or yourself.

    Let’s begin with the trigger finger’s placement vis-à-vis the trigger. At Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy we teach students who are using a semi-auto pistol that the trigger should cross the finger approximately halfway between the tip of the finger and the first joint, over the swirl of the fingerprint.

    Finger Placement The finger is placed so that the trigger is halfway between the tip of the finger and the first joint. “The trigger is squeezed or pressed straight to the rear in a smooth continuous manner without disturbing sight alignment.” You should not be able to predict the instant the gun will fire. Each shot should come as a surprise. Note the trigger finger continually maintains contact with the trigger.


    Trigger Squeeze / Press. After attaining proper placement of the finger on the trigger, proper trigger pressure can be applied to the trigger. There are three parts of trigger pressure each time the weapon is fired. They are slack, squeeze / press, and follow through.

    All three parts are important to proper trigger control.

    1. Slack. The shooter must first take up the slack at the beginning of the trigger movement by applying slight pressure to the trigger. The trigger will move slightly to the rear until the internal parts of the trigger mechanism come into full contact with each other, and the “softness” in the tip of the finger is eliminated.



    2. Squeeze / Press. The trigger is then in the squeeze / press portion of its movement, which is when the internal parts of the weapon are being disengaged from each other to allow the hammer to fall. The pressure should be a smooth, constant, and even pressure, applied straight to the rear so that the sights are not misaligned at the instant the hammer falls. Once the hammer begins to fall, the follow through portion of trigger control begins.

    3. Follow Through. Follow through is the continued steady pressure applied to the trigger until the trigger reaches its most rearward point of travel. If the shooter does not continue to apply the constant, even pressure during follow through, it is possible that the impact of the round could move on the target, thus spoiling an otherwise good shot.

    Trigger Release
    Once the shot has broken and the trigger is fully to the rear it must be released forward for follow up shots. The most failsafe method is to maintain contact with the trigger and let it move fully forward at the same speed with which you pressed it. The marksman’s trick of letting the trigger return only far enough to reset the sear or "hear the click" This is most evident in Glocks! When shooting fast with a loss of fine motor dexterity the tendency is to not let the trigger forward enough. The result is at best a momentary pause in the firing and at worst a perception that the gun has malfunctioned somehow. We call it "double clutching" the trigger.

    There is one Federal Law Enforcement agency so consumed by trigger press that is trains new agents to acquire finger placement on the trigger first then acquire a grip on the handgun.

    Dry fire practice is the key to achieve proper trigger press and will not damage a modern handgun. However you must press the trigger to the rear without disrupting sight picture and sight alignment.

    Point of aim is point of impact. Which means where ever the front sight is when the bullet leaves the barrel is where it will impact on the target.

    There is also one other Federal Law Enforcement Agency that has it’s agents repeat front sight, front sight, front sight, front sight until the trigger breaks. This allows them to focus on the front sight to get that surprise break “while using proper trigger control.”

    Believe it or not there are more things to talk about when it comes to trigger control but we only have so much room for the article. Want to know more? Come to class, and we’ll talk…..

    Tom Perroni
    http://www.perronitactical.com


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCJS Instructor View Post
    Finger Placement The finger is placed so that the trigger is halfway between the tip of the finger and the first joint.
    I don't entirely agree with this bit. In my experience, I need to put my finger in a different spot for different guns to get the greatest accuracy. I think it varies from person to person as well. Each person, when getting used to a new gun, needs to try varying amounts of finger on the trigger until they find the position that's the most accurate.

  3. #3
    Member Array Randy's Avatar
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    Good summation.

    If there's one single secret to teaching someone how to shoot, it is watching the shooter, not the target. That is also one of the hardest things (IME) to teach an instructor candidate.

    The "front sight" chant - did that come from K.V. by any chance? I can tell you a story about that sometime. ;)

    There's also a federal law enforcement agency that (per policy) MUST issue a verbal warning before actually shooting a suspect. There's a time to talk and a time to shoot. You have to know what time it is.

    Thanks for the call.

    Randy

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    One revelation my students in Basic Pistol usually realize - is that the first time they can say after a shot ''oh, it went'' is when they find they hit what they aimed at (assuming sighting was adequate).

    They also learn a lot seeing their own errors during ball and dummy drills ... and seeing their own error usually proves way more effective as a learning excercize than any amount of spoken advice.
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

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    Blackeagle,

    I could not agree with you more! However I am trying to give shooters a base line to work from. (IME) this is a very good starting point. case in point I was contracted to do some firearms remediation for an LE agency with Glocks. A great number of officers were shooting to the left. They actualy asked me if they should move the rear sight to the right?

    When I teach a Blackwater we must demonstrate each drill we want the shooter to preform. SOOOO.. not trying to be a show off I fired a few of the Glocks on hand, and had no problem making a 2 inch group at 15 yards.

    I had the officers use the finger placement method I talk about in my article and it cleared up the vast majority. However to your point some had to find thier own sweet spot. Thanks for the imput!

    Tom

  6. #6
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    Randy-

    You posted:

    The "front sight" chant - did that come from K.V. by any chance? I can tell you a story about that sometime. ;)

    K.V. ?

    They were FAM's

    Tom

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    P95 CARRY-

    Each shot should come as a surprise.

    I could not agree more with you. It is a fine thing to be an Instructor when you see your stundet grasp what you are teaching.....

    Tom

  8. #8
    Member Array Arkhangel's Avatar
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    I find this post very educational, could you explain what the ball and dummy drill is?
    I have seen instructional/diagnostics targets that say lo and left is too much trigger finger or too little finger, I have been waiting for the right post to ask someone which is correct. Thx for any replies.

    SY

  9. #9
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    Not to pre-empt Tom but . ''Ball and Dummy'' is substituting dummy rounds for live - in cylinder or mag - so that shooter does not know which will go bang!

    When they expect a bang and get a dummy - they will see all sorts of errors potentially - anticipatory flinch being common - as well as ''yanking'' on the trigger.. ''I WILL make this sucker go off'' LOL.

    The too much or too little trigger finger will be a function of hand size, gun, grips etc - a composite of elements. If tho finger misplacement is extreme enough (for that shooter and gun) then deviation is very likely to be seen.
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  10. #10
    Member Array Arkhangel's Avatar
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    Ok, understood thank you.

    SY

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    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P95Carry View Post
    Not to pre-empt Tom but . ''Ball and Dummy'' is substituting dummy rounds for live - in cylinder or mag - so that shooter does not know which will go bang!
    When I was first starting out, some of the most accurate shooting I did was with an instructor's revolver that had the mainspring lightened a bit too much. I really didn't know whether a round was going to go bang.

    click . . . click . . . click . . . BANG! . . . click . . . click . . . BANG! . . .

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    click . . . click . . . click . . . BANG! . . . click . . . click . . . BANG! . . .
    Haha that'll do it My M27 I once set spring too light and even with Fed primers this could happen ... more infuriating than anything else but yeah - it'll show a flinch!
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  13. #13
    Member Array ruffryder1167's Avatar
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    that ball and dummy exercise sounds like it may do the trick for my 1911 shooting.
    Where can i find good dummy rounds, should i use snapcaps?
    "A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity."--Sigmund Freud

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    One thing I would add to the trigger control issue is right after slack out is PREP. You have to prep the trigger before you begin the actual press. Just enough pressure to add tension to the trigger without firing, as the gun recoils you should be resetting the sear/striker, prepping again for a follow up shot once the gun settles back on the target if it is needed (follow through).

    Next is dry fire, ball and dummy rounds. They have to be used together in order to really get the benefits. If you can only do one opt for the ball and dummy rounds. Dry firing you know the gun is empty and usually will not anticipate any noise or recoil. Add live ammo and anticipating comes right back, throw in ball and dummy and you do not know whats coming next, click and a obvious jerk that you and Ray Charles both could see.
    Ken Forbus Owner of FIREARMZ
    FIREARMZ FORUM

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    Member Array Randy's Avatar
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    The 'prep' is a technique that would be, at best, very difficult or, more likely, impossible to perform under stress. Not something we teach to the LE guys at all.

    Very good technique for shooting the plate rack though.

    I see the OPS reference in your sig line and that explains where 'prepping' the trigger came from. :) Are they still open for business?

    Randy

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