Pull the Trigger, depress the trigger

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by Sandy Keathley

Pull the trigger, squeeze the trigger, press the trigger. What is the difference?

It’s a big difference, at least psychologically, and that translates to shot groups. In the same way that 1/16 inch misalignment of the sights will lead to 6 inches or more variance from the bulls-eye, a much smaller amount of muzzle movement just before the break will throw off the shot.  Recoil after the break is not the enemy; muzzle movement right at the break is.

The best advice I ever got, which I also give, is, “be surprised“.  If you are surprised when the gun fires, you won’t be moving anything. “Well,” they tell me, “I know when my trigger breaks.”  Fine.  But you need to pretend you don’t know.

Some people treat a trigger like a light switch: on or off.  If it were a pressure switch, instead of a mechanical device, that would work, but it isn’t.  There is a certain amount of travel in the trigger, and between the start of pressure from the finger, and the break, people do bad things: jerk the trigger, push on the backstrap, apply lateral pressure on the trigger, etc. As the shot groups go wider, panic sets in, and it gets worse.

That’s where those words come in. Squeeze implies less physical muscularity than pull, and press implies even less. You can’t muscle the pistol into hitting the bulls-eye, you have to finesse it.  The best marksmen are like football linemen with 9 fingers, and a ballet dancer with one.

Hold the muzzle still, and “be surprised”, and you’ll be surprised at the result!

Author: Sandy Keathley

NRA-Certified Firearms Instructor