trigger pull fundamentals


April 8, 2005, 04:14 PM
I have heard many good shooters talk about trigger pull as being a major part of shooting accurately . So what are the "do's and don't's" of proper trigger pull? I would like to practice to improve my shooting accuracy. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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April 8, 2005, 04:22 PM
Do: Squeeze the trigger smoothly and with consistent pressure
Don't: Pull or jerk the trigger

There's probably more to it but these are the basics IMHO.

April 8, 2005, 04:22 PM
Straight back

April 8, 2005, 04:35 PM
B.R.A.S.S. My style

Breath. Take a couple deep breaths and let the second breath half way out.

Relax.. I squeeze all my muscles, that are controlling the firearm(except my trigger finger) until I get that slight quivering feeling, then relax them all just short of that little quiver.

Aim.. Concentrait on the FRONT sight and trust your wobble

Sight..Concentrait on the FRONT sight and trust your wobble(there is a reason I put it in the's that important :D )

Squeeze..Trigger finger should press the trigger straight back using one smooth constant motion and remain there until you tell it to move forward(follow through).

Do this in slow motion for a couple thousand rounds, or preferably dry fire, and you will see the muscle memory develope.


April 8, 2005, 05:02 PM
The most important aspect of your trigger pull is that it doesn't disturb your sight picture (that is, move the rest of the gun out of alignment with the target). You can squeeze, pull, or even slap the trigger, as long as you don't move any other part of your body.

April 8, 2005, 05:27 PM
The trigger must be pulled straight back,if not you will disturb the gun. This is especially true of handguns. It is very popular to have a long trigger on a 1911 but that's the wrong one if you have a small hand and short fingers.Some of the shotguns have an adjustable trigger ,improperly called length of pull adjustment .It is properly trigger reach adjustment.Some target shooters use mental imaging to help such as trying to touch their shoulder with the trigger finger. You can train to squeeze fast but that's controlled .A jerk is uncontrolled.

Guy B. Meredith
April 8, 2005, 05:29 PM
What are you shooting? For competition? Bullseye, action, benchrest?

April 8, 2005, 05:40 PM
In addition to the other great tidbits you'll get here, I've always felt that the gun should "surprise you" when it goes off. If you are pulling steadily, you won't know the exact instant it goes off. Once you've mastered that, you simply speed it up in increments.

April 8, 2005, 05:55 PM
I've been shooting for over forty years and my eyes are declining but my shooting is better than it ever has been. I spent too much of my life trying to pull the trigger and never knew how very difficult that task was to perform properly.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine who is a gunsmith, a pistol range/gunshop owner and an IPSC competitor gave me the best trigger control advice that I have ever received.

He says......

Get in front of the trigger and follow it back!

In other words, don't sit behind the trigger and try to force it to follow the curving path of your finger...........

Mentally position your finger on the trigger and increase the pressure while you mentally follow it through its straight rearward path. If you can focus your mind on your fingertip, move only that fingertip while you steady the gun; your marksmanship will dramatically improve.

One caveat. I normally shoot variations of the 1911 and crisp single action triggers make the job easy. That's my cop out.

Standing Wolf
April 8, 2005, 05:59 PM
In addition to the excellent advice above, let me share a practice that has worked for me. I shoot ten rounds of center fire, then ten of .22 rim fire, then ten of center fire, then ten of rim fire, et cetera. Switching back and forth between calibers helps minimize flinch.

April 8, 2005, 06:10 PM
Become acquainted with your own body. When you breath-in, what happens to your sight picture? For most, ribcage expansion moves the shoulder upward - but how much for you? Or do you breath from the diaphragm? What happens when you first start trigger pressure? There are different states of your body that help a steady sight picture. Explore. Don't let muscle fatique effect you - train your breathing/arm/hand/fingers so they obey your conscious control. Steadiness is an achievement in body control, it doesn't just automatically come by "following rules".

April 8, 2005, 07:58 PM
Thanks very much for your helpful replies. I will definitely save them for future reference.

I guess what is foremost on my mind right now is shooting IDPA. I have not been doing very well- not even made Marksman yet. Stage three of the qualifyer has been a disaster for me- twice. I think part of my problem is poor trigger control. I am getting a good sight picture and then my shots are frequently way off, especially from 15 or more yards away. I think that in the excitement of competition I am yanking the trigger without much control.
Also, I have noticed at the pistol range (25 yd bullseye shooting) that experienced shooters are able to shoot much better groups than me. I would like to do better here, also.

Guy B. Meredith
April 8, 2005, 08:22 PM
Excellent notes above.

Are you shooting a revolver or auto? Can be some differences due to the SA vs DA in action pistol. For bullseye you are probably DA either way.

If you are shooting revovler check out Jerry Miculek's video on Ulimate Advanced revolver shooting. He goes over all the fundamentals.

Have you gone through the usual checkouts to make sure it is trigger control? Use unexpectedly empty magazine or cylinder chambers to observe the front sight when you pull the trigger. Use the chart that has been posted here.

Shooting is like golf in that you need to "keep your eye on the ball". I know that I have a problem with looking away too soon or looking 'through' the sight to the target. Need to absolutely fix on the front sight until your finger has returned to the forward position. Front sight is clear, rear and target fuzzy.

Also need to verify consistent grip.

If you are fixed on the front sight, you can see where it is moving. Moves left (for right hander) not enough finger on the trigger, moves right, too much finger and pulling right. Sight drops, probably recoil anticipation, limp wristing. Gotta make sure you are pulling straight back.

April 8, 2005, 08:55 PM
This diagnostic will help with your technique. It is oriented toward handguns but much of it is useful for long guns also.

Technique Diagnostic (

April 8, 2005, 09:11 PM
Trust the innate ability of your brain / body to align the sights on the target. Forget that the sights are "all over the place" and concentrate instead on a slow steady trigger pull. If you can't shoot a decent target bullseye style you won't be able to do very well any other style. Dry firing is good as mentioned. But bench resting a few hundred rounds untill you can shoot a 5 od 10 round "knothole" that can be covered by a dime at say 50 ft is also good practice. Benchresting takes a lot of the variables out of the picture and allows you to concentrate on that slow steady squeeze. Once you can shoot a nice tight group from the bench you are ready to stand up!

But never set your sights by using the benchrest. Something about the recoil impulse being different standing as opposed to sitting. Always sight in the same way you'll be shooting.

For your IDPA I'd guess your letting the time interfere with your concentration. Forget about trying to be fast at first. Concentrate on good sight alignment and proper trigger squeeze. Speed will come as you practice more. Two slow accurate hits are worth more than two fast misses...

April 8, 2005, 10:17 PM
Practice a lot using the old "Ball and Dummy" drill. Using a revolver, load one live round, then a snap cap. Then load two live rounds, then two snap caps. Close the cylinder without looking, and you'll never know whether the next pull of the trigger is going to be a 'bang' or a 'click'.

This really helps you see if you're flinching, pulling, pushing, or whatever.

You can do the same thing in an auto, just by having a friend randomly insert a few snap caps into your magazine...

April 11, 2005, 05:46 AM
This is an old pistol drill, but I still use it today.

Take a dime and balance it on top of your front sight. If your sight is rounded and the dime won't stay on there, place the dime on the rounded top of the barrel or slide. Practice Dry-firing until you can do it without the dime falling off. A side bennefit is the lone act of raising the handgun into shooting position without the dime falling off will help smooth out your draw as you extend your arms.


April 11, 2005, 08:50 AM
[obi wan]

"apply smooth, even pressure to the trigger _without disturbing the alignment of the sights_ until the gun discharges"

[/obi wan]

This application of pressure can happen quite quickly, but it cannot be learned at full speed, which is why most folks say "pull slowly".

The best thing you can do is ritually unload and do a lot of dry fire, using the penny, a laser, or your eyes and a dot on the wall.

April 11, 2005, 09:43 AM
All good advice. I'll add that it takes practice, practice, practice. Also it doesn't matter what your shooting or why your shooting. Trigger squeeze is important. Practice will make it an automatic skill.

Good luck.

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