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Trigger Control

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics and Training' started by Frank Ettin, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    Well it’s hard to suggest something without watching you shoot an getting some idea about what the underlying problem might be. But it’s an excellent chance it’s trigger control, because that turns out to be what the problem often is.

    So first try some dry practice. Triple confirm that the gun is unloaded and be sure there’s no ammunition in the area. Then try some slow, smooth trigger presses while maintaining a hard focus on the front sight. Place the pd of your trigger finger on the trigger with the finger tip perpendicular to the direction of trigger travel. Smoothly increase pressure on the trigger, pressing it straight back with only the trigger finger moving, until the sear trips. The front sight should not move. If it doesn’t move, repeat. If it does move try again concentrating on doing it correctly until the front sight doesn’t move. When you’re consistently breaking the dry shot without the front sight moving head to the range for some live fire.

    Remember that when you’re starting these exercises you’ll want to concentrate on doing it right each time. That’s how you program your mind and body to do it correctly on demand. You might also need to overcome some bad habits.

    Let us know how it’s working for you.
     
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  2. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    And Jim, try closing or blocking your non dominant eye. That way we probably take the most common vision issues off the table.
     
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  3. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

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    ^^^^
    Last time I checked I had about a 12 inch wobble.

    Thank you Frank
    Sincerely
     
  4. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

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    Just to expand a little bit, I really enjoyed working on the 1911 pistols awhile back and even looked into some informal Bulls eye shooting locally. I suppose a year or so of practice told me I was better at polishing than shootin. Been thinking about picking it back up though.

    So again to both of you
    thx
    J
     
  5. film495

    film495 Member

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    best thing I ever heard on how tight to hold a handgun was think about it like you're clasping a bird in your hands, you don't want it to get away, but you also don't want to crush it. this leads to sort of a rigid grip, and not as much pure squeezing which leads to a shaky grip
     
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  6. Ralph III

    Ralph III Member

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    Well, the lasts posts by LiveLife and even Frank were excellent. Frank, you stated a couple of more whoppers though in response to me and I will address at some point, of course. My wife may fire me if I'm not careful though so it will probably be late week or weekend. There's really nothing more to debate afterward for me because some things we will never agree on.

    Take care,
    Ralph
     
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  7. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    No, we won't agree.

    On the other hand, I must thank LiveLife for the Brian Zins video he included in post 31. I've had a chance to watch it a couple of times and will be searching out some of his other videos. He offers some useful insight, and I see merit in the way he explains some things.

    For example, he talks about the trigger maintaining sight alignment. Of course he is looking at things from the perspective of bullseye competition, describing the trigger press beginning as the sights are settling onto target. But in more general terms he is describing the reality that even with a solid stance and perfect sight alignment, if one can't press the trigger to fire the gun without causing disruption of the sight alignment, he will not get a good hit.
     
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  8. carsten1911

    carsten1911 Member

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    What many people really overthink is the complexity of what happens during a shot...from lifting the pistol to the breaking of the shot. You need to break this one down to identify the most critical point.

    If one gets a "mental timeline" for a shot he/ she will understand that what really happens the tiny moment before the bullet moves through the barrel is the hammer-firing pin-combo or striker hitting the primer.
    To make this happen the trigger needs to be activated ...so this activation is the last thing happening between shooter and pistol. If this action is spoiled no preparation of any kind is of any use. That´s why Brian Zins pointed out the importance of "marrying" aiming and trigger press. But he also points out that the trigger press needs to be a smooth and constant one, since it is way too easy to develop those godawful small jerking movements that will throw a well aligned pistol of the center just microseconds before the primer is ignited. This one is what kills the performance of pistol shooters.
    Man, I personally witnessed a really old guy who had severe age-induced shakes and was wobbling so strong that my (then unexperienced) mind was anticipating his target would look catastrophic. What a surprise, when it came back with 138 out of 150 possible rings! While shaking severely this shooter had accepted his wobble and uncertain/ incorrect sight picture...and just concentrated on his trigger pull. In hindsight I would love to have a video of this performance, because nobody would believe how good "ole shaky" did perform despite trembling hands and arms.

    You all take care!
    Carsten
     
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  9. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    Exactly.

    And here's another video in which Brian Zins says essentially the same thing.

    ""

    Note at 1:58 - 2:02 he says:
     
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  10. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    At 2:00 minute mark of video, Brian Zins states, "You can hold sight alignment and sight picture on your pistol all day long.

    When does it change?

    When you move the trigger. Sights move. They are going to move. They have to move.

    ... No matter how big your hands ... strong you are ... death grip ... as soon as you apply force ... on this pistol, it's going to move"
    Yes and OP posted,
    The stance/grip/pistol together is in a state of dynamic motion to counteract/compensate for trigger pull/press to keep sight alignment on Point of Aim (POA) so Point of Impact (POI) will occur at the same spot, regardless whether using two hands, one strong/weak hand, two fingers, sighted/unsighted, slow-fire bullseye, or rapid-fire action pistol.

    If the shooter does not apply consistent trigger control, regardless of the stance/grip used, muzzle/front sight of the pistol will move just before the bullet exits the barrel and POI will deviate from POA.

    And minimizing muzzle/front sight movement on a consistent basis to produce smaller shot groups is accuracy.
     
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  11. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    I think his comment about sight alignment and trigger press not being sequential actions, but concurrent instead, is a critical thing that many people misunderstand. A lot of people imagine that at some point they are "done" aiming and are into firing. But a shooter is never done aiming until the sights lift. You must keep aiming through the shot. Once in recoil, aiming is over and you can move on to other things (which may just be aiming anew or aiming at a new target), but there is probably nobody whose pure trigger control is so good that, if they close their eyes after initially getting the sights on target, they can shoot as well as if they watch the sights through the whole shot.

    Unfortunately, I think all the talk of "trigger control" convinces many people that there is such a thing as developing the "muscle memory" to completely isolate the trigger finger and require no continued aiming... first aim, then pull the trigger. I think this fouls a lot of people up.

    We'd be much better teachers if we focused, as Zinn does, on the continuous relationship between aiming and triggering, rather than proposing some purely kinesiological solution to the problem of sights moving after the decision to fire.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
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  12. TheProf

    TheProf Member

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    Wow. This has gotten to be a one long thread.

    Bruce Lee once said that before he learned martial arts, a kick was just a kick and punch was just a punch.

    When he started to learn martial arts, a kick was no longer just a kick and a punch was no longer just a punch. (It got complicated.)

    After he understood martial arts a kick was just a kick and a punch just was just a punch.

    I wonder if this applies to "pulling the trigger" and hitting the target?

    As long as you can hit the target with accuracy and speed.. while maintaning safety... (Including sound tactical principles), must person subscribe to one way of doing things?
     
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  13. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    But remember that Zins is looking at this from the perspective of the bullseye shooter.

    What about the person shooting a gun for the very first time and for whom the kinesiological solution might well be too far too fast?

    How about learning point shooting?

    And since the Modern Technique of the Pistol was mentioned, how about the relationship between the trigger press and flash sight picture? Let's look at what Greg Morrison says about the flash sight picture (Morrison, Gregory, The Modern Technique of the Pistol, Gunsite Press, 1991, pp 87 - 88, emphasis added):

    Well the true fallacy there is the term "muscle memory." Muscles don't have memory. What one really means is the fourth rung of the skill learning ladder, unconscious competence.

    Unconscious competence is real -- performing an action correctly, reflexively, on demand, without conscious thought. It is possible with sufficient practice to perform, correctly, reflexively, on demand, without conscious thought, a compressed, surprise trigger break.

    The kinesiological solution takes precision to the next level by further moderating the effect of the normal wobble on target.
     
  14. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    Well the questions will always be:

    • Can you do it?

    • How can you do it?

    • How can you learn to do it?

    It might sound easy -- just press the trigger to fire the gun without disrupting the index of the gun on target. But then again, it seems that a lot of people have a lot of trouble actually doing that. I and my colleagues can do it. We've demonstrated doing it, and we know how we learned to do it. We've also had some success teaching people how to do it.

    If you can do it, then somehow you learned to do it; and perhaps you did so in a way different from the way I've described. That's fine. But if you can't do it, or if you can't do it consistently, you might try learning to do it in the manner I've described. Or you might try starting with Brian Zins' videos. Or perhaps there's some other instructional approach that would work better for you.

    But at the end of the day, the first principle of accurate shooting remains trigger control -- pressing the trigger to fire the gun without disrupting the index of the gun on target. Why can that be called the first principle of accurate shooting? Because it's the last act of the shooter before the bullet starts its journey to the target, and making a hash of that last action will spoil all the effort up to that point.
     
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  15. Ralph III

    Ralph III Member

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    Come on guys!

    You are quoting Zins and simply posting videos and quotes that support your agenda. You're really not even doing that properly but you're also completely ignoring other statements he has made that would refute things stated on this forum of which I objected to. You're (corrected) misrepresenting his sentiments just as Cooper and Weaver's sentiments. Brian Zins also said "grip is key". Soon coming.......
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  16. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    If you have something to say, let's see some actual evidence or documentation to back up your claims. Your hollow objections are a cheap rhetorical trick. The reality is that you have nothing meaningful to contribute.
     
  17. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    We're posting authorities that support our positions. You're free to do the same, but you apparently can't find anything.

    Exactly what are we ignoring? Show us, including the sources. Post evidence, not just claims and conjecture (or alleged conversation that aren't documented and can't be verified).

    First, the word is "you're", not "your."

    But exactly what am I misrepresenting, and exactly how am I misrepresenting it. But evidence, not just empty claims.

    Exactly where and how. Show us, don't just tell us.
     
  18. Ralph III

    Ralph III Member

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    Frank. I don't ever post or make comments that I cannot back up. In addition, I am waiting to hear back from a few folks. Take a chill pill please. I said I would get to it this weekend.

    Take care,
    Ralph
     
  19. Ralph III

    Ralph III Member

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    Hello Everyone,

    First, we are in complete agreement in regards to the importance of trigger control! That has never been the issue. My objection on this one point has always been the dismissal of the role the basics (stance, grip, aim) play or can play in regards to accuracy.

    I am going to state in a very concise fashion exactly what my objections were. I essentially had two major objections and one minor (surprise break). I also disagreed with some terminology but that was trivial. I will then address two more inaccuracies directed at myself as well as Jeff Cooper/Jack Weaver. I’m done after that. I will say this thread has been excellent though and I appreciate all of the opinions that has been shared.

    1) The OP stated “The first principle of accuracy is trigger control” and then went on to completely dismiss the importance that the basics (stance, grip, aim) play or can play in regards to accuracy. I objected for essentially two reasons.

    a. I simply objected to the sentence itself because if you are going to say there is a first principle then you would have to say it is platform(stance, grip) immediately followed by aim(sight alignment/picture). That is where it all begins when accuracy is the goal. The trigger press and aim is then used last to deliver the shot. I have always looked at things from the foundation upward from having always been involved with sports which would briefly include an interest in boxing and martial arts as a teenager. If anyone could relate to that mentality it would be Jeff Cooper himself who stated the “program begins at the feet….” and The Weaver stance is a function of the entire body, from your feet to the top of your head”. The ISSF states the “shooting position” to be one of the most important aspects when speaking of Olympic Precision Pistol Shooting (post #34). Doug Koenig states that the “stance/footwork” to be one of the most important aspects when speaking about Precision Pistol Shooting (00:45) as well. It is the foundation by which everything is built upon which Brian Zins and the NRA espouse as well. That in no way, shape or form diminishes the significant importance of trigger control.

    b. My major objection wasn’t in overly stressing the importance of trigger control but in utterly dismissing the importance that the stance, grip and aim can play in regards to accuracy. That is a mistake and I can tell you everyone I have spoken with does not agree with that approach.

    I have spoken with Christian Avara (NRA Instruction Director) and he does not agree with that method and such doesn’t seem in line with NRA standards. Now consider these quotes from the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting.

    I have conversed with a gentleman on another forum who’s resume includes “training Tactical Operators within the Coast Guards Deployable Specialized Forces, also working for the Department of State Training Crisis Response Teams”. He most assuredly doesn’t agree with diminishing the importance of the fundamentals. He understands why many Instructors overly emphasize trigger control but he states “….I don’t think trigger control should be taught as the superior fundamental. I think it’s the hardest to master for new shooters…”. The reason he doesn’t think it should be taught as the superior fundamental is because different fundamentals take precedence over other fundamentals (vice versa) depending on the type of shooting you are doing (precision vs combat). He goes on to say “That doesn’t mean any fundamental is less important than the other, always remember good, better, best techniques for the style of shooting you’re doing.”

    I have conversed with Brain Zins via several emails as well as an extended phone conversation, in regards. He stated “anyone who would teach such should go back to the drawing board and reconsider their teaching method”. He noted that while he doesn’t agree with everything the NRA teaches, specifically mentioning “hold control”, that this sentimentality didn’t seem in line with NRA teaching standards. Brian also noted that anyone who would use a video to somehow suggest that he only considers trigger control to be important or that the other basics are somehow significantly less important is “a complete misrepresentation of me”. Which he noted occurs quite often. Whether that occurred here or not is irrelevant but that is his sentiment.



    In the above video Brian explains the great importance of the grip and how it significantly improved his accuracy (2:15---)…. “one thing a lot of people don’t consider is that the trigger finger is part of your grip....Zins you’re good and all but you do not know grip….Grip is key, think about it. It’s the only thing touching your gun. It’s gotta be firm, it’s gotta be consistent, it’s gotta be repeatable….” This mirrors exactly what I have argued.



    In this video on precision shooting Brian notes (1:50) that “stance, position, grip, everything is very very important” but of course he stresses the significance of aim and trigger control. That is the proper way to teach. The OP stressed that the basics including aim were significantly less important and indeed “insignificant”. One is a proper teaching method and one is not. You don’t tear something down just to build something up. That is the wrong approach.

    (strike one)

    2) My next two objections go hand in hand so I will lump them together. I personally agree with the surprise trigger break (with one caveat) but I disagreed with how Frank was presenting it. He was emphasizing it as if it was a requirement for accuracy instead of stressing what truly is, which is to always execute a smooth trigger pull. When I have time to make a methodical trigger pull then the surprise break is easily achieved, for me. However, when I have limited time or I must make a trigger break then there is no such thing as a surprise trigger break, for me. There is a difference in letting the trigger break and making the trigger break. Irrespective, the goal is to always execute a smooth trigger press. Ya’ll have to be proud I am using the word “press”, yes? BTW, do not mention the surprise trigger break to Brian Zins because he doesn’t believe in that concept what-so-ever especially given the following.

    The OP then made the following statement ... if you try to make the shot break at that one instant in time when everything seem steady and aligned, you usually wind up jerking the trigger”

    I emphatically disagreed with this statement because any proficient marksman who knows his weapon can make it break precisely when he needs it to break without jerking the trigger. Brian Zins agreed with my sentiment in it’s entirety and when I read that sentence to him he stated “That is complete bullsh_t”. Jeff Cooper himself states that a good marksman can make his gun break when needed (40:00) “...so you must be able to compress the thumb against the forefinger, so at the time you choose, you can make the hammer fall”. The OP’s statement is just inaccurate as I correctly pointed out.

    (strike two)

    3) Lastlly. In vehemently challenging the notion that the fundamentals (stance, grip, aim) are “insignificant” as Frank quoted Col Charles Askins, Frank then replied to my objection “Actually, you simply don't understand Jeff Cooper or the Modern Technique of the pistol” and that The Weaver Stance is about recoil control”.

    These are a couple of whoppers because they couldn’t be further from the truth. I realize Frank was irritated with me so I will set the record straight now.

    First, I’ve always known that a larger caliber weapon had more stopping power then a lower caliber weapon, one of Coopers principles of modern technique, btw. At the age of seven, I challenged our fathers who started us boys out hunting with bb guns whilst they were using high powered rifles. Without going into personal details this was one of my Dads fondest memories, but I digress.

    Secondly, I’ve been using the Weaver Stance for nearly 50 yrs now. I use the Weaver stance for the following reasons.

    * It is a very strong stance that is natural to me. It is a fighters stance that offers me a great amount of stability and balance.

    * It allows me to be accurate whether slow fire or rapid fire due to the above. It incorporates a two handed grip and sight alignment which was unique for the time. Because of such it became the basis of the modern technique as Jeff Cooper stated. In regards to it being conducive for accuracy Jack Weaver himself stated that “a pretty quick hit was better than a lightning-fast miss.”

    * It is a natural transition from a long gun to a pistol. I’ve tried shooting the Isosceles just to see what it is about and I immediately switched back. It is completely unnatural for me and I found the stance to be weak and unbalanced. It’s fine for others but not for me.

    I had a lengthy conversation with Ken Campbell at Gunsite and he absolutely agreed with every one of those sentiments and even expounded further. He trained under Cooper and is now the Chief Operations Officer at Gunsite. That gentleman has a passion for the sport and Gunsite and truly loves talking about it. I really enjoyed speaking with him. Anyhow, he stated and then forwarded an email to me as follows “I was taught the Weaver by Jeff Cooper and do not recall him espousing it as only for recoil control. Cooper and the Modern Technique is all about the proper balance of accuracy, power and speed. (Diligentia, Vis and Celeritas.)” He said folks were simply cherry picking quotes if coming to the conclusion that it was only good for recoil control.

    You can visit swatmag.com for an excellent article on the Weaver stance with relevant quotes by Campbell and others from Gunsite... https://www.swatmag.com/article/weaver-stance-combating-misinformation/

    He then read and forwarded me one of his favorite quotes by Cooper.

    Yes, Cooper thought the Weaver stance was good for recoil control but it was significantly more than just that. It was a very versatile stance that used the whole body to accomplish the goal of accuracy, power and speed. Frank people forget things but to suggest the Weaver stance is somehow only good for recoil management is disingenuous. Cooper himself states at (21:45) that the effects of recoil are “much exaggerated” and that they are in fact “illusions” created by WWI service men attempting to impress their girlfriends. He then demonstrates that “if you hold the gun properly it moves almost none at all...so there is no need to worry about that”.

    At 22:50 Cooper names the four fundamentals of marksmanship” {emphasis added}. He names them “Grip, Stance, Sight Picture and Trigger Control”. It’s ironic that I have been defending three of the four fundamentals in promoting all of them, while others have been diminishing the three in order to propagate trigger control alone. Cooper goes on to explain the fundamentals and it is not simply about recoil control but it is all in regards to the stability it affords for “Diligentia, Vis and Celeritas”.



    (Strike three)

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Frank. I did not attack your original post only parts of it. It just has some major errors in it or some things which need to be addressed, IMHO. I’ve been as cordial as I can by offering some constructive criticism. If you would consider changing or tweaking some things then it could go from being a good post to an excellent post that is relevant for everyone. If you think I have been harsh then I apologize but my objections are mild in comparison to what some others stated in regards. I have conversed and quoted some of the most prominent people who have ever been in the industry and those who are still within the industry. My points have been vindicated at this time. If you are not careful, some day someone is going to give you some really good advice and you’re simply going to ignore it out of some ignorant notion you don’t think they know what they are talking about. All you have to do is tweak it.

    Good luck and God Bless,
    Ralph III
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019
  20. larryh1108

    larryh1108 Member

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    I feel this statement goes both ways.
    It appears that your ultra competitive nature blinds you to what is an excellent post by Frank.
    Sometimes it's ok to admit that someone else did a great job.
    Somehow I don't think that is something you can do.
     
  21. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    Point out exactly where I dismissed the role of stance, grip, and aim. But I stand by my characterization of trigger control as the first principle of accurate shooting. I had explained why, but I'll repeat it. Pressing the trigger to make the gun fire is the last act before the bullet leaves the barrel. If one can't press the trigger to cause the gun to fire without disturbing the index of the gun on target, stance, grip or aim can't save the shot.

    Exactly where and when did he say that? Whenever I have quoted someone I've provided the exact source. And in any case, nothing in that statement contradicts what I quoted Greg Morrison and Jeff Cooper as saying about the Weaver stance (post 45).

    I'm not going to pay attention to undocumented, unsupported conversations with folks who aren't here. Hearsay is inherently unreliable.

    Again, exactly where did I say that?

    And that's really for others to decide.
     
  22. Ralph III

    Ralph III Member

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    Well you're simply mistaken. If you read my posts I have at numerous times thanked folks for their opinions including Frank and at no time have I attacked anyone personally. I've stated that Franks post was "good" but that it could be "great" if some errors were corrected. I guess you missed all of that? Again, nobody disagrees on the importance of trigger control. I disagree on his presentation on this one point as have prominent others, by essentially diminishing the importance of the basics (stance, grip, aim). I have been clear on that point from the beginning and Frank never offered to clarify. His presentation is wrong in that regards. I correctly pointed out other inaccuracies. If Frank would like to clarify those things that would be excellent. It's time to move along though. I do have a renewed appreciation for trigger control though and I thank Frank, LiveLife and Brian Zins (others) for that. I developed excellent trigger control at a very young age.

    So I will leave you with this:

    Two buddies with equal trigger control, who understand the great importance of such as you do, stand 30ft from a target and attempt to deliver precise shots on it. One ends up with a better score, why? Because it came down to something quite simple or minute. One had a slightly better grip, or his stance offered slightly better balance thus limiting the wobble ever so slightly, or because his target alignment was ever so better. To imply the basics are essentially insignificant for accuracy purposes as Frank did is simply wrong.

    I can pull a trigger without disturbing aim and have been able to do so for many decades. My shooting precision always comes down to something very minute, mostly concentration.

    Take care,
    Ralph
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019
  23. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    1. You apparently missed the fact that the title of this thread is "Trigger Control" and my original post is about trigger control and only trigger control. This thread is not a comprehensive discussion of marksmanship skills. So you're vexed because I didn't write about what you seem to think I should have written about, and you've gone off on a tangent because of that.

      But I wasn't writing a comprehensive treatise on marksmanship skills, and I didn't intend to. What I wrote about is my choice, and I made the choice for a number of reasons.

    2. As I wrote in post 16:
    3. As I wrote in post 47:
    4. You even contended that some unidentified "expert" you say you talked to said that of the fundamentals, trigger control was:
    5. And as I wrote in post 71:
      Good for you. So what? This thread isn't about you or for you. It's for the person who has not learned how to press the trigger to cause the gun to fire without disturbing the index of the gun on target.

      The bottom line is that you completely missed the point of this thread, even though it was plainly spelled out in the thread title.
     
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  24. Apuesto

    Apuesto member

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    What film says.

    I always find a "gentle" hold gives better accuracy and clamping down on the grip; and I shoot 500 Linebaugh, 500 Wyoming Express and 460 S&W amongst many other "kickers". I let the gun do what it wants and never fight it, before and after the shot.
     
  25. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    That's great if the time to the second shot doesn't matter. If firing more than one shot in rapid succession matters, it is generally necessary to apply a substantial amount of grip force. "Free recoil" shooting styles work for some shooting, and are very limiting in other contexts.
     
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