Wrong forum: go to Tips section #2 Fundamentals: Press the Trigger Without Disturbing the Sights

hereinaz

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I posted this up in the wrong sub forum, check it out in the Tips section. Thanks!

The fundamentals of marksmanship have been defined by the USMC as 1) Aiming, 2) Breath Control, and 3) Trigger Control. Just this last weekend, I went with three young men and a couple dads to the desert to shoot rifles and got to apply all three as I taught them. Two boys had never fired a rifle before, and one had only shot a few times years ago. They got to shoot a few different .22 lr for a couple hours. They got basic instruction and had a great time shooting out to 200 and learning about bullet ballistics, aiming, breath control and trigger control.

When I was out there, I heard a common "tip" that is truly terrible. I hear it repeated all the time to new shooters: "Pull the trigger and the gun should surprise you when it goes off." That is absolutely the WORST advice new shooters could get, because, if you do everything else right, disturbing the rifle with poor trigger control will nearly always make you miss. No one says to a new driver, go ahead and stomp on the gas pedal, it should surprise you when it takes off. It is ridiculous, because in my experience a few minutes of dry fire exercises is enough for a shooter to learn to feel the shot break and watch how pressing the trigger moves the rifle. It seems as if people focus on the first two fundamentals, and they throw it all away by ending with poor trigger control.

Trigger control is simply pressing the trigger directly to the rear without disturbing the rifle. There are different methods to ensure you do that, and rifle set up has a lot to do with it. I'll cover those in separate tips and videos. My purpose with this tip is to help you understand how important the final step is in delivering the bullet precisely and accurately to the target.

Your rifle is a tool. Take it seriously so that you know EXACTLY when it will break. You should know every click, creak, and travel of your trigger (after a while, you might want a perfect trigger and that is why I prefer Trigger Tech, but premium triggers are awesome). More than once, I have had a friend say he couldn't tell the difference between his trigger and my premium trigger. I have had them focus carefully on the feel as they applied increasing pressure. Every time, they have said, I never felt that creak, that click, or that slight bump. And, they all universally say how clean the trigger breaks on my rifle.

If you haven't, go dry fire your rifle today. Slowly press the trigger increasing the pressure until it breaks and repeat it over and over. You should know how much pressure it takes to break the shot. You should know the feeling of compressing the meat of your finger between the trigger and the bone. You should know the exact moment it will break. You should be able to stop your finger from traveling past the point where it breaks. You should learn to press the trigger and FREEZE it immediately after it breaks because you don't need to impart any more movement to the rifle. The tiniest fractions of an inch move the rifle and your movement as you are smashing or pinning the trigger to the rear moves the rifle ever so slightly before the bullet leaves the barrel. Think about it, one MOA is about one inch at 100 yards, but the angular movement is 1/60 of a degree over movement. When you move the rifle, even slightly, it moves the bullet. If you can't press the trigger straight back without disturbing the sights. then you are leaving a significant amount of precision and accuracy on the table.

Common lies that people tell themselves are "I don't flinch" or "I don't jerk the trigger". Well, those are the most common reason that hunters miss the deer and shoot over it's back when the crosshairs were perfectly on it. If you have ever missed like that, admit that it was you and your failure to control the rifle during the trigger press. I have seen it over an over again, first in myself as I trained out the flinch as I smashed the trigger, and second in others as I help them with the fundamentals. Lots of dry fire practice has helped me focus when shooting animals. I am able to get in the mental process of shooting, which helps me avoid buck fever. You can train until it won't happen again.

Everyone knows when we are excited or under stress, we default to our ingrained level of training. If you want to kill the buck of your dreams, practice it. Picture it. Dry fire on pictures of the buck. Go through every step. Visualization coupled with dry fire of your shot process will make you more successful. It can be done at home. Just make sure you practice the rules of firearm safety and keep all ammo separate from wherever you dry fire. Be paranoid, "unloaded" guns kill and wound far too many.

Last Saturday, at the end of the shooting the .22 lr, I had the young men and dads get down on my suppressed 7 Sherman Short Mag hunting rifle out to 975 yards. I had the dope on the rifle, ready for them. It took no more than three shots for each of the young men to hit a full size IPSC target, and only one shot for two dads. Two dads hit the target with one shot, and their experience is minimal, maybe shooting every few years at most. They were elated, and the success came from application of the fundamentals--even though they didn't know them. They didn't press the trigger on a live round until they had done it at least five times on an empty chamber. I knew they would be successful, they couldn't miss because everything was there for success.

To aim, I coached each of them to get the rifle settled on the bipod and the rear bag to perfection. They lined up behind it and I had them repeatedly make adjustments until they had the rifle on target in its natural point of aim. They could close their eyes, breathe through a couple cycles, and when they opened their eyes they were still perfectly on target. We didn't compromise on the fundamental of aiming. Their position was barely different than a bench rest or ELR shooter. The gun was absolutely settled in the bag and supported by the bipod in the front and they had no muscle tension in the rifle. The crosshairs were on the target, all they had to do was press the trigger without disturbing the sights and would connect at 975 yards.

Breath control was easy to incorporate with trigger control practice. They learned where their natural respiratory pause was, and they repeatedly dryfired the rifle immediately after the pause began until they could press the trigger while relaxed and without holding their breath. I had them focus on the feel of the trigger so they knew EXACTLY when it would break. And, it isn't a hair trigger, its about 2 pounds, so they couldn't cheat. They practiced the shot process repeatedly until they could break the trigger and stay on target. In the end, they had the feel of it in their body as a memory. It doesn't take much for that moment. Now, it will take much more practice because it was likely lost and forgot, but in the moment it was enough.

They were successful because each fundamental was isolated as much as possible. But, in the end, they executed the trigger press without disturbing the sights--trigger control. For us in the field, we all know that hunting introduces many more variables, but we can exercise perfect trigger control with practice and discipline in any situation. We all can most certainly shrink our groups and shoot better as we break shots without disturbing the aim of the rifle.

Now, there was one adult who could not connect in a few shots, but he was older, had nerve damage in his hand, and neck that wouldn't allow him to remain prone. It was just too much for his body to accomplish. But, the next time we go out, he will hit at 975 because I will set him up for success in a seated position and will turn down the trigger so that he doesn't influence the rifle. Sometimes, extreme physical limitations might reduce or make it impossible, but where there is a will there is a way with technology. I know a man in a wheelchair that has a servo activated trigger, because he can't use his finger.

In the end, every one of us can press the trigger without disturbing the sights. If you can get your crosshairs settled on the target, but still can't shoot as precisely as you want, the best thing you can do is learn your trigger with thousands of dry fire trigger presses at home. I did it, and it worked for me. It worked to eliminate my flinch as a taught myself the shooting process without the natural reflex interfering. So, get started learning trigger control. Don't worry about your bolt action centerfire rifle, they can be dryfired without issue, but confirm if you like. But, most rimfire rifles shouldn't be dryfired.

Dry fire is the least expensive way to shrink your groups by mastering your trigger. Do it.

Stephen

Sponsorship plug and gear:

The rear bag used by the new shooters is the ELR Anchor http://thunderbirdlongrange.com/store/p63/ELR_Anchor_--_customized_to_your_rifle_--.html it is a heavy bag suited for the range.

For field and back country use, the Hunter's Wedge and Hunter's Wedge Mini are available here: https://www.longrangeonly.com/store/#!/Hunters-Wedge-Bag/p/146645844/category=22500187

The Hunter's Wedge Mini has been covered by Ryan Avery here: https://www.rokslide.com/forums/threads/hunters-wedge-mini-bag.200476/
 
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isocyanate

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Trigger control is simply pressing the trigger directly to the rear without disturbing the rifle.

Good stuff and I think you hit it on the head.

A trigger control cue that I see work pretty consistently is:

"Build pressure on the trigger straight back between the pad of your finger and your shoulder"

this gets shortened to "build pressure" as the student learns.

The "build" aspect reinforces the fact that if we know (a) that the trigger takes 2.5lb to break then (b) to break the shot yo have to increase the force applied from zero to 2.5 lb. The way to communicate it it to say, "Start with a light touch and build up pressure until the trigger breaks". Do enough reps of that and you'll learn the trigger's creeps and bumps as you point out. Once you know the trigger, you can get aggressive on the trigger, and shorten the time between light touch and shot break with minimal influence on the rifle. Which is critical in hunting. Slow squeeze is not the answer, or even specific enough as a cue.

Second is the mental imagery of applying the force straight back, parallel to the bore, and visualizing the connection between your hand and shoulder.

Been a while since I got to go teach a new shooter.
 
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hereinaz

hereinaz

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Good stuff and I think you hit it on the head.

A trigger control cue that I see work pretty consistently is:

"Build pressure on the trigger straight back between the pad of your finger and your shoulder"

this gets shortened to "build pressure" as the student learns.

The "build" aspect reinforces the fact that if we know (a) that the trigger takes 2.5lb to break then (b) to break the shot yo have to increase the force applied from zero to 2.5 lb. The way to communicate it it to say, "Start with a light touch and build up pressure until the trigger breaks". Do enough reps of that and you'll learn the trigger's creeps and bumps as you point out. Once you know the trigger, you can get aggressive on the trigger, and shorten the time between light touch and shot break with minimal influence on the rifle. Which is critical in hunting. Slow squeeze is not the answer, or even specific enough as a cue.

Second is the mental imagery of applying the force straight back, parallel to the bore, and visualizing the connection between your hand and shoulder.

Been a while since I got to go teach a new shooter.

Yes, I found both those to be excellent ways for the new shooter to focus on the task of breaking the trigger. 1) feel the trigger pressure increase on the finger and 2) visualize the finger pressing straight back. I also stopped using any other word buy "press" the trigger to communicate that.

They are solid gold and I didn't invent them. I picked it up from books, training and watching multiple online instructors.
 

Huntin_GI

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Any recommendations for a good trainer 22LR platform? I'm needing to upgrade my current rifle and am considering purchasing something that offers a 22LR trainer in the same profile.
 
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hereinaz

hereinaz

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Bergara, Vudu, and a few other premium. 22lr companies have popped up with Rem 700 compatible 22lr actions.

Personally, I just went with a Savage MK2 in a Boyds Pro Varmint stock.

I think the "trainer" rifle can be close. Just match the stock and grip to the trigger with your rifle that is the part that is most important to get consistent so you build that into your body.
 

hamilton1223

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Any recommendations for a good trainer 22LR platform? I'm needing to upgrade my current rifle and am considering purchasing something that offers a 22LR trainer in the same profile.
I just bought a CZ 457 Varmint Precision trainer for this purpose. Full size manners stock. Shoots amazing. For the money, I don't think any thing can beat it. Easily hitting steel at 200 yards.
 
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