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Old August 16, 2009, 01:07 PM   #1
Phoebe
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Trigger control

I've been given some dry fire exercises to improve trigger control. One involves a pen and a wall. Another involves putting a quarter on the slide, and a more advanced version of that is to use a spent case.

Speak to me of improving trigger control?
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Old August 16, 2009, 01:17 PM   #2
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If you have a laser...

.... not sure if you got grips or a rail mount, you may not have one at all.

But if you have laser, a drill I like is to put the dot on a distant object, like a doorknob, and try to keep the dot on the object throughout the trigger pull.

Without a laser, you can try to do the same thing just using the sights.
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Old August 16, 2009, 01:20 PM   #3
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pax' website, has a good section on dryfiring safety.

http://corneredcat.com/TOC.aspx#Practice

Don't neglect safety, dryfire practice is a very good way to have an unintentional discharge unless you're very careful. Also make sure that your firearm will tolerate dryfiring--most will but some do not.

During dryfiring practice you align the sights, aim at a target and squeeze the trigger. The goal is to watch the front sight and have the sights stay aligned and properly aimed at the target during the entire process until the gun dryfires.

You can try the pen & wall method or attempt to balance a coin on the gun during the process, but it's been my experience that a shooter can tell by looking if the sights are moving or not without resorting to any special techniques.

You can experiment with different finger placement on the trigger to see if that helps and you may also find that adjusting your grip slightly can help. Even when there's no movement visible, dryfiring is training your brain that it doesn't need to associate the process of trigger pulling with loud noises and recoil and it's also teaching you to watch the front sight and also giving you muscle memory relating to how you hold and aim your pistol.

About the only thing dryfiring won't teach you is recoil control, but if you use a proper grip/stance it can even help with that to at least some extent by ingraining the proper grip/stance into your muscle memory.

One last point. You're training your body and mind when you dryfire. It's obviously preferable to train them correctly so make sure you're doing things (grip/stance/sight focus/etc./safe gunhandling) right so you're not ingraining bad habits.
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Old August 16, 2009, 01:26 PM   #4
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curious to know about the pen and wall thing. Never heard of it befor i dont think. Can always improve.

For me i learned trigger control by just shooting alot. And i have heard of taking electrical tape and wrapping your trigger finger a few times an shoot like that. Never tried it though. But would like to know bout the pen and wall?
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Old August 16, 2009, 01:28 PM   #5
Frank Ettin
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The first principle of accurate shooting is trigger control: a smooth, press straight back on the trigger with only the trigger finger moving. Maintain your focus on the front sight as you press the trigger, increasing pressure on the trigger until the shot breaks. Don't try to predict exactly when the gun will go off nor try to cause the shot to break at a particular moment. This is what Jeff Cooper called the "surprise break."


By keeping focus on the front sight and increasing pressure on the trigger until the gun essentially shoots itself, you don’t anticipate the shot breaking. But 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. Of course the gun will wobble some on the target. Try not to worry about the wobble and don’t worry about trying to keep the sight aligned on a single point. Just let the front sight be somewhere in a small, imaginary box in the center of the target.

All of the above works with dry fire practice. It all helps to program yourself to execute a smooth trigger press without a jerk.

Think: front sight, press, surprise.
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Old August 16, 2009, 02:07 PM   #6
Phoebe
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No laser at this time.

What does wrapping your finger in electrical tape do?

I have gazoople checked the chamber (visually and with my finger), and I have an empty mag. I'm still nervous about dry firing in my house. But I guess I need to get over it.

I'm not sure I understand the pen thing enough to explain it to someone else.
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Old August 16, 2009, 02:22 PM   #7
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You'll get over the nervousness...

... but a little nervousness is good. Every time you pick up the weapon for dry firing, make sure you drop the magazine and open the action, to verify an empty chamber.

If you dryfire, then put the pistol down, repeat the clearing drill when you pick it back up, even if nobody else has handled it. May seem anal, but trust me it's good advice.
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Old August 16, 2009, 02:24 PM   #8
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One thing to keep in mind, the trigger press is probably going to go out the window, if you use the gun in self defense. Adrenaline, fear, panic is going to result in quickly pulling the trigger. It is easy to squeeze the trigger slowly when shooting at paper or dry firing.

I practice both dry firing and live firing with a fast trigger pull.

I am not discouraging you from practicing a slow trigger pull. It is a good skill to have. I am encouraging you to also practice pulling the trigger fast.

Remember that in a self defense situation, you are not trying to hit a bullseye. You are probably shooting at a target less than 20 feet away and you have a 5 inch circle to hit. Thus, precise trigger control is not necessary.
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Old August 16, 2009, 02:25 PM   #9
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I would also recommend getting a laser. In a self defense situation, it simplifies the shooting process.

Crimson trace is a good laser. I am happy with my Armalaser RSS.
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Old August 16, 2009, 02:36 PM   #10
MLeake
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In addition to improving your shooting mechanical fundamentals...

... dry-firing will help smooth out the trigger of your XD, as well.
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Old August 16, 2009, 02:38 PM   #11
Phoebe
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Tried a crimson trace with a revolver and I can only figure I'd need more practice with it. If anything, my shot was worse with it.

But that gun had a lot (for me) recoil. I'd love to try crimson trace on my XD9.

Skifast, at the range, I'm trying slow and fast. I will do that for dry firing too.
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Old August 16, 2009, 02:45 PM   #12
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Lasers can be a problem...

... if used incorrectly.

With either a laser or iron sights, you have to have sound fundamentals to get the desired results.

The thing I like about dry-firing with lasers is that they make flinches and uneven pulls very obvious. You can see that dot skitter all over the place if you aren't using proper control.

However, that skittering dot can really distract a new shooter.

Oh, BTW, took a CTC equipped gun to an outdoor range yesterday. At 10 yards, I could barely see the dot. Iron sights work much better in daylight, so even if you do get a laser, you'll want to be proficient with your sights.
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Old August 16, 2009, 02:48 PM   #13
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Im not sure what wrapping the fingur does,. My best bet would be that when you get use to the length of the trigger pull it goes off befor you expect it to. My gunsmith actully told me to try it, maybe like some make shift trigger job? Beats me.
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Old August 16, 2009, 04:22 PM   #14
skifast
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Lasers are much better at night. Most self defense situations occur at night.

I do advocate becoming proficient with iron sights. In fact, I made my boys shoot with iron sights and become good, before I mounted the scope on their 22.
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Old August 16, 2009, 04:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
..but it's been my experience that a shooter can tell by looking if the sights are moving or not without resorting to any special techniques.
And this is the result that you're ultimately trying to achieve - a clean release of the trigger that doesn't disturb the sights. It also trains front sight focus, the maintainence of your sight picture, and the ability to call your shots. IMO having a penny, or a case, or some other image to focus on is a distraction. Lasers can be helpful if there's something to record the laser path, but otherwise you've got to look at the laser and not your sights.
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Old August 16, 2009, 04:45 PM   #16
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looking at the laser, not the sights...

... isn't really a problem; you still learn to keep your hand steady, and your pull smooth. However, you should practice with the sights and the laser, so you are proficient with both.
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Old August 16, 2009, 08:03 PM   #17
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skifast
...I am encouraging you to also practice pulling the trigger fast.
I respectfully disagree. I explain why below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skifast
One thing to keep in mind, the trigger press is probably going to go out the window, if you use the gun in self defense. Adrenaline, fear, panic is going to result in quickly pulling the trigger....
No, not necessarily -- not if one has properly and diligently trained in and practiced a smooth trigger press.

One needs to start with a slow trigger press. By pressing the trigger deliberately and slowly, one's trigger press becomes smooth. As one's trigger press becomes smooth, it becomes faster. The surprise break becomes what Jeff Cooper called the "compressed surprise break", which can, with consistent practice, be executed as quickly as a bad trigger pull.

It may help to understand the way humans learn a physical skill. In learning a physical skill, we all go through a four step process:

(1) unconscious incompetence, we can't do something and we don't even know how to do it;

(2) conscious incompetence, we can't physically do something even though we know in our mind how to do it;

(3) conscious competence, we know how to do something but can only do it right if we concentrate on doing it properly; and

(4) unconscious competence, at this final stage we know how to do something and can do it reflexively (as second nature) on demand without having to think about it.

To get to the third stage, you need to think through the physical task consciously in order to do it perfectly. You need to start slow; one must walk before he can run. The key here is going slow so that you can perform each repetition properly and smoothly. Don't try to be fast. Try to be smooth. Now here's the kicker: slow is smooth and smooth is fast. You are trying to program your body to perform each of the components of the task properly and efficiently. As the programing takes, you get smoother; and as you get smoother you get more efficient and more sure, and therefore, faster.

I have in fact seen this over and over, both in the classes I've been in and with students that I've helped train. Start slow, consciously doing the physical act smoothly. You start to get smooth, and as you get smooth your pace will start to pick up. And about now, you will have reached the stage of conscious competence. You can do something properly and well as long as you think about it.

To go from conscious competence to the final stage, unconscious competence, is usually thought to take around 5,000 good repetitions. The good news is that dry practice will count. The bad news is that poor repetitions don't count and can set you back. You need to work at this to get good.

If one has reached the stage of unconscious competence as far as trigger control is concerned, he will be able to consistently execute a proper, controlled trigger press quickly and without conscious thought. Of course one needs to practice regularly and properly to maintain proficiency, but it's easier to maintain it once achieved than it was to first achieve it.
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Old August 16, 2009, 08:14 PM   #18
Phoebe
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What are iron sights? Just regular sights on the gun??
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Old August 16, 2009, 08:22 PM   #19
MLeake
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Yes, you are correct Kayla

"Iron sights" is the generic term for sights that aren't optical (scopes, Red Dot, etc) or laser. Iron sights could be fixed or adjustable.

This would also include night sights, if you bought that option.

Point is, you always have the iron sights, and in certain conditions they may be easier to acquire than the laser.

Lasers can be hard to see in certain lighting, or may not be as easy to actuate as one might like, or can have batteries die. They're usually pretty reliable and user-friendly, and the odds of malfunction are low, but they can happen.

So, even if you have a laser, you should also achieve proficiency with the iron sights.
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Old August 16, 2009, 08:25 PM   #20
Kyo
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i learned that instead of explaining it to you I should just youtube it. you try next time
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1AEX...om=PL&index=20
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Old August 16, 2009, 08:27 PM   #21
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Iron sights are sights without optical or electronic components. The category of iron sights includes open sights such as patridge or "express" sights and also aperture sights such as peep sights or ghost ring sights.

Handguns invariably come from the factory with open iron sights, usually of the patridge variety.
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Old August 16, 2009, 08:29 PM   #22
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayla
What are iron sights? Just regular sights on the gun??
I hope you'll excuse us. It's sometimes too easy for us to fall into technical terminology while forgetting that someone new to guns may not be familiar with it.

Anyway, those regular sights on the gun are what are generally called "iron sight." That's simply the "inside" way of referring to a sighting set up with a rear sight and some sort of front sight that the shooter lines up. Other types of sights are "optical" (like telescopes or holographic or various other types of high tech gizmos one looks through), or lasers.
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Old August 16, 2009, 10:18 PM   #23
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I have gazoople checked the chamber (visually and with my finger), and I have an empty mag. I'm still nervous about dry firing in my house. But I guess I need to get over it.
It's good that you're a little spooked. You should always double check your chamber, and confirm that you have an empty mag when dry firing. Plenty of people have inadvertantly fired guns that they assumed were safe to dry-fire.

Something to consider is the use of an Empty Chamber Indicator. This is just a flexible rod or plastic cord that extends from the chamber through the barrel. It confirms that your chamber is empty, and it makes it easy to check the chamber - you can't push it through if there's a round in there. The simplest ECI is something like weed wacker cord. You'd just cut a length that's long enough that both ends are visible, through both the chamber and the muzzle end of the barrel.

Last edited by Casimer; August 17, 2009 at 09:25 PM. Reason: bad english :P
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Old August 17, 2009, 04:34 PM   #24
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Better still, pick up a Train Safe barrel block, or a Blade Tech Training Barrel. These products cost about $5-$10 and can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in damages.

I need to change my dryfire page to mention these types of products, because they really are a godsend.

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Old August 17, 2009, 06:45 PM   #25
Phoebe
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Pax, I guess that's a hint that I need to get some skill with disassembling my gun! I've been shown how, but haven't done it yet.
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