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Old May 5, 2016, 05:07 PM   #1
Pep in CA
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What does "follow through" mean?

Advice please. Precisely, what does "follow through" mean? Here is what I think it means:

Keep trigger depressed after firing.
Keep sights on target.
Slowly release trigger.
Assess the situation.

Do I have anything wrong or am I missing something?
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Old May 5, 2016, 05:30 PM   #2
DaleA
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Shooting my Marlin (60) trains me for everything I need as a new shooter -- aim, posture, sight picture, trigger control, poise, but most of all, confidence -- and it does so in the most economical way possible. So, I have developed a saying: shooting a .22 rifle is how one should learn how to shoot.
You said this in another post and I have no arguments with it. A .22 rifle can be a very good way to learn to shoot. You also shoot shotgun and handgun.

Follow through, means keeping your sights aligned and on target during and after the shot. I don't think you have to keep the trigger back or release it slowly. Concentrate on the sights and the target even after the shot. If you do this you'll be able to 'call the shot' that is, tell where the shot went. This is a good thing.

You've had some training...what did they say about it?

Last edited by DaleA; May 5, 2016 at 05:38 PM.
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Old May 5, 2016, 06:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for the advice Dale. The trainer in my basic handgun class taught safety first, which is a good thing of course. Then he showed different types of handguns -- revolvers vs. semi-autos. Then he showed the Weaver and Isosceles stances. Also sight picture. He didn't say much at all about trigger control and nothing about follow through.

Then we went to the range and fired 250 rounds. It was the first time I had ever fired a gun of any kind and it wasn't pretty for me since I didn't have a good hold on the gun, less trigger control and follow through.

Looking back, I'm a bit disappointed. On the other hand, it was only $70 for 7 hours, and he did emphasize safety.

Cheers.
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Old May 5, 2016, 06:29 PM   #4
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Follow through is keeping the gun still all the way until bullet leaves the barrel, try to see the muzzle blast through a perfect sight picture.
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Old May 5, 2016, 06:47 PM   #5
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Here's how I envision it: It's human nature (or a physiological/mental response) to lunge for the finish line in any movement, even though everything else might be smooth. Obviously, we want to avoid that lunge when releasing a shot. Rather than treating the shot release as the finish line, then, "followthrough" is incorporating the shot release into the smooth middle section of the process.
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Old May 5, 2016, 06:51 PM   #6
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It's everywhere !!!

I guess the first time I learned abut follow-through was in baseball and basketball. Later I got into competitive archery. Go into this video at 2:39 and you will see another example. I cannot think of a sport that follow-through doesn't come into play,. ....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPoBm7FzMXY

Be Safe !!!
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Old May 5, 2016, 08:51 PM   #7
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Follow through is keeping the gun still all the way until bullet leaves the barrel, try to see the muzzle blast through a perfect sight picture.
Nicely stated, mavracer.

The only thing I'd occasionally add for some shooters is for them to envision the front sight/bore to remain tied (connected) to the intended POI on the target throughout the trigger press, and then after the shot is fired (as the shooter's grip technique works to return the sights/bore to the previous POA).

Many new shooters are (understandably) distracted and affected by their reaction to felt recoil forces, muzzle blast, and (for pistols), the cycling of the slide and ejection of brass.

Teaching them to focus concentration on maintaining a connection to the intended target, even though everything else happens when the gun fires, can help some shooters overcome being unnecessarily distracted.

Target and results oriented, versus getting too distracted by the process.

Some folks who learn handgunning while using a revolver seem to benefit from having "less happening" with the gun, out in front of them, when they complete their trigger press. No slide cycling (and coming back toward them). No brass being tossed.
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Old May 5, 2016, 11:01 PM   #8
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As a competitive shot-gunner, "follow through" generally means not stopping your swing as you come through an off center clay target. Basically it reefers to keeping the barrel moving through and after the shot. Never heard it used in terms of trigger pull??
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Old May 5, 2016, 11:36 PM   #9
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Follow through just means that whatever you're doing, you keep doing it consciously until AFTER the shot breaks.

For static targets, it means staying on target and not dropping the gun down or cycling the action for some definite amount of time after the shot breaks.

For a shotgun, it means continuing the swing after the shot breaks.

For archery, it means allowing whatever movement naturally results from releasing the string to continue largely unhindered so that you'll get consistent motion for every shot.
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Old May 5, 2016, 11:52 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advice and tips everyone. I will incorporate your advice into my practice sessions.
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Old May 5, 2016, 11:55 PM   #11
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One of the things you might want to try is an Appleseed weekend where they will give you some history as well as teaching some basic rifle techniques and sling use.

An accurate semi-auto .22 that will take an 1.25 inch sling and 10 round magazines is very nice to have for one of the weekends.

You can learn a lot during one of the weekends but if you're relatively new to shooting you MUST make up your mind not to get discouraged when things don't go exactly your way.

My 'formal' training came from the YMCA when I was a kid and was certainly longer and probably a lot less stressful than an Appleseed weekend. I have not attended the Appleseed shoots but have friends that did attend and they liked them.

Information can be found here:
http://appleseedinfo.org/
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Old May 6, 2016, 12:30 AM   #12
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Thanks again Dale. I am not at all discouraged. Actually, lately I have become highly encouraged as my shooting has improved tremendously. It's not to the level I want it to be eventually, but I only look for improvement.

Shooting is like just about everything else. I know that. If I wanted to learn how to play piano, I don't expect to be playing Mozart after 4 months of practice and lessons.

In the mean, I think I'll pass on the Appleseed thing, at least for the moment. Thanks for the tip though.

Cheers.
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Old May 6, 2016, 07:59 AM   #13
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The simplest explanation I've heard is:

Continuation of what preceded the discharge.
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Old May 6, 2016, 09:38 AM   #14
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Keep your form intact until the projectile reaches the target.
Same for archery, baseball, golf, throwing a ball, 'etc.
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Old May 6, 2016, 09:43 AM   #15
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Some pistoleros --- like Rob Leatham --- only slap the trigger. But following through with your trigger finger {keep depressing the trigger after the shot breaks} is an important part of firearm accuracy for most shooters.

With gun unloaded...dry fire with both techniques --- Follow through with your trigger finger, or don't follow through with your trigger finger {by releasing trigger finger pressure on the trigger, just after the sear breaks}. Notice the jump in the pistol with the latter technique?
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Old May 6, 2016, 10:28 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erno86
Some pistoleros --- like Rob Leatham --- only slap the trigger.
In this context, "slapping" the trigger means getting off the trigger on the return to allow the trigger to fully return. It doesn't imply a lack of trigger control or followthrough (though these speedsters have a pretty brief followthrough).
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Old May 6, 2016, 12:53 PM   #17
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Assessing the situation doesn't apply to everything. Has nothing to do with bullseye shooting, for example, but follow through does.
Follow through is more about waiting the seconds(usually micro) it takes for the firearm to stop making the shot(including recoil) before releasing the trigger.
"...only slap the trigger...." Just looks that way.
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Old May 6, 2016, 01:33 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Pep in CA
....lately I have become highly encouraged as my shooting has improved tremendously. It's not to the level I want it to be eventually, but I only look for improvement....
Some basic principles I've found useful in helping folks starting out.
  1. 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 (or the reticle if using a scope) 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."

  2. 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.

  3. Follow through by maintaining the focus on the front sight throughout the recoil pulse.

  4. Of course the gun will wobble a bit on the target. It is just not possible to hold the gun absolutely steady. Because you are alive, there will always be a slight movement caused by all the tiny movement associated with being alive: your heart beating; tiny muscular movements necessary to maintain your balance, etc. 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. And of course, properly using some form of rest will also help minimize wobble.

  5. In our teaching we avoid using the words "squeeze" or "pull" to describe the actuation of the trigger. We prefer to refer to "pressing" the trigger. The word "press" seems to better describe the process of smoothly pressing the trigger straight back, with only the trigger finger moving, to a surprise break.

  6. You'll want to be able to perform the fundamentals reflexively, on demand without conscious thought. You do that by practicing them slowly to develop smoothness. Then smooth becomes fast.

    1. Remember that practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

    2. Practice also makes permanent. If you keep practicing doing something poorly, you will become an expert at doing it poorly.

  7. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of the gun firing "by surprise." They feel that when using the gun for practical applications, e. g., hunting or self defense, they need to be able to make the gun fire right now. But if you try to make the gun fire right now, you will almost certainly jerk the trigger thus jerking the gun off target and missing your shot. That's where the "compressed surprise break" comes in.

    1. As you practice (perfectly) and develop the facility to reflexively (without conscious thought) apply a smooth, continuously increasing pressure to the trigger the time interval between beginning to press and the shot breaking gets progressively shorter until it become indistinguishable from being instantaneous. In other words, that period of uncertainty during which the shot might break, but you don't know exactly when, becomes vanishingly short. And that is the compressed surprise break.

    2. Here's an interesting video in which Jeff Cooper explains the compressed surprise break. While he is demonstrating with a handgun, the same principles apply with a rifle.

For about the past eight years I've been teaching with a group of other instructors putting on monthly Basic Handgun classes. Probably 80% to 90% of our students had never touched a real gun before. Our class enrollment runs 20% to 40% female. We have students of all ages from early 20s to us more seasoned types.

In addition to the core lectures, we do a lot of "hands-on" work with the students. The students handle a variety of revolvers and semi-autos under direct supervision, one-on-one, of an instructor. They use dummy rounds to load and unload the guns, dry fire and generally learn how things work and feel, and they get continual safety reinforcement.

These initial hands-on exercises help students get familiar with handling gun and lay a foundation for safe gun handling habits. Working one-on-one with an instructor in this way we can continually reinforce safe gun handling by pinting out gently, but immediately, a lapse.

Then in preparation for live fire, and after the "marksmanship" lecture, we work one-on-one with students on grip and stance using "blue" inert training guns.

Before going to live fire with .22s, the students shoot airsoft (the quality type) in the classroom so they can get a feel for sight alignment and trigger control (and reset) without the noise and intimidation factor (for beginners) of firing real ammunition.

After the students fire their 25 rounds of .22 (working one-on-one with an instructor), we put out a variety of guns from 9mm to .44 Magnum so the students can get the experience of firing the larger calibers. Shooting the centerfire guns is at each student's option. Most fire them all, but some choose not to.

When someone has gone through our program, it's not uncommon for her/him to be shooting 1.5 to 2.0 inch groups at seven yards with the heavy calibers. A few months ago, a petite young woman who had never fired any type of gun before out shot everyone, including her husband, with the .44 Magnum -- putting three rounds into about an inch at 7 yards.

This group (six rounds at seven yards) was fired during the last part of the live fire period at one of our Basic Handgun classes. It was fired by a middle aged woman who attended our class with her two adult daughters. She had never fired a handgun before our class; she had fired a rifle only a few times. It was fired with a Ruger Red Hawk -- three rounds in .44 Special and three in .44 Magnum.


And here is one of her daughters looking with an instructor at a group of six shots she had just fired at seven yards with a Colt Python (three rounds of .38 Special and three of .357 Magnum). She had never fired a gun before.

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Old May 6, 2016, 01:39 PM   #19
Erno86
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I believe Leatham can slap the trigger due to a very light trigger pull.
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Old May 6, 2016, 01:55 PM   #20
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To repeat: The "slap" is more about the return than the pull.
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Old May 6, 2016, 02:02 PM   #21
Pep in CA
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Thank you for the excellent post, Frank. Really excellent stuff. There is one thing I want to mention to you though, from my own experience as a new student.

You said "The first principle of accurate shooting is trigger control". For me, the thing that caused the most trouble was not having a secure, firm hold of the gun. Because I wasn't holding the gun securely, I tended to squeeze hard with my fingers and thumbs to hold it steady. It didn't work of course. All it did was make me more tense.

Since I have now found a hold that I like, I can relax and concentrate on sight picture, trigger control, and now follow through.

Cheers.
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Old May 6, 2016, 02:21 PM   #22
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concentrate on sight picture, trigger control, and now follow through
Yes, these are the elements of the shot process, and where you need to be putting your focus while shooting. Sounds obvious, right? Perhaps, but most are instead really focused on the target, with a desire to shoot a good group. That desire is a bad distraction from what's really important - executing the shot process well.

While shooting, then, forget about the target and shooting a good group, and put your mental effort into executing each shot well. Always remember that the target is merely a recording device that just records how well you executed the fundamentals for each shot. Do the fundamentals well, and the target will take care of itself. Oh...and only check it (the target) when you're done shooting a group (peeking between shots is a real accuracy killer). It should tell you what you already know.
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Old May 6, 2016, 03:41 PM   #23
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Shooting steel targets...gives you instant feedback on whether you executed the shot properly or not.
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Old May 7, 2016, 09:54 AM   #24
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Reacquire your sights as the weapon is coming out of recoil and assume that you are going to be shooting again in the exact same spot. Do not look at the target, find your front sight.
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Old May 7, 2016, 03:12 PM   #25
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I agree with most the OP's original post but with the dimension of priority or sequence. And I disagree with the "assess the situation" as part of the definition as it *can* be practiced / incorporated but does not have to be if we're speaking about the firing cycle.

Big picture, follow through is to incorporate re-acquisition of the sight picture and readiness as part of the complete shooting cycle. This subconsciously maintains the fundamentals to carry over into the next shot because you have not broken concentration. This is imperative for training for multiple shots.

"Follow Through" may be a borderline misnomer. Teachers use it but the name is not intuitive to understand. That is because the dynamics in shooting at the point of breaking a shot are both gross and fine motor based and much of the work involves multiple systems and we're talking about resetting or limiting movement rather than continuation of a movement.
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