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Old November 17, 2014, 11:30 AM   #1
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Join Date: January 2, 2011
Location: Arizona
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Questions about grip and trigger pull

This is something that is not easy to "instruct" but I would like to get some of ya'lls opinions.

Shooting at a local range with my .22LR handgun my shots typically shift to the right, not very far mind you (at roughly 25ft from the target using a 12" bulls eye) I'm off from the center by about 2-3"

Carefully trying to diagnose the problem I noticed two things

1. I tend to squeeze my strong hands (right hand)fingers into the grip of the handgun as I aim and begin to release the trigger. I alleviate this problem by slightly lifting the tips of my fingers away and "cupping" them slightly with my support hand so that I'm pushing the back strap of the gun with the portion of my fingers that contact the front side of the grip (this may be an erroneous method of dealing with this issue).

2. I seem to have trouble applying even amounts of pressure on the triggee, which appears to be the primary culprit with my shots stringing to the right. Attempts to try and correct this has returned with mixed results.

This seems more like a "feel" issue where you cannot really tell someone how to release the trigger, but if there is any kind of tips that someone could offer, I'd be more than open to them.

As it stands, I'm maintaining the basic principles of not "hooking" my finger around the trigger, and only applying the "pad" of my index finger on the triggee when I go to release it. Consiously trying to be mindful of keeping my finger as flat as possible and releasing the trigger by pulling it straight back.
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Old November 17, 2014, 11:57 AM   #2
Frank Ettin
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
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Originally Posted by Kimio
...I tend to squeeze my strong hands (right hand)fingers into the grip of the handgun as I aim and begin to release the trigger. I alleviate this problem by slightly lifting the tips of my fingers away and "cupping" them slightly with my support hand so that I'm pushing the back strap of the gun with the portion of my fingers that contact the front side of the grip (this may be an erroneous method of dealing with this issue)....
It is the wrong way to deal with the issue.

Don't rely on a workaround to correct a basic flaw in your execution of a fundamental skill. Instead, work on properly developing the skill. In this case, that means learning to press the trigger [straight back] with your trigger finger working independently of the other fingers of you hand. The three other fingers of your shooting hand, together with the thumb, should grip the gun with consistent, uniform, firm pressure while you apply smooth, steadily increasing pressure to the trigger with your trigger finger until the shot breaks by surprise -- the surprise break.

The way to learn to do this is to practice slowly and deliberately, paying close attention to what you're doing, concentrating on doing it correctly.
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

You 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.

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."
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
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Old November 20, 2014, 10:21 PM   #3
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Frank makes good points about consistency and repetition. Gripping the handgun consistently is made easier if it fits your hand properly. If your shooting hand is too high or too low on the back strap or if the distance between the front of the trigger and the back strap is too far or too short, that makes achieving consistency more difficult.

It might help to have an instructor watch you at the range. A good teacher will spot things that we miss. Two or three inches off at 25 ft. may be more of a sight alignment problem. It's tough to say without being there to observe.
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Old November 20, 2014, 11:04 PM   #4
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Join Date: November 18, 2014
Posts: 259
Its hard to diagnose a shooting problem without seeing you shoot...

Is this only when you are cycling quickly or do your patterns walk away no matter the speed you pull the trigger...

I would start from the beginning, she I first started pistol competitions I didnt notice after my first shot I tilted my head anticipating the following shots, after someone pointed it out to me I never did it again...

do you have an instructor at your range? Or maybe take a video of you shooting..
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