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Old June 8, 2009, 09:25 PM   #1
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Trigger control

Hi All,

I have read a lot of threads that reference trigger control, and I think all of it has to do with achieving a "surprise break". Whether the advice concerns live fire or dry fire, the technique encouraged seems to have mostly to do with jerk/anticipation reduction. This is great, but then how does one train for speed?

I play drums as a order to attain speed with any new lick or technique one must practice it at gradually increasing tempos. Does the same principle hold for handgunning? The drummer typically uses a metronome in order to reliably work at different this what a shot timer is for?

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Old June 8, 2009, 09:31 PM   #2
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Don't break the shot until you have a decent sight picture.
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Old June 8, 2009, 09:53 PM   #3
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This may sound odd but... point your gun at a berm w/o worrying about where you are aimed and squeeze them off quickly. Get used to the recoil and quit anticipating it.

Dry firing also helps. Place a coin on your front sight and try pulling the trigger w/o the coin falling off.

The previous post is simple but has the right idea to consider as you get more experienced. Don't let timing be your guide... let it be your sight picture.
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Old June 8, 2009, 10:58 PM   #4
Jim March
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Here's a help to understanding REALLY advanced trigger control.

Trigger control is when an older gent who tries to hold his sights dead on a target sees them wander all over the place YET he's still amazingly accurate.


The trigger is breaking JUST as those sights wander over the right place.

In other words, for a beginner, yeah, you're not supposed to know when it's gonna boom.

A very advanced shooter DOES know - and doesn't flinch from it.

That's trigger control.
Jim March
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Old June 8, 2009, 11:17 PM   #5
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Gabe Suarez had an interesting little piece in one of his latest bulletins.

According to Gabe, most shooters don't understand all the principles involved in focusing on the front sight.

One is nothing less than achieving the "surprise break" everyone has been elaborating on, since, if you're concentrating on the sight while pulling the trigger, the shot break tends to come as a surprise considering you can only concentrate on one thing at a time.

I couldn't agree more, since it's obvious.

Miss the target, and your concentration was, likely, the other way around. Gabe didn't say that--I did.
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Old June 9, 2009, 01:24 AM   #6
Frank Ettin
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First, Nnobby45 put it well.

Second, yes, you get faster. Start by being smooth. Smooth becomes fast.

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; (2) conscious incompetence; (3) conscious competence; and (4) unconscious competence. At the first step, we can't do something and don't recognize the desirability of doing it. At the second, we understand the desirability of learning to do something but don't know how to do it. At the third, we know how to do something but can only do it if we concentrate hard on doing it properly. And finally, we reach the stage at which we know how to do something and can do it reflexively (as second nature) on demand without having to think about it.

But the key here is going slow so that you can perform the task each time 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 the task properly and efficiently. As the programing takes, you get smoother; and as you get smoother you get more efficient and sure, and therefore, faster. And about now, you will have reached the stage of conscious competence. You can do the task 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 2,000 to 5,000 good repetitions. The good news is that dry practice will count. The bad news is that practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. You need to work at this to get good.
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Old June 9, 2009, 01:46 AM   #7
Jim March
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Of course, there's a very small group of heretics out there who focus on the target, not the front sight. We use very strange specialized iron sights to be able to do so without glass or batteries. Moving to this school founded by Tim Sheehan has been the best improvement to my shooting I've ever experienced. More at:


We're fast as hell and we can do far more accurate target ID without the time delay needed to re-focus our eyes (unnaturally) back to the front sight.
Jim March
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Old June 9, 2009, 04:25 AM   #8
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Same thing as playing drums or sports and allot of other things...................... it's muscle memory. That's why I can still (kind of) play drums at age 64 when haven't really played since I was 18.
right-left-right-right.........left-right-left-left! See the good old paradiddle!
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Old June 9, 2009, 06:59 AM   #9
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This is great, but then how does one train for speed?
A great place to check out for info is Brian Enos' forum. Lots of really good competitive shooters hang out there, and there's plenty of helpful stuff there.

The drummer typically uses a metronome in order to reliably work at different this what a shot timer is for?
Funny you mention this. At one point, I was dry firing my double action revolver to a metronome ( I was able to get to where I could blaze off 6-round sets at about 320rpm. It quickly became apparent, though, that it's more about trigger finger speed, and all that "speed" just helped me outrun the front sight. So, in the end, here's my take: It's more about visual acuity, and awareness (and a good grip) than finger speed.

The front sight is one of the fundamentals of shooting, and, to paraphrase Brian Enos, the great practical shooter, when shooting fast, you simply apply the fundamentals faster. In other words, one doesn't simply pull the trigger as fast as possible - despite how it might appear, and as hard as it is to believe, those great competitive shooters who are blazing away are aquiring a good sight picture, watching the front sight, and pulling the trigger with good control for each shot. Watching the front sight during rapid fire takes visual acuity, and as Jerry Miculek (who knows something about rapid fire) says, "it's all there for you to see".

At first, the front sight seems to just chaotically dance around, impossible to focus on, but if you keep trying to see it, you'll eventually start to see order in the chaos. I'm far from an expert, and not particularly fast, but I'm getting faster. My advice, then, is to practice by not trying to go all out fast, but don't go too slowly, either. Shoot just a hair quicker than your eyes and brain can follow the front sight. Eventually, your eyes and brain will catch up, and it's time to speed up some more.
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Old June 9, 2009, 07:38 AM   #10
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I get the gun up, aligned, and pull the damned trigger. If I spend too much time worrying about it I start to "overthink" and anticipate.
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Old June 9, 2009, 07:46 AM   #11
Hank D.
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I'm sure , most If not all have heard the well worn saying " How you get to Carnegie Hall, practice, practice, practice " I think the same thing allpies to muscle memory, the one thing that I have learned from someone that was much better than me In the shooting field that you will never be able to hold any firearm dead solid with out any movement, but you can let that movement work for you If you use It In the right way, don't try to fight It work with It, make It part of your sight picture. Flinch is the demon here, I don't know of to many people that don't have some kind of a problem with flinch, If I don't know just when that gun will go bang, then I don't know when I'm going to hit my target! I want it to go bang when I'm on the bull with the corect sight picture, this is what works for me!!! I also have to say here It is very important to find out just what works for you and use it. Whatever floats your boat. there is aways more that two ways to skin a cat.
Sorry for the bad spelling, it's not my thing. Semper FI to all, Hank D.
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Old June 9, 2009, 09:39 AM   #12
Brian Pfleuger
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Trigger control is when the trigger doesn't control YOU. You are aiming, aiming, aiming.... BANG! If you're paying attention to the trigger, you're not aiming. If you're not aiming, you're missing. Archery is a good example. The good shooters, I mean the REALLY good shooters, don't even HAVE a trigger. It's all done with muscle control, so well practiced and rehearsed that it's almost subconscious. The conscious brain is AIMING.

There's one thing about the "Practice, practice, practice" mantra. You have to know what you're practicing. Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes habit. Practice bad, you get bad. Really, practice the wrong thing and you get WORSE, not better. So don't go out there and just shoot and think "If I put 1000 rounds down the pipe I'll be better than I was." because you might just be worse. You might be practicing a good strong flinch or a death grip on the gun.
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Old June 9, 2009, 09:58 AM   #13
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There are three basic ways to pull a trigger. Two of them are wrong if speed is an issue.

#1. Wait till the sights look right and yank.
#2. Wait till the sights look right and pull slowly. When the sights move off the target, stop. When they look right again, pull. Repeat till the gun fires.
#3. Wait till the sights look right and pull the trigger straight to the rear, quickly, smoothly and without any pause.

Number 2 works OK if you're not in a hurry. Problem is, the longer you hold, the more you start to shake and the more your eyes get fuzzy.

Number 3 works the best, by far. Even if the sights move a little while you’re pressing the trigger, it won’t be enough to produce a bad shot. You’ll still get a good group and your groups will improve as you practice. Eventually, you get to the point where your eyes seem to be hard-wired to your finger. When the sights are on target, the gun fires itself. You go from one shot per second to 3-4 shots per second and you see the sights on target on every shot.

Learn to shoot with both eyes open and DON'T BLINK!!
Dry fire is a huge help.
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