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Old October 1, 2001, 07:33 AM   #1
Dave McC
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Join Date: October 13, 1999
Location: Columbia, Md, USA
Posts: 8,812
Trigger yanking, pulling and slapping...

We touched on this on the "Things I'd like to see" thread, and I had to correct a tyro recently, so maybe it's time to go over this again.

And I'd like some Tyro input here, new eyes see things in ways we old timers overlook.

We all agree that the shotgun goes "Bang" when the trigger is depressed, or should. How the trigger is depressed affects how well we shoot.

We've all seen it, and plenty of us(including Yr Obdt Svt) have done it. For one reason or another, we exert enough pressure on that little piece of steel to crumble a brick, and oft lose the target as a result.

Some definitions, and other's may vary....


The finger touches the trigger and gradually and smoothly presses it straight to the rear until the weapon fires. The sight(s) stay aligned, and the weapon is not disturbed in its swing or "Hang". AKA "Squeeze". Ideally, the tip of the index finger is used, but some folks go to the first joint.


A high speed squeeze/pull. Almost always, this has the contact between metal and finger at the first joint.The trigger is under control and the shooter wills the shot.


Oft found in combination with a flinch, this is a panicky and spasmodic move. The finger is often inserted as far as possible into the guard, the contact occurs on the mid section of the finger, and a convulsive clenching of the whole hand happens. The shot is often thrown off, and the shooter further deteriorates by losing interest.

I'll confess right here in public that my finger work(No jokes in bad taste, please) could stand improvement. Lots of training with D/A revolvers have me going for that first joint when time frames are short. My results are still good,but I could be better if I stuck to the finger tip.

I've no prob using the tip for bench work, so it's something that can be done.

When shooting trap, my finger's ouside the trigger guard until the bird's in the air. At some point in the swing, my finger gets into position and "Slaps" the trigger when the brain says to.

And the solution?....

There's a few things that we can do that will greatly aid us.

First, better triggers.A clean, non creepy trigger of 3-5 lbs will amaze and delight us with the improvement in scores and bag. Good news, some triggers still come from the factory like this, even in these ligitious times. Almost all triggers can be made good on modern shotguns for a pittance. A local smith here charges $35 for an 870 trigger job.

Having that trigger a bit wider would help also. The makers really have blown this one.Trigger shoes are not quite the right answer, tho on sporting shotguns they can help.The trap 870 here has one, the "Serious" 870s do not.

If you go to a shoe, use ONLY one that is less wide than the guard, for reasons I pray are obvious to all.

Second,practice will help enormously. Good shooting is the elimination of errors and the development of good habits. Get/make some snap caps that will hold up to repetitive firings and practice.

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Old October 1, 2001, 12:54 PM   #2
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Join Date: March 25, 1999
Posts: 3,147
I was always taught...

... (as if those aren't words signifying bad habits and misinformation passed down from one generation to the next) that when you use a shotgun for slugs or precise aimed shots you squeeeeze the trigger like a using a rifle. That is, pad of the finger steadily pressing the trigger rearward. When wingshooting you slap it like hitting a typewriter key- you still use the same part of your finger, you just (as Dave says) press very quickly, and relax tension as quickly as you pressed it on. As with the 'rifle' trigger press, the key is consistency and not overdoing it (ie, yanking). Your trigger compression should not interrupt the swing of the gun or sight alignment.

Mike (wading slightly our of his depth, but its ok, BS floats)
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Old October 2, 2001, 07:56 AM   #3
Dave McC
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Join Date: October 13, 1999
Location: Columbia, Md, USA
Posts: 8,812
Good point, Mike. I held off on answering this because I expected more posts.

There's lots of overlap between rifle shooting and slugs, of course. In short time frame hunting scenarios, lots of rifle triggers get slapped.

And "Serious" shotguns shot seriously in crises are best shot like rifles, since they should be aimed for good results.
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Old October 2, 2001, 12:08 PM   #4
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Join Date: February 23, 2000
Location: California USA
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Been using my Wal Mart bargain 1100 to shoot trap. I actually shot a 24 the other day. I've abandoned the "slap" because of the gun's heavy, creepy and inconsistent trigger. I was pulling the gun out of alignment. I'm also a two eye shooter now.

What has been working for me (as if those words aren't used to justify the continuation of bad habits along with good) is to lightly take up the creep in the trigger prior to saying "pull."

Obviously, this wouldn't work for defense unless you're willing to take up the trigger creep and then walk around. Not me.

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Old October 2, 2001, 02:20 PM   #5
Dave McC
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Join Date: October 13, 1999
Location: Columbia, Md, USA
Posts: 8,812
Good for you on the two eyes, Led, it's working for me, I think.

Sounds like your first mod on that 1100 is a trigger job. Shouldn't cost over $50,and it should give you a clean break at under 5 lbs, maybe 4. My guess is your first 25 will come very shortly after getting that trigger right and getting used to it.

It's amazing how much better we can shoot with a decent trigger.

For safety, since I try to do it all, is to not insert my finger into the guard until the swing has started.This way, I'm consistent at all times.
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