Press the trigger smoothly


One of the components of NOT producing buckshot targets with a pistol is pressing the trigger smoothly and straight to the rear. With Double Action handguns, either revolvers or autoloaders, this is especially true but it applies to any handgun or rifle. Revolver shooters must master this skill if they want the wheelgun to be anything more than an “arm’s length gun.”

Goober target 07242018

Buckshot with a handgun

Now that the weather is turning colder and, for some folks, snowy, we have the opportunity to work on our trigger press in dry practice. Here are two drills that can dramatically increase your ability to manipulate the trigger correctly.

The first doesn’t even involve using your handgun. It’s a visual feedback drill that you can do anywhere that a vertical line or edge that you can see is available.  The edge of a hung painting or picture works well.

paratrooper picture

Next, we’re going to form our firing grip and place our hand so that the distal (furthest from the hand) joint aligns with the vertical line.

finger on picture

Now we’re going to practice moving the finger straight to the rear and give ourselves some visual feedback on how well we’re doing it.

The movement should come from the middle (proximal) joint of the finger not the joint at the base (metacarpophalangeal) of the finger.

This drill will show you what ‘move the trigger straight to the rear’ actually looks like. Don’t be surprised if it takes several sessions of doing this to get it right. The movement is distinctly unnatural and every time we push a button, we practice doing it wrong. Pushing buttons with the middle knuckle of the finger instead of the tip of the finger helps keep you from practicing the wrong movement and is also more sanitary.

Once you learn to move the finger correctly, a practical application of pressing the trigger smoothly is the Half Circle Drill from the dry practice section of Concealed Carry Skills and Drills.

As with any dry practice exercise, double check your handgun before beginning to make sure there is no ammunition in it or present in the room where you are practicing.

Half Circle Drill

What the Half Circle Drill does is provide visual feedback on how smoothly you’re pressing the trigger. If you (jerk/yank/mash/crush/snatch) the trigger when doing this drill, you’ll see it immediately, assuming you keep your eyes open. There’s no recoil to camouflage any imperfections in your technique. Many people have never seen the results of their improper trigger manipulation and this drill is a good way to get past that problem.

This is a PDF of the drill and target. Dry Practice Half Circle Drill

Bad weather is a great time to work on your skills, especially when you can’t get to the range and practice bad habits.



5 responses

  1. Love it, Claude – thanks!

  2. Thank you excellent advice and reminder of trigger control. I don’t know if you have seen this before. I see this quite a bit in that they buy a laser for their pistol. Thinking this is a short cut to hitting the target and magic trigger control.

    In reality the only way put the center out of a 2” circle at 5 yards . Is to do what you say in this article dry fire and mastering trigger straight back to the rear.

  3. Another great post, Claude!

    An pellet pistol is also a great help. Get a pistol with decent accuracy out to 25′. They are not expensive, and last for years with a little oiling. Several models are available at specialized places online. Manual pump is fine, but carbon dioxide powered is more convenient. I have both types, and made sure they had decent triggers (one I significantly upgraded with an aftermarket part for $5). They are great for all sorts of practice, largely because the slower-moving pellet has a significantly longer dwell time in the barrel, enforcing taking a very slight amount of time to allow for follow through. The lack of “boom” and recoil makes it easier observe many shooting faults, as well.

    Combine this with the excellent exercises presented here, and I assure you, your handgun scores will shoot upward and your times will shorten. Remember to add this practice to dry fire exercises, and each presents a different set of advantages.

    1. Pellet and AirSoft guns demand excellent followthrough. We discovered this years ago when I ran Norcross BB IDPA in a warehouse.

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