The trigger press is one of the most important but difficult things to master as a new shooter. Your form can be perfect, grip can be perfect, sights can be perfectly placed on target, but if your trigger press is not yet perfected, it can throw the whole shot.
To begin to work on your trigger press, you will want to begin focusing on isolating your trigger finger’s movement. Ideally, you want only your trigger finger to move when pressing the shot. If other fingers move, squeeze, and grip the gun when you are pressing your shot, it can cause misalignment of your sights. This process can take some time to master, but it is very important for developing a good trigger press.
The trigger cycle has two steps to it; the slack and the wall before the shot breaks. When you are ready to take your shot, you want to take the slack out of the trigger until you hit the wall. The initial press of the trigger will feel light until you feel the trigger become firmer. That lighter feeling in the trigger cycle is called the slack. When you feel the trigger become firmer, you have hit the wall. When enough pressure is applied, the trigger will move beyond that point (the wall) and the firing pin will strike, hitting the primer on the back of the ammunition and firing a round out of the gun.
The slack is the distance the trigger travels between these two images.
This photo shows the trigger hitting the wall. It is roughly halfway through its travel.
When you have decided to fire, and have taken the slack out of the trigger, you want to apply even and steady pressure until the shot breaks. You want that trigger finger to be isolated and pressing consistently against the trigger.
This was a difficult thing for me to get down. I kept anticipating the shot which unconsciously caused me to push the nose of the gun downwards which would mess up my shot placement. A mantra that really helped me overcome this was; “keep pressing, keep pressing, keep pressing”. By consciously saying this mantra in my head, it helped me to apply even and steady pressure against the trigger until the shot broke.
The trigger pressed past the wall.
After you fire your first round, you want to reset the trigger to be prepared for your following shots. This step is very important. The reset point of the trigger is at the wall of the trigger cycle. After your first shot breaks, you want to release the trigger only until the trigger can reset at the wall. It is unnecessary to release the trigger all the way, because then you will increase the distance that the trigger needs to travel until you fire your second round. Another big side effect of releasing the trigger too far is, you increase the chances of “slapping the trigger”. By having to travel through the slack to hit the wall, it makes the trigger press much more dramatic and violent of a movement. That may cause your sight alignment to change when the subsequent shots are fired. So instead, when the first shot breaks, release the trigger finger just far enough so that the trigger can reset so that you’re ready for your subsequent shots.
Getting back on the wall and reseting the trigger after firing a round.
Getting down the trigger press is crucial to being accurate with your firearm. It will take time, and LOTS of practicing. Being proficient with your firearm is a fleeting skill unless regularly trained. So, get out to the range or do some dry fire drills as often as possible!
Train hard and train often.