How to: Trigger Control, it's really Important

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    • #1039
      Ron Lewis
      Participant

      At the last match I was asked by an unnamed shooter ” Ron, Why are you still looking down range after your shot. It’s actually part of the method by which I shoot every shot. Just like a golf instructor teaches to keep your head down after the swing. It’s follow through of my trigger pull.

      What is meant by Follow Through and what is the technique ? (FLM)

      After the trigger releases, there is a finite time before the bullet leaves the gun. During this time, the hammer or firing pin must fall, the charge must ignite, and the bullet must travel down the bore; these moments can be classified as “lock time” and “bore time”. With older designs, especially flintlocks and caplocks, but even early cartridge arms, this interval could be quite long; with more modern designs, it is measured in small numbers of milliseconds.

      During this time, it is essential that the gun be handled consistently, whether it is being used offhand, from a bench or from an intermediate position. This consistent handling is what is known as “follow through,” which means esssentially “don’t do anything–just let the gun fire.”

      The need for followthrough is most apparent with guns having prologed lock times or bore times, or when both gun and target are in motion, such as:

      –flintlocks

      –22 RF

      –air guns

      –shooting birds or clay pigeons with a shotgun

      You develop follow through by practice, of course. Some of the elements you can work on to maintain follow through include these:

      –practice moving only your trigger finger, and nothing else

      –for beginners, the slow squeeze so that the gun fires by suprise, is often taught. This is OK to start, but eventually you must learn to let off the shot at a specific moment without disturbing the gun and while maintaining follow through.

      –dry firing while watching the sights to see if they are disturbed is valuable

      –you need to avoid a “flinch,” which is movement in anticipation of the shot. Though the name of this phenomenon implies fear of recoil (and this is certainly a factor), it can also represent anticipation of the shot. I knew an older man who was an excellent skeet shooter when he was younger, and still in his late 70’s could score near 100 with the 12 ga. But, he couldn’t shoot the .410 at all (scores in the 70’s, with some rounds not fired at all), because of a severe flinch. Its akin to the yips on the putting green that aflict some golfers. A cure, or at least an exercise, to to load or have loaded for you, dummy rounds so that sometimes the gun goes bang, and sometimes it doesn’t. A flinch will reveal itself when you fire a dummy round.

      –discipline yourself to keep you head on the gun and keep yourself in position until the gun comes down out of recoil and you regain your sight picture; this will encourage follow through

      –or, with a shotgun, practice the same idea: “head-down, carry through, until you complete your swing” Develop an attitude, a sort of zen, that has you stay with the gun and with the shot until the recoil is over. As the gun settles down from recoil, you should find yourself locked in the same position you were in before the shot. No need to take the gun down or lift your head–if you hit it, you’ll know. In golf, where the same issue arises, the saying is “no need to lift your head to follow the ball. If it goes in the hole, it’ll still be there when you get there to pick it up.”

      –call all your shots, stating clearly what the sight picture was when the shot broke

      –practice with guns having long bore times. For a big bore shooter, practice with an airgun or a .22 will reveal lack of follow through that might not be as apparant with a gun having a quicker bore time and more flash/bang/recoil.

      –always use a good trigger. Doesn’t have to be light, but it should be consistent and have either a smooth controllable creep or a crisp break.

      –if you are recoil sensitive (we all are–just different thresholds), its better to get a heavier gun or lighter bullet than it is to develop a flinch

      That’s all I know about follow through and trigger control–it is the one essential element of marksmanship in the real world and applies across all disciplines, even BR shooting.

      FLM

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