Another Look at Trigger Control. By: SLG

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In the recent class I was in, the instructor and I discussed trigger control. He feels that a straight press all the way through is the way to go, whereas I prefer to prep the trigger when possible. His experience in competition is that prepping the trigger can hold you back and as an example, he mentioned a top 16 competitor who preps his trigger. He is usually top 5. Seems like maybe trigger prep isn’t what will hold most of us back.

So, let us look at trigger prep the way I do. I prep the trigger for the first shot when I can. We will come back to that important qualifier later. Though I prep the trigger on follow-up shots, if I am shooting at .25-second splits or faster I’m really not prepping, I’m just pulling through. Some of that pull happens while the gun is offline, and some of it happens when the gun is back on target. The offline part could certainly be considered prepping the trigger, but I don’t see it that way on a practical level. If you don’t work the trigger while the gun is offline, you can’t shoot that fast, so all of us do some “prep” while the gun is recoiling. Normally we might call that resetting the trigger, and then prepping it.

If you are shooting a very light trigger, your prep may be limited to resetting under recoil. I don’t generally shoot very light triggers, but with my single-action triggers, I remove the slack while in recoil and begin to tension the trigger. With heavier or longer triggers, I do more work. The exact amount depends on the trigger and my familiarity with it.

I mentioned before that I prep when I can. If I have a low probability target, I will prep while pressing out, either from the draw or from a ready position. If I have a high probability target, I will still prep as much as possible, but if it is a close enough, big enough target, I may just pull through given the speed I am going at. I can prep or I can pull through, and I use both techniques interchangeably as the situation requires. Much like how I use a press-out draw for some things and an index draw for others.

This brings me to why I prefer the press-out and trigger prep in general. If your goal is to win USPSA, you can pull the trigger however you like. The amount of training time you will put in means you can learn to do anything. On the other hand, if you are a professional who carries a gun with a street trigger, and only shoots between 1 and 6 times a year, you need a technique that can help you deliver an accurate shot as reliably as possible. Speed is secondary, though certainly important.

The grip skills (and other related aspects) required to pull the trigger straight through every time are simply not available to the average professional. Prepping the trigger gives you a method that improves your hit rate, while still working if your grip is less than ideal. Learning to pull straight through for people who shoot a few hours a year, is unrealistic in my experience. Learning to press out and prep the trigger, let alone retain that skill over many months of neglect is also difficult for those shooters, but if they get any of it done, they are ahead of the game. Some make huge improvements in their accuracy and speed once they get the hang of it.

Pressouts and trigger prep help minimize shooter anticipation. They minimize the effects a poor grip can have. This does not mean we should ignore those issues, but we also have to deal with reality. Techniques taught to professionals have to be stress-resistant and robust. Nothing is panic-proof, but a technique that minimizes a shooter’s natural weaknesses while improving their hit rate is a technique I can get behind.

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