To fire accurately, it is necessary to achieve a
precise aiming point and pull the trigger without disturbing the aiming
process. Trigger control is the most important fundamental of
marksmanship after sight alignment. Trigger control is the
ability to move the trigger to the rear to allow the hammer to fall
without disturbing sight alignment or sight picture.
Definition: Trigger control is the
manipulation of the trigger, allowing the shot to break without
disturbing sight alignment. Sight alignment and trigger control must be
performed simultaneously in order to fire an accurate shot.
- Surprise Shot
trigger is a mental process as well as a mechanical process.
Everyone has probably heard or read that trigger control is such a
subconscious effort that a surprise shot can be fired.
This is a good
way to teach beginner shooters the concept of trigger control.
However, it is not the way to teach more experienced shooters. The
shooter should consciously fire the shot exactly when the rifle
settles to his aiming point, but it should be a subconscious effort
not to disturb the aiming point or sight alignment.
- If the shooter can move the trigger without
thinking about it (subconsciously), he can concentrate on sight
alignment and his aiming point.
- Uninterrupted Trigger Control
- This is the preferred method of
controlling the trigger.
- Once trigger pressure is applied, firing
of the shot is completed. The shooter is, committed to an
unchanging rate of pressure: no speeding up, slowing down, or
- Initial trigger pressure is rapidly
applied to take up most of the weight of the trigger. As the
rifle settles into the aiming point and the sights are aligned,
the remaining trigger pressure is taken up and the shot is fired
without disturbing the aiming point or sight alignment.
- Interrupted Trigger Control
- This method of trigger control is used in
extremely windy conditions when the weapon will not settle,
forcing the shooter to fire the shot when the target comes into
his aiming point.
- The shooter takes up initial trigger
Pressure and begins normal trigger control. He then holds his
position until he gets his aiming point. He then pulls the
trigger until the shot breaks.
- The shooter should not force his rifle by
storing it into his aiming point. He should let the rifle move
naturally toward and away from the bull's-eye.
- If the rifle is moving toward the
bull's-eye, the shooter continuously applies trigger pressure.
- If the rifle is moving away from the
bull's-eye, the shooter holds his position until the rifle starts
drifting back toward his aiming point. He then applies pressure
to the trigger. If the shot breaks as the sights are moving
towards hi8 aiming point, the shot will-normally be inside his
- Finger Placement on the Trigger
- Finger placement on the trigger is correct
when it allows the trigger to be moved straight to the rear, without
disturbing sight alignment.
- Every shooter is different. The trigger
finger should contact the trigger naturally. The placement of the
trigger finger on the trigger is an individual preference and
depends greatly on the size of the shooter's hand and his grip.
Errors in Trigger Control
Trigger control is the most difficult marksmanship
skill for most shooters to master. The majority of shooting errors stem
from errors in trigger control and can be attributed to the following:
- Flinching is the shooter's reaction to the
anticipated recoil of the round going off. It is indicated by the
shooter moving his head, closing his eyes, tensing his left arm,
moving his shoulders to the rear, or a combination of these
- Bucking is an attempt by the shooter to
take up the recoil, just before the weapon fires, by tensing his
shoulder muscles and moving his shoulder forward.
- Jerking is an attempt by the shooter to
make the rifle fire at a certain time by rapidly applying pressure
on the trigger and disturbing the alignment of the rifle with
respect to the target and/or sight
- Follow-through is the continued application
of the fundamentals after each round has been fired. The shooter
does not shift his position, move his head, or let the muzzle of the
rifle drop until a few seconds after the rifle has been fired.
Follow-through ensures that there is no undue movement of the rifle
until after the round is fired.
- From a training viewpoint, follow-through
can assist the shooter in correcting his own errors. By knowing his
aiming point the instant that round is fired, the shooter can
analyze his shot group in relation to this aiming point and correct
The conscious mind can only concentrate on
one thing at a time. Therefore, the competitor must practice moving
his/her trigger finger without consciously thinking about it. In order
to successfully compete, trigger control must be developed through dry
firing and continuous training until it becomes a subconscious process.
2003 GySgt Gregg White (Ret.)