There are a couple thoughts regarding trigger manipulation, at least when it comes to handguns and self-defense pistols. The first thought is that trigger manipulation doesn’t matter, because grip, or the way you hold your pistol, is the most important thing.
The other thought is that grip is the most important thing, but you should still work on your trigger manipulation, as well because it does help you in the long run.
I fall solidly into the second camp. While I still believe grip is the single most important fundamental to accurate handgun shooting, you should also work on your trigger manipulation, as well.
Before I go on, I have to give credit where it is due. I have had the chance to be trained by and with some of the best in the industry. Many of the thoughts in this article didn’t originate from me, but from people like Chris Cerino and Riley Bowman.
Namely, I learned that grip is most important from Bowman, and how to prep the trigger from Cerino. We’ll cover the way you grip you pistol in a future installment, but for now we’ll discuss how to prep your trigger.
What is trigger prep?
Prepping your trigger is simply getting it ready to take the shot. To do this, you need to remove any of the slack, which is the portion of your trigger before the gun fires, in anticipation of needing to take the shot.
For the first shot, you could let your finger rest on your trigger until you’re ready to fire. The place where it can safely rest is called the “wall” of your trigger. It’s the part where there is a hard stop, and if you were to go any further the hammer or striker would drop and you’d fire your first shot.
I can almost hear Cerino telling me: On sights on trigger. In other words, when your sights are lined up on your target, your finger should be on the trigger, with it prepped and ready to fire.
Why prepping the trigger is helpful:
Prepping the trigger is helpful for the accuracy of all shots (not just the first one) because you’re supposed to keep prepping the trigger until you’re done firing. There is a plague in the shooting community and it’s something that I’ve had to overcome as well.
That plague is pinning the trigger to the rear after the shot is fired to allow the trigger to reset.
We’re taught the importance of trigger reset and while the trigger does need to reset, if it resets at the wrong time during your rapid firing, it could cause some serious accuracy issues. Most people reset the trigger after the recoil cycle is over. This is called “pinning the trigger” and it allows for greater movement of the front sight in between shots.
In all reality, you should reset your trigger during the recoil cycle.
And again, the reason why, is because when you move your finger off the trigger after the gun returns to target and the recoil is done, your front sight could move ever so slightly. This could obviously cause your shot to be off of where you want it.
Even the slightest movement at the muzzle could cause a massive discrepancy at 5, 7, or 10 yards.
One of the best ways to overcome this is to prep your trigger. If you prep your trigger during the recoil portion of your shooting, you eliminate the chance that your front sight will move after the gun settles back on target.
We already discussed what prepping the trigger for the first shot looks like. So, prepping your trigger after the first shot, so any and all subsequent shots, looks like this:
The shot breaks and the trigger is fully to the rear. You immediately release the trigger all the way to the front while the slide is still in motion and get back onto the trigger, slack removed, for the next shot.
After the gun settles back on target you can shoot again for as long as you intend to shoot.
It may sound like it takes forever, but it doesn’t. Think about how fast your gun recoils, and that’s how fast the entire process should take to prep your trigger.
This obviously helps your rapid fire out that much more, as well, and increases your accuracy because it limits the amount of motion your front sight might have.
I say “might have” like that because you can overcome any movement with a proper, strong grip — but most shooters cannot do this.
At the end of the day the way you’re handling your trigger reset is important. I encourage you to practice this next time you go to the range. Do you pin your trigger to the rear? If you do, your rapid fire accuracy should go up if you employ what I stated here.