1. The most serious and disrupting error made by the shooter is jerking - that is, the abrupt application of pressure on the trigger accompanied with muscular action of the hand and arm muscles.
If Jerking was limited to abrupt pressure on the trigger, and the rapid displacement of the axis of the bore, it would cause only part of the results.
a. Jerking is usually accompanied by:
(1) The sharp straining of all the muscles in the arm arid shoulder.
(2) The abrupt tightening of the hand on the grip.
(3) Failure to press the trigger directly to the rear.
All of these factors taken together, lead to a great shifting of the pistol to the side and down and only a very poor shot can result.
b. Most frequently, jerking is observed in new shooters. Usually because of a large arc of movement, favorable moments for producing a good shot are of very short duration.
c. The cause of trigger jerking is the practice of "snatching a ten-pointer", as the expression goes. The shooter tries to fire at the moment when the centered front sight, as it moves back and forth, passes under the lower edge of the bull's eye, or comes to a stop, for a brief time, near the center of the aiming area. Since these moments are fleeting the inexperienced shooter strives to exert all the necessary pressure on the trigger at that time. This rapid and abrupt trigger pressure is accompanied not only by the work of the muscles in the index finger, but also by the sympathetic action of a number of other muscles. The involuntary action of these muscles produces the "jerk", and the inaccurate shot that results. The young shooter, in anticipation of the recoil of the pistol and the loud noise, strains his muscles by flinching, to counteract the anticipated recoil. This is also known as heeling the shot.
d. Practice has shown that a young shooter must be warned sufficiently early in his training about the dangers of jerking the trigger and effective steps taken to instruct him in the correct technique of accurate shooting.
e. Difficulty In detecting errors In trigger control is frequently because the pistol shifted during recoil and errors are not recognized. The shooter has a more difficult time in evaluating than a coach, and often does not realize that he is jerking the trigger, blinking his eyes, or straining his arm and shoulder muscles.
f. The easiest way to correct jerking in the young shooter is by the coaching of an experienced coach. A coach can more readily detect errors and correct habits that will produce poor trigger control. Frequently a shooter does not consider it necessary to prove conclusively whether or not they are jerking on the trigger. It is necessary, though, to know that if he does not get rid of the detrimental habit of jerking on the trigger, he will never succeed in achieving good results.
g. Signs of jerking are an increased in the size of the area of the shot group or shots off to the side which are not called there; chiefly to the left and down (for righthanders). To correct the condition, the shooter must make a change In his training exercise, but in no Instance must he stop them.
(1) Dry-fire practice will enable the nervous system to rest from the recoil of the shot. By this practice some of the reflexes which are detrimental to firing (tensing of the arm In order to counteract the recoil, the straining of the muscles in anticipation of the shot, blinking from the noise of the shot), are not being developed. They will, In fact, begin to decrease and may completely disappear.
(2) Secondly, the shooter may continue regular training, but occasionally he may practice "dry". This way, he will not lose the stability of this position, as well as the useful reflexes which the shooter has developed during the process of previous firings.
(3) By aiming carefully and noting attentively everything that happens to the pistol when he presses on the trigger, the shooter will discover his errors and eliminate them. Training by means of ball and dummy and dry firing is of great benefit. It makes it possible to develop correctly and carefully the technique of pressing the trigger, and contributes to acquiring proper habits In controlling the trigger.
(4) When beginning to use dry firing the shooter must first overcome the desire to "grab" for a shot when the centered front site is under the bull's eye. Despite the arc of movement the shooter must teach himself only to press smoothly on the trigger and to use the uninterrupted positive control method of trigger action. When the smooth control of the trigger again becomes habitual and he no longer has to devote special attention to it, he can again shoot live cartridges. After starting again to shoot live cartridges, the first training exercises should involve firing at a square of blank white paper, rather than at a target with a black aiming area. Simultaneously, the shooter must devote special attention to analyzing his performance, counteract the desire to jerk on the trigger, and be conscious of reacting incorrectly to the firing of a shot.
2. Another error committed by a shooter when controlling the trigger is "holding too long", that is, the drawn out action of pressing the trigger.
a. A consequence of holding too long is that the shooter does not have enough air to hold his breath, his eye becomes fatigued, and his visual acuity decreases. In addition, his stance loses part of its stability. Consequently, when he holds too long, the shooter presses on the trigger under unfavorable conditions.
b. Holding too long is a consequence of excessively slow and cautious pressure on the trigger. This is caused by the shooter's fear of producing a bad shot. Such indecisiveness and over caution may be regarded as the opposite of jerking. Moreover, holding too long stems from the lack of coordination of movement which frequently occurs during those stages of training when the process of inhibition outweighs the process of stimulation. Simply stated, the shooter cannot force himself to exert positive pressure on the trigger at the proper time. One favorable moment after another goes past, and soon the chances for an accurate shot are gone. Naturally, the trigger control phase has been extended far beyond its effective duration. This situation frequently occurs after a period of dry-fire training exercises. The shooter loses the sense of the trigger's true weight when he fires for extended periods of time with a round in the chamber. When the trigger is released in a dry shot, the trigger seems to be rather light, but when the shooter switches to live rounds, the trigger weight seems to be considerably greater. He feels he must exert greater effort to overcome this seemingly greater weight. Frequently, the shooter will blame his troubles on faulty adjustment of the trigger mechanism. Nothing is gained from such assumptions. More times than not, the shooter returns to normal trigger control since the root of the evil is lack of coordinated control and not trigger adjustment.
c. The restoration of coordination of movement, and the return to the correct balance between stimulation and inhibition is brought about primarily through systematic practice, match training and dry-fire exercises. It is precisely this method of training which develops the necessary coordination of the shooter's actions. When the shooter's movements become automatic, the trigger finger will operate in an unstrained manner, and the shot will break at the proper moment. It is important that each training session begin with a few dry-fire exercises. It has been demonstrated that such exercises are necessary for the development of accurate shooting. Such exercises may also be repeated after record shooting to restore equilibrium in the nervous processes.
d. Frequently, a shooter, when firing for record, is unable to fire a shot. After several unsuccessful tries, a loss of confidence will arise. Rather than risk a wild shot the shooter should unload the pistol, time permitting, and dry-fire a few shots. After restoring coordination of movement, and regaining his confidence, the shooter is far better prepared, both physically and mentally, for the delivery of an accurate shot. Firing the shot during the first few seconds after settling into a good hold, will guarantee confidence.
3. We have considered the fundamental errors that arise in trigger control. Let us now consider a problem that is also closely related to trigger control - trigger adjustment.
a. The firing of an accurate shot depends to a great extent on the quality of the trigger adjustment. An incorrectly adjusted trigger aggravates the errors committed by the shooter as he exerts pressure on the trigger. Incorrect adjustments include:
(1) Excessive trigger weight.
(2) Excessive long creep (movement of trigger).
(3) Too light trigger weight.
(4) Variable trigger weight.
b. The shooter should not try to overcome these difficulties with modification in his trigger control but take the problem and pistol to the armorer (gunsmith) for solution.
uiWlfD 'Jimr-, AIIMT
Establishing A System
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