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Curing the infamous jerk/trigger slap

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  • Curing the infamous jerk/trigger slap

    As the Firearms Instructors here will no doubt agree, the most common pistol shooting error is jerking or slapping the trigger. If you're a rightie, and your shots are impacting "outside the bullseye", between 6 and 9 o'clock on the target (or 3 to 6 o'clock for a leftie) than more than likely your problem is jerking the trigger.

    This is the shooting problem that I spend 99% of my time working on when Instructing shooters. It's really made me think. I know what a trigger jerk is, but why are shooter's doing it? If I can understand better the mechanics or thought processes that are causing it, then I should have better success in "curing" it in shooters.

    Here's what I'm thinking:

    When we're taught to shoot a pistol, we're taught "proper sight alignment". It usually is defined as "when the clear front sight is perfectly centered from left to right, and even across the top, in the blurry rear sight".

    Then, we're told what to do with this picture perfect sight alignment, which is called "sight picture". We're told that this is "placing your perfect sight alignment in the center of the target". Not "middle", or "upper thoracic cavity", but "center". To me, "center" is a very finite point.

    Those definitions have no half measures, or "kinda-sortas", or "as best as you cans" in them. They use words like "perfect", and "even" and "center". Those are not ambiguous words. They are very definite and precise.

    So, we are being instructed to perform 2 precise, perfect actions at the same time, when it's virtually impossible to do 1 of them by itself for any longer than a split second.

    Now you're on the range. You're trying to get those pesky sights lined up perfectly, and then take that perfection and place it in the exact, geometric center of the target. The sights won't stay in perfection, and you can't keep the soup sandwich of your sight alignment in the center of the target.

    All of the sudden..........sheer perfection is achieved...........for a split second, just long enough for your subconscious mind to register it..............your sights are in perfect alignment and you're in the exact center of the target..............calmly and coolly, your subconscious mind tells your trigger finger to............

    $this->unconvert_size(14, HURRY UP AND PULL THE F^CKIN' TRIGGER BEFORE IT ALL GOES AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!)

    The trigger finger puts about 20 pounds of pressure on the 5lb trigger of your Glock, and instead of the "10" that you swore you had, you see a nice "6" ring hit at about 7 o'clock.

    I think that the inherent problem that lies at the bottom of the jerk is our attempts at making everything so perfect. So, how do we fix it?

    For one, don't worry about perfection when it comes to your sights. I like to phrase it as "As long as your sights have a decent relationship to each other, that's good enough for sight alignment". For sight picture, "Keep your sights in an area in the middle of the target".

    The most important part of the equation is trigger control. If you keep the sights "related" to each other, and keep 'em in an area in the middle of the target, and get a nice, smooth trigger break, you'll have a good shot every time. Now, it's the trigger control we have to worry about.

    If you aren't hitting where you're supposed to, then start working on achieving a surprise break. You shouldn't be making the pistol fire at a precise moment.........you should be steadily applying pressure rearward on the trigger until the pistol "goes off by itself", without you knowing the exact moment it will happen. Once you can master this technique, then you can start working on more deliberate fire.

    I break my trigger at the exact moment I want it to ("make it go off") out to just shy of 15 yards or so. At 15 yards and greater, I'm getting a surprise break ("let it go off by itself"). That's what works for me, it may be different for you. I "make the gun go off" at distances in excess of 25 yards and I will still hit a silhouette 100% of the time, but I won't have that good, middle of the target hit that I want every time.

    Obviously, these tips all have to do with sighted fire; target focused fire/point shooting, etc., is a different animal all together. I usually use this type of fire for about 10 yards and closer as I'm faster with this type of fire. Again, YMMV. You might be good for unsighted fire out to 5, or 7, or 15 yards. When shooting a "qualification" course using scoring rings or similar, I will use sighted fire at distances in excess of 5 yards because I'm trying to achieve a "top score", not place rings in a vital area and stop a threat.
    www.precision-applications.com

    It's knowing that when I get up in the morning and my feet hit the floor, the Devil says, "Shit! He's awake!"

    Shortly before World War I, the German Kaiser was the guest of the Swiss government to observe military maneuvers. The Kaiser asked a Swiss militiaman: "You are 500,000 and you shoot well, but if we attack with 1,000,000 men what will you do?" The soldier replied: "We will shoot twice and go home."

    "There are so many Russians, and our country so small, where will we find room to bury them all?" - anonymous Finnish soldier

  • #2
    Yep, that about sums it up. I'm not a very good pistol shooter. I like to plink though.
    John 3:16
    "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    Romans 12:1-2
    Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. [2] Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

    If you find your self in a fair fight, your tactics suck!- Marine 1st Sergeant Jim Ryfinger

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    • #3
      Used to do a drill with my son and daughter when they were starting to shoot where I would leave empty chambers in a Ruger.22 six shooter and they would hit an empty and you could see the gun jerk. Got em to the point where it didn't matter if the gun went off or not they didn't jerk it. It was a pretty good little drill , Marine who owned a range where we used to shoot showed it to me.
      " May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't" General George S.Patton

      " Peace is that brief glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading"

      " The will to survive is not as important as the will to prevail...the answer to criminal aggression is retaliation" Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper

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      • #4
        I do what ss58 does except with snap caps. I randomly load a few snap caps into the mag. It will show any defects the moment you get a snap cap. I use it for instructing others as well a for myself if I haven't shot in a while. Avoids bad habits creeping in.
        "Don't die wondering"

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        • #5
          John Farnam and Massad Ayoob both use snap caps. After a while, you ignore the silence, and automatically clear the misfire, without thinking about it. It seems to clarify getting the target without jerking.

          I made some dummy rounds from resized brass and cheap bullets. Great for more advanced students.

          dihedral

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          • #6
            Dry fire, lots of dry fire

            Works for me
            "Speed is fine. Accuracy is final." - Larry Vickers

            LGOP: a small group of ?pissed-off American paratroopers? who are well trained, armed to the teeth, and lack serious supervision. They collectively remember the commander's intent as, "March to the sound of guns, and kill anyone who isn't dressed like you ..."

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            • #7
              Great post Shep, It helped me

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              • #8
                Marksman bb pistol, couple hundred rounds, and most do well once we get to the range. added advantage, they are able to see the results. of course there is no recoil to speak of, yet they hardly notice when we live fire.
                "ONLY GOOD MEN, BECOME GREAT MEN"

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the post. Louis Awerbuck's article on the Nov. edition of SWAT Magazine is pretty much on the same subject: don't try to achieve absolute perfection.
                  "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong." - Stephen Decatur, Jr.

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                  • #10
                    AMEN to the #1 problem. It's my biggest problem too...although a close second for me is "flipping" the trigger. More on that in a sec...

                    I think you are absolutely right. The big cause of that is trying to "ambush" the target when the front sight gets into that "perfect" spot. Due to natural body motions, the front sight is actually hovering around inside the rear sight notch in an Infinity-shaped pattern. In reality, if you simply squeeze while letting that motion run it's natural course, you're still going to hit the bullseye (that is, if you have proper sight picture and sight alignment). The other two causes are too much trigger finger on the trigger itself (the trigger should go across the middle of the finger pad), and "anticipation" of recoil which causes people to overcompensate their pull.

                    As for "flipping," on a right-handed shooter it will show up between 9 and 12 o'clock position. This is when you are quickly resetting the trigger just after the hammer falls. Some people's finger actually comes off of the trigger. I'm notorious for it, and I didn't start having that problem until I did a lot of revolver shooting in IDPA...and was concentrating more on the long trigger reset than the trigger pull itself. When shooting an auto, it's obvious on my targets. Not really an issue when I'm shooting the revolver, though.

                    Ahhhhhh...to be able to shoot more often. It sure would help.
                    Americans sleep well in their beds, because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm them.

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