Trigger Press – honing the critical fundamental

The key to mastering the art of the pistol is not tactics but the simple fundamentals. This applies to self defense, run & gun competition and professional applications. Trigger press is the last human input to the firearm before a shot breaks and as such it makes sense that most misses can be attributed to jerking the trigger or anticipating recoil (flinch). Let’s assume you are past any flinching problems…So what can we do to hone trigger press to a level of excellence? Here are two drills you can run to perfect your trigger press:

At the range: (from Aesir Training

1. Check, double check, and triple check that the gun is unloaded and no magazine is in the magazine well.
2. Present the gun toward the target and have a partner balance a spent casing (penny or dime if sight will not allow a casing to be balanced), taking care to not pass his or her hand or fingers in front of the muzzle of your gun.
3. Perform a trigger press as if firing the gun, taking care that the object balanced on the gun does not fall off. Concentrate on pressing the trigger straight to the rear, with the only movement in your finger taking place perpendicular to the face of the trigger. Look for movement up and down as well as left and right. If the gun moves left or right, adjust the amount of finger on the trigger (more if gun moves left, less if gun moves right for a right-handed shooter).
4. Reset the trigger by manipulating the slide (double checking the gun is empty), and repeat for a total of five repetitions.
5. Load the firearm with ONE round, and fire for accuracy.
6. Unload the weapon. Check, double check, and triple check the weapon is unloaded and no magazine is in the magazine well, and repeat the process as many times as needed.

Check your target for the grouping of your fired shots. Assess your groups to see what’s happening:

  • Are the groups tightening? Are they on target? (You’re doing it right!!)
  • Low and left (you’re jerking the trigger!)  
  • Vertically strung? ( breathing rhythm, shoulder control, not squaring up to the target)

Your hit pattern will tell you a lot about where to focus. If you’re not getting consistent results then you need to keep practicing until you establish an identifiable pattern. This is perfectly normal as you get more and more reps under your belt. Be patient and keep at it. 

The farther you are from the target, the more precise your fundamentals must be to get your hits. Your goal should always be fist-sized groups on target at any distance.


At home:

  1. Check, double check and triple check that your gun is unloaded. Remove the magazines and ammo from the training location. If you need a mag in the gun to activate the firing mechanism designate a mag for training by marking it and NEVER load that mag
  2. Ensure you have a safe backstop or use a wall that is a safe backstop. Even though this is a dry fire drill don’t risk sending a round somewhere dangerous if there is an ND- it’s not worth the consequences. For example I practice in my basement at exterior facing walls. 
  3. Aim your pistol at a wall- a blank wall with no target or aiming point is best
  4. In your normal shooting stance and grip, press out and get close enough to just barely touch the muzzle to the wall. Now back off by about an inch. Make sure you’re in a strong, balanced shooting position. 
  5. Focus on the front sight. Maintain proper sight alignment but now you are seek what you should always see: the front sight as your focal point. No other target here and that’s the goal.
  6. Now press the trigger straight back- be consistent all the way through the break. Hold the tigger back like you would with normal follow-through. Obviously the trigger won’t reset until you rack the slide – but this will keep your focus on steady mechanics.
  7. Your sight alignment should not move throughout the entire repetition- that’s your goal. Steady sight alignment throughout the trigger press and into follow through.
Run this drill for about 10 minutes per session and repeat as necessary. The nice thing about this is that you can run a few reps right on the firing line if you start spraying targets to get your rhythm focused. Stay safe and stay vigilant.

2 thoughts on “Trigger Press – honing the critical fundamental

  1. Pingback: 550 in a year — Gerard’s story | Year of the gun

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