Low & left hits are a common problem for handgun users as they hone their skills. It’s incredibly frustrating to score good A-Zone hits in a string and end with a shot in the 7 o’clock region of the target. On the left is an example- a few fliers but mostly trigger jerk. Even a lot of hits in the A lean in that direction.
Most pistol ranges I frequent have an analysis chart somewhere – it looks something like the chart on the right.
Great- now you can see what’s wrong. But how to correct it? The first thing you have to be is consistent- if your hits aren’t grouping consistently this chart won’t help much. Most of the target you see is the result of consistent and repeated splits- so it’s not like 3 of my 4-round splits all hit that 7 o’clock zone, it was an occasional round over 18 splits.
The commonly cited remedy for trigger jerk I have seen and heard is a combination of trigger press technique and finger position on the trigger (the second half of the article). If you look at the second link you can see that groups have centered quite a lot but it could be better. It turns out that there are other views on correcting that jerking problem:
Any time the gun seems to be moving excessively on the target enough to make you want to time the shot when the gun is in the proper relation to the target, there is the high likelihood of a trigger jerk because eye focus has transitioned toward the target. Bring the eye focus back to the rear sight and shift it slightly forward to the front sight keeping it there until discharge is realized.
Yes, we can all improve our discharge realization. Even the ladies. This has helped me get closer to my goals. Keep your eye focus on the front sight and make sure you see the flash. Eye focus has made a difference – note how the group has moved in and the outliers are down about 10% over 12 splits and a double tap. Do more than train- evaluate, modify and then train some more.
I4Tactical showcases the holster draw and presentation process quite nicely in this video clip. I like the breakdown he provides for each step of the process.
The key issues I'm working through in my own training are proper grip and closely related is trigger finger placement. I4 makes a great point on grip – when you bring the support hand into your workspace to meet the pistol it's your opportunity to confirm that your grip is correct.
Your natural point of aim is an important element of pistol proficiency. Quite simply this means having your body naturally pointed at your intended target. As noted here in the past a benefit of using the isosceles stance is that your instinctive reaction to a threat helps you position your body properly.
As noted in the video there are two useful applications for lining up your natural point of aim:
- When there are multiple targets indexing your natural post of aim on the most difficult shot will help you accomplish the shot
- In defensive situations where you may not have enough time to attain a proper sight picture this technique will help you hit your target
Also the music at the end of this one is pretty awesome- just sayin'.
Too often people post YouTube content that is agonizingly long. I find a remarkable amount of good stuff in those longer videos but I don't believe that the average person will endure a 15 minute video for 1 or 2 minutes of payoff.
Nice work VXMarksmanshipllc!! Look at how much can be ascertained from this 22 second clip:
- Use your weak side leg to add support when you lean out from concealment- it gives you a more stable platform
- Smooth handling of your weapon system will maximize your effectiveness
- When you pull back after firing- move! Saying stationary typically won't benefit you
This is a nice video covering target transition tips. The key here is to start with the nearest and leftmost target- nearest because it is the threat with the closest proximity and leftmost because the gun will move up and to the right as every shot breaks. Work with the momentum of the gun and your technique will be smoother- in this case aiding in smooth transition from left to right target engagement.
Cover and concealment are the that can help you take and maintain a position of strength in a gun fight. IDPA and pretty much any other practical shooting organization make this part of a high percentage of their CoFs (course of fire).
Using concealment is grounded in tactical logic: when engaging a threat present the smallest target (read: your body is the target in this case) you possibly can. IDPA rules require at least 50% of your body must remain behind cover. Other than in a match how can you practice this?
I found a way to do so that requires a few common items: cardboard, some good bourbon and a table saw. The box below used to contain a bottle of st Kentucky bourbon.
1. Start with a box like the one above- the bourbon is a bonus for use elsewhere.
2 . Note the edge of the box inside the red rectangle above. That edge needs to be cut off the box to leave the other grooves for the sliding box lid intact. I used a table saw to get a nice clean cut.
3. Now you should have a box that looks like the photo above- with grooves that now can support a piece of cardboard with a nice 90 degree angle.
4. Cut a piece of cardboard to a size that fits the box and is tall enough to use for concealment if you set it on the shelf in a range booth.
There you have it- set this up in your range lane and you can practice leaning out to shoot and leaning back in between splits.
After getting pretty comfortable with my Tru-Dot sights I began to notice a problem showing up in my precision/longer range pistol shots- take a look for yourself: low and left is the theme on center mass and the smaller precision targets.
Initial analysis points to trigger jerk- sometimes when I dry fire I can even see the muzzle dip as I head into trigger break both in my carry pistol and my competition pistol. But nearly any measure these hits are combat-effective. However my goal is to put every shot in a scoring spot, and since I'm aiming at the center of each target this could be improved. What to do at this point? Crowdsource some knowledge of course…
I found plenty of advice suggesting a trigger mod- ranging from simply polishing the existing components to a lighter trigger bar to drop-in kits (my personal favorite) or sets including changing lots of springs.
So why not fix this by adding a trigger kit or mod? This sounds like a good approach and I love my match trigger rifle…but there are two serious risks incurred by fooling with aftermarket trigger parts:
– Attorneys love terms like custom, performance, enhanced, and have a way of making all of them sound like 'intent to shoot someone' to a jury or a judge. Neither is good for you no matter how justified your DGU was.
– Aftermarket parts are not required to be up to OEM specs- and those items tend to have a knack for failing at the worst possible times.
Finally I ran across a brilliant Glock-specific suggestion by someone: adjust trigger finger position to getting more finger on the trigger. This was his remedy for shots grouping low and left. Dry fire practice with this change to my finger placement has been astounding- at varying speeds of aim and trigger pull I have not witnessed a single front sight dip. Free advice and no armorers skills required!
This makes lots of sense: the 1911-era techniques were developed for a heavier pistol with a very crisp trigger pull. I am writing this article in 2013– thats only 102 years later for the mathematically challenged. Technology has changed since 1911- the Glock is a different type of action and has a different trigger, why force operational techniques from a century ago onto it?
Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks this way. According to the US Army Marksmanship Guide:
Correct Placement of the Index Finger on the Trigger. (a) With Joint of Index Finger. (b) With First Bone Section of Index Finger .
To get results like the ones pictured above I had been using only the very top tip of my finger on the trigger. Using the diagram as a reference I am now pressing the trigger a little lower than position (b). It feels like exactly what I'm looking for…but I will let you know how this works with my speed drills and even give position (a) a try if I see further problems.
This is another good video- Nic Taylor breaks it down nicely by leveraging fundamentals and cueing another component of Operator speed. After seeing this I plan to start working on improving consistent transiton speed (could we call this cadence?) in my next live fire session.
One thing Nic could add to his reps: where was that search and assess after he pulled back to low ready? Train as you fight Nic…
I am already doing some of this but now it's time to put forth a conscious effort to drive my speed up to grow into faster execution. If you're weight training you can't increase strength without eventually increasing the weight resistance, so why is speed training any different?