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Trigger Control for Dummies

Posted 06-30-2010 at 09:04 by Butch
Updated 03-08-2014 at 11:15 by Butch

The title of this would be more accurate if I had made it ‘Trigger Control with Dummies’, but we’re in computer land so I thought a title with some computer lingo might be appropriate….

The two most important skills needed for accurate shooting are trigger control and sight alignment. Of the two, sight alignment seems to get the most attention sometimes, and it certainly is a needed skill, but when it comes right down to it, trigger control is simply the most important.

You can have a perfect sight picture for every shot you take, but if your trigger control is poor enough to pull the sights off target when the trigger is pulled, you miss the shot, and more often than not, by quite a bit.

On the other hand, if your trigger control is perfect every time, but your sight alignment/sight picture is a little off, your shot will very likely still hit the target, but it might be in the 9 ring instead of the 10 ring.

Fact is, if you are human, you cannot hold the sights perfectly aligned in the same spot of the target anyway….not off hand…your body can’t do it. If you really think you can, just mount a laser sight on a pistol and go for it.

All too often a shooter gets his sights aligned on target and when the sight picture is just about perfect, he thinks to himself something like, ‘It’s there, it’s there, shoot it!’. And at that moment he pulls the trigger and moves the sights off target as he pulls the trigger.

If the shooter is right handed, the shot tends to go low and/or left 4 to 6 inches or so, depending on how far they are from the target. This is often done with some consistency even, which makes the shooter think it’s the gun that’s shooting ‘off’.

The problem is that the shooter, due to the muzzle blast and recoil generated by the shot, cannot see that he’s pulling the sights off target as he pulls the trigger…..so what’s the cure?

One thing to do is dry fire. Practice shooting the gun with no ammo in it. Align the sights (with, or without a target), and pull the trigger by putting slow, steadily increasing rearward pressure against it until the gun ‘fires’….without disturbing your sight alignment.

The other thing our shooter needs to do is called a ‘Ball and Dummy’ drill. This, very simply put, allows the shooter to see for himself just exactly how he’s pulling the trigger.

First, ya have to have some dummy rounds, or snap caps work too (yes, there’s a difference*). Then, mix at least two or three dummy rounds into a mag with live ammo so ya won’t know when you’ll hit them while shooting. You can also load more than one mag with the dummy rounds mixed in at random and then mix the mags so you really don’t know where they are in the mags. Be honest with yourself, if you know where the dummy rounds are, it doesn’t work as well.

Now you go shoot your best group.

When you click on a dummy, one of two things will happen, and you have to pay attention to your sights. Either your sights will stay aligned on target like they do when you dry fire….which means you pulled the trigger well, or your front sight will dip down low and left into the area of your target where your shots are going…..this means you decided to fire the shot and pulled the trigger instead of squeezing the trigger until the gun fired….and that’s why your shots are going low and left.

Now it’s up to you to learn to squeeze/press/pull the trigger correctly, like you do when you dry fire, and continued use of the dummy rounds will help you do so.

*Dummy rounds vs. Snap Caps

Dummy rounds are made up of only a case and a ‘bullet’…..no powder or primer....and are intended for cycling through a guns action to check for feeding function or for training a shooter.

These are the best dummy rounds I’ve found. I get them from http://www.letargets.com/estylez_ps....~110000~081100

They are not 'snap caps' though....the primary intended use for snap caps is for dry firing, and they have a spring loaded brass, or synthetic rubber, ‘primer’ that cushions the impact of the firing pin in a way similar to how a real primer does.

Snap caps can perform the same function as a dummy round, but they often don’t stand up to the wear and tear that such use tends in cause, and snap caps tend to cost quite a little more than dummy rounds. And if you reload ammo, you can easily make your own dummy rounds.

These are snap caps:
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Total Comments 11


  1. Old Comment
    SCC's Avatar
    the army stores sell dummy rounds cheap
    Posted 02-27-2011 at 18:40 by SCC SCC is offline
  2. Old Comment
    thanks for taking the time to write this.
    It has helped.
    Posted 08-29-2011 at 09:03 by rpgman rpgman is offline
  3. Old Comment
    rdpG19's Avatar
    Excellent Post...Thank you
    Posted 10-09-2011 at 07:33 by rdpG19 rdpG19 is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Posted 10-13-2011 at 17:50 by markofva markofva is offline
  5. Old Comment
    hdr1trip's Avatar
    thanks for the info , I'm a dummy .... in the learning process .
    Posted 03-12-2012 at 13:18 by hdr1trip hdr1trip is offline
  6. Old Comment
    glockpeter's Avatar
    Posted 04-03-2012 at 22:02 by glockpeter glockpeter is offline
  7. Old Comment

    Many thanks, this will help my technique alot.

    Posted 06-02-2012 at 21:02 by harleypower69 harleypower69 is offline
  8. Old Comment
    mike g35's Avatar
    Butch I've been reading all your blogs today (post Lexington GSSF match). Wish I had seen all this info before. Thanks for all the info!!!!!!
    Posted 10-29-2012 at 13:22 by mike g35 mike g35 is offline
  9. Old Comment
    Thanks for the post. I recently read to pull the trigger as much as you think is possible *without* firing the gun. I do this and am surprised every time the gun fires (the trigger will eventually engage). After doing this with snap caps, I have seen an improvement. I'll try mixing the snap caps into a mag at the range. Thanks again.
    Posted 02-02-2013 at 15:18 by LibertyToad LibertyToad is offline
  10. Old Comment
    Thanks So much, Appreciate the information.
    Can't wait to get to te range......
    Will let you know the results
    Posted 04-04-2014 at 12:27 by Slider621 Slider621 is offline
  11. Old Comment
    NMG26's Avatar
    Very nice.

    Posted 12-22-2014 at 15:09 by NMG26 NMG26 is offline

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