Hold focus or trigger focus

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Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by robert84010 on 9/29/2015, 2:35 pm

On the same lines as NavyJayHawk02's posting on front sight dip I am always interested in where people focus their attention during a shot. Since a person can only have one conscience thought at a time where do you focus?

I am a hold type shooter, in that I focus on that front sight or dot and focus to slow and minimize the movement and only momentarily break from that to start the trigger. Once started I just let it happen while re-focusing on sight alignment. This is all predicated on working on reducing my hold so that whenever the shot breaks it should be within my hold and I can accept that. My best timed fire target was a 8x clean and rapid fire target was 6x clean (at Perry!) so at one time I feel my hold would good enough to top 2600 but I never did due to loss of focus errors, most especially in slow fire. My hold just seems to increase at 50 yards. I never cleaned the shortline but did have a 900 where only two targets were not clean. Of course my best strings are the easiest I barely remember engaging the trigger, it all just happened, but I did focus on maintaining sight alignment. I've said that keeping thinking to a minimum will usually produce great results! Or scores are inversely proportional to the amount of thinking.

So I am hoping my description is clear enough to start some discussion. Maybe someone has transitioned from one style to another and made a big leap? I shot alongside MSGT Mario Lazoya, USMC big team for bit and he advocated "marrying the fundamentals" but I could never grasp "steering the dot to the middle with the trigger" especially since I was focusing on irons at the time. But his style certainly works, I could never do it in a relaxed enough manner to not jerk the trigger.

Hopefully some of the 2600 shooters can chime in since that is my new goal. I think 2555 is my PB, years ago before my recent focus on rifle.

Regards,
Robert

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by orpheoet on 9/29/2015, 4:10 pm

Trigger for me. The dot, or the sight are there but I'm focused on the trigger. In timed and rapid I do best when just thinking "keep the trigger moving.."
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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by rreid on 9/29/2015, 10:15 pm

Not a 2600 shooter (yet) but I think you need to focus on the trigger. With a dot, the sight alignment will pretty much take care of itself. If you wait until the dot is perfectly centered to start pulling the trigger, the dot will be somewhere else by the time the hammer falls. I never thought of it as "steering the dot with the trigger".  I just try to remember to start pulling the trigger in time for the dot to settle into the steadiest part of my hold by the time the hammer falls, if that makes any sense.
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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by john bickar on 9/30/2015, 12:36 am

For me, conscious mental focus (attention) on moving the trigger; the sight alignment (or dot) can take care of itself.
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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by robert84010 on 9/30/2015, 4:00 pm

I knew most would emphasize the trigger. it just seems to be my hurdle, sight alignment never seems to take care of itself. I'll try some 22 this afternoon with trigger as the focus. I appreciate the inputs.

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by Jon Eulette on 9/30/2015, 5:06 pm

When you raise pistol above target, pause to align sights, then lower pistol into target while maintaining sight alignment and squeezing trigger at the same time. it becomes fluid after much practice/training. I normally have half my trigger weight pulled before lowering into target and settling into aiming area. Apply remaining trigger pressure until shot breaks. You have to accept your movement and confidently and without interruption squeeze the trigger.

The difference between an expert and a master is trigger pull!

Jon
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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by Ed Hall on 9/30/2015, 5:21 pm

It's hard to disagree with John Bickar or Col Alan Bacon, but they both convey(ed) opposing views.  While you see John Bickar advocating trigger, Col Bacon was a staunch advocate of sights.  So, how does that help?

I'm a trigger advocate, myself, but have tried to incorporate (and coach) using the sights to perfect that trigger operation.  In a way, to me, it melds well with others, like MSG Lazoya, Steve Reiter and Jason Meidinger.  I like to think of the sights as a "Trigger Purity Indicator."  Remember, that everything important to the shot process is happening at the gun and, if observed intensely enough, the sighting system will tell you how the shot is unfolding, including whether the trigger operation is disturbing the alignment.**

Let's look at the term "steering."  You should not steer the gun with the trigger, per se.  However, you should also not misalign the sights with the trigger.  Even worse, is to misalign the sights with the trigger and then correct the sights with your hold.  If you can evaluate your trigger operation closely enough to recognize an imperfect trigger press, you can learn to correct the press instead of compounding the imbalance.  To my thinking, this is the "steering" suggested by the top shooters.

One last point to bring up:  In evaluating the trigger operation, it is easier to evaluate a faster trigger than a slower one.

**  I preach positive reinforcement, but this post has a negative slant.  In practice, one should look toward the unfolding of what one wants to achieve, rather than to look for deflections from the original goal.  Toward that end, I would suggest evaluating the trigger operation, using the "TPI" to show that the process is unfolding properly.  IOW, look for everything to progress as planned, rather than looking for errors.

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by Ed Hall on 9/30/2015, 5:31 pm

Jon Eulette wrote:When you raise pistol above target, pause to align sights, then lower pistol into target while maintaining sight alignment and squeezing trigger at the same time. it becomes fluid after much practice/training. I normally have half my trigger weight pulled before lowering into target and settling into aiming area. Apply remaining trigger pressure until shot breaks. You have to accept your movement and confidently and without interruption squeeze the trigger.

The difference between an expert and a master is trigger pull!

Jon
When I was at the top of my game, I would start the trigger on the way to the center and my subconscious would finish the operation when I landed there.  Jason Meidinger used to describe this as, "Racing the dot."  He suggested, as Bill Blankenship also told us, to start the trigger in recovery, expect it to fire, and try to get the dot (or sights) back to the center before it did.  When things were working best for me, the gun often fired sooner than I was expecting, but the results were good because that "sooner than I was expecting" happened to be right when I touched center, not after my realization and reaction would have fired.

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by 285wannab on 9/30/2015, 7:35 pm

This is something that is hard for me to understand.  Maybe because I have a different trigger set up???  I have a two pound trigger with about a 1/16 inch before the hammer hook comes off the sear.  Are you only talking about a two stage trigger or one with a long roll?

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by robert84010 on 9/30/2015, 7:37 pm

Thanks Ed. 
firstly I shot alongside Col B. for many monthly matches. It was always a contest for second because we knew who was winning. Too bad he left us early. I mentioned in an earlier post that I scored one of his 10x targets, which is pretty easy, so I was waiting for him to score the guy next to him and when he got done he just slams a new target over it. "you gonna keep that? I say" "his response, nope because I plan on doing another one here shortly." classic.

We might be talking the same things actually. I have two pistols with short rolls and so I know the trigger is moving and I am racing to center. I honestly have that thought in my head, it's going to go soon so get them in the middle. I have shots that I slow my pull, never stop it, but slow it up because I am way out, it's just my focus is on the front sight. Just seems my best strings are always with that sight focus and less trigger focus. if that makes sense.

Todays session was a little mixed, new technique so it's alright. First couple of mags seemed to avoid the X ring very well and the flyers were ugly. next few mags became a consistent X ring destroyer but the flyers! oh the flyers were bad. so for a first session using a complete reversal of technique has to be taken lightly. although I was getting frustrated with shots out of the black. The positives were my X count was considerably up and my shot calls were very solid. no surprises. 

I completely relate to the whole racing to center process. I have always done the half weight take up off the target but it just seems my focus is on that damn sight and less so on what my trigger finger is doing. So maybe i'm not far off from what you all are saying, hopefully just a little tweaking is needed. I like Jon's mentioning of moving the trigger while entering the black. that will be my next session focus. I have always known that I hold too long, maybe this focus change will correct that too.

thanks for the input.


Last edited by robert84010 on 9/30/2015, 7:52 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by Regular_Guy on 9/30/2015, 7:43 pm

robert84010 wrote: I mentioned in an earlier post that I scored one of his 10x targets, which is pretty easy, so I was waiting for him to score the guy next to him and when he got done he just slams a new target over it. "you gonna keep that? I say" "his response, nope because I plan on doing another one here shortly." classic.

That is confidence. One day... Smile
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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by robert84010 on 9/30/2015, 8:04 pm

I don't think there are too many 25+ years of High Master shooting, President's 100 winners that don't have it.

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by Ed Hall on 10/1/2015, 10:28 pm

285wannab wrote:This is something that is hard for me to understand.  Maybe because I have a different trigger set up???  I have a two pound trigger with about a 1/16 inch before the hammer hook comes off the sear.  Are you only talking about a two stage trigger or one with a long roll?
There is a length of time from starting to increase the trigger pressure to the releasing of the hammer(striker).  This time can be short, with a quick yank, or, long with a determined very slow increase.  The actual press can include the take-up and first and second stages.  The shooter must find their own best operation.  In any case, the beginning of that operation should be a determined event and the increase should be uninterrupted and somewhat quick.  But, favor determined over too quick.  As long as you accept that this operation will fire the gun, you should be able to put your focus on centering the sighting system and let the shot fire.

As to the roll type trigger, once you overcome the starting friction, you should be able to feel that the trigger is moving.  The important factor is that with a roll, you have to overcome the tendency toward stopping when you feel movement.  The movement should be encouraged and used to promote confidence that the shot is progressing well.

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by 285wannab on 10/3/2015, 7:49 am

Thanks Ed for explaining that.

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by mspingeld on 10/4/2015, 11:39 am

Robert, Thank you for starting this discussion.

I've been competing for about a year and progressing well but this post has been an eye opener. I've read, and re-read, Ed Hall's articles a number of times but only now am I gaining clarity on some things. The key word is focus. I've been intensely focusing, visually and mentally, on my dot. Keeping it centered and as still as possible but my trigger has been erratic. Typically, too slow in slow fire and too fast in timed & rapid. During yesterday's match my scores were lower than I've been averaging and my slow fire in particular. The weather was lousy; wet, cold & breezy, and that may have been a contributing factor.

During the SF in the 45 NMC I tried mentally focusing on the trigger pull rather than the dot and it was much better. Unfortunately it was the last SF of a long day.

I guess what I'm realizing is that there's only one focus. It can be visual or mental but not both. I'm going to use my next training time to "focus" on the trigger pull. I hope I can do that while still staying "aware" of the dot, if that's possible.

To all: Please chime in here and help me (and others) understand this.

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by robert84010 on 10/4/2015, 1:56 pm

Glad it helped, that was the intention. Hopefully the discussion continues.

I'm looking forward to getting to the range this week. I reinstalled a crisp trigger in my 45 1911 and got a kart conversion setup with a dot on it. I was having trouble going from a High Standard with crisp trigger to a 1911 with a roll so now I have one thing to work on mastering. Too many options is not good.

I think I am more suited to a crisp trigger while trying this new technique. I saw someone post that "shooting a slow fire shot should be like the first shot in a timed fire string" That resonated and will be my focus this week.

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by Wobbley on 10/4/2015, 3:03 pm

Why should the first in a sustained fire string be different?
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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by Rob Kovach on 10/4/2015, 3:04 pm

The best drill that I have used to make that shot process "automatic" to cement both the focus and the fundamentals that were discussed earlier, is a 2 second/2 shot drills on the bullseye timer app.

Wobbly, it's not supposed to be different. Sometimes we just need to focus our process so it's definitely the same.
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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by Wobbley on 10/4/2015, 5:25 pm

My question was rhetorical.  Of course the first shot is important, but it should establish your cadence.  And I'm not sure getting a slow fire break on your first shot establishes a good cadence.
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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by jmdavis on 10/4/2015, 6:19 pm

One shot drills or 2 shot drills can show you whether it is the same. Some people shoot tighter groups with 10 one shot drills.

But to build on what Rob said, another drill is to set the timer for a two shot drill and then work on making the slow fire shot within 4 seconds. It's like duella.
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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by rreid on 10/4/2015, 6:45 pm

I don't know what you mean by "a slow fire break on your first shot."   Your process should be the same for slow, timed and rapid. If a slow fire shot doesn't break within 2-3 sec after the dot settles, you would probably be better to abort.  Slow fire shouldn't really be different than doing one-shot drills.
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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by mspingeld on 10/4/2015, 7:54 pm

Reflecting on my post from earlier today, if the brain can only "focus" on one thing at a time, does it make sense that focus shifts? For example, start with focus on a comfortable, aligned stance, then, as the range commands begin, focus on grip and sight alignment, "ready on the left"- raise the gun, move focus to the dot/front sight and, finally, "ready on the firing line" 1...2...3...shift focus to a perfect trigger pull. Bang! Another X!

Help Me! I'm so confused!

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by robert84010 on 10/4/2015, 8:34 pm

Mike,
it's not really a brain focus thing here. I am talking about conscience focus, that is why so much of this has to get ingrained and therefore you let the sub conscience do a bunch of it for you. you have to check certain things as part of your process before the shot, so that it will go as planned and then muscle memory takes over. I have always let the muscle memory do the trigger pull and other people let the muscle memory do the sight alignment.
 just like driving away from a stoplight you don't really think about each step every time but you get it all done every light, right. it comes from the repetition ingraining it.

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by robert84010 on 9/29/2016, 10:21 am

it's been a year since I started this so I figured an update is worthwhile. I only shot three approved 1800/2700 matches this year since each one is over 8 hours away. I don't get to shoot in my 1800, what with calling the match and all. My first 2700 in over 6 years netted me an SS card, then I shot an 1800 the next day and I guess that got me an EX card since it came a week later and I had not shot any other matches? An 848 for 22 and 838 for CF in my second match in 6 years almost put me about where I left off. Considering my shortline was a shambles compared to where I was I guess there were some highlights, a clean 22 TF target the second match was a nice indicator that I can still do it right. 94-4 slowfire also felt nice but was the lonely standout in two days of shooting.
I cannot make the transition to primarily focusing on the trigger though. My sights or dot just go haywire if I start to believe my hold will take care of itself and just focus on trigger. I think I am too aggressive when I attempt this approach which of course throws shots if I don't pull straight to the rear.  I have ingrained Jon's technique of having over half the pressure taken up when coming into the center for slowfire and this has greatly helped reduce fatigue and improved my SF groups. The biggest problem is when my hold is not steady the wheels fall off, I just cannot get it together and settle down. 
still working on it but as winter approaches my focus will be to continue training indoors, which I have never done. I always get caught up in other stuff, like skiing. I am going to try and run a PPC style match (no barricades) this winter since the range is outdoor with overhead baffles just to try and keep some shooting going. People will show up to shoot action type courses when it's 20 out, but no way precision shooting is going to happen.

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Re: Hold focus or trigger focus

Post by Jon Eulette on 9/29/2016, 10:47 am

Robert,
Work on dry firing  trigger squeeze; slow, medium and fast. This is your tool box. From fay to day and even throughout a match we might need to change our squeeze. Squeeze is affected by hold, wind, fatigue, etc. So having a tool box helps you to adjust. You have to be quick to know when to change squeeze during SF. 
Jon
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