Revelation: It’s not Trigger Control…it’s Control the Trigger

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Post by mspingeld on 4/14/2019, 9:09 am

So, you know how you can read about Bullseye shooting in January and read the same words in June and get a totally different message? Or you can read basically the same advice from one author and the light bulb goes on, even though you’ve read basically the same thing in someone else’s words a dozen times?
 
Here’s my take and I’m an expert (meaning not a master or high-master so take it for what it’s worth).

  1.  I can dry fire in my lap, with my eyes closed, and it feels smooth and continuous.
  2. Then I dry fire on a blank wall and the dot moves, so I practice, and eventually I can dry fire on that wall with no movement.
  3. Then I dry fire at a reduced target on the wall and odd things happen. Either the trigger pull is much too slow (if it goes off at all), or much too fast, the dreaded “jerk”.
  4. Then I shoot at league, or a match, and there’s a score card, and I care. Dammit!
  5. Then, just for fun, those sadists at the NRA said, let’s add a timer and really screw with them!


Work step 1. Then work step 2 until the trigger pull is the same as step 1. Then work step 3 until the trigger pull is the same as step 2 etc., etc.
 
At yesterday’s match I realized that trigger control is more than pulling the trigger straight back in a smooth, uninterrupted manner so as not to disturb the sights…blah…blah…blah…
 
It’s controlling the movement of the trigger. It’s being in control.
 
I’m told that the human mind is not multi-tasking. It’s sequential tasking. A person cannot possibly think about a smooth trigger pull and keeping the dot in the middle at the same time. What’s been working for me is a rapid back and forth of my mental focus between keep the dot hovering in the aiming area, don’t let it droop, balanced with keep the trigger moving no matter what. (Ok, not no matter what. Abort, abort, abort!)
 
My eye and my hand are not friends. My eye screws with my trigger pull just for the fun of it. Eventually, proper trigger actuation will work its way into my subconscious (like applying the brakes in the car) but I’m not there yet and it’s my eye’s fault. The match director declined my request to shoot the match with my eyes closed so I’m going to have to keep working on this.
 
Yesterday was a good match for me. The mantra was “control the trigger”.
 
Let the flaming begin! Tell me if I’m on the right track or give us better advice! You are our coaches (and thanks for that).

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Post by Ray Dash on 4/14/2019, 10:17 am

I fight weekly with this so much so that I am at the point that I just want to throw in the towel. My best shots happen when I dont think about the trigger at all, when all my focus is on the dot or my front sight and all of the sudden the shot goes off. Most of the time it doesn't even matter if my sights where exactly where I wanted them to be. As soon as I start thinking about the trigger I either get chicken finger or rush the shot and pull it off the target.

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Post by mspingeld on 4/14/2019, 11:05 am

Hi Ray,

First: NEVER GIVE UP! When I shoot a match, even if it doesn't go as well as I'd like, there always seem to be moments of brilliance. Like a really good slow fire or a rapid fire target that's a few points above what I've been averaging. (rapid fire is my focus lately). Seize those accomplishments and keep building on them. Remember what worked. Play it back over and over. Forget the rest.

I went from zero to expert fairly quickly but the advancing has slowed to a crawl. This is normal. I revisit the fundamentals often and focus on what needs work the most. All the while consulting with the elite shooters on this forum and the Facebook groups. The progress is slow but I am seeing growth.

I'm gradually learning to let go of score and judge a shot (or string) by how well I executed my process ("yes" shots) and if I did what I promised myself I'd do during the drive to the range. And, for those shots or strings that I did not follow my process, I no longer beat myself up. I coach myself. The only shot that matters is the one still in the gun. The ratio of "yes" shots to "no" shots is improving and the score is taking care of itself.

BTW, I'm the opposite of you. My best shots happen when I think about the trigger and not worry about the moving dot. I feel that focusing on the dot causes my chicken finger (waiting for the perfect picture) or jerk (trying to snatch that fleeting perfect picture). I anticipate this will change as I move forward.

Good luck

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Post by Bigtrout on 4/15/2019, 7:29 am

Tiger Woods chews gum.
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Post by mspingeld on 4/15/2019, 7:45 am

Bigtrout, Can you elaborate? Am I slow? I don't understand your comment.

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Post by Bigtrout on 4/15/2019, 7:49 am

That was in jest.  Sorry for the distraction.
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Post by mikemyers on 4/15/2019, 8:10 am

You may find this useful:

https://www.bullseyeforum.net/t12003-don-nygord-s-notes#104459

It's another way to think about what you posted, and how to deal with it.
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Post by mspingeld on 4/15/2019, 8:10 am

No problem. Was there some hidden meaning? I'd love to hear you opinion.

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Post by mikemyers on 4/15/2019, 8:22 am

Not sure if you're asking me, or someone else, but between Brian Zins and the article I quoted from, it made a big difference for me.  You can't think about the trigger, that part has to be from your subconscious, and lots of repetition.  What you can think about is the sights.

I used to dry-fire at a target.  Not really any more, as based on what I've been reading, it's better to just dry fire at a blank wall.  Eventually, however long that might be, the goal is for the finger to work the trigger without your giving it any thought.

Ain't easy!
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Post by bruce martindale on 4/15/2019, 8:25 am

Learning to walk vs learning to run. Elites tell you how to run but you aren't ready for that. You can't do it; you need to learn to walk first. We all naturally point well but pulling is not a natural skill. Too many focus on sights without a good release. And the release is complicated by grip faults that allow the gun to move. It's a goal but not easily achieved. More on that later. Trigger control, or as Mike said, and l like a lot, controling the trigger, is worth FAR more than sight picture or hold. A bit of tension or fatigue is detrimental to it. A good consistent grip that resists trigger induced errors first, then recoil gun motion second is more important that many realize. I struggle with it since too tight changes the perception of trigger force while too loose allows other demons to enter. Grip force changes point of impact. Grip faults allows dips and flinches in firing. I would say to focus on trigger while allowing hold to be subconscious...it reverses as you improve or get further into the match sequence. Running. Try for a surprise break, let it happen, don't make it happen. See how it works. Myself, l have to translate practice success into match succecces again. Shot the NYS champs a day after returning from Saudi. My gun only voted "present"

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Post by DA/SA on 4/15/2019, 9:24 am

What you think you are doing might not be what is really happening.
 
I recently employed a shooting coach for Bullseye, and the last session was shooting about 100 rounds slow fire at 50 yards while he asked me to call each shot while he scoped each shot. He wrote in a journal each call and where it actually hit. While doing this he stood and kept his eyes glued to my trigger finger and jumped on me if I didn't keep it moving smoothly and steadily. Many times he called me for jerking the trigger or stopping the movement. By the end of the session, things had greatly improved to the point where each shot was consistent in duration from raising the gun and accuracy improved greatly. There was no significance to shooting at 50 yards other than the fact that the Bullseye range was in use, and there was a 50 yard rifle range that nobody was using.
 
The short story is, I benefited a great deal from having someone watch my trigger movement and call me on it if it wasn't consistent, which often wasn't, when I thought for sure that it was!
 
One other time over a year ago I took some training in working and shooting accurately  from a holster.  The object of the game was (surprise) to keep the trigger moving! As soon as the muzzle was pointed down range from the holster you were to get on the trigger and steadily move it as you extended the pistol to the point that the exact time your arms were at full extension and the sights aligned the gun went bang. We shot in pairs, one shooting while the other kept a hawk eye on the trigger and called you on it if you were too late or too early or didn't keep it moving. It was amazing how the accuracy improved as the timing improved.
 
I found the similarity in techniques quite interesting...


YMMV

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Post by bruce martindale on 4/15/2019, 9:47 am

There is so much going on in a short time period. Things go bad in one oh-no-second. Full concentration is hard to maintain.

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Post by Bigtrout on 4/15/2019, 10:15 am

mspingeld wrote:No problem. Was there some hidden meaning? I'd love to hear you opinion.
I guess my inappropriate comment meant how Tiger's accuracy at the Masters may have been influenced by calming his nerves through chewing gum.  "Pulling the trigger" on his swing as it were. for example.
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Post by joy2shoot on 4/15/2019, 11:19 am

I have thought it would be nice to have a table that summarizes who does what and when.  Based on Bruce’s post, it sounds like there should be two tables.  One for those learning to walk.  Another for those learning to run.


Revelation: It’s not Trigger Control…it’s Control the Trigger Chart11

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Post by mspingeld on 4/15/2019, 2:44 pm

Mike: "You can't think about the trigger, that part has to be from your subconscious".

The trigger being subconscious is not possible for a beginner. Just like you had to think about steering or braking when learning to drive. The move to the subconscious is natural but can't be forced or done on command.

Bruce: "Elites tell you how to run but you aren't ready for that. You can't do it; you need to learn to walk first. We all naturally point well but pulling is not a natural skill"

Bruce, Well put! That's the conclusion I've slowly come to. Stages.

Thanks all.

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Post by Jon Eulette on 4/15/2019, 4:41 pm

Careful not to make more of it then it is guys! Train each fundamental INDIVIDUALLY in dry practice and live fire. You are breaking each one down in an attempt to master the fundamental. Trigger squeeze is the most important but you still have to work on the others. So ask yourself, honestly how much time to I devote to training grip? Breathing? Stance? Sight alignment/picture? Trigger squeeze? Its normally very lopsided. Its lopsided into believing we are training but in reality we are going through the motions of training. So having said that, if your not dedicating time to focused training on a particular fundamental how can you really expect it to get better? 6 months of real training can develop excellent trigger control/squeeze. Fundamentals are basic! There is no such thing as advanced fundamentals. There is a process we must learn to execute a shot. It's really quite simple. So lets not make it more complicated or harder then it should be. I recommend tons of focused dry firing and a little live fire to affirm the dry firing. If you can't see and correct the problems dry firing you'll never see it during live fire. You will perpetuate the problem. The subconscious mind is powerful. Learn how to do it right the first time and it will remember how to do it. The conscious mind is weak in comparison. Too many struggling shooters are relying way too much on their conscious mind and fouling everything up because of focusing on too much. Train them all and pick one to think about during a match. Your performance will be much better and your scores will be reflected in the performance.
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Post by mikemyers on 4/16/2019, 12:09 am

Jon, I've sort of been doing what you wrote, but not in a very organized manner.  I tend to work on just ONE thing until I start to feel comfortable with it, and then realize something else needs attention (usually something I was unaware of, until I got better at the first thing).

My interpretation of what you wrote, into a plan I could actually do, is to consider each point you mentioned:
    Training trigger squeeze  (most important)
    Training grip (third most important)
    Training stance (fourth most important)
    Training sight alignment/picture  (second most important)

(most important = needs the most time to accomplish)

Then, spend more dry-fire sessions on the most important items, but for each day I intend to do training, to pick ONE of these, and concentrate exclusively on it.

If you agree with Keith Sanderson, ALL of this training is at home, during dry-fire.  Keith says not to do it at the range with live fire - that's for doing what you've learned in dry-fire.


Not sure if any of you would agree with me on this, but there is no way to train the sub-conscious.  To me, that just happens all by itself, if I do anything often enough.  

Correct me if I'm wrong, but all the "stinking thinking" that messes things up, is really ONLY at the range.  At home, training, practicing, learning, thinking seems to be necessary to ensure that I learn the right "habits".


I'm not expert, far from it, but I first concentrated on a stance that I could repeat, correcting it as I learned new things (such as to put my left hand in my belt buckle).  After that, it was grip.  Both of these were modified by what Brian Zins wrote, trying to copy his way of doing things.  Controlling the trigger came last, and was the most frustrating of all, but amazingly I started to "feel" things after a long time that I had never noticed before.  I can now appreciate a "roll trigger", even in guns that supposedly don't have one.  None of this came about without endless dry-firing, and I kept modifying my dry-firing based on what I was learning.  

(I'm hoping, that when I get to the range, I can spend all my attention on one thing, the sights, and everything else will take care of itself.   .....and I keep revising my shot plan based on all the new stuff my brain is becoming aware of.)
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Post by joy2shoot on 4/16/2019, 8:23 am

In my case, I had to work on grip first and then stance because when I raised the gun and the sights were not even close to being aligned, my brain became too frustrated to work on trigger control.  So I worked on grip so that when I raised the gun, the sights were pretty much aligned.
 
And +1 on keeping your shot process up to date.  I think it helps calm the nerves when you know what to do (fundamentals), how to do it (training), who does it (conscious/subconscious), when to do it (shot process) and what to focus on (visual focus as well as mental focus) before you step up to the firing line.

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Post by mikemyers on 4/16/2019, 11:11 am

joy2shoot wrote:In my case, I had to work on grip first and then stance because when I raised the gun and the sights were not even close to being aligned, my brain became too frustrated to work on trigger control.  So I worked on grip so that when I raised the gun, the sights were pretty much aligned......
I think that's what Jon is suggesting.  You wanted to work on trigger control, but before you could do that, you realized you needed to work on grip.  Then you continued to work on grip (only) until you were satisfied.  Eventually, if you picked up your gun while you were talking to someone, the gun would go to the right place in your hand without you needing to think about it.

At that point you would go back to trigger control (only) and work on that.  And if someone (such as Brian) said something that made you want to change your stance, you would stop on everything but that, and get if sorted out, and only then move back to something else.



Nobody's said it yet, but I think trigger control is something that you (or I) will work on for the rest of our lives.  Stance and grip can be finalized, as once you get them right, there's no way to get them "better", but not so for the trigger.  Even for Brian, I bet he continues to work on it, no matter how good he gets.  Let's see if Jon agrees with that......
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Post by bruce martindale on 4/16/2019, 11:15 am

Dry firing helps SF but I think it doesn't teach good recovery in sustained.

So here is where a good stance and grip become critical. Can recovery be learned any other way than in live fire?

My failures are in sustained where I typically get too aggressive on the trigger and lord help me if the other fingers start flapping!

Thanks

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Post by Jon Eulette on 4/16/2019, 11:42 am

bruce martindale wrote:Dry firing helps SF but I think it doesn't teach good recovery in sustained.

So here is where a good stance and grip become critical. Can recovery be learned any other way than in live fire?

My failures are in sustained where I typically get too aggressive on the trigger and lord help me if the other fingers start flapping!

Thanks

Bruce,
Execute 5 good shots with no time limit. Try to perform a cadence of squeeze trigger continuously until shot breaks. During recoil immediately let off trigger and reapply trigger pressure until shot breaks. Don't try and make sight picture to pretty. Focus on the routine/repetition of executing all 5 shots the same. Recoil isn't the enemy, over thinking and trying to make it too pretty is the enemy. Let the shots break without trying too hard. You will learn to feel what a good shot feels like; recoil and shooting position feel the same for all 5 shots. When I practice my brass lands in a neat little pile almost group like on the ground. If I do something wrong (I can feel it during recoil) that bad shot will throw the brass out of the pile. I don't base my performance on my brass pile, but was just sharing an observation. 
Anyhow once you can comfortably shoot 5 good shots with no time limit (don't take too long either) then start training TF. RF training is the same but slightly faster trigger squeeze. Its all the same process but performed at different speed due to time constraints. Breaking the first shot good is crucial to breaking the next 4 good. Learn to discipline a great first shot! 
Jon
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Post by mspingeld on 4/16/2019, 1:00 pm

On Jon's advice, the above kind of sustained fire is part of my training and works well. I can shoot 5 good shots (with no timer), not rushed but no dawdling. I estimate it usually takes about 12 seconds. The challenge is translating that training to doing it with a timer. I'm making good progress in this.

Interesting observation. Shots 2,3 & 4 are pretty easy. I am working not to hesitate before shot 5 and I'm working on getting shot 1 off relatively quickly. If 1 goes off, 2,3 & 4 follow nicely.

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Post by Whippet on 5/10/2019, 12:47 am

One of the things I've found helps me when I'm having trouble with controlling the trigger in sustained fire, and pass on to the shooters new to our club that are starting to shoot league matches, is to ignore the timer.  Sure you have only 10 or 20 seconds but trying to make 5 shots in time leads to messing up the shots.  Back off and shoot good shots.  As you get used to it speed comes and the trigger control comes with it.  Better to shoot 2, 3. 4 good shots than 5 shots with a mess of 5's or misses.  That just reinforces how to do the wrong thing, and we know how to do that - no need to practice it.  Sure you want to shoot it sustained but not in a rush that messes up control.  I find that also tends to decreases 'match nerves.'

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Post by CO1Mtn on 6/9/2019, 8:25 pm

I have the same problem when I shoot pistol. It doesn't happen in rifle for me.
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