Of all the fundamentals, trigger press can be a thorn in your side no matter your experience level.
Improper trigger press is a frequent factor in shots that miss their intended target. From finger placement on the face of the trigger to using unnecessary amount of force to press the trigger straight and to the rear, and anticipating recoil. There are a few things that go into perfecting the way you press the trigger.
Let’s explore finger placement. The index finger of your dominant hand easily plays the most important role in firing accurate shots. The part of your index finger that should make contact with the face of the trigger, is the pad of your finger between your finger tip and first joint.
As shown in the picture above finger placement is important mainly due to leverage. When we press the trigger to the rear we are trying to push it as straight back as possible.
If to little of our index finger is on the trigger face the mechanics of our hand will put leverage on the far-side of the trigger (if right hand dominant this would be the left side of the trigger) this will in turn push the muzzle of our weapon slightly left just before the shot breaks causing our shots to hit left.
If to much of our index finger is on the face of the trigger the opposite will occur, our body mechanics will put leverage on the in-side of the trigger (if right hand dominant this would be the right side of the trigger) pulling the muzzle of our weapon slightly right just before the shot breaks causing our shot to hit right.
If our index finger is placed on the trigger face correctly, the pad of the index finger placed in the center of the trigger face. Then we have better leverage on the trigger and have less of a chance of pushing or pulling our muzzle off target.
Next is using the correct amount of pressure to press the trigger.
If excessive pressure is put on the trigger to fire the gun “jerking” or “slapping” the trigger occurs. This simply means the amount of pressure you are using is more than enough to cause the gun to fire and the extra pressure being put on the trigger will push or pull the muzzle off target similar to improper finger placement.
Trigger weights vary between different firearms. Some high tuned competition guns will only require a single pound of pressure to press the trigger while some self-defense guns, small revolvers for example require 12+ pounds of pressure.
Using the correct pressure in reality is using the least amount of pressure possible to cause the gun to fire. You don’t need to be informed of the trigger weight to apply the correct amount of pressure. Simply put a steady amount of pressure on the trigger, pressing it straight back, until the gun fires. It’s important to remember to hold the trigger to the rear after the shot breaks as well. After the gun fires, recoils, cycles, and chambers the next round slowly relive pressure from the trigger only letting the trigger out enough to hear it click. This click is called the reset, the gun audibly telling you It’s ready to fire again. The steady consistent pressure and holding the trigger to the rear after the shot breaks will help you not “jerk” or “slap” the trigger.
The most common problem that occurs with shooters and their trigger press is the anticipation of recoil.
No matter the experience level this will still happen from time to time. Shooting a firearm is unnatural to the way we are wired. It is not natural for us to contain small explosions in our hands, when we fire a gun our brain sends signals to our hands to help counteract those small explosions. In right hand dominant shooters an anticipation of recoil will result in shots hitting lower and further left than intended and in left hand dominant shooters, shots hit lower and further right than intended.
Counteracting the anticipation is only done though dry and live fire practice.
What I tend to do when I encounter someone I believe to be anticipating recoil. I have the person start with a unloaded weapon and do the same thing they were doing with live fire. Usually after a few dry fires they see how much they are flinching and pulling the muzzle off target. Seeing it for them self, or seeing it for yourself if you are self diagnosing helps your brain come to terms with these small explosions that occur while shooting thus reducing the tendency to flinch due to anticipating recoil.
We are all going to flinch from time to time, we all make mistakes and miss shots. The only way to get better is to train consistently. Just like anything in life the more effort you put in the more reward you will see.
I’ve also attached a video on trigger press from one of my favorite YouTubers below. Sometimes it’s easier to understand if you see it rather than read it.