By Tiger McKee
Shooting accurately requires you to know how to work the sights and trigger. For fighting the term 'accuracy' is very subjective. Some situations call for efficient shots to a large target at close range. The threat is two yards away; hits to the chest don't require a perfect sight picture and you don't have all day to press the trigger. For a longer distance shot, or when firing at a smaller target, if you don't get a good sight picture and smooth trigger press you ain't gonna get the hit.
In the last column we talked about obtaining a sight picture, aligning the sights between the eyes and the point on the target the shot needs to go. Once you have the sight picture, as defined by the accuracy required, you hold steady by focusing on the front sight. The degree you focus on the front sight is determined by the accuracy needed. For a large target at close distance a flash sight picture, a quick confirmation the front sight is on the area the shots need to go, will suffice. As the distance increases or target size decreases you have to focus more intently on the front sight.
With red-dot sights, which a lot of people are putting on pistols now as well as rifles, your visual focus is always on the target and you place the dot where it needs to go. Focusing on the dot will get you into "chasing the dot," which will never settle down exactly where you want it. Focus on the target and put the dot on the spot.
Once you're holding steady, regardless of what type sights you're working with, it's time to smoothly press the trigger. The time it takes to press the trigger depends on the accuracy. The only way to learn how to press the trigger smoothly, no matter what the speed of the press is, is to start slow.
Your job to point the weapon in the right direction, using the sights, then press the trigger, allowing the internal components of the weapon to do their work and firing the round when it's time. Trying to make the weapon fire when you're ready, going "now" and slapping or jerking the trigger, usually results in recoil anticipation, which is going to affect accuracy.
There are a variety of ways to learn how to achieve a smooth trigger press. In the beginning you have to consciously think about the press. If you're not thinking about pressing smoothly it won't happen. One technique is to achieve a smooth press is to verbalize the word "press," dragging it out, saying "pressssss" as you steadily increase pressure on the trigger. At some point the shot is released. You can use a count method, starting at 1, slowly going through 2, 3, 4, ... steadily increasing the pressure as you count up. Another technique is to see just how much pressure you can apply to the trigger without making the weapon fire. At some point the pressure will override the trigger and fire the shot. Imagining they are slowly pressing the bullet out of the barrel while holding the sights steady works for some people. We all have a different method or technique that works. Discover what works for you.
Once you discover your mental key for pressing the trigger practice, over and over, always properly working your sights. Eventually you get to the point where you shorten up the time required to press the trigger. After time and repetition it becomes an action that doesn't require conscious thought. Pressing the trigger becomes a subconscious act; you press the trigger smoothly because of thousands of repetitions.
In part III we'll talk about the importance of "follow-through."
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns," writes for several firearms/tactical publications, is an adjunct instructor with the F.B.I. and designer of the Shootrite Katana. (256) 582-4777 www.shootrite.org