The most common problem among handgun shooters is trigger control. I believe that traditional handgun instruction creates this problem and traditional coaching perpetuates it.
Most shooting instruction starts with the sight picture diagram. There is one problem with this. Unless you shoot off a sandbag or a bipod, you will never see this image. If your heart is beating and you are breathing, the sights are not going to sit still on the target.
The trick is not to eliminate this movement, it is to apply steady pressure to the trigger while keeping the arc of movement on what you want to hit. The smaller the target, the smaller the arc of movement must be. You can’t stop movement, you must manage it.
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires – William Arthur Ward
When a firearms instructor shows a new shooter the sight picture diagram, it is critical they explain that this is a Platonic ideal. The shooter will never see that static image. Frequently, the shooter feels that, as they briefly see the perfect sight picture in the diagram, they must “freeze” it. They use the trigger like the shutter button on a camera. This is ultimately self defeating. You can’t pull the trigger fast enough to catch the image. The result is a trigger jerk which moves the barrel off the target.
Traditional coaching uses a diagram indicating the shooters problem by target analysis. The low left group is called trigger jerk. Having identified the problem, the shooter is labeled a trigger jerker and the instructor moves down the line to spread enlightenment.
The shooter now has shaken confidence and no idea how to do something different. The instructor sees a problem, but the only solution he has is to demonstrate the proper technique and wonder why everyone can’t shoot like he does.
What is the answer? Start with a better explanation of sight picture. Use point of view video to demonstrate a dynamic sight picture.
Model trigger pull by putting a hand over the shooters hand and let them feel steady pressure resulting in a smooth break.
Give positive coaching showing shooters what to do. Avoid labeling and focus on how to do it right, not what the shooter did wrong.
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