Trigger Control

Learning proper trigger control is the most basic element of accurate shooting.

The very most essential foundation of accurate shooting is trigger control. How were you taught to shoot, or did you just learn it “OJT?” What type of firearm did you learn to shoot first, and have you transferred that technique to everything you shoot?

I suppose you could take a formal shooting course and learn the textbook styles of trigger control for pistols, revolvers, rifles, and even shotguns. There are some very subtle differences in how to correctly shoot each firearm type, but more importantly is finding a way for you to learn to best shoot every gun you own.


For shotgun shooting, you have probably read or seen YouTube demonstrations about how to “slap” the trigger once you swing on target. Well, it is a sort of slap, but more like a snappy controlled pull on the trigger, like an “all at once” kind of trigger pressure.

Usually when you are shooting a shotgun, it is at a fast moving target that you have to swing on in a constant motion. The idea is to keep the front barrel bead moving ahead of the target in a lead if it is a duck, pheasant, or quail. You don’t really have time to contemplate the shot. Your mind goes into automatic and you just slap the trigger. Even if it is a self-defense situation, the trigger pull on a shotgun is more of a slap-pull than a calculated squeeze.

By contrast then, if you are shooting an elk rifle, deer rifle, or an AR in predator hunting, two or four footed, the trigger pull is more deliberate simply because you are also “sighting” a target. Most often it is a steady hold, ideally with a support while you “zero” the scope crosshairs or open sights on the target. This is all done with a purpose to aim as carefully as possible, and the trigger pull is a steady applied pressure until the trigger breaks to fire the rifle.

combat shooting

Shooting a handgun for most shooters then is somewhere in between pull on a shotgun or rifle. With a handgun, pistol, or revolver the trigger pull is often quicker but concentrated as learned by lots of shooting practice. I am not talking about formal slow fire target shooting, but defensive work or action in the heat of the moment. You line up the sights on the target and you firmly pull the trigger without the delay as with a hunting rifle shot. It is more instinctive.

You can play with which pad of your trigger finger to use, but find the most comfortable, most secure mode for you. These are things you must practice aplenty and often.

Story by Dr John