7 Tips for Trigger Press Mastery

Having good trigger discipline and mastering your trigger press are essential aspects of being a responsible gun owner. Time and time again, the news keeps breaking stories about individuals shooting other individuals—and sometimes themselves—by accident. Such unfortunate events are often linked to poor trigger discipline.

On that account, this post will shed light on some of the best trigger press mastery tips that you can work on today in order to improve your trigger control and overall trigger discipline.

Let’s jump right into it!

1. Sight Alignment Comes First

Before we can talk about the trigger pull, we need to talk about sight alignment. No matter how adept your trigger finger is, you’re bound to miss your shot if you don’t align your sights properly.

Aligning your sight properly isn’t that challenging. It just takes regular practice. All you need to do is position the front-sight post so that it’s right in between the rear sights.

The space on the right-hand side of the front sight post should be equal to the space on its left-hand side to ensure an accurate shot. What’s more, the top of the front sight post should be at about the same height as the rear sight.

We understand that it’s hard to keep a gun perfectly still, but you have to do your best to align your sights properly and to keep the pistol steady so that it doesn’t jerk or dip.

2. Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger

Until you’re ready to fire your pistol, your finger should be off the trigger! Ideally, the pad of your trigger finger should be on the face of the trigger.

If this doesn’t work for you, you can position the tip or even the first joint of your shooting finger on the face of the trigger or the trigger guard. Alternatively, you can just align your index finger alongside the gun’s frame.

This may seem simple, and it is, but it’s not as easy to master as you think! It can take you a while to ingrain this practice into your subconscious mind. So, you need to be extremely mindful of your shooting finger while holding a gun, especially if you haven’t held one in a long time.

The only time when it’s appropriate to place your index finger on the trigger is when your life or someone else’s life is threatened. If it’s possible to diffuse a hostile situation without shooting your gun, then you shouldn’t fire it.

3. Trigger Finger Isolation

When firing a handgun, the only finger that should move is your shooting finger. The other fingers should be as firm as a rock in order to steady your grip and reduce the anticipated effect of recoil.

When bending your index, it’s best that you bend it from the second joint. The more you work on quick back-to-back shots, the more you’ll notice the third joint (knuckle) starting to move. This is completely fine. It’s hard to fire quick back-to-back rounds without moving your third joint.

You don’t need to be out in the shooting range to practice trigger finger isolation. You don’t even need to have a gun handy. You can simply simulate your shooting grip while in the comfort of your home and work on moving your extended index finger back and forth from the second joint.

If you want to take things a step further, consider investing in a grip trainer (gripper). Seeing as grip trainers come in different weights, be sure to choose a weight that works for you.

Grab the grip trainer with both hands and try to maintain consistent pressure with all of your fingers except for the index; it should be relaxed. Now, work on moving your index back and forth while maintaining the same level of grip pressure.

4. Choose a Dry Practice Area

Dry practice refers to shooting an unloaded gun. You can do this anywhere in your house, be it your bedroom or your bathroom. Just make sure the room has a plain wall that you can point at.

It’s important to note that dry fire can damage certain guns. If you have a modern pistol, you don’t have to worry. If you have a pistol that was made before the year 1970, check its user manual to see if it’s safe for dry fire.

If it’s not, you’ll need to use a snap cap (dummy round). If you’re at the shooting range, feel free to opt for live ammunition.

5. Understand the Trigger Press

Now that we’re done with the fundamentals, let’s talk about the trigger pull itself. There are four aspects of the trigger pull that you need to be mindful of, namely the slack, wall, break, and reset.

The slack is the initial stage of the trigger press. It’s also the easiest stage as far as pressing tension. The wall comes in when the slack is out. This is when the trigger becomes harder to press.

The break comes after the wall. It’s accompanied by an audible click sound and sensation. If you’re practicing with an unloaded gun, you should be able to hear the click sound when the trigger breaks.

The reset is the final stage of the trigger press. It’s when the trigger breaks and you release it. The reset point is also accompanied by a click sound. To reset your handgun’s trigger, simply pull the slide 1-2 inches back and then release it.

6. Remain as Steady as Possible

When you press the trigger, you must do your best to remain as steady as possible. Why? Because bullets take time to travel down a gun’s barrel. If you move while the bullet is going through the barrel, when the shot breaks, it will most likely be off-target.

To maintain steadiness, make sure to press the trigger using the middle section of your first trigger finger pad. Also, make sure to remove the initial slack before squeezing the trigger all the way to the back.

If you plan on following through with another shot, avoid letting go of the trigger completely. Instead, you want to ease the trigger forward until you hear the click sound, then press straight to the back again until the shot breaks.

7. Avoid Jerking and Gliding Mistakes

Now that you know how the trigger press works, all that’s left to do is to be mindful of these gun jerking and gliding mistakes that a lot of new shooters experience (right-handed shooter perspective):

  • Gun jerks to the right. Your gun jerks to the right because you’re pulling with your second joint. To avoid this, you need to pull with your first joint.
  • Gun jerks to the left. This happens when not enough of your firing finger is on the trigger. We recommend trying different finger placements that are close to the first joint.
  • Gun glides down before pressing. This happens as a result of your shooting hand fingers squeezing as you press the trigger. It can also happen as a result of moving your wrists down. To avoid this, you need to work on your grip technique (internal link) and recoil anticipation.
  • Gun glides to the right while pressing. This also happens as a result of your strong hand fingers squeezing as you pull the trigger. Once again, you need to work on your grip to avoid this problem.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how the trigger press works is key to using a gun safely, responsibly, and effectively. It’s among the most basic pistol skills.

It all starts with aligning your sights properly to ensure accuracy. Next, you want to work on training your subconscious to keep your index finger off the trigger as long as you don’t intend to fire the gun. It sounds simple, but it takes a lot of practice! 

From there, you can set up for dry practice and work on understanding the different stages of a good trigger press. And finally, you need to work on your steadiness and avoid gun jerking and gliding mistakes to ensure accurate shots.

Good luck!