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GUNS Magazine June 2011 Digial Edition - Page 12
• d A V E A N d E R S O N • triGGers he fundamentals of accurate shooting are (1) the gun must be held as motionless as possible, and (2) the gun must be held the same way for every shot. The fundamentals apply whether the firearm is a handgun, rifle or a piece of artillery. We can’t hold the rifle absolutely motionless shooting in the field. The sight system accomplishes two things: It helps us index the rifle on the target we are trying to hit, and it shows us how steady our hold is. The essence of marksmanship is to control the trigger in order to release the shot while the sights are indexed on target. With an optical sight (scope or red dot) anyone can figure out in a matter of seconds, how to index the system on target. With a few basic lessons most people can quickly figure out how to improvise a rest in order to hold the rifle reasonably still. But learning trigger control takes time and effort. I don’t know of any shortcuts. In fact, I think it is a skill we never stop learning and never really master. Let’s start by describing what it is we are trying to accomplish. The best description I’ve read is from the handgunning great Bill Blankenship, whose record of national and world titles would take this entire page to list. Blankenship used the term “positive pressure” to describe trigger control: the trigger is pressed straight back at a constantly increasing speed, without imparting any movement to the firearm. Blankenship wrote, “Do not mistake the term positive pressure. It does not mean sudden. It means gradual without hesitation… because pressure is constantly increasing, this does not require great lengths of time.” (from The Pistol Shooter’s Treasury, 2nd Edition, ©1973, Gil Hebard). Blankenship noted at the start of each competition season he would first spend one to three weeks practicing nothing but the trigger press. He would rest his arm across a chair so as not to concern himself with holding the gun still, then focus on the sights and press the trigger through, over and over again. The objective was to make the trigger press a subconscious skill. In competition he could simply concentrate on holding the gun still. When the sight picture was acceptable, T And grip. this subconscious skill would press the trigger through to break the shot. Better triggers, Better Shooting A quality trigger pull makes trigger control much easier. Shooters focus (perhaps too much) on weight of pull which is just one factor, and not the most important one. I have rifles with single-stage pulls, double-stage pulls, a couple with set triggers and with pull weights running from 1 pound to 3-1/2 to 4 pounds. I can manage most any reasonable trigger provided it is consistent. A pull which varies more than a couple of ounces from shot to shot, or which has “creep” or “steps” in the pull, has to be fixed or replaced. I can shoot such a trigger from a bench rest but from offhand or other field positions I can’t stand it. A welcome change in recent years has been the improvement in factory trigger pulls. Ron Coburn of Savage deserves great credit for the introduction of the Savage AccuTrigger. Today many popular rifles have quite decent pulls out of the box. If the factory trigger can’t be adjusted to a satisfactory pull, there are quality replacements available. The easiest way to see what’s offered for your rifle is to check Brownells online or get the current catalog. Triggers I’ve used with excellent results include Jewell, Rifle Basix, Shilen and Timney and there are others, which I am sure are very good as well. Grip Variations The most popular way to grip a rifle with the shooting hand is with the thumb across the pistol grip. I used this hold for decades and was as convinced of its correctness as I am of the sun rising in the east. A few years ago, taking some photos of Jerry Miculek shooting a rifle, I noticed he keeps the thumb of his right (shooting) hand laid along the right side of the rifle, roughly parallel to the bore. I decided to try this grip, mainly to prove to myself it wasn’t as good. Well, I’ve decided I like this grip better. It lets me move the hand a bit When your thumb is alongside the pistol grip, rather than over the comb, it moves the hand back about half an inch, making it easier to place the pad of the trigger finger squarely across the face of the trigger. 12 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • JUNE 2011