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GUNS Magazine August 2012 Digital Edition - Page 20
STORY: Massad Ayoob T rigger control is a non-negotiable key to accurate shots, and there are different ways to accomplish it, at different speeds. The first World Champion of Combat Pistol Shooting, Ray Chapman, was one of my mentors. He famously said, “Pistol shooting is simple… it just isn’t easy.” In all the years since I was privileged to work with him, I’ve never seen anything to credibly contradict his statement. the extremities and into the major muscle groups and internal organs, it has long been understood fine motor coordination will go down the toilet, but physical strength will increase to levels we just can’t duplicate in training. We have to keep this in mind when we consider how we’ll fire a handgun at the range, or at a match, versus in defense of human life including our own under predictably high stress. Let’s look at three ways to “pull a trigger.” Trigger slap is generally considered the mark of the rank amateur. The shot is fired… you can almost hear the psychic scream of “Eek! It went bang!” … and the finger flies forward away from the trigger, occasionally bouncing off the front of the triggerguard. Now, for the next shot, it comes back with impact, and jerks the muzzle violently off target, causing a bad hit at best and a miss at worst. However, there is such a thing as a “controlled trigger slap.” You can see Bill Wilson doing it, back when he was a kick-butt pistol champion before he devoted himself to gunmaking, in ESPN videotapes of Bianchi Cup from the 1980s. World champion Rob Leatham pioneered the controlled trigger slap on close, fast targets in matches where hundredths of a second distinguished the winner. However, Rob is also famous for using a 1-pound trigger pull 1911 in competition, a trigger pull he himself has publicly admitted one would have to be nuts to have on a self-defense pistol. “Riding the link,” also known as “riding the sear,” is at the opposite end of the trigger pull bell curve. Part V: The Back to Basics Series triGGer CoNtroL If you ever saw my video StressFire, Part I, Handgun, you heard me say trigger control was “the heart of the beast” in terms of getting good hits under pressure with a pistol or revolver. I haven’t seen anything lately to contradict that, either. Once the firearm is aligned with the target, we need to bring the trigger straight back without exerting pressure in any direction that will deviate the muzzle from point-ofaim, until the shot “breaks.” Over the years, lots of folks have experimented with “staging” the trigger, a 2-step event in which the finger first takes up most of the trigger’s movement, and then performs a second, separate press to break the shot. It sounded great in theory, but doesn’t have a great history in practice. We in the gun world all seem to agree that once the decision to fire the shot has been made, the exact instant of the shot should come as a surprise, so we don’t subconsciously say to ourselves, “Now!” and convulsively jerk the trigger, pulling the muzzle— and the shot—away from where we intended it to hit. In earlier segments of this “back to basics” series, we’ve talked about grasp, trigger finger placement, etc. At the moment, we’re talking about that simple-but-not-easy rearward press of the trigger that allows the shot to fire while the gun is aligned with what we want to hit. When “riding the link,” (above) the finger comes just far enough forward from the last shot to feel the trigger “reset.” Daylight between finger and trigger show “slap” (below) about to take place. Useful very close and fast, but the technique is hard to learn to do with control. three Approaches Bearing in mind that under stress we experience vasoconstriction, a redirection of blood flow away from Developed for match shooting, this is a technique in which we allow the auto pistol’s trigger to come just far enough forward to reset the sear. In theory— and in calm coolness—it’s a great idea. Unfortunately, it’s incompatible with that whole “fight or flight response” thing and the vasoconstriction: stressnumbed fingers will no longer have the fine motor coordination to bring the trigger exactly so far forward, and no farther. I’ve seen world champions try to do this and blow it—the trigger not coming far enough forward to reset—and futilely pull on something that wasn’t ready to be pulled yet. They lost their matches. On the street, they might have lost their lives. Trigger weld is the third option, which at least from the defensive side of things seems to make the most sense. Allow the trigger to return all the way forward—which is “do- 20 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • A U G U S T 2 0 1 2