Trigger Press Properly

Trigger Press Properly

This week I had a discussion with some fellow firearms instructors about the proper way to apply one of the fundamentals, Trigger Control. In a variety of students this is a pretty hard one to master without a lot of practice, so in this discussion I will talk about the proper press and finger contact to obtain and hone your trigger control. This is a great drill you can practice using dry fire before expending costly ammunition.

When you have reached the moment when you have decided to fire, be it under stress or on the range during practice, move your finger from where it is indexed along the frame and place it on the trigger. When applying your finger, use just the tip! From the tip of your finger to the first knuckle joint, split that difference about half way and that is all you need for a proper press on a semi-auto firearm.

If you shoot a revolver, due to the heavy double action trigger, you might want to put the bend of your first knuckle onto the trigger and let the knuckle part wrap the front of the trigger. This will give you a bit more strength to overcome a long hard pull to get the revolver to cock, rotate the cylinder and then fire.

You don’t want to have too much of your finger (or too little) on the trigger. Having more or less than is necessary will cause you to push or pull the gun to the left or right during the firing sequence which will make your shots go astray.

PRESS, Not Squeeze

When you press the trigger… Yes, I said PRESS. I use this word because when you press with your finger, it will isolate that muscle movement to the index finger only. You will hear a lot of instructors use the word, “squeeze.” This word implies a larger movement involving the whole hand. Anytime you apply uneven pressure to your grip, you may throw your shot off target. You are not trying to “milk” the grip of the gun. You want to press straight to the rear using only the index finger.

When you press the trigger towards the rear, you will have take-up or slack, which is the amount of movement you experience before you reach the point where the trigger breaks. When the break happens, the gun should discharge a round. Continue to press until the trigger is completely buried at the back of the trigger guard and hold it. (Complete your follow through)

Now, keeping your finger on the trigger, slowly control the movement of the trigger forward until you reach the reset point. After some practice you will be able to feel it, however at first, you may need to listen for the audible “click” when the trigger spring resets signifying you are ready to shoot again. Now stop! Do not move any further forward once you reach the reset.

Depending on the firearm, you may have to take up some slack in the trigger until you reach the break point again. So, press until you travel through the take up to the point where the trigger breaks, press the shot, bury the trigger and so on. The idea is to accomplish the above series of steps in one smooth continually motion to the rear of the trigger guard, and then one smooth motion to the reset and repeat. At no time does your finger come off of the trigger!

Imagine you are holding a bottle of window cleaner. Just like spraying the windows with blue anti-streak, you cycle the lever that dispenses the fluid in a continual motion and your finger never loses contact the entire time.

Don’t Slap

This is an important skills to master to prevent slapping of the trigger which will also cause you to throw your shots off target. A slap occurs when after pressing your shot your finger comes flying completely off the trigger. As you go to make your next shot you press the trigger with a varying amount of inconsistent pressure hard and fast with your finger not properly placed about mid joint of the first knuckle.

By maintaining positive contact with the trigger you will also save fractions of a second between shots as you try to reacquire proper position on the trigger. If you end up in a gunfight, you want to have every fraction of a second available to you to win.

So get practicing! Once you feel accomplished at this, add in thepenny/dime drill to see if you are achieving proper trigger press.

Until next time, stay safe, Godspeed. Remember, your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool.

Published by


I am a 64 year old former professional bodyguard. Some of my achievements and Certifications include; -8 Styles of Martial Arts Training -PADI Scuba certification -Owned Upstate and Syracuse K-9 -National and Olympic Qualifier in Wrestling -Professional Driving School Training -Firearms Training Certifications