Basic Rifle Marksmanship Series: Part IV - Trigger Control
As usual, I'll ask you to recap our previous lesssons on safety, the use of open sights, the use of aperture sights, and breathing control before we begin today's class.
All standard triggers can be grouped into two categories: singe-stage or two-stage. A single-stage trigger, as the name suggests, features a constant resistance to trigger pressure applied by the shooter. Once the requisite force has been applied, the hammer is released to contaact the firing pin and thus fire the rifle. A two-stage trigger, as found on many military and military-style firearms, features an initial stage of minimal resistance to the shooter's trigger pressure, followed by a final stage of greater resistance until hammerfall.
In learning how to shoot your rifle effectively, you must first determine whether your rifle's trigger is a single-stage or a two-stage trigger.
By dry-firing your rifle, after confirming, both visually and tactilely, that the chamber is empty and all ammunition has been removed from the rifle. In fact, you should never fire a rifle for the first time with a round in the chamber without first teaching your mind and body about its trigger via a few dry-fire executions.
Steps in dry-firing:
1) Confirm that the rifle is completely unloaded, both as to its ammunition storage and its storage.
2) With the rifle pointed in a safe direction (remember- all firearms are always loaded, even when you have confiremd that all ammo is removed), disengage the mechanical safety and slowly press the trigger, after assuming a proper shooting position.
3) Cycle the rifle's action manually to recock the hammer and prepare for the next dry-fire "shot".
4) Confirm that your shooting position is still proper (much more on this point in subsequent chapters).
5) Slowly press the trigger, and repeat 3 and 4 once again.
Note that I say "press" the trigger, rather than the more common "pull the trigger." The key to successful trigger operation is for the shooter to deliver into the trigger/hammer mechanism just enough energy to cause the hammer to be released without causing the rifle to move at all via the shooter's exertions.
Too much energy and the rifle will move, thus causing your shot to move from the intended point of impact.
Similarly, when you provide the wrong type/direction of energy into the trigger/hammer mechanism, you will also cause your shot to go other than where you intended.
So what is the right type and direction of energy for a proper trigger press? Consider the following factors:
1) Trigger finger placement: You should never have the front surface of your rifle's trigger any deeper along your trigger finger than the crease of the index finger's first knuckle. Better still is to place only the very tip of your trigger finger against the front surface of the trigger.
In the illustration above, proper trigger finger placement would be between the first crease (labelled "bent finger") and the end of the shading in that first finger segment. As long as the shooter can get sufficient muscle power, the optimal trigger placement would be on the finger tip at the end of the shading.