Why Am I Missing So Much? Trigger Control!
In virtually any of the Handgun Fundamentals & Safety classes that I teach, I will get a student who pays close attention to all of the 7 fundamentals of shooting and begins scoring hits on target. However through the course of their live-fire exercises, they actually start to degrade with their hits. They start racking up misses, and so they try to overcompensate and get some more hits on target. By doing so, they compound their misses exponentially. So what's going wrong?
There are multiple answers as to why you might be missing the target, but I've found one key culprit that is almost always at fault... If not the direct cause, I assue you it is likely among the causes of the problem for missing. That crucial fundamental is trigger control. Usually, students will become slightly less conscious of their trigger control and then will see more and more misses from the same distances where they were previously scoring hits consistently. Why? Because they step up to the line, get their grip and stance perfect, acquire proper sight alignment/sight picture, and then pull the trigger. I hate that term... "Pull the trigger..." Students have that engrained in their mind and they do exactly that- they pull the trigger instead of slowly/consistently pressing it to the rear. The result? They rush through the 4 steps of trigger control and they miss the shot. These shots almost always miss low, and often times they miss to one side or the other. I see this a lot when students are growing slightly tired after a fair amount of shooting, and they begin anticipating the recoil of the firearm.
During this last course, a very small female student named Brittany was scoring great hits for the vast majority of the day. Toward the end of the class, she stepped up with her Smith & Wesson M&P Shield (9mm) and experienced four misses in a row from the same distance that she was previously shooting with ease. I watched the front sight of her firearm plunge toward the ground as she rushed through the four steps of trigger control in anticipation of the recoil. Her hands had grown tired from a day of instruction, shooting, etc. Her trigger control got sloppy, and she was missing. Instead of having her fight through the steps of trigger control on the Shield, I asked her to stop. We replaced her Shield with an M&P Compact .22LR that we had been shooting earlier. I asked her to go through each of the steps very slowly, deliberately stopping at the "break point" of trigger progression and double checking her sight picture prior to breaking the shot. She ran through a full magazine without a single miss without any difficulty whatsoever. Without moving her from the line or changing anything, I handed her back her 9mm and without any additional instruction she ran through another magazine with no misses. Same distance, same difficulty, same times- great results! Why?
She went back to making a conscious decision to fire the shot only after confirming her sight picture. She went through all of her fundamentals and got on target. She would prep the trigger by taking up the slack and consciously pausing at the "break point" to double check the sight picture. After confirming her alignment was good to go, she would break the shot and would score hit after hit. Excellent work, Brittany!
What's the point? Pay attention to the fundamentals, and your hits will be far more consistent. When you start seeing issues with your hits, the first fundamental to zero in on is definitely trigger control. Without it, you will not experience positive hits on target no matter how much training you have. Remember- the break point of the trigger press is literally the last bit of human input that the firearm receives prior to sending the projectile going down range. Therefore, we must make sure that everything is in proper alignment at that point to make sure that our point of impact matches our point of aim.