Trigger happy

Are you messing up your shots at the last minute with poor trigger technique? Let Chris Miles put you right

Most shooters understand the importance of stance, gun mount, master eye, technique and gunfit. But too often they overlook two vital points that can still ruin the shot, even when you’ve got all that right: your grip and trigger technique.

Let’s look first at your grip, because you can’t pull the trigger correctly if you aren’t holding the gun properly in the first place.

Get a grip
For correct mounting, it’s important that your hands hold the gun comfortably. The forend should rest diagonally across the forefinger, palm and inner side of the heel of the front hand, with the thumb resting along one side and the remaining fingers along the other side.

You need to consider the thickness of the grip or hand of the stock

The rear hand should grip the thin part of the stock, in front of the comb, known as the hand. With the forefinger resting on the side of the trigger guard, the thumb should wrap over the top of the woodwork and the remaining fingers should wrap under the stock, towards the thumb.

At this point there are several things that might affect the comfort and the efficiency of firing the gun. First, the gun needs to feel balanced as you mount. Assuming that the stock dimensions are approximately correct and the balance point of the gun is at or near to the hinge pin, then the front and back hands need to be an equal distance from the balance point.

The grip with your rear hand (the right for a right-hander) should allow your thumb to operate the safety catch and then be wrapped over the top. The pad of the forefinger should be correctly positioned on the trigger, and there should be room for the back of the thumb to sit in front of the nose of the comb without pressing into it.
On many over-and-unders, the trigger position can be adjusted within the trigger guard so you can achieve a good position. There should be a small space between your second finger and the back of the trigger guard, to avoid any cuts or bruises. If you have a large hand, this could mean the back of your thumb is jammed against the nose of the comb – if so, you should have a good stocker re-profile the nose of the comb.

You also need to consider the thickness of the grip or hand of the stock. Many over-and-unders nowadays have a palm swell – a bulge in the grip where you place the palm of your rear hand. Unless you have big hands, this can make your grip less efficient, so you might want to think about having the palm swell reduced and the wood re-chequered.

Correct trigger pulls can make a big difference to our shooting technique and your scores

Trigger technique
Now we come on to actually pulling the trigger. I have seen many targets missed at the last minute, even when the shooter has followed the right technique, because the trigger hand is not comfortable or not correctly positioned. This can lead to you snatching the trigger and pulling the gun off the line of the target.

As soon as someone can handle the gun in the correct manner so they can shoot safely and comfortably, I like them to think about the back hand squeezing the gun instead of the forefinger pulling fiercely at the trigger.  If the gun is held in the back hand correctly, with the pad of the forefinger on the trigger, then squeezing the whole hand will result in a smooth trigger pull as the trigger is the only part of the gun that can give.

If the finger is struggling to reach the trigger, then it’s applying pressure to the side of the trigger rather than the front. This means it will take much more effort to actually fire the gun. On the other hand, the finger can be too far across the trigger, so that the first joint is actually resting on it. This makes the hand quite cramped up, which will make it more difficult to actually move the finger backwards.

This can sometimes be the reason for single-trigger guns appearing to double discharge. The finger is pushed so far across the trigger that the grip cannot be relaxed quickly enough after the first shot. The recoil of the gun then operates against the finger, and fires the second barrel unexpectedly.

I have seen this happen when a person with very large hands has a lot of finger pushed in front of the trigger because the whole hand is too far forward. Removing some of the nose of the comb allows the hand to sit a little further back, relaxing the whole hand and allowing the pad of the trigger finger to rest on the trigger in the correct manner. 

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