Curing The Pre-Ignition Push – Part 2
Let’s continue our series on curing the pre-ignition push. In Part 1 of the series we covered firing hand tension along with having a correct grip, and we introduced the Pyramid Drill to help with that.
Now that you hopefully have a good feel for your level of firing hand pressure on the gun, and have it under control, we’re going to move on to talk about your trigger pull. Specifically we want to address how hard you’re pulling the trigger, and how that relates to pushing into the gun.
Many people have a tendency to pull the trigger way too hard, mashing it into the back of the frame or trigger stop and literally squeezing it with their whole hand, especially when trying to shoot fast.
This is related to what we covered on firing hand tension since they work together. If you have a relaxed firing hand, you’ll have a naturally lighter trigger pull. So we work the problem from both sides so that they can complement each other. What we’re looking for in the trigger pull is for the trigger to be pulled only as hard as necessary to break the shot. So on a highly tuned competitions gun that might only be 2 pounds or less on the single-action shots. 2 pounds is not much, and it would not be uncommon to see someone pulling that trigger with 15 pounds of force if left to their own devices. Now realistically we can’t be precise enough to pull ONLY 2 pounds during fast shooting, so it’s just relative, but the idea would be that you’re not mashing it with 15 pounds of force when it only takes 2 pounds to break the shot.
So what we want to do is work on a drill that gets us to use less force in the trigger pull. Something that has helped a lot of people think about this is to consider the trigger pull to be more of a trigger TAP, so we TAP the trigger rather than pull it. We especially see the pull as a problem for shooters who were trained to pin the trigger back against the frame after breaking a shot (aka “follow through”). In some disciplines like rifle shooting this is actually a correct thing to do, but not for fast pistol shooting, it’s counter-productive for that. So we want you to think about tapping the trigger with just enough force to break the shot, and immediately get the finger back off the trigger to reset it. We don’t want to see the trigger pinned back against the frame long after the recoil has finished, and then see the trigger being reset. What we DO want to see is the trigger being pulled through to break the shot and then immediately released to reset, with no holding back against the frame for more than a few hundredths of a second.
If you can do that you’ll virtually never have trigger freeze. So how do we train you to do it? Well, we like a drill that we call the Fake Trigger Pull Drill. The focus of this drill is to get you to perceive how hard you need to pull the trigger when shooting fast in order to make the gun fire. It might seem a little goofy, but bear with us on this, because it DOES work if you can execute it correctly.
Setup for the Fake Trigger Pull Drill is about as easy as it gets, you don’t even need a target, just a safe berm or backstop to fire the gun into. You can of course do it with targets as well, and as we’ll mention a little later, there are benefits to using a target array with the drill as well. But the basic drill just requires you to point the loaded gun at the berm and as quickly as you can, LIGHTLY tap the trigger without having the gun go off. The hammer or striker need to be cocked obviously, you should have the gun set as if you were going to fire live shot. Pretend you’re doing a Bill Drill where you’re going to fire 6 rapid-fire shots and do it as fast as you possibly can, only TRY to tap the trigger just short of it going off. Now the reality is you WILL likely have the gun fire on some of your taps, and that’s perfectly fine, it’s actually part of what we’re trying to accomplish. But TRY to tap the trigger just short of firing on all 6 taps.
This should get you trained to be hesitant of how hard your pulling the trigger, and that’s exactly what we want. Once you’ve done that for a few iterations, now we’re going to intermingle intentionally firing and not firing during the trigger taps. So this next round we want you to do 6 trigger taps again, but this time intentionally do FAKE trigger taps on the first 2, then intentionally break the shot on the next 2 taps, and then back to FAKE trigger taps on the last 2.
This is the point at which many people have experienced an Ah Ha! moment when doing this drill. Because we’ve forced you to tap the trigger, you may find you’re no longer mashing your trigger back against the frame on the shots you actually break. You may also find that you’re resetting the trigger almost instantly after the shot breaks. This is really not difficult at all to do, you just have to re-train your brain to tap the trigger lightly to fire it, rather than pulling or mashing it with a bunch of force.
Now here is where the real magic happens behind the scenes in your subconscious reactions. Ask yourself how much firing hand tension you have during this drill, recalling back to your experience in the Pyramid Drill from Part 1 of the video series. Do you feel like you have excess firing hand tension when shooting the fake trigger pull drill? We’ll bet not! A natural side effect of using a light trigger finger is that the entire firing hand is more relaxed, no longer crushing the grip as you pull the trigger. So for people who “get it” with this, it can be a real game changer. You just need to practice it enough that the light trigger tap becomes your defacto trigger pull. You can do it in dry fire at home as well, you just lose the recoil effect, so you don’t want to do it ONLY in dry fire, it takes live fire with actual recoil to make it fully effective.
Another variation we like to do with the drill to make it permanent in your subconscious that this is now your standard trigger pull, is to shoot some normal USPSA drills with a target array with specific shots designated as “fake” trigger pulls. Just set up some random targets and decide on an engagement order, and pick one of the targets out of the array where you’ll “fake” the trigger pull just short of breaking the shots, and you’ll break the shots on the rest of the targets.
The reason we do that is the added complexity of having to transition across multiple targets and remembering which target is supposed to get the “fake” trigger pulls, puts the actual action of pulling the trigger more in your subconscious. When we first did the drill the trigger tap WAS the conscious focus of the drill, and now we’re training it to be subconscious. This process of converting things from conscious to subconscious is what this type of training is all about.
Give this a try in your own training and see if you have that Ah Ha! moment we spoke about. For many of our students this is an eye opener for sure and it has multiple positive benefits in their shooting once they start pulling the trigger correctly, not just in terms of eliminating pre-ignition push but also in terms of faster split times, eliminating trigger freeze and more. Coming up in Part 3 of this series, we’ll talk about recoil and setting yourself up to not be afraid of it.