by B.B. Pelletier

With a title like that, you’d think I wouldn’t have much to say. “Just PULL it!” is all anyone needs to know. Right?

Actually, there’s more to pulling a trigger than many people know.

What KIND of trigger?
There are more kinds of triggers than we have room for here, so I will just address two popular ones – the single-stage and the two-stage trigger.

Single-stage triggers
A single-stage triggers is ready to go when the gun is cocked. Just pull back on it until the gun fires. The correct way to “pull” a single-stage trigger is to squeeze it straight back with the pad of your fingertip. Your finger should move in such a way that it does not influence the gun by moving it from side to side. This is very hard to do with a handgun, which is why the two-handed hold has become so popular. With a rifle, it’s easier to not push the muzzle to one side while squeezing the trigger, but it’s not a given. It still takes practice.

Apply steadily increasing force until the sear releases and the gun fires. The very best triggers release the sear without a jarring movement. If there is an overtravel screw, adjust it to stop the trigger’s movement at the moment of release.

As you become accustomed to the trigger, you should gain a sense of when it is about to let go. This sense will help you select the proper time for the sear to release.

Two-stage triggers
These are more popular among shooters because they give a better feel to the trigger. Nearly all military triggers are two-stage. The first stage of the two-stage trigger is usually just the resistance offered by the trigger return spring, though there are target guns that allow some of the trigger’s total pull weight to be loaded into the first stage, as well.

When the trigger stops moving, you’ve come to the second stage, which is the one that releases the sear. An adjustable trigger can be set to have a light first stage, then a VERY light second stage. Yet, it is safer than a heavier single-stage trigger because of the feel when the second stage is reached.

Once I know a gun’s two-stage trigger, I often pull and release the first stage several times before getting serious with the second stage. Treat the second stage just like it is a single-stage trigger, with the benefit that you know absolutely when you have begun your pull.

Be careful not to “snipe”
Sometimes, when you’re on the trigger and the target is in your sights, there is a tremendous desire to just pull the trigger and be done with it. Avoid doing this, as it is a leading cause of missing. Also, avoid hooking your first finger joint over the trigger for extra leverage. That leads to pulling the gun to one side. If you need that much leverage to work the trigger, you need a better trigger. If you can’t take your shot for some reason, relax your trigger finger and get it out of the triggerguard entirely.

This has been a brief look at proper trigger technique. I may expand on this if there is enough interest.