Skip to main content

Field Skills: The Perfect Trigger Press

Achieving perfection requires practice and an understanding of fundamentals.

Field Skills: The Perfect Trigger Press

The shooter-to-trigger interface greatly affects the accuracy for rifle shooters. (Photo by Todd Burgreen)

In almost every instance, the human behind the trigger is the weakest link in the shot sequence. Developing the “perfect trigger press” is a matter of perfecting the sequence through a systematic approach. Here are the components that comprise the perfect trigger press.

NEGATIVE ENERGY

A rifle is at its most stable when it is independently at rest and not interacting with the shooter. There are arguably several shooter-to-rifle interfaces, for instance—the rifle mount. However, it is the shooter-to-trigger interface which most greatly affects the accuracy, as errors introduced here lead to errant shots sent downrange.

The best rifle shooters minimize the amount of negative energy input into the rifle at the shooter-to-trigger interface. That is, any input into the rifle that negatively affects accuracy.

HARD PRESSED

So, what is the perfect trigger press? Simply stated, it is moving the trigger smoothly (and straight) to the rear without affecting the sight picture. In other words, touching off the shot without impacting the sight picture you were viewing to indicate it was time to fire. Yes, it sounds simple enough; however, books and manuals have been written describing in minutiae this process.


The perfect press starts with placing your fingertip on the trigger when the sights are aligned, and safety is slid off (notice I said fingertip). It is crucial that only the tip of the trigger finger be in contact with rifle. Do not allow the trigger finger to rest or lay against the stock as this can only introduce unwanted negative energy into the shot sequence.


THE INDEPENDENT TRIGGER FINGER

In the perfect shot sequence, the trigger finger moves independently from the rest of your firing hand. The best shooters in the world can actually isolate their trigger fingertip movement from that of the base of their finger. The goal is to limit any sympathetic movement in the hand as the trigger finger moves rearward on the trigger.

GRIP

Your firing hand’s grip on the rifle affects your trigger pull, too. Keep this in mind and adjust accordingly. Your grip should facilitate trigger finger efficiency over all other concerns. Some shooters adopt a method of moving the firing hand’s thumb to the top side of the stock. This aligns it to the trigger, or conversely, completely over to the same side as the trigger finger. This is an effort to make the trigger finger independent of any unwanted or unplanned movement in the firing hand.

PRACTICE PERFECTION

While relatively simple in theory, the optimal trigger press in practice requires repetition to perfect. The actual trigger press should be straight to the rear. It’s here that fingertip and hand placement comes home to roost.

Click to subscribe to Game & Fish Magazine

Dry firing is crucial in determining what works best. You can’t learn muscle memory through repetition if the movement isn’t exactly the same every time, both from a shooter input standpoint and the physical trigger. A drill routinely taught during ROTC training is to have a training partner place a washer on the muzzle once the shooting position is assumed. A proper trigger press invariably leaves the washer on the barrel, indicating a good press.


Constant dry firing practice will pay big dividends. When live ammunition is inserted into equation, subtle technique nuances are lost due to rifle recoil and muzzle blast effects.

ANOTHER SET OF EYES

It’s surprising how many shooters do not seek, nor appreciate the benefits of receiving professional guidance by subject matter experts. A set of qualified eyes can identify areas of potential improvement.

Find the best day and time to go hunting in your zip code

Case in point. At a recent long-range training class, my trigger technique was modified to keep trigger pulled to the rear until target impact was observed (i.e., “follow through”). Admittedly, I’d grown accustomed to shooting semi-automatic handguns recently and was resetting trigger upon firing. While this adjustment was minute, it took someone else to recognize it and remedy it.


TRUE GRIT

Obviously, trigger quality impacts interface between shooter and weapon. A 10-pound trigger, with gritty creep aids no one in accurate shot placement. And of course, the type of trigger matters too. Some shooters excel with single-stage triggers, while others gravitate to and excel with two-stage triggers. Shoot both and determine which one works in best concert with your shooting style.

Perfect Trigger Press
Dropping in a quality custom trigger will dramatically shrink your groups. Timney custom triggers are available for any number of popular rifles. Here, G&F regional editor Dr. Todd A. Kuhn installs one on a Remington 700. (Photo by Todd Burgreen)

Shrink Your Groups with a Custom Trigger

Timney’s new HIT trigger is exceptionally easy to install. The all-CNC-machined unit’s pull weight is adjustable from 8 ounces to 2 pounds, with adjustable overtravel too. The NP-3 plated sear adds a measurably better lubricity to the assembly, polishing off the pull.

On the range, my new Timney HIT pressed without any perceived resistance, sending rounds downrange as if my brain was hardwired to the trigger. The trip was repeatable shot-after-shot, which shrunk my groups considerably over the stock trigger assembly.

If you’re looking to improve your shooting, I recommend dropping a Timney into your favorite rifle. As they say at Timney, “When your brain calls for you to take the shot, a great trigger doesn’t argue—it agrees.” — Dr. Todd A. Kuhn

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Get on Board: Species for Beginner Anglers

Get on Board: Species for Beginner Anglers

With so many people turning to fishing as a way to escape the stress and challenges that have arisen in recent months, we've teamed up with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the National Marine Manufacturers Association to explore some of the freshwater fish species you can target if you're just getting on board with fishing. #TheWaterIsOpen #GetOnBoard

How to Quickly Re-Spool a Fishing Reel

How to Quickly Re-Spool a Fishing Reel

Stripping a reel and adding fresh line is a breeze if you know the drill—literally.

Daiwa Tatula 300 Baitcaster

Daiwa Tatula 300 Baitcaster

The new Tatula reel is perfect when an angler is on the water fishing big baits for big bass!

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river.How to Catch Catfish Day and Night Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

Almost anyone can catch a bunch of small catfish. Hooking a true monster requires a different level of preparation, skill and effort.A Time for Giant Catfish Catfish

A Time for Giant Catfish

John N. Felsher - August 24, 2020

Almost anyone can catch a bunch of small catfish. Hooking a true monster requires a different...

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths.5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to the expectations demanded at ranges up to and beyond 500, 600 or even 1,000 yards. Try these different loads until you find the one that thumps steel at long ranges consistently.10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to...

See More Trending Articles

More Guns

The Crackshot XBR offers an alternative for both archery and firearm enthusiasts.Field Test: Traditions Crackshot XBR .22 Rifle, Arrow Launcher Guns

Field Test: Traditions Crackshot XBR .22 Rifle, Arrow Launcher

Dr. Todd A. Kuhn - July 28, 2020

The Crackshot XBR offers an alternative for both archery and firearm enthusiasts.

Bret Vorhees was previously VP of Sales and Marketing at Walther Arms.Taurus USA Names New CEO SHOT Show

Taurus USA Names New CEO

Game & Fish Digital Staff - January 20, 2020

Bret Vorhees was previously VP of Sales and Marketing at Walther Arms.

Great new rifles from the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoors Trade (SHOT) Show.Best Deer Hunting Rifles from SHOT 2020 Guns

Best Deer Hunting Rifles from SHOT 2020

Lynn Burkhead - January 31, 2020

Great new rifles from the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoors Trade (SHOT) Show.

See More Guns

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now