Trigger Reset…

In previous posts, I have discussed the fact that I prefer triggers with audible and tactile reset. Should you learn to shoot from trigger reset? Probably… but should you always shoot from trigger reset? Probably not. This post will be a brief exploration of the concept, as well as of trigger control in general.

Trigger reset is exactly what it sounds like. Simply put, trigger reset is the point in the return travel of a trigger at which the fire control system resets and the weapon is ready to fire again. Generally, there is some return travel in the trigger beyond this point, which translates into taking the slack out of a trigger during the trigger press.

You can practice this skill with dry fire, without ammunition in the gun, before going to the range. Begin with a weapon that you have verified is unloaded and with no ammunition anywhere nearby. Dry fire at a target in front of a safe backstop, but keep your trigger finger pressed to the rear after breaking the shot. Then, rack the slide of the weapon while maintaining rearward pressure on the trigger. Aim in at your target again, take a breath, acquire your sight picture again, and slowly release the trigger until you feel and/or hear a click. Congratulations! You just reset the trigger! Now, press the trigger again and repeat.

For double action only triggers, or for revolvers, you don’t even need to rack the slide. Just concentrate on dry firing using trigger reset. On such triggers, you will discover that you need to release the trigger almost all the way to reset the mechanism.

The only time you may be frustrated when trying to practice this with dry fire is if your pistol has a magazine disconnect safety that deactivates the trigger when the magazine is removed. You could certainly use an empty magazine, but the slide will lock open on the empty magazine. In this instance, you may be able to either use snap caps in an otherwise empty magazine or perhaps only pull the slide back far enough to reset the trigger but not far enough to engage the slide stop.

This sequence will be the same with live fire with the exception that you will obviously not need to rack the slide. Simply concentrate on maintaining rearward pressure on the trigger after firing a shot. Once you’ve acquired your sight picture again, slowly release the trigger until you feel and/or hear the click that lets you know you’ve reset your trigger.

Now, why is this important? I am of the opinion that having a new shooter maintain rearward pressure on the trigger after breaking the shot and then consciously resetting the trigger encourages proper follow through. In addition, the practice can enhance accuracy because the trigger finger placement remains consistent shot to shot. Finally, you may be able to shoot faster, up to a point, because your trigger finger moves less distance when it remains in contact with the trigger and as always, economy of motion equals speed. I say faster up to a point because there is indeed a faster way to shoot that is in common use with competition and professional shooters.

Ideally, you should strive to learn to reset the trigger under recoil. This necessitates a different technique. I have heard this described several different ways with several different names with similar techniques ascribed to multiple different instructors and schools. Ultimately, they are all a very similar concept.

In order to quickly reset the trigger under recoil, as soon as you perceive recoil immediately release the trigger past the reset point and then quickly take all the slack out of the trigger. The finger is not necessarily kept in contact with the trigger, and rather than feeling for the “click” on the outward travel of the trigger, you are instead feeling for the wall of resistance in the trigger press. Done at speed, this ensures that the trigger mechanism is reset and allows you to rapidly shoot without worrying about finding the reset point. The technique also helps to eliminate short stroking the trigger on an unfamiliar pistol or on a pistol that may not have a distinct reset point. When learning to prep the trigger for subsequent shots with this technique, you may experience some accidental discharges when approaching the point in the trigger press at which all slack has been taken out and further pressure will fire the weapon. This isn’t a big deal, as your pistol will still be pointed in at the target and in real life, if something needed to be shot, then shooting it again immediately is probably not detrimental. No matter what name you give this technique, variations of it are arguably the fastest way to fire multiple accurate shots from a weapon.

Try it out at the range and see whether it works for you. Needless to say, the technique is applicable to semiautomatic long guns as well.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome and encouraged!


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