This month John Milewski con­cen­trates on the es­sen­tial art of trig­ger re­lease

Airgun World - - Weihrauch Hw45 -

This month, we shall be con­cen­trat­ing on two tech­niques, which go hand in hand with a per­fectly placed pis­tol shot. Ac­tu­ally, they are op­po­sites and whilst one re­quires phys­i­cal move­ment, the other re­quires the shooter to do noth­ing at all. We’re go­ing to look at trig­ger re­lease and the fol­low-through.

To re­cap over the last few months: We have looked at how to stand and present an air pis­tol to the tar­get, so that we are as com­fort­able as we can be. We have sought to hold the pis­tol con­sis­tently, and we have looked at how best to aim the pis­tol. Now we come to the most im­por­tant tech­nique of all – the trig­ger re­lease.


So far, the em­pha­sis has been very much on con­cen­tra­tion and re­duc­ing move­ment through a com­fort­able aim and hold. It is im­por­tant to ap­pre­ci­ate that move­ment of the pis­tol dur­ing the shot cy­cle can­not be elim­i­nated com­pletely and even a top-level match shooter will move around to some ex­tent, al­beit this will be barely dis­cernible to we mere mor­tals. Re­leas­ing a trig­ger goes against the prin­ci­ple of min­imis­ing move­ment be­cause by its very na­ture, you are mov­ing a part of your anatomy, whilst at­tempt­ing to keep ev­ery­thing else com­pletely still.


Even breath­ing is min­imised. I tend to take a deep breath as I present the pis­tol, and then let it out slowly. I’m not usu­ally con­scious of hold­ing my breath de­lib­er­ately be­cause let­ting out that deep breath stops my body want­ing to breathe in again im­me­di­ately. Ba­si­cally, my breath­ing stops as I let most of the breath out and I have up to eight sec­onds to re­lease the shot. If the shot is not fired within eight sec­onds, I’ll come down off the aim and start again.

Trig­gers dif­fer im­mensely be­tween var­i­ous mod­els. Match trig­gers are de­signed to re­lease crisply, with the min­i­mum of ef­fort on be­half of

the shooter, and even they can be jerked in­ad­ver­tently dur­ing a lapse in con­cen­tra­tion. Stan­dard air-pis­tol trig­gers can vary from crisp and pre­dictable to long and creepy. If they are ad­justable and you are con­fi­dent in do­ing so, then I rec­om­mend a light, crisp re­lease, but not so light that the re­lease be­comes un­pre­dictable and dan­ger­ous. If they are not ad­justable, you will need to adapt your tech­nique around the trig­ger, which is pos­si­ble with enough prac­tice.


Trig­gers are not pulled be­cause ‘snatch­ing’ will re­sult in a way­ward shot. Us­ing the pad of the fore­fin­ger, I tend to in­crease pull pres­sure slowly un­til the trig­ger re­leases the sear. Some say the shot should come as a sur­prise, whilst others main­tain that a shooter needs to know when their trig­ger re­leases. As with most shoot­ing tech­niques, ei­ther op­tion will work if you get used to it. The im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber is that the re­lease should be smooth and con­sis­tent.

The pis­tol will wob­ble when in the aim, and to min­imise this some shoot­ers will try to con­trol that wob­ble by mov­ing the pis­tol through a cir­cle de­lib­er­ately, and then min­imise the area cov­ered by the arc of move­ment. The idea is that even­tu­ally you will con­trol your wob­ble, so that it stays within the black aim­ing mark of a 1- me­tre match card, and then within the cen­tre of that card. Whilst try­ing to con­trol that wob­ble through re­duced move­ment, you then need to in­tro­duce the prospect of ap­ply­ing pres­sure to the trig­ger. My ad­vice here is to ap­ply pres­sure steadily un­til the shot is re­leased. For con­sis­tency, keep the fin­ger back and main­tain con­tact with the trig­ger blade af­ter the shot is away. Do not im­me­di­ately pull away from the trig­ger.


Once the shot is away, you do not need to do any­thing - lit­er­ally. Do­ing noth­ing is prob­a­bly the most ne­glected as­pect of not just pis­tol, but ri­fle shoot­ing too. Just like a golfer fol­lows through on their swing, a pis­tol shooter must do the same af­ter a shot is re­leased. Al­low­ing the pis­tol to re­coil nat­u­rally will help you to main­tain the aim and not get into the bad habit of bring­ing the pis­tol down be­fore the pel­let has left the bar­rel. Fol­low-through is the fi­nal act in suc­cess­ful pis­tol shoot­ing and is very easy to learn, even with a re­coil­ing pis­tol. I will main­tain the aim and count to two af­ter re­leas­ing a shot, so that I know I have fol­lowed through. This can be dif­fi­cult with a spring pis­tol be­cause you will tem­po­rar­ily lose the

sight pic­ture due to the re­coil, but if you let the pis­tol re­coil nat­u­rally with­out bring­ing it down, you are be­ing con­sis­tent and will be re­warded with con­sis­tent re­sults – I promise.


I’ll fin­ish with that sim­ple ques­tion. You must want to hit the tar­get to be suc­cess­ful. By us­ing ap­plied and proven pis­tol-shoot­ing tech­niques, you WILL hit that tar­get. Be­fore pre­sent­ing the pis­tol, take a mo­ment to pic­ture in your mind what a suc­cess­ful shot means to you. It might be hit­ting the cen­tre of a match card, hit­ting a tin can at 20 yards, or split­ting a play­ing card edge on at six yards. Just be­lieve all of this is pos­si­ble and you are ca­pa­ble of the shot. Once you in­tro­duce neg­a­tiv­ity and doubt, you’ll miss be­fore you pull the trig­ger. Think pos­i­tively and you will hit the mark.

We­b­ley in­tro­duced the prin­ci­ple of an ad­justable trig­ger dur­ing the mid-1920s. The for­ward-fac­ing ad­just­ing screw varies the de­gree of pis­ton to sear con­tact. Use the pad of the fore­fin­ger against the trig­ger blade.

WRONG. If you use the fin­ger joint to ap­ply pres­sure on the trig­ger, you re­duce con­trol be­cause there are fewer nerves in this area.

The Luger’s fixed sights mean that you may have to aim off to hit the mark. Luck­ily, my pis­tol shoots to the point of aim.

Not all trig­gers are ad­justable, but the Colt SAA has a par­tic­u­larly crisp and pleas­ant re­lease.

A match pis­tol’s trig­ger can be ad­justed ev­ery which way and down to a very light re­lease weight.

The trig­ger fin­ger should be clear of the pis­tol’s body dur­ing the re­lease. Only the pad touches the trig­ger or pis­tol.

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