As ever, the editor is look­ing to im­prove his ac­cu­racy – this time it’s trig­ger con­trol

Air Gunner - - Contents -

The editor of­fers ad­vice on how to im­prove trig­ger tech­nique, in­clud­ing his own

O ver my long air­gun shoot­ing ca­reer, I’ve searched re­lent­lessly for any­thing that makes me a bet­ter shot, by which I mean a more suc­cess­ful and pro­duc­tive hunter. I’ve of­ten taken in­spi­ra­tion from the com­pe­ti­tion crowd, be­cause they’re even more ob­ses­sive than I am in try­ing to find even the small­est im­prove­ment. Dave Brails­ford, who is the mega- brain be­hind the quite in­cred­i­ble suc­cess of Bri­tish cy­cling, coined a phrase, ‘ the ag­gre­ga­tion of mar­ginal gains’. He taught peo­ple that each and ev­ery im­prove­ment, no mat­ter how small, was worth pur­su­ing; wheels, tyres, diet, sleep, hel­mets, shoes, drinks, pedals and cloth­ing all went un­der the mi­cro­scope, and any im­prove­ment, no mat­ter how small, was adopted in their quest for Olympic gold medals. To­day, Great Britain is seen as one of the pow­er­houses of world- class cy­cling, whereas 15 years ago we were plucky am­a­teurs, for­ever des­tined to be hu­mil­i­ated by the big Euro­pean na­tions who had dom­i­nated cy­cling for­ever.


In re­cent months, I’ve been look­ing at a mar­ginal gain, which is my trig­ger con­trol. If you’d asked me last Au­gust, ‘how is your trig­ger move­ment?’ I’d have said, ‘pretty good’. How­ever, when my shoot­ing buddy videoed my trig­ger fin­ger with his iPhone dur­ing a shot, I sud­denly saw so many prob­lems that I’ve been on a mis­sion to ad­dress them ever since.

Let’s start on page one. The first thing is that your ri­fle must fit you. It’s no good giv­ing a short and su­per- light BSA Ul­tra to a 6’ 4” rugby player. He’d be bet­ter served by big long heavy ri­fles that suit his build. Sim­i­larly, from my lofty 5’ 9”, I don’t want a 12lb rig with a 15½”

pull length. Find a ri­fle that suits your build and you’ll have laid a good foun­da­tion to top- class ac­cu­racy.

Next, we come to trig­ger con­trol. Let’s as­sume you’ve learned good tech­nique and can hold well enough for a good, pre­cise shot. What comes next will make or break the deal. If you wrap your fin­ger around the trig­ger blade and rip into it as your sights pass the tar­get, I have bad news for you. You just missed.


Your trig­ger hand should be as re­laxed as pos­si­ble and never, ever play any part in steer­ing the ri­fle. It has one job and one job alone, and that’s to re­lease the shot. Like many mod­ern air­gun shoot­ers, I use the ‘ thumb up’ po­si­tion. This is where the trig­ger hand thumb rests as it falls on the top of the pis­tol grip, with no at­tempt be­ing made to grip the stock. This elim­i­nates the ten­sion that can be formed in the hand if the thumb wraps around the stock, or if pres­sure is ap­plied through it.

Next, the pad, and only the pad, of your trig­ger fin­ger should press the trig­ger blade di­rectly back­wards, in line with the bar­rel’s bore. Any pres­sure to the left or right is un­wel­come. Re­mem­ber that the trig­ger break­ing hap­pens be­fore the ri­fle fires, and if you pull the gun around be­fore the pel­let leaves, then you’ll never at­tain your full po­ten­tial as a shooter.

Even then, please don’t think this trig­ger ac­tion busi­ness is over. I have a fail­ing in my tech­nique which is sur­pris­ingly com­mon. As the trig­ger breaks, I flick my in­dex fin­ger for­ward again. This serves no pur­pose at all and adds yet an­other move­ment in the ri­fle be­fore the pel­let leaves the bar­rel.


The cor­rect tech­nique is to main­tain fin­ger pres­sure lightly on the trig­ger blade after the shot fires. Watch the pel­let strike, and only then breathe and re­lease your pres­sure on the blade. This takes prac­tice and pa­tience, but be­lieve me, it’s ab­so­lutely worth the ef­fort. This is a key com­po­nent of the much fabled fol­low- though. Fol­low- through means that after the shot re­leases, you do just one thing, and that’s ab­so­lutely noth­ing. Don’t re­lease the trig­ger. Don’t lift your head. Don’t breathe. Just stay com­pletely still.

Your mind should have just one goal; to ob­serve your pel­let strik­ing its tar­get. If you feel the trig­ger break and do noth­ing un­til you see that rab­bit drop or the knock- down tar­get fall, you’ll have done a good job. Less is more in the world of trig­ger con­trol, and my strong­est ad­vice is to get out and prac­tise. Feel and learn how your ri­fle and trig­ger work, and de­velop the tim­ing to ex­tract their full po­ten­tial. Do this and you’ll have taken a big step to­ward be­com­ing a Zen mas­ter in the art of air­gun­ning!

“Your mind should have just one goal, which is to ob­serve your pel­let strik­ing its tar­get”

Try to pull the blade di­rectly back and not to the side

ABOVE: By video­ing your trig­ger re­lease, you can di­ag­nose faults

LEFT: I rest my thumb on the top of the grip with no pres­sure at all

FAR LEFT: Only the pad of your fin­ger should touch the blade

LEFT: Please don’t wrap your fin­ger around the blade like this

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