Did you know that an improper grip or trigger pull can throw your shots by a few inches…or even more at longer ranges?
In training that might mean an embarrassing score. But, on the street that can be the difference in stopping a threat or becoming a statistic.
The good news is you can improve your shooting quickly if you put your mind to it.
A professional shooter and trainer, Rob Letham offers 7 shooting tips for grip and trigger pull training to improve your accuracy on the range and in the field.
Let’s dive in…
Get the correct grip
Letham’s first tip:
Make sure your pistol fits your hand.
It might seem obvious, but this is one of the most overlooked problems I’ve encountered in teaching others to shoot.
To get a good grip – and a good placement of the finger on the trigger – you need to make sure the pistol fits your hand. If it doesn’t, you are trying to overcome physics.
I know that many cops are stuck with an issued weapon and cannot select the best fitting gun for your hand. So, here are a few things to consider:
- Check to see if your pistol has any adjustable options. For example, the HK VP9 has backstraps and side panels that can be swapped out to offer an improved fit.
- Even if your gun doesn’t have interchangeable backstraps or grips, there may still be options to adjust the grip size. Thinner grip panels may be available for guns like the 1911 and SIG SAUER P226. Likewise, you can purchase a Hogue HandAll grip sleeve to increase the size of the pistol.
- If you continue to have fit issues, consider looking for a new trigger. Some companies offer short reach triggers to help shooters with smaller hands. When my department issued SIG SAUER P226 pistols, I had a department armorer install a short reach trigger on my duty pistol. It made all the difference.
Move only your trigger finger
Letham’s next tip revolves around the body’s tendency for sympathetic movement. He says:
When I am ready to shoot, I concentrate on only moving my trigger finger.
That might make sense, but you have to really concentrate on this before it becomes natural.
Normally, the body will curl all of the fingers on a hand when one starts to curl. This is a hardwired brain function related to the sympathetic nervous system.
Without getting bogged down in the science, just hold up your hand and curl your trigger finger. For most people, the other fingers on the same hand will also try to curl. The more you concentrate on isolating that one finger, the better you can exclude the other fingers.
If you don’t isolate the trigger finger, the movement of the other fingers can disrupt your aim.
Use dry fire training
According to Leatham,
Dry firing is an excellent way to practice and perfect your trigger pull…It’s easy and convenient and saves on expensive ammo
Based on my own experience, Leatham’s take on dry fire training is dead on.
I’ve personally used dry firing to improve my own shooting. I have also used it to help others get better at shooting.
Dry firing for 5-10 minutes each day can make huge improvements in your trigger control and resulting accuracy.
Currently, I use a Mantis X2 to assist with tracking my training. However, you can get a similar benefit by simply balancing a penny on the end of your slide or barrel to ensure you aren’t jerking the trigger.
Shooting a gun can be loud and even a bit scary for novice shooters. The body instinctively tries to protect itself when the loud report and recoil hits you. Consequently, you flinch and throw your shot off target.
Leatham states that you should:
Practice maintaining control of the gun at all times, not just up until the instant a round is fired.
That might sound a bit obvious, but have you actually tried to control the gun through recoil? This takes a conscious effort.
You have to recognize that a loud noise and recoil is coming. However, you need to know it will not hurt you. So focus on your grip, sights and trigger control all the way through the shot.
Once you spend a conscious effort on controlling the gun, you will be surprised at how little you will flinch. And, you’ll be able to see it with tighter groups on the target.
Leatham made several references to focus in the prior tips. But focus is so important in shooting that he broke it out into a separate tip on its own:
Shooting accurately is as mental as it is physical.
The key is to pay attention to all aspects of shooting. Just like distractions can cause accidents, they can also cause your shooting to be off target.
On the range, it is easier to focus on your sights and trigger pull. In a lethal force encounter, it is a lot tougher. The good news is that the more you practice on the range, the easier it becomes in real life.
On the range, it’s fun to blast away, but rapid-fire rarely results in acceptably accurate shot placement.
Especially when you are first learning to shoot, you have to slow down and concentrate on the fundamentals. Leatham breaks it down:
Jerking your trigger finger back quickly while in the learning phases destroys your accuracy.
You’ve probably heard the old adage “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”
The concept behind Leatham’s tip is much the same. If you slow down and learn the efficient way of doing something, you can ultimately become much better – and faster – at the task.
Keep in mind that you can’t miss fast enough to beat a single, well-placed shot.
When speaking to Leatham at the SHOT Show, he offered a simple shooting tip:
Don’t forget to breathe!
His position was that many new shooters get so worked up over trying to get everything perfect that they hold their breath.
While a momentary pause in breathing can help steady your aim, when you hold your breath you can actually introduce involuntary hand movement.
Be conscious of your breathing. It’s not wrong to pause at the moment of the trigger break, but don’t hold that breath. Slow, rhythmic breathing can improve your accuracy.
Who is Rob Leatham?
Rob Leatham is a world-renown professional shooter sponsored by Springfield Armory. During his time competing in professional shooting competitions, he has amassed an impressive list of credentials and awards to prove he is the real deal when it comes to shooting handguns.
Here are just a few of Rob’s accomplishments:
- 6-time IPSC World Champion
- 20+ USPSA National Title Holder
- Law Enforcement & Military pistol trainer for 25+ years.
In addition to Rob’s incredible success in competition shooting, he also understands that the “best” should also be the “best” at teaching their skills. When Rob is not competing he routinely offers general pistol training and instruction via YouTube videos, but also provides hands-on courses to law enforcement and military agencies.
To check into one of Rob’s training courses go to his website listed below. Richard, Randy and I have all met and talked with Rob several times at SHOT Show. He has always been professional, personable, and easy to talk to. His love of shooting is evident, and he does not tower over people with his mastery of skills or accomplishments. Rob Leatham is as down-to-earth as you can get, and a great overall person.
Leatham’s shooting tips are spot on. I recommend following all of them.
Dry fire practice is something all cops should be doing weekly. Just like our 2020 BlueSheepDog Challenge, where we asked readers to make 10 perfect draws from their holster (with a safe handgun) to improve draw times and accuracy, the dry fire practice can dramatically improve accuracy, especially on follow-up shots.
Here’s just one of Leatham’s training videos: