TRIGGER SQUEEZE

Over the years I’ve seen many many guns from all manufacturers cursed by their owners as being inaccurate, when in fact it was the shooter and not the gun that proved to be inaccurate.

The human factor probably accounts for 95% of accuracy. I have seen this fact born out in cases where gun owners thought their gun was inaccurate, and then the firearm was placed in a good rest and proved to be perfectly accurate.  But shooters have trouble getting it into their heads that they are the problem.

As a pilot, I learned that over 90% of accidents are caused by pilot error of one kind or another. The V-Tail Bonanza had gained the reputation of being the “Forked-Tail Doctor Killer.” Why? Because well to-do-professionals that can afford them seem to feel they can do no wrong and don’t go through the proper routine before flying. Jack Kennedy is a case in point. Simply taking the time to check the gas tanks for water, which can cause an engine to malfunction, can save your life.

Back to triggers: A good trigger design will eliminate a lot of conscious let-off leading to better accuracy.  Of course, the shooter still has to consciously “squeeze” off the shot without flinching, which is often easier said than done. Flinching is caused by anticipating what will happen when the gun fires. The noise, the recoil, imagined pain must be put out of a shooter’s head.  You can only concentrate on the alignment between the sights and the target.

Sure, the hype that manufacturers put out concerning this gun or that caliber can be seductive, but the hype can never replace a good squeezed-off shot which is the first step in making a good shot. Some people naturally flinch while some people don’t flinch naturally. But the majority of the people that flinch can over come this by simply practicing.  Where the right firearm comes into this equation is that practicing with a .22 can minimize the factors that lead to flinching and thereby facilitate you in eliminating the dreaded flinch. I can’t stress enough that practice, practice, practice is the only way to break negative habits. Buying a gun because you read about its capabilities on the assumption or hope that the gun will overcome negatives in your ability to shoot is pure fallacy.

There was a trap shooter, Arnold Reiger by name, who was a farmer and probably the best trap shooter of his day.  His weapon of choice was a standard old pump action Winchester Model 12. His shooting ability paid his off college expenses. This was in doubles, 16 yard and handicap events. Likewise, Sergeant York in WWI shot so well with his standard-issue Springfield that he terrified the enemy. He and two or three other soldiers captured over 200 Germans by themselves. When he shot, an enemy soldier was killed. His eyeball lined the sights up with his target, which he coupled with a controlled trigger squeeze. 

When we come of age, we learn to drive a car but it’s only with practice that we become truly competent. We learn to make the accelerator, brakes and steering wheel our second nature. Effectively using a gun is no different and there is no way to get around practicing squeezing the trigger and aligning the sights – the trigger squeeze being paramount.

I should mention this. Sergeant York was a devout Christian, a man who believed Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and he prayed constantly. He prayed for every life he took and that hung heavy on his heart. Today, I meet too many people who have hardened their hearts to the killing of both animals and people. Sure, own a gun, but realize that having the power of life and death is a tremendous responsibility. It should come with a meek attitude – the power the strong have over the weak – not the attitude of a crazed killer, “justified” or not.