Monday, June 3, 2013

Follow-Through

By Dave Dargo

Merriam-Webster claims the phrase "follow-through" was first used in 1895.  The most common definition seems to be, "The concluding part of a stroke, after a ball or other object has been hit or released."  We know that when a batter in baseball takes a full swing at a ball they don't attempt to stop the bat at the point where the ball meets the bat - we expect the batter to swing through the ball and "follow-through" with their swing.

Follow-through is also important in business, we need to follow-through with our commitments and assure that our customers are satisfied.

Follow-through is a difficult technique to master, though, when it comes to trigger control.

Some instructors will tell you to squeeze the trigger gently.  I prefer the phrase, "press the trigger"; as in pressing a button.  I think that when some students hear squeeze they think of squeezing an orange and use the major muscles in their hands to "squeeze" the trigger and the pistol grip together.  I want the student to imagine the frame and the grip of the pistol as stable objects and to use the minor muscles of their trigger finger to gently press the trigger as if they were pressing a button.

Though the difference may seem subtle, the reality is that a gentle press of the trigger is more likely to deliver a good shot with less recoil anticipation.  Pressing the trigger helps invoke a thought process of gently applying increasing pressure until the shot breaks - hopefully with a bit of surprise to the shooter.  We call this a "surprise break" and it is a desired attribute when shooting.

One thing that I see almost all students do, though, is take that finger off the trigger as quickly as possible after the shot breaks.  We don't want to do this.  We want follow-through.  For the shooter for whom follow-through is new, we want that finger to continue to apply that same pressure through the shot break and continue until the trigger no longer moves rearward and hold it there.

I can stand right next to a student watching their trigger finger and encouraging them to keep pressing after the shot breaks and it may takes hundreds of shots before the student becomes comfortable with this process.  For some students I will insist that they hold that trigger all the way back until I give them permission to release it.  It is difficult for the student to do this but it develops in them a sense that the trigger pressure needs to be maintained until after the shot breaks.

Once the shot breaks we want to release the trigger slowly until the point of reset; that is, the point in which the pistol is ready to fire the next shot.  If the student has good trigger follow-through and control, they will feel and probably hear a "click" as the trigger resets.  Once the trigger resets and the sights settle back on target it is time to break the next shot.

If the shooter has flung their finger off the trigger at the time the shot broke then it will take longer to get their finger back in position, the sights back in position and the trigger slack taken up.

Good trigger control with follow-through allows for faster sight re-acquisition and faster subsequent shot-breaks.  In other words, one can fire more shots in a shorter space of time with those shots being more accurate.

Once a student becomes adept at trigger control and follow-through they will no longer need to press the trigger all the way back after the shot breaks.  They will be able to control that space between break and reset delivering very accurate, very quick shots.

Follow-through in shooting, as with many things in life, is critical to success.

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