Breath Control and Trigger Pull By Joshua L. Hicks Certified Firearms Instructor

A guest article written for us by Joshua Hicks from the United States. Thank you to Joshua for taking the time to write this interesting and informative article. I’m sure we can all pick up hand tips and tricks from it.

Joshua is 28 years old.  A Firearms Instructor, Range Safety Officer, and Writer from the mountains of North Carolina. He is passionate about teaching firearms safety and fundamentals.



Breath control, and trigger pull are two shooting fundamentals that directly impact your accuracy. With rifles and shotguns the two stances in which these fundamentals can make the most difference is standing and kneeling. If the gun is resting on a branch or rest than the rest negates the purpose of breath control however, proper trigger pull is always useful.

What is the purpose of breath control? Have you ever noticed when you’re aiming your rifle or shotgun that the front sight moves ever so slightly up and down? This is a result of your breathing. Now, some people can hold their breath longer than others. That being said everyone at some point or another while holding their breath and a rifle will begin to quiver. This negates the purpose of breath control, which is to steady the rifle. Test yourself to find you threshold. I for example only have about 10-20 seconds of usable time with one breath. Now should you practice breath control with every shot? I wouldn’t recommend it as you will eventually will grow light headed from holding your breath. The time this technique really comes in handy is when you’re shooting a 20mm spread at 100 meters, but you really want to shoot a 12mm spread.

Trigger pull, this technique is unique to each shooter. An exercise I recommend is to take your dominant hand and place it behind your back. Then with your index finger and thumb at a 90 degree angle draw the two together until they touch. Where your thumb touches your index finger is where your trigger should be for a natural pull. If the trigger is placed anywhere else on the index finger, the shooter may be tempted to pull left or right. This can greatly impact your marksmanship. Now that you’ve figured out where your trigger should go lets discuss trigger pull. When pulling the trigger, the shooter should utilize a single fluid motion. Knowing your rifle plays a big part in this. You need to memorize the trigger, at what pressure does it begin to move? When does it release the action? And when does it reset? Over anticipating the release of the action and subsequent shot can cause the shooter to jerk the trigger. It is important to know at exactly which stage of the trigger pull the gun will go off. Effective trigger pull can only be mastered through practice. If you’re afraid of dry firing your rifle or shotgun, I recommend investing in some snap caps or “Dummy Rounds” which in most cases are colored to distinguish them from live rounds. They also come equipped with silicone primers which won’t damage firing pins and hammers, whether on the range or using dummy rounds practice finger placement, and learning the stages of your trigger. Another nifty trick is to balance a dime or ten pence coin on the end of your barrel, and then pull the trigger, if you’re pulling left, right, or jerking the coin will fall off.

©2024 Firearms UK.


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