I have had a ton of fun shooting my open division guns in NRA Action Pistol competition during the last few weeks. My Bianchi Cup guns are more than just your standard Smith & Wesson 1911s. With some extra love from the Performance Center, they become extremely accurate space-age-looking beasts, complete with Aimpoint Micro T-1 red dots and all sorts of attachments. Yes, even wings! They also have oh-so-smooth triggers that break right at 2.5 pounds.
Now that the biggest Action Pistol matches of the year are finished, it’s time to transition to my Smith & Wesson M&P. The production and service pistol divisions in United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA), International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) and International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) feature striker-fired or double-action, first-shot guns. Switching up to one of these pistols, especially after getting used to a light, single-action trigger, can get a little hairy.
Now, you can certainly visit a gunsmith or even use a drop-in trigger kit — like the one from APEX Tactical — to get a lighter pull for the M&P, but because of trigger requirements in IPSC, I’m shooting mine with 5.5-pound minimum trigger weights. Believe it or not, that 3-pound difference can translate to some ugly results on the target. How do you fix that?
Trigger-finger weight training
1. Dryfire — It’s like flossing your teeth. Some do it faithfully, others just say they do. Not only is dry fire a great way to improve your fundamentals, it also can help you build up trigger-finger strength. So put away the ammo, set up some targets and get on with your dry practice. Fifteen minutes a day really can make a difference.
2. SIRTified — Have you heard of the SIRT? It’s an inert gun that lets you keep tapping away on that trigger. There’s no slide to reset and you can even turn on the laser for shot-to-shot feedback. It comes in a variety of colors (yes, pink, too) and there’s even an M&P model in the works! Check it out at Next Level Training.
3. Go retro with the Revo — Now if you really want to pump up that trigger finger, take it through a workout with a double-action trigger. After all, who doesn’t have a Smith & Wesson revolver around the house? The longer, heavier, double-action trigger pull is like weight training and you can even “work out” while you’re watching TV. Just make sure you don’t have any ammo around. Safety first!
4. Get gripped — There are all sorts of hand-strength tools out there, from putty and devices that work each finger to traditional hand grippers and bands. Whether you take a trip to a local sporting goods store or visit a sight like ironmind.com, adding a hand-strengthening routine to your regimen will not only help you make that trigger finger strong, but also, it will improve overall grip strength, a plus for controlling recoil.
5. Mind over matter live fire — When you hit the range, make the mental focus on good trigger control a priority. You don’t want your trigger pulling session to evolve into a yank-fest. You may have to take the speed back a notch or think through your finger motion for every shot. It will take a good bit of concentration, but just remember you are building the foundation of solid shooting techniques.
Don’t be discouraged. Learning to shoot heavier triggers isn’t always easy, but it’s an invaluable skill. Master a heavy trigger pull and you can shoot just about any gun!
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Julie Golob is one of the most accomplished professional shooters in the world and captain of Team Smith & Wesson. She has won more than 120 championship titles in international, national and regional marksmanship competitions in seven different shooting disciplines. Learn more about the champion, author, veteran, hunter and outdoor television personality at JulieGolob.com. View all posts by Julie Golob