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Reader Comments:

CMP Shooters' News is one of my favorite email news publications. Information packed, talented authors, timely subjects, and all around well done. What a great service you are providing to the shooting community. Just wanted to say thanks and Merry Christmas. Newt E.
I enjoy and look forward to TFS and the excellent articles that are published on a regular basis. Please keep this publication coming and keep the CMP active. Don M.
One of the members at Snipers Hide pointed out the newsletter and the High Power Tips articles by the USAMU team.
Darn you! I was up until 1:00 AM last night reading all of the articles. Great newsletter and really great USAMU articles.
Michael E.
Great article written on physical conditioning in the latest TFS. I was one of likely many who had asked about the type of conditioning recommended for serious shooters. Sgt. Craig did a great job on describing the routines. Now it’s my turn to put it to work.
Thanks to you, Sgt. Craig and other contributors who share best practices of shooting excellence.
Keith H.
I use these articles in our high power clinics and have found them very helpful for both new shooters and reinforcement of the basics for the more experienced.
Thanks, Gary M.
Thanks for the great articles on the Carbine, Springfield, Garand matches. All the articles are interesting, but the Carbine, Springfield & Garand are my favorites.
Jim H.
The September-07 on line shooting tips by SSG Tobie Tomlinson, USAMU Service Rifle Team Member, is a great article. I have reproduced 15 copies of it to hand out and discuss to our “newbie” first year air rifle shooters on our high school JROTC Air Rifle Team. Come to think about it believe I’ll hand out a copy to my advance shooters as well. His explanations are simple to understand but rich in detail. Coupled with the sight pictures this article will go a long way towards helping all our JROTC shooters obtain better sight patterns. Keep up the great work. AND…..keep the articles like this coming.
Malcolm V.
CW2 (R), US Army
It seemed good to read the article on Infantry Trophy Match. As a shooter on the Marine Corp Team way back in 1967 I participated in the Match. We were the second team for the Marines but placed second overall. One of our shooters forgot to put the windage on his rifle. I enjoyed shooting the M-1 and M-14 at Camp Perry and always wanted to go back but never seemed to find the time. The top over all shooter at that time was my team mate Lt. Bowen. I remember some of the team members carrying him from the 600 yd line back to the rest of us. It was a great time in my life and will never forget it. Thanks again for the article.
Mike A.
Thanks for the great series of articles from the USAMU – they are very readable, and usable!
Tom, AZ
Great articles. Great to identify those who are participating as well as those who are working behind the scenes to make the whole of the National Matches run so well.
David D.
Boxford, MA
This is a special note just for my friends at the CMP, I want to thank you all for your hard work and attention to details, it's a great program!
"You help our shooting dreams come true!"
Best Regards,
Tony M.

Printable Version

Straight to the Rear

By SPC Tyrel Cooper

Trigger control is one of the two main principles of shooting that we teach. You can have the best position in the world with perfect sight alignment, but if you have bad trigger control, you have wasted all that effort that you put into your position and sight alignment.

A firm grip is essential for effective trigger control.

Good trigger control begins with a good firing hand position. If you are right handed that would be your right hand, and if you are left handed your left hand. Place your firing hand high on the pistol grip, with a good firm grip. Grip tension should be like giving someone a hand shake or holding a childís hand while walking across a street. The first reason for a good firm grip is to give you control over the rifle and to pull it into your shoulder. The second reason is so you can move your trigger finger without moving your other fingers. Try this, hold out your firing hand with fingers extended; now try moving your trigger finger to the rear as if you were pulling the trigger. Unless you concentrate very hard on moving just your trigger finger, other fingers will move. Now make a fist as if you were grabbing a pistol grip, now you can move your trigger finger freely without introducing movement in the other fingers.

Placement of your trigger finger on the trigger is just as important. I'm sure you have heard advice to place the tip or the pad of your finger on the trigger. This is true if you have short stubby fingers and thatís where the index finger naturally rests, but if you have long fingers like myself you want more of your finger around the trigger, I place the trigger between my first and second knuckle. By placing your finger where it naturally rests on the trigger you are ensuring that you are pulling the trigger straight to the rear, and this also allows you to get more leverage on the trigger. It is harder to pull the trigger straight to the rear with the tip of your finger because of the loss of leverage. Shooting is all about being as comfortable and smooth as possible.

Speaking of smooth, this brings us to the process of trigger control! At the Army Marksmanship Unit we describe trigger control with the word smooth. You can be smooth fast and you can be smooth slow, but you always want to be smooth.

In the standing position, use a fast and smooth trigger control.

When you are shooting standing have you noticed that the rifle never really stops moving? Well, this is where you would want fast and smooth trigger control. While shooting standing you want to be aggressive on the trigger, take it when it's there. I have found that when Iím not aggressive, Iím outside of call and behind the trigger. When I am aggressive, I am on or inside of call. What I mean when I say "behind the trigger" is simply this--I see what I want to see in my sight picture, but I hesitate for a split second that is long enough for me to shoot a 9 when I saw a 10. When I come down and start settling on the target, I take up the first stage of the trigger. Once Iím getting to the end of my firing process and the movement has slowed down, I manipulate the trigger fast, but smooth, to the rear when I see what I want to see in my sight picture. Over time, this will become a subconscious act; when your brain sees the sight picture, it will automatically tell your trigger finger to move instead of you having to tell yourself there it is, take it. Lots and lots of dry firing will help this process.

To repeat, you want to be fast and smooth! This is not to be confused with slap, jerk, pull, snatch, command detonate, yank, squeeze and surprise break. If you are squeezing the trigger waiting for a surprise break, the only surprise youíre going to have is that it wasn't in the black when it went off.

Trigger control for the rapid fire stage is different than it is for standing. You can actually take a little bit more time to break your shots in rapid fire because of the steadiness of a supported position. A good rapid fire shot process is: 1) drop down into position, 2) get your natural point of aim, 3) take up the first stage on your first shot, 4) break that shot smoothly and hold the trigger all the way to the rear through recoil, 4) once recoil has ceased, let the trigger out only far enough to reset the trigger (you should hear a metallic click of the trigger resetting) and continue by firing your second and succeeding shots.

By doing this, you already have most of the weight of the trigger taken up so the next shot is ready to go without having to take up all the weight of the trigger every single shot. One thing you will see shooters do is pull the trigger and immediately release it all the way out. This means you have to take up the full weight of the trigger again. Another reason you want to hold the trigger to the rear after every shot whether you are shooting standing or rapid fire is because you can still disturb the bullet while it is moving down the barrel. During your firing process, you want to produce little or no additional movement when breaking your shot.

During slow fire prone, use a slow and smooth trigger control.

During the slow fire prone stage, you have even more time to break your shots, so you would use the slow--smooth method. You should have little or no hold movement at all, thus allowing you to acquire good sight alignment, a good sight picture and break the shot using slow and smooth trigger control. Again you want to hold that trigger all the way to the rear until recoil has ceased so you do not disturb the rifle, no matter what position you are shooting.

You donít have to shoot matches all the time to practice good trigger control. I recommend dry firing a lot, this way you can see what you are doing, right or wrong, without recoil. Practicing proper trigger control while dry firing enforces good habits that will become muscle memory in time, allowing your trigger control to become natural instead of your having to think about it on every shot.

I will leave you with a good drill to practice shooting standing called live fire--dry fire. You need some dummy rounds to perform this drill. When practicing standing, have someone load your rifle for you, mixing up live rounds with dummy rounds in no specific order. This way the shooter has no clue what they are shooting. This forces them to react the same every time. I used to react differently with a live round in the chamber, I would dry fire a good shot, but get jumpy with a live round. This drill forces you to create a mental process to practice good trigger control whether it is a live or dummy round. I hope to see you on the range, good luck and good shooting!

The USAMU Service Rifle Team is also answering your questions pertaining to Service Rifle Shooting including topics such as Equipment and Ammunition, Shooting Positions and Shooting Techniques and Tactics.  Go to to view the latest questions and answers.  If you have a question you would like to ask, email


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