Finger dragging the trigger guard=low & left
OK, I just joined this forum tonight in order to get some help towards better target shooting. My most common issue is shooting low and left--I am right handed. What I have finally recognized from my dry firing sessions is that the tip of my trigger finger is dragging the bottom of the trigger guard as I squeeze. This is a natural result of my grip (high as possible), causing my trigger finger to be canted through the trigger guard at a pretty steep angle. OK, so what do I do about it? I tried switching to the smallest backstrap on my XDM, and it might have helped a little, but the issue is still there, except if I pull the trigger with mostly finger tip. Anybody got a suggested solution for this novice?
What part of your finger is pulling the trigger?
Are your locked in visually on your front sight as you pull the trigger? Can you see the sight move to the left as you pull the trigger?
Are you low and to the left when shooting with both hands?
Single action weapons are much easier to control in this regard. They have a shorter and lighter trigger. A long heavy trigger is much more difficult (but obviously doable).
Okay, your finge shouldn't be doing that, but that's probably not why you're shooting low left. On the polymer framed semiautos you want the trigger near the first joint rather than in the traditional bullseye, center of the pad placement. You may need to rotate your grip around the gun to accomplish that, so be ready!
Dry fire can be very helpful in determining exact finger placement on the trigger.
Find a safe place to dry fire, remove ALL ammo and loaded magazines from the room/area. Double-check the weapon to make absolutely sure it is COMPLETELY unloaded; no ammo in chamber, and no magazine in place (unless an empty magazine is needed to activate a magazine disconnect function to enable dry firing).
Watch the sight alignment, especially the reaction of the front sight, when you squeeze the trigger and dry-fire the weapon. If the sight moves in any direction when the striker releases, slow down the pressure on the trigger. If that does not correct the problem, then begin placing your finger on the trigger in a different manner. Try at least ten dry-fire shots for each placement. As said above, some designs work best with a little bit more finger on the trigger than the normal amount. You said you were using the tip of the finger; try the center of the first pad of your finger. If that still doesn't stop the front sight from moving/jerking when you gently squeeze the trigger, then try moving the finger so the first joint in on the trigger, then try at least ten shots. One or more of these adjustments should allow you to get to a solid squeeze-to-release without any sight movement when you hear the "click."
Then, try it during your next trip to the range, using live ammo. Take your time, don't rush the squeeze, and see if the shot placement AND grouping of the shots improves. If it does, make sure you use this grip and finger placement consistently for the next few range trips, to get it ingrained as a good habit. A little bit of dry firing each day (40-50 shots) will help solidify the proper habits.
"Placement is power" -- seen in an article by Stephen A. Camp
(RIP, Mr. Camp; you will be remembered, and missed)
Thanks to all for the replies. Keep in mind that I have only fired this new gun at an indoor range twice--about 150-200 rounds each trip--so I'm really new at this.
Packard, let me answer your questions, first:
I am just about in the center of the pad, maybe slightly closer to the distal knuckle. What seems to be happening is that my trigger finger is canted downward rather than perpendicular to the frame. This causes the very tip of my finger to drag the inside of the bottom of the trigger guard. Everything says that I should grip the gun as high in the web of my hand as possible, which puts my carpal joint higher than the bottom of the frame. Naturally, my finger has to cant slightly to engage the trigger.
I am presbyopic, so I found that I need to wear reading glasses to focus on the front sight--works reasonably well, and it was a cheap solution ($8 @ Walmart).
During dry fire practice, I sometimes see movement in the front sight, but not always. And my range practice bears this out. I definitely favor the lower LH quadrant, but sometimes I hit the bull, too. (As my brother is fond of saying, "every now and then a blind squirrel finds an acorn.")
I am new to pistol shooting, so I have never tried anything other than a two-handed grip. I started out with a grip they taught in the NRA Basic Pistol course, and that had me crossing my thumbs and squeezing my RH fingers with the LH fingers. Perhaps I was just doing it wrong, but that never really felt right--not consistent, either. After extensive searching on the Internet, I arrived at a slightly different grip that feels much more natural. I now have what I believe is a consistent, comfortable, and solid grip on the pistol with a nice solid "push-pull" and both thumbs pointed towards the target.
The XDM is a striker design (thank you NRA!), so it is not truly either equivalent to either single or double action. When I went to buy a pistol, I really intended to buy a Glock 17, but when I got to the store (nice discount coupon in hand!), I found that I could get a really good deal on the XDM (with 3 free mags via the Gear Up! promotion). And while I waited (l-o-o-o-ng wait--just before Christmas) at the counter, 3 guys in a row came up and volunteered why they liked the XDM better than the Glock, so they swayed me, and I bought it.
I experimented with rotating my hand like that, but it just doesn't feel right. And I think I am naturally placing the trigger as you suggested.
Sometimes I can release the striker without any perceived motion of the front sight (even with the finger dragging)--other times, not so much. With some additional reading, I have hit upon another possible explanation for my low-and-left performance: jerking the trigger. Now, I've always been a shotgun shooter, wherein "slapping the trigger" is expected. But I've concentrated on squeezing, and I did not believe I was jerking--that is until somebody explained to me what that means. Since the front sight cannot humanly be held perfectly still (on-bull), there is a tendency to anticipate the next time the front sight will move "back-to-center-of-bull". And with that is a tendency to "rush the squeeze" before the front sight overshoots the bull to the other side. Now that is something I have found myself doing. It isn't exactly a "slap", but I can see where that would be a bad habit.
I still think I shouldn't be contacting the trigger guard during the trigger squeeze, though. I've wondered whether I could heat the plastic frame enough to put a slight downward arc on the bottom of the trigger guard to give me more clearance in there. Your advice?
Yes, it seems you are trying to "ambush" the target as the sights go past center; a very bad habit, and it can be hard to break, once ingrained. The shooter cannot see how far the weapon is being moved by the jerk/slap of the quick trigger pull, because the recoil bounce covers the gun's movement at the moment of firing. You can get away with this at very close range, and in fact, it is an accepted firing technique for close distance use; but it can cause problems when used at any range past a couple of paces.
Originally Posted by b1rdd0g
The XDs I've fired had a mushy-feeling trigger action, and some of them seemed to change a bit from shot-to-shot. Under these circumstances, I'd recommend a tight grip on the weapon and a crush-it-smoothly-straight-to-the-rear type of trigger pull. You can compress the time it takes to squeeze-through the pull, but you still want it to be smooth and straight back to prevent moving the weapon as the firing mechanism is activated.
Handguns are NOT sniper rifles; don't try to make every shot an X-ring center hit. Hold the sight waver to within the 8-9-10-X-ring or 9-10-X-ring, and when the weapon fires, you'll have a solid hit. If the sights swing completely out of the target's center, stop your squeeze, swing the sights back to near-center, and RE-START THE SQUEEZE (do NOT slap the trigger to finish). As the muscles you use to support the weapon get stronger (and steadier) over time, you'll eventually be able to hold the sight waver to within the 10- and X-rings only, and then all your hits will be within this area, BUT ONLY IF YOU SQUEEZE THE TRIGGER PROPERLY. This concept is almost religious in nature; initially you must HAVE FAITH that if you hold and squeeze properly, the shots will go into a tighter group, nearer the center of the target, EVEN IF THE SIGHTS ARE MOVING AROUND A BIT. After you have demonstrated that it works, you must remind yourself to do it every time and ingrain the habit so you don't HAVE to think about doing it every time, it will just happen. Even then, you will hear the siren call of the trigger jerk (or "quick squeeze") every now and then. "This is easy!" you'll say to yourself, "I don't have to squeeze any more, I can get away with a little snappy-action on the trigger", and then the shots begin to scatter away from center, and you'll have to remind yourself to squeeze if you want to hit center.
The dragging of the finger on the trigger guard is not helpful, but unless you're a bullseye shooter going for a 2650 average, it shouldn't be affecting your shots that much at close distances. Try re-adjusting your grip to get the finger a little higher on the trigger face, and see if that helps. Don't let the concern of finger placement overshadow the real problem, which is releasing the striker without disturbing the sight alignment. Every. Single. Shot.
"Placement is power" -- seen in an article by Stephen A. Camp
(RIP, Mr. Camp; you will be remembered, and missed)
Nip it! Nip it in the bud!
DJ Niner. Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I am glad to have hit upon this bad habit early, otherwise, all my dry fire practice would simply reinforce my bad habit. I am kinda surprised by the long travel on the XDM trigger, but then I'm a complete noob, so I have no frame of reference (other than 5 rounds through a Glock and some 22 pistols). I think I'll "ambush" the next pistol expert that I meet and see if they can diagnose my grip issue.
Keep in mind that the results of your trigger pull should not come as a surprise. You should see the results as you watch the front sights.
As for your $8.00 eyeglasses: You might have to spend another $8.00.
Eyeglasses are generally chosen to correct for a reading distance (about 16"). Your front sights are quite a bit further away. So get a really good idea how far you are from the front sights and then go back to the Wal-mart and select a pair of glasses that works for that distance. This is usually about .5 or .75 weaker than your reading requirement. So if you normally need a +2.00 you might only need a +1.25 or a +1.50.
A lot of good marksmen have lousy grips on the gun. They are able to compensate. Hitchcock45 (the Glock video blogger) who is an excellent marksman admits freely that he pulls the trigger well into the first joint of his finger.
Regardless of what you do with your grip you should be able to see what is happening by watching your front sights. With practice you should be able to keep the front sights aligned--just keep focused on the front sights and keep things aligned.
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