Trigger Reset

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After every shot fired we follow-through, recovering from the recoil, reacquiring the sights on target, and resetting the trigger and preparing to fire another round. The follow-through is essential for accuracy, especially long-range rifle shooting, and in fighting with a firearm; in a confrontation, you don’t know how many rounds you’ll have to fire to get the desired response. Most shooters easily grasp the concept of recovering from the recoil and obtaining another sight picture on target. These actions are almost instinctual. 

However, the trigger reset is one of those “wow” things you don’t know about until someone shows you, and is trigger resetessential for firing multiple shots accurately and in the least amount of time necessary.

Resetting the trigger isn’t complicated. Once the trigger has been pressed, firing a shot, you reset the trigger by letting it move forward until the internal components of the weapon – hammer, trigger, and such – have reset and the trigger is ready to be pressed again to fire another round. You only want the trigger to go far enough forward so it resets. Allowing the trigger to move past its reset means if it’s necessary to fire again you must take the slack back out of the trigger to start another press. This is wasted time, motion, and increases the possibility you’ll slap or jerk the trigger on the next shot, which is going to affect accuracy.  Allowing the finger to come off the trigger, completely losing contact and placement on the trigger is another way to guarantee you’ll slap/jerk the next shot.

In the beginning, you have to consciously focus on resetting the trigger. The very best way to practice trigger reset is dry with a partner. Remember dry practice should only be performed in a safe environment, taking every precaution to insure there is no chance an actual round can be chambered. You come up on target, focus on the front sight, and smoothly press the trigger. At some point it will click, releasing the hammer or firing pin as normal. Keep the sights on target and your finger applying pressure to the trigger while your partner cycles the slide. Then focus on the front sight and slowly release the trigger, allowing it to move forward until reset. Repeat as necessary, then swap places and perform the same actions with your partner. Practicing dry with your eyes closed is a great way to feel the reset. Once you take away the visual input the trigger reset is very pronounced.

Firearms, according to design, have different feeling resets. The 1911 single action type trigger should have a distinct reset. Glocks are good, and you can change out a spring or such to get an even crisper reset. Some pistols, like the Ruger LCP have a false reset. You’ll feel one click, but then you should let it out more for another click, which is the actual reset. On an AR with mil-spec components you can simply relax your finger and the trigger, due to its spring pressure, will reset your finger.

When it comes time to shoot, you need every advantage to get good hits quickly. The trigger reset is a small thing that will make a big difference in accuracy and efficiency. ~ Tiger

Tiger McKee
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama.  He is the author of “The Book of Two Guns” - writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk’s DVD, “Fighting With The 1911 -  McKee’s new book, AR-15 Skills and Drills, is available off Shootrite’s website: