Sight Alignment, Trigger Control and the Big Lie Chapter 4 FREE

Chapter Four
Improve your groups and scores

The following is the first four chapters of my book “Sight Alignment, Trigger Control & The Big Lie.”
The sections in red are techniques that should be paid close attention.


The M-14 has a two stage trigger. The first stage has what is called “slack”; you pull the trigger through the slack until you feel it stop. The second stage requires a force of at least four and one half pounds to make the hammer fall and fire the rifle. I thought that was pretty simple and straight forward and I couldn’t mess it up. I WAS WRONG!!! We went to the range on New Years Day and I did a little shooting. While I was in the pits, pulling my target, one of the shooters who had attended my High Power Rifle Class said he thought what I meant by “slack” was to put the rifle in your shoulder and, with a good grip, pull the stock back into your shoulder, taking up the slack. I swear, some days I can ruin an anvil with a rubber mallet.


Squeeze is nothing more than applying pressure to the trigger – straight to the rear without disturbing the sights. Easier said than done. Right? Well there are some other things to add that will help you do this. There are two basic methods: (1) the uninterrupted and (2) the interrupted method.

Using the uninterrupted method you start the trigger squeeze and continue until the rifle fires, while maintaining sight alignment. You must accept your “wobble area.” Most people use the uninterrupted method in all positions except off-hand.

When using the interrupted method you start the trigger squeeze and maintain your sight alignment. As the sights drift off the “sight picture” or your “aiming point” (i.e., six o’clock hold), you stop the trigger squeeze but you do not let off the pressure. You hold the pressure at that point, interrupting the trigger squeeze. As the sights come back to the point of aim, you continue the squeeze.

Figure 9 shows the shots scattered in no particular pattern. The main cause was improper focus. Another cause is poor trigger control, especially in the off-hand position (See Figure 13). The shots are further from the center than you would have with improper focus. OK, fine, but how do we get the proper trigger control? First, we have to learn the mechanics and the things to do and/or not to do. We then have to work on it: a lot of dry firing. We have to do some exercises to the point it becomes automatic; second nature; auto pilot. You do it without thinking. If something goes wrong, your finger must instantly come off the trigger.

The instructions here will be for the off-hand position. There is a little more involved here than with the other positions. The instructions for off-hand position will cover all the others. The first thing to do is take a look at your hand. Examine the palm. From the center of the palm up to the base of the thumb is a meaty part that looks like the drum stick on a chicken leg, especially if you move the thumb slightly towards the little finger.

While we are doing the examination of the hand, bend the trigger finger toward you so you can see the finger nail. Look at the tip of the finger, then look at the back of the finger nail, the part that is known as the “quick.” Now turn the finger over and look at the pad of flesh directly opposite the quick. This is the part of the finger that should touch the trigger. Not the finger tip and no further back than the first joint.

Now look at the second joint. When you grip the rifle at the small of the stock and place your finger on the trigger, make sure the back part of the finger near the second joint does not lay tightly onto the stock (called “Dragging Wood”). This would prevent you from pulling the trigger straight to the rear. You would push it to the side, taking the front sight with it. Your group would look like Figure 14.

Now that we have some individual pieces of this puzzle, let’s put them together. When you get ready to shoot off-hand or any other position, consistency is important. You must do it the same every time. When you close the bolt (in a safe direction – down range), you start by placing your hand on the small of the stock. Look at the “Drum Stick” meaty part of the palm and make sure it comes in contact with the same part of the stock each and every time, usually just to the right of the centerline.

Now wrap your hand around the small of the stock and get a good grip. The trigger finger is placed lightly on the trigger, in the manner described above, making sure you are not “dragging wood.” The three lower fingers come on around the small of the stock and meet the thumb to form the grip.

The grip should be like a good firm handshake. If you put on a “death grip,” you will have muscle tension and it will shake. If the grip is too loose (Sgt. Roxsborough used to call it a “Fifi grip”), you will not have control, and a 4 1/2 pound trigger pull will feel like ten pounds.

There are several exercises you can do at home. Just make sure the rifle is safe — unloaded. Wives or girl friends get very upset with bullet holes in the ceiling. The first exercise you can do while sitting on the couch in the living room or just about anywhere. With the magazine out and the rifle clear, close the bolt and get the grip as explained above. With your eyes closed, feel the trigger pull as you squeeze the trigger. Try to take up about one half of the trigger pressure and hold it, then take up the other half of the pressure until the hammer falls. Repeat this again and again. Some people find they can do it right away while others have to work harder at it. It may require dozens of times or hundreds of times, but do it until it becomes second nature. It will help your off-hand scores tremendously.


Figures 15 and 15A show groups that indicate the shooter is anticipating the recoil of the rifle. If you fire an M-14, or most any rifle, with no sweatshirt, no shooting jacket, no sling, a loose grip and your head not placed firmly on the stock, IT WILL KICK THE HELL OUT OF YOU!!! Since you’re smarter than that, you can overcome the recoil and you don’t even notice it.

Always wear a sweatshirt (a hooded one is best) no matter what the temperature. The sweatshirt fills out the shooting jacket and maintains the body at an even temperature (HOT). It, along with the shooting jacket, helps absorb the recoil.

A good leather sling, properly adjusted (coming in the next book), will absorb most of the recoil. You must have a good firm grip and place your head firmly onto the stock. Your head will ride with the rifle as it recoils and it will not kick you. It just pushes your shoulder and you ride with it. Your concentration should be so centered on sight alignment, focus and trigger control, you can ignore the recoil and just let it happen.  

Chapters Available: (123 and 4)