Aha Moment: Shooting Cadence

Shooting quickly, carefully, and precisely is heavily dependent on a strong grip, a good sight picture and excellent trigger control. Assuming a good grip and sight picture, the secret sauce is found in trigger control.

I first heard of shooting cadence a little over a year ago while watching an Active Self Protection video on YouTube. Back then I thought the idea of shooting quickly, carefully, and precisely made sense to me. I heard this concept again when I attended a tactical pistol and carbine course late in 2019 and again when I took Tom Givens’ Combative Pistol course last month. Until a few weeks ago, I thought I understood it. I was wrong.

I had an aha moment while attending KR Training’s Red Dot Pistol Essentials. I hope I can do this topic justice and explain it properly.

Generally speaking, a good shot requires a good sight picture and a good trigger press. Shooting a larger target, such as the center of mass at a close distance, can be done quickly. On a smaller target, like a head box at close range, the shooter should slow down and shoot carefully. On a very small target, like a head box at a moderate distance, the shooter needs to slow down even more and shoot precisely.

Initially, I thought this concept was more about getting a good sight picture. This was followed by taking out the slack from the trigger. Finally, breaking the shot. This isn’t wrong per se. But the devil is in the details.

When I first started practicing this concept I spent more time on getting a good sight picture and then working the trigger like I normally would. Here is the thing, the speed at which the slack is taken out of the tigger doesn’t need to change. I might take more time to get a good sight picture for a precise shot but that can be done without any slack in the trigger as long as the shot doesn’t break. So the speed at which the slack is taken out of the trigger is irrelevant. The secret sauce from my “aha” moment occurred when I realized the speed of the break matters. It takes a fraction of a second from the break of the trigger for the striker to ignite the primer and for the projectile to leave the barrel. If the sight picture is disturbed during that fraction of a second then the accuracy of the projectile will be impacted. This means that those fractions of a second are critical for a precise shot. The break must be slowed down, or perhaps it’s better to say the break must be gentler, in order to minimize the disturbance of the sight picture before the projectile is in free flight. In other words and assuming a good sight picture, the gentler the break, the more precise the shot will be.

If I’m right about this (and assuming I have explained it well), then the trick to fast precision shooting lies in ones ability to get a good fast sight picture and establish a gentle fast trigger break. Furthermore, the faster we can take the slack out of the trigger the more time we have available to focus on the sight picture and the break.

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