Some shooters argue that follow-through on the trigger is not important when it comes to fundamentals, due to the fact that, whether the trigger is slapped, yanked, or simply flies off, the bullet has already left the barrel and is now on its way to the target. I disagree.

In order for us to understand the importance of follow-through, we need to take a look at the step-by-step process the rifle must go through before the bullet exits the muzzle.

  • The brain makes a conscious decision to pull the trigger to the rear.
  • The finger receives this command and begins to apply pressure, causing the finger’s pad to depress in the distal phalanx (the pad on the trigger finger that separates the tip from the first joint).
  • Once the trigger finger’s pad is compressed, tension begins to form, exerting the prescribed trigger pull weight (typically 3-5 lbs.)
  • Once the trigger finger’s pad is compressed and the trigger pull weight is achieved, the trigger compressed to the rear, the trigger releases the hammer.
  • The hammer then slams forward, making contact with the firing pin.
  • The firing pin moves forward and makes contact with the primer of the cartridge.
  • Once the primer is hit, it sparks, causing the gunpowder to burn, not explode.
  • Once the powder begins to burn, pressure begins to build within the cartridge itself. As the pressure builds, it will find a path of least resistance, this being the bullet projectile seated within the cartridge.
  • When enough pressure builds, the bullet will unseat itself and slam forward into the rifling of the barrel.
  • As the bullet makes contact with the barrel, it begins 168,000-230,000 RPMs while moving through a 26-inch barrel.

All of these steps occur between the moment the trigger breaks and the round begins its trek out of the rifle. So is follow-through, meaning holding the trigger back and to the rear until the perception of recoil is over, important? I think it is. After all, the bullet is likely still in the barrel when we instinctively release the trigger.

Think of it in these terms: When the trigger is pulled, and the bang of the rifle is perceived, most shooters tend to blink. Yet they are able to open their eyes while the sound is still being perceived. The human eye blink is calculated at 300-500 milliseconds. There are 1,000 milliseconds in one second. If the trigger is reset immediately following that blink, or while the blink is occurring, the bullet is likely still in the process of leaving the barrel. Any movement caused by a premature reset of the trigger could negatively impact the trajectory of the round.