Grip – Sights – Trigger (UPDATED)

Cleaning up in my office the other day I came across a small scrap of paper with notes on it from a gun training session I had with Chris Cypert, a retired Special Forces Soldier (Green Beret) and now an instructor with Citizens Defense Research. I didn’t want to lose one idea in the notes so I am going to put it here for my future reference. Perhaps you will find it useful.

Discussing the basics of pistol marksmanship, Chris said the following:

The GRIP is the MASTER, the SIGHTS set the PACE, and the TRIGGER is the SERVANT.

Chris Cypert shooting pistol. Photo by David Yamane

The IDEA that a good grip trumps the trigger press is something I had certainly heard before, for example from champion shooter Rob Leatham almost a decade ago. So, this may be an old saying in the gun training community (Chris did not claim to have coined the phrase). But I had not heard it phrased in this useful way before.

I am now told, by Chris Cypert and the man himself, that this phrasing is an authentic original “Correiaism.” So, credit to John Correia of Active Self Protection!

In a Facebook comment, Chris also added something that made sense of the triangle I had drawn in my notes:

Much like the ubiquitous cheap/fast/quality triangle, where you get to pick two out of three but can never have all three, I’ve come to the conclusion that if two out of three of grips/sights/trigger are solid you’ll get your hits in the overwhelming majority of realistic self-defense distance/timing constraints. While you CAN have all three be perfect, that takes time. If our grip and sight picture is solid then our trigger press matters much less. If our grip is a vice and our trigger press is solid then a suboptimal sight picture won’t matter nearly as much, and so on. It’s only when we have 1/3 or 0/3 when misses occur. There’s a bit of a seesaw effect where the more slack our grip the more perfect our sight picture and trigger press need be, and vice versa. Shooting is simple, but it’s hard.

Chris Cypert

Another lesson I learned: Type up your field notes soon after you take them, while they still make sense to you.

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  1. I agree that trigger press has been way over-emphasized vs proper grip (which includes proper pressure and counter-pressure). To paraphrase a good description I heard a while back, “If you put your pistol in a vise and point it at a target, it’s going to hit the same point every time, no matter how you manipulate the trigger. The way to tighten up your groups is not with more attention paid to trigger fondling, it’s by applying the proper grip.”

    I can certainly say that when my groups are feeling ‘off,’ it’s focusing on my grip that tightens them back up again, not anything I’m doing with the trigger.

    Liked by 1 person

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