Skill Set: Marksmanship Part III - Follow-Through
(The Tacticalwire.com) by Tiger McKee- In the past two columns we've talked about aiming, holding, and pressing the trigger to fire an accurate shot. (Remember, accuracy is defined by the shot you're attempting.) The final step in the fundamentals is follow-through - recovering from the recoil, reacquiring the sights on the target and resetting the trigger. Following through after every shot fired is essential for firing multiple shots accurately and to improve accuracy.
Follow-through begins by recovering from the recoil. When it comes to recoil we control it as much as possible with the proper stance, isometric tension between the arms and a sound grip, but the idea is to concentrate on allowing the recoil to occur and then using the entire body to assist in recovering from the recoil efficiently. If additional shots are required you're back on target and ready to fire. By not attempting to control the recoil you're able to press off the shot without recoil anticipation, which is definitely going to improve your accuracy.
While pressing the trigger your visual focus is on the front sight, or with a red-dot sight, on the target. Once the shot fires keep your eyes on the same focal point. Ideally with iron sights you're watching the front sight travel up and back down onto target. Make sure to fight the urge to shift your focus to the target to see where you hit. This will cost you time and without the proper follow-through you'll see accuracy degrade. When using a dot your focus in on the target and the dot drops back onto the target. One reason dots are so easy to operate is that you don't have to program the eyes to shift their focus from the threat to a front sight. Iron or dot visually acquiring another sight picture is essential for firing additional shots without delay, often required in a confrontation, and again a critical part of accuracy.
The final component of the follow-through is resetting the trigger. To reset the trigger you fire the shot then release the trigger forward only far enough so the internals reset and it's ready to press again if needed. The speed you press the trigger is dictated by the accuracy required. The same thing applies to a certain degree when resetting the trigger. When surgical accuracy is called for you want to press smoothly to fire the shot, completely recover from the recoil, and then reset the trigger. This makes sure the shot has cleared the barrel before you start changing anything in your grip or stance.
In a lethal confrontation we know it's likely multiple shots will be required to stop the threat, especially when we're talking about handguns. The proper follow-through allows you to place multiple hits accurately on the threat in the least amount of time possible. The more accuracy required the more important follow-through becomes; for precision/surgical shooting follow-through is a key element to success.
If you think about it follow-through applies to almost everything we do in life. Make sure to get the job done efficiently, regardless of the task.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns," a staff member of several firearms/tactical publications, an adjunct instructor for the F.B.I. and designer of the Shootrite Katana. (256) 582-4777 http://www.shootrite.org/