Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dragging Wood

Trigger Control

You might think that dragging wood has something to do with bringing wood into elk hunting camp.

It may, but in today's context it concerns a type of poor trigger control.

If you ever have a target that looks like the one below you may be "dragging wood." Dragging wood, does not necessarily mean your trigger finger is really dragging. It may mean that the flex of your trigger finger is exerting pressure on the stock or pistol grip just enough to push the rifle to the left, or to the right for a left handed shooter.

Dragging wood doesn't have to happen on EVERY SHOT. It may happen only a few times. Check your targets for good groups in the center, with only one or two shots out to the left. Additionally, the errant shot(s) are not always directly at 9 o'clock. They could be anywhere from 7 to 10 o'clock.

Typical target for shooter "dragging wood." (author drawing)

Having a coach or buddy watch your finger closely will help identify the problem.

Simply adjust your grip on the pistol grip. Most sporting and hunting rifles have long enough pistol grips to allow individual adjustments. Remember, dragging wood doesn't always mean "dragging." It may be caused by big or fleshy hands, especially on the first joint above the palm. If you look carefully, dryfiring will help you spot the solution without expending lots of ammo.

The target below shows a slightly different trigger control problem. It has two main causes. One is a consistent or inconsistent jerk. (More on that later) The other is caused by a hand that is too large for the pistol grip of the stock. This is seen with many M-16 or AR-15 shooters. With a small pistol grip, the finger doesn't need to reach for the trigger. (reaching is normally a good thing) Instead, the trigger finger is bent and doesn't pull the trigger straight back. Similar to the above group, the bad shots don't always go directly to 3 o'clock. They may drift from 2 to 5, depending on how much torque is applied, in addition to the outward pull.

This grouping illustrates poor trigger control from jerking, or having too large of hands for the pistol grip. Commonly seen on M-16 and AR-15s.

Solutions to this problem mean orienting the hand to cause the trigger finger to stretch to the trigger. If you shoot in Service Rifle competition, you will need to wear a glove or learn a slightly different grip. If you shoot for fun, varmints and such, there are several grip accessories available. Alternatively, you can do like I did on my space gun and use epoxy steel to build a custom grip.

Built up pistol grip on my space gun. It is important to NOT BUILD up too much were the web of the hand fits--that may transmit different movement to the rifle. Build up more were the palm fits. This pistol grip has also been cut off so it is shorter. This allows a lower prone position. In U.S. highpower shooting there are no rules on how low your position can be. International shooting rules address the permissible angle of the forearm.

Go shoot and have a blast!



Rick Kratzke said...

Not that I know a lot about rifles because I don't but, i never heard of that before, it's rather interesting.

hodgeman said...

Great post. I am enjoying your series on elk rifles and trigger control with the targets.
Please keep up the good work!