One of the most important aspects of shooting effectively happens after you pull the trigger and the gun goes BANG! Follow-through is the final step in the firing process and the one that helps to integrate the other fundamentals in the taking a great shot.
Most sports require some form of follow-through when taking a shot with a ball or puck etc., and it’s this action that ties everything together. It shouldn’t be an afterthought or forced element, since follow through is normally seen as the natural by-product of the preceding mechanics.
This would certainly hold true for shooting, as follow-through after your shot is as important as aim, breath and hold control, sight picture and trigger control. It’s a matter of maintaining all of these elements after the trigger breaks and the gun has settled back into position post-recoil. The cycle of firing does not end until you are back on target with the trigger reset and ready to fire again.
Ultimately, following through on your shots helps you to stay focused, increases accuracy and allows for more efficient and effective sustained fire.
The good thing with a subject like this is that the concept really isn’t up for debate. There may be some minor variations on technique, but most shooters can agree that follow-through is a good thing.
Making it Work
Getting back to the comparison to other sports, it is often the anticipation of the stopping of your motion that will affect the movement overall. Psychologically, this can be a challenge to overcome – understanding that the initial pull of the trigger is not the end of the process. Think of a basketball player that leaves their arm extended and wrist bent after a shot. It’s the same type of thing. Following through lets the energy of your movement dissipate more gradually rather than trying to force it to stop at the point of contact or release.
A Few Other Things to Consider
Continuing to squeeze the trigger after firing helps to avoid any sort of jerky ‘pull’ motion. Having the finger bounce forward after the shot is something that many shooters have to overcome.
Along these same lines, you can effectively reset the trigger by maintaining contact with it and releasing it only far enough to re-engage the firing mechanism. This can also help to reduce firing time since you won’t have to take up the slack for every shot.
Attention must be paid to how the weapon returns into position post-recoil. It should be a smooth, natural motion and not forced with the use of the shooter’s strength. The more deliberate the motion, the more difficult it becomes for faster target re-acquisition.
Don’t abandon shots too early by relaxing and allowing the weapon to drop before the firing sequence is complete.
Ensure that your grip, head position and eye relief are correct (as usual).
Always try and maintain a laser focus with your eyes on the target and hold your sight picture throughout. Avoid blinking, and whatever you do, do not lift your head away from the stock to get a better look at the target.
Depending on how a shooter first learned, follow-through as a concept may have been a missing element initially. Once you become aware of it though, it’s important to practice and visualize the technique for obvious reasons. It can also be very helpful to have a more experienced shooter or coach watch how you fire so that you’re able to make corrections. Often it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re doing when you’re the one doing it.
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