How to Master the Live-Trigger Technique

Some shooters consider the lengthy trigger pull on a double-action (DA) revolver to be overly heavy, slow, and cumbersome. Not so!

Shooting Revolvers
The lengthy trigger pull on a double-action revolver can be masted so that you can shoot quickly and accurately. Here's how.

A skilled DA revolver shooter can face off against three action-pistol targets at 7 yards and—from the holster—draw and drill two perfect hits through each in less than 3½ seconds. The elite masters can shave a second from that. Those times, however, are only possible when using the live-trigger technique.

A live trigger means that once the first shot is fired, the gun’s trigger never stops moving and the cylinder never stops revolving. The trigger is either coming back to fire a round or moving forward to reset before it immediately moves rearward again. This includes while transitioning between targets. The trigger keeps moving.

This is in direct contrast to the dead-trigger technique, in which the shooter allows the trigger to go forward to reset, pauses, confirms sights on target, and begins the lengthy double-action pull all over again. The speed advantage is significant on targets inside 15 yards.

This technique requires a strong grip on the revolver, an intense focus of the front sight, and a practiced sense of timing and rhythm so that the trigger pull finishes just when the sights hit their alignment on the target. Recoil enters the picture here, too, but the act of pulling the trigger as the gun rises up in recoil helps bring the gun back down on target. The timing and rhythm will need to be learned through practice and lots of repetition.

When shooting a double-action revolver, you need to position the web of the shooting hand as high up on the back strap as possible, and grip the gun with enough pressure to compress the web and squeeze the frame tight. This puts the axis of the bore in a direct line with the forearm.

This will reduce felt recoil and muzzle rise. The shooter shouldn’t feel any of the recoil in the palm of his or her hand. Instead, it should be straight back into the wrist and arms. This helps to get the shooter back on target faster and is less fatiguing.

It also helps improve accuracy because, if the gun is gripped low, it will pivot and shift in the shooter’s hand. Since recoil begins while the bullet is still in the barrel, this can cause the bullet to wind up other than where your sights said it would. A high grip produces less felt recoil and greater accuracy.