As with aiming, control is a continuous cycle. It can be broken into the following components:
The focus of the control sequence is to minimize the arc of movement induced by inherent instability in the shooting position, the shooter’s own breathing, and the trigger press itself. This allows the greatest window of opportunity for effective shots, as well as a shorter recovery time for follow-up shots.
Breathing contributes to the arc of movement in a way the shooter can control, but not eliminate entirely. Each individual will develop a method of breathing control that suits them best, but it is important that the method remain consistent and repeatable. For this reason, a common method of breathing control is to fire on the natural pause between breaths.
Trigger control is necessary in order to maintain proper aim through the process of initiating the shot all the way up to the point at which the bullet leaves the muzzle, without inducing unnecessary movement.
Trigger finger placement: the trigger finger should be placed on the trigger where it lays naturally after achieving a proper grip. Since this will vary by individual hand size, there is no specific part of the finger which should be used for every individual. Finding a natural trigger finger placement based on a proper grip will allow the shooter the greatest mechanical advantage in manipulating the trigger.
Trigger squeeze: the shooter must pull the trigger directly rearward in a smooth and consistent manner. Some of the most common marksmanship-related issues involve improper trigger squeeze; “jerking” the trigger by pulling it in an inconsistent motion, pushing it or pulling it to one side or the other, and “flinching” by suddenly changing grip pressure and angle in anticipation of recoil, will all cause a round to miss its desired point of impact.
Trigger reset: as part of follow-through and preparation for subsequent shots, the shooter should not simply release their finger from the trigger immediately after firing. Consistent rearward pressure should be kept on the trigger until after the bullet leaves the muzzle, and then the trigger should be let back out to its reset point. Trigger reset is key to firing multiple shots quickly and accurately.
During the shot, the shooter must keep their eyes open and their focus on the sight picture through the entire process of trigger pull and the discharge of the weapon itself. It will often be apparent to the shooter if an error such as flinching or jerking the trigger has pulled the muzzle away from their intended point of aim.
As with many sports-related physical skills, follow-through is essential in order to ensure proper form of execution and recovery. Immediately following weapon discharge, the following things must be considered:
Recoil cycle: the weapon action or bolt will travel to its rearmost position and then return to battery. The weapon must be kept as stable as possible through this process by maintaining a stable shooting position.
Recoil recovery: the sight picture must be reacquired in its pre-shot position.
Trigger reset: as the weapon action cycles, the mechanical components relating to the trigger will be reset. Failure of the trigger to reset could potentially indicate a malfunction which requires remedial action; such as a double feed, failure to return to battery or bolt override. As described above, continuous pressure should be kept on the trigger through the shot and then released until the trigger and sear reset, leaving it pre-staged for subsequent shots.
Sight picture adjustment: returning the sight picture to the target aiming point. Given a stable, natural firing position and good follow-through techniques, this should happen naturally at the end of the recoil cycle.
Assessment: once the sight picture and target point of aim are reacquired, the shooter decides their next course of action; whether it be taking subsequent shots, transitioning to another target, visually scanning their surroundings, reloading or correcting a malfunction.