Like Dracula, an abandoned training gimmick keeps returning to life to suck marksmanship out of gullible shooters. The new/old next-best-thing is to place a coin on the top of the slide during dry-fire. Supposedly, this will assist you with a smooth trigger press. Let’s examine this tired and inane practice.

What is the purpose of a smooth, non-disruptive trigger press? To assist the shooter with maintaining proper sight picture and sight alignment immediately before and during firing. What then is the purpose of sight picture? Sight picture is the selection of a target, a destination for the bullet. Sight alignment is the means by which the shooter physically directs the strike of the round, makes the bullet hit the pre-determined mark. So, it can be said with finality that trigger press can be measured by whether proper sighting is maintained throughout the firing sequence.In other words, if when the hammer strikes in dry-fire (or live-fire) your front sight is not where it should be you have a problem. However, if you maintained perfect sighting during the exercise your front sight will reflect that too. What would a coin on the slide tell you? It would tell you that you can balance coins but have no direct correlation to whether you could sight and correct as needed. The coin, then, is a false measure because that drill, even if done successfully is no indication of your ability to shoot accurately. Balancing the coin may require subtle movement or control contrary to that needed for perfect sighting. Sighting is THE priority in marksmanship. Anything which diverts your efforts from sighting is counterproductive. Grip has to be mastered but the reason for that need is to enable perfect sighting. Sighting is movement, that is the body never stops moving from circulation, nerves, respiration, and muscular tension. The body is in movement so sighting must be a constant effort until the round is fired. Your focus cannot be sight first, coin second. The marksman sights and doesn’t stop sighting until the hammer has dropped. How should we dry-fire, then? By properly sighting on an aiming point which appears no larger than the front sight tip and then manipulating the weapon so that the hammer fall does not disturb the sights. You know, traditional, time-tested dry-fire.

There is a systematic method for improving your shooting, the study of the fundamentals of marksmanship. You can easily do it. No gimmick, no lazy man’s shortcut, no half-witted bait-and-switch can give you that knowledge or earn you that skill. Find an experienced and successful instructor whose students have demonstrable improvement during his training. Get a copy of The Perfect Pistol Shot. Study. Master. You can be an excellent shot, friend. It takes just a little effort and some organization. You can do it.

The Author
Albert League is a former Marine and law enforcement firearm instructor who consults on a variety of security topics.