Getting the pulse out of your trigger finger?

Ranger Bob

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So, I can shoot pretty well. No problem holding 1/2moa if the rifle can do it. That said, I want to shoot better and the biggest thing I feel is holding me back is the pulse in my trigger finger. I become very aware of it as I watch the reticle dance left to right over my target. Obviously, we're talking high magnification on small targets (like a 1/2" square at 200yds). You guys got any recommendations on how to overcome this?

Just to keep the answers focused on my situation; I have decent rifles with good light triggers, shoot from either a bipod or bag and use a rear bag. My rifles are mounted in target/tactical style synthetic stocks (Manners, B&C). I have a shit load of military shooting experience and guarantee I have no deficiency in my fundamentals. I shoot right handed. I squeeze the trigger with the meaty portion of the first section of my index finger. I keep my other finger tips lightly pressed against the grip and I do not wrap my thumb, preferring to keep it on the back of the grip near the right side of the action's tang.



Bob
 

Ranger Bob

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Id be very surprised if its coming from your finger unless you pull the trigger with your thumb. That heart beat dance is likely coming from your shoulder where a main artery is right behind your butt pad.
Could be. I've not been to the range in a couple years but, getting back into shooting. I made several trips down to the 200 yard line at a "range walk" to hang and inspect targets. I know I was getting my heart rate up and I am sure that was contributing to the problem. I was lightly loading the bipod as I took aim so axillary artery could have been the cause. Is this why I see some long range shooters wearing shoulder pads with relatively light recoiling rifles?

Bob
 

codym

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I’ve been struggling with this lately too. The reticle bounces around as I feel my heart beating, not sure what I can do other than take a Xanax or something before I shoot. I only really notice it when trying to shoot tight groups at closer distances. Small aiming point amplifies my ability to notice it.
 
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IronmanDaremo

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Focus on the reticle, not the target, easy breathing, settle in, etc. I know you said your fundamentals are strong, so keep focusing on them. Don't focus on the target. Way too easy to do with really high magnification at close range.

I've got a heart condition (a-fib AND a-flutter) that I've had two procedures for back in 2011. I tend to be hyper-aware of what is going on with mine, and have learned over the years how to help settle it down through breathing and relaxing. Hate to sound all zen, but try to make your set-up and routine as you settle into the rifle into an almost meditation?
 

Ranger Bob

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So, after doing a bit of googling and reading, it seems pulse dampening is definitely a thing. I don't know that I want to buy and wear a full blown shooting jacket but, I may look into a shoulder pad.

Bob
 

lowlight

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You are gripping too tight,

The grip is a not a grip, but a press to the rear

When people see their heartbeat, either

1. Too much Cheek Pressure

2. Too tight a hold

3. Not breaking at the bottom of the respiratory pause, air in the lungs where the heartbeat bounces off

Heartbeat dampening is because of sling use, context matters
 

codym

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I catch myself putting a lot of cheek pressure when trying to shoot groups. I will work on it this weekend.
 

Ranger Bob

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You are gripping too tight,

The grip is a not a grip, but a press to the rear

When people see their heartbeat, either

1. Too much Cheek Pressure

2. Too tight a hold

3. Not breaking at the bottom of the respiratory pause, air in the lungs where the heartbeat bounces off

Heartbeat dampening is because of sling use, context matters
I can say with a good amount of confidence that these are not my issue. I really felt like the pulse was in my finger. I'm not young (or fit) any more and I know I was shooting with an elevated heart rate after humping down to the 200yd line and back. Hard not to range walk after 20 years of it. I could maybe buy the shoulder pulse thing and I'll explore that a bit more. What I probably need to do is sit out an iteration after exerting myself so I can shoot in a more relaxed state. Again, we're talking about the difference between 1/2moa and maybe 3/8moa.

Bob
 

BLKWLFK9

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SnIpErS tRaIn ThEmSeLvEs tO sHoOt BeTwEeN hEaRt BeAtS...


Listen to @lowlight bc hes seen hundreds upon hundreds of shooters and knows what you're doing without watching you.
 

Ranger Bob

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SnIpErS tRaIn ThEmSeLvEs tO sHoOt BeTwEeN hEaRt BeAtS...


Listen to @lowlight bc hes seen hundreds upon hundreds of shooters and knows what you're doing without watching you.
I know he's got a ton of experience and I respect his opinion. I was a sniper as well and have also trained thousands of young infantrymen to shoot so I know a few things about analyzing shooting fundamentals. I would always welcome an observer to check me but, I doubt they would find much to critique. I can shoot; I'm just looking to eke out a little improvement.

Bob
 
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Gunfighter14e2

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So, I can shoot pretty well. No problem holding 1/2moa if the rifle can do it. That said, I want to shoot better and the biggest thing I feel is holding me back is the pulse in my trigger finger. I become very aware of it as I watch the reticle dance left to right over my target. Obviously, we're talking high magnification on small targets (like a 1/2" square at 200yds). You guys got any recommendations on how to overcome this?
That is not your trigger finger that is your BP from your neck, that is on the stock improperly. Your cheek weld is incorrect or your pushing your head down too hard on the stock.
 

vh20

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I have a shit load of military shooting experience and guarantee I have no deficiency in my fundamentals.
Big red flag right here. Even the most experienced shooters can develop a problem in fundamentals if they aren't vigilant (i.e. think they are immune to it). I shoot 338 mags quite a bit. If I switch to 6.5s for any length of time I have to be careful not to get lazy with recoil management. As soon as I go back to a 338 I will immediately notice any lazy habits I may have developed with the lighter cartridge. I shoot 2 or 3 times a week and you haven't been to a range in two years. I'd re-evaluate your attitude towards fundamentals if I were you. It is a perishable skill.
 

candyx

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Slow your heart rate down to create longer pauses between heart pulses, shoot between pulses.
 

BLKWLFK9

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Put your finger on your trigger without shouldering your rifle or even look through the scope, you wont feel it. You think it's coming from your finger because I'm sure you feel it in your finger, but that's not the source of that pulsating. There is an artery in your neck and your shoulder that is being contacted by the rifle when you have it shouldered. That's it.

1. Too much cheek pressure

Or

2. You are burying that butt stock into your shoulder. Try moving the rifle closer to the center and away from your shoulder pocket.
 
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Ranger Bob

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Big red flag right here. Even the most experienced shooters can develop a problem in fundamentals if they aren't vigilant (i.e. think they are immune to it). I shoot 338 mags quite a bit. If I switch to 6.5s for any length of time I have to be careful not to get lazy with recoil management. As soon as I go back to a 338 I will immediately notice any lazy habits I may have developed with the lighter cartridge. I shoot 2 or 3 times a week and you haven't been to a range in two years. I'd re-evaluate your attitude towards fundamentals if I were you. It is a perishable skill.
I'll give you that the comment was a bit pompous but, I was trying to avoid everyone telling me it's my fundamentals. They did anyway. I disagree. I'm not perfect but I've done enough shooting to know how to analyze my technique and identify what I might be screwing up...and that's what I did. My groups on the day started at about 1moa and shrunk down to a best of .460 at 100yds. I'm betting you do the same self-analysis when your performance doesn't match what you know you're capable of. Do you think you would lose the ability to do this if you took a couple years off?

I've actually been a 1/2moa shooter for a long time but, I want to do better which was why I asked this question. The pulsing, in my opinion, seems to be what is keeping me from shooting better. I'm trying to understand what it is and how to reduce it.

Bob
 

Ranger Bob

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Put your finger on your trigger without shouldering your rifle or even look through the scope, you wont feel it. You think it's coming from your finger because I'm sure you feel it in your finger, but that's not the source of that pulsating. There is an artery in your neck and your shoulder that is being contacted by the rifle when you have it shouldered. That's it.

1. Too much cheek pressure

Or

2. You are burying that butt stock into your shoulder. Try moving the rifle closer to the center and away from your shoulder pocket.
I think you nailed it with #2. I was loading the bipod into a rail in front of the gun. I wasn't pushing hard but, with being winded from walking up and down the range, my blood was surely pumping harder...and, I was shooting from a bench so I was against the front of the shoulder. This makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks!

Bob
 

vh20

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If your pulse really is what is causing you to shoot sub-par, then by definition --- you have a problem with your fundamentals. That is what would allow your pulse to show up in your scope. Re-read Frank's post on what can cause this.

And yes, I would not expect to shoot equal to my best if I took two years off of shooting. In fact, I'm certain I would not be able to.
 

FUNCTIONAL

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Pretty much everyone here has covered technique. Less grip, less cheek pressure, maybe try positioning the butt stock in your shoulder pocket slightly different. Try taking a really deep breath, holding it for a second and a steady exhale and force some air out of you then one normal breath...typically for ME this settles my heart rate pretty quick.

I will say though...if you TRUELY feel it is just your finger causing the wiggle GO SEE A DOCTOR. I've had 4 open heart surgeries, have technically half a heat with its new plumbing, experimental device and a crap load of other shit. I have a much stronger than average heart pump because of all of that and even I dont have a pulse through my finger that effects my aim. You honestly may need treatment for something if its to that level.
 

FishDr

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Two years off??? I’m a consistent 3/8 shooter with regular 1/4” groups and occasion groups in the .1s IN THE FALL after shooting all season. I take off 2 months and start shooting in February again - about 5/8, some at 3/4 - my skills (aka concentration) for group shooting perishes is 2 months !!!
 

Ranger Bob

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Two years off??? I’m a consistent 3/8 shooter with regular 1/4” groups and occasion groups in the .1s IN THE FALL after shooting all season. I take off 2 months and start shooting in February again - about 5/8, some at 3/4 - my skills (aka concentration) for group shooting perishes is 2 months !!!
I understand the perishability of the skill. My point is, after shooting for long enough, you can take a break and you still have the knowledge to assess what you are doing and make corrections until the muscle memory and pre-shot routine returns.

Tangent-When a person first starts shooting, the problems with their fundamentals are pretty obvious. When I was a Drill Sergeant, I could walk down the firing line and make corrections easily. By the time the soldiers started launching bullets down range, Primary Marksmanship Instruction, including the fundamentals of marksmanship had been drilled into their heads. As I walked the firing line, I usually only had to remind them; "trigger squeeze!" or "breathing!" was all I had to say and they would tighten up. When I was a sniper and we went to the KD range, it was a lot harder to find small things that would improve the shooters results. At some point the "problems" become too small for others to see and it is then that self assessment, experience and discussion (and target analysis to some degree) are the only things that are going to help.

I come to places like this forum to learn from the experience and discussion with others. The self-assessment is up to me. Frank is exactly right, "We don't know what we don't know". Conversely, we do know what we know...or at least think we know.

Bob
 

FishDr

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Theory (knowledge) does not always equate to practice (execution).
We don’t know what we don’t know. And we don’t learn what we already know.
I would venture that @lowlight would be able to tighten up a few fundamentals on most shooters. Fundamental Frank doesn’t just teach fudamentals, but the APPLICATION of said fundamentals.
You may have perfect knowledge of the fundamentals but your execution needs improvement. That’s why you are asking the good questions.
Whether the heartbeat is from neck/shoulder/cheek pressure/pulsing trigger finger, you must rely on your self-assessment to identify and correct.
 
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Greg Langelius *

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Buy a pulse oximeter (PO2). I have one because it's my "speedometer" for COPD rehab training.

It has a pulse count feature. Some also have a pulse waveform display. And, of course, it shows your oxygen level as a percentage.

The pulse count indicates where the current engine idle is running, as opposed to your normal resting pulse rate.

The waveform will tell you if the pulse wave is ragged. If it is, you're agitated.

The oxygen percentile will tell you whether you're in oxygen debt mode, or fully oxygenated. Healthy folks get around 95-98% at rest.

Most of the time, when you're off spec, simply relaxing and breathing deep (not fast) will put you back into spec. If it doesn't, you have a condition, boy. Stay hydrated, pre-hydrate before known hard exercise.

Your performance will usually mirror your PO2 readings. Exercise raises the PO2 and it stays there surprisingly longer. Regular exercise will increase your breath capacity, normal PO2 level, and stamina.

Greg
 
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