Redefining the Shooter’s Length of Pull behind the rifle- Marc Taylor
A classroom full of eager students sits bright-eyed on Day One of Precision Rifle One. Theories and terms are bouncing off the walls. Some are innovative, cutting edge and some have been around since our Granddad took us on our first squirrel hunt. But they are all relevant. Especially those that have been pounded into us but we never took the time to fully understand, like “Parallax”. Got it. Heard it mentioned a thousand times and pretty sure I’ve got it figured out… but do you? We move to the range to do some scope tracking and half the class experiences parallax for the very first time. That is when the light truly comes on.
Another is “Length of Pull”. We are all familiar with the definition, but do we fully understand the concept of measuring the distance from the trigger to the rear of the butt stock?
We used to purchase rifles from the wall of the local gun store or from the endless racks of rifles at the big box stores. They came with a wood stock, laminated wood stock, fiberglass stock and even a cheap, plastic stock. Your comfort was basically being issued to you and without some serious chopping, sanding and gluing, it was what it was… Thirteen and a half inches between the trigger and the rear of the butt stock. The “Standard Length of Pull”.
But we are not standard anymore…
We now demand an ergonomic stock or chassis. Fitted. Adjustable. Easily manipulated to give us the optimum shooting comfort within the shooting position. We now shoot square to the rifle, to eliminate the angles that recoil will exploit, and those un-adjustable-length-of-pull rifles are a thing of the past.
Within the context of the last one hundred years, the Length of Pull (L.O.P.) is defined as the exact distance, measured with a ruler, from the face of the shoe of the trigger to where the rifle meets the shoulder. The only problem is that one solution does not work for everyone and the longer L.O.P. stocks cause the shooter to have to “blade” his position in order to achieve a proper eye relief. Blading was then built into the benches at the range to accommodate all this gross error that was being sold to us as standard shooting equipment. Rifle recoils – rifle jumps – shooter loses sight picture – shooter re-establishes position – shooter re-acquires eye relief – shooter shoots – rifle recoils… all over again and what you have is FIVE one-shot groups.
Our action at the trigger is not a PULL at all, it is a PRESS. A slow, steady pressure to the rear until the trigger BREAKS. We then FREEZE at the rear of the trigger press having turned the machine ON. You’ll hear it a hundred times on our line…
“PRESS – BREAK – FREEZE!”
I will now attempt to remove the trigger from Length of Pull and redefine Length of Pull, so hang on.
In the square-shouldered shooting position, which is proper to the precision tactical shooter, the only function of PULL is the pressure to the rear of the “graspers” of our shooting hand grip. Your graspers, the middle finger to pinky, are pressing straight into the shoulder, against your near-vertical grip, to hold the rifle steady in and through the shot, not allowing it a head start with respect to recoil. Therefore, it is my opinion that Length of Pull should be measured from where the middle finger contacts the stock or chassis.
Remember my article, “Mechanics of the Firing Hand”?
See: Other Marc Taylor Marksmanship Articles:
The reason this needs to be separate from the press of the trigger is because of the distinctly separate function that the graspers of the firing hand have from the “pincers”. The pincers are where the PRESS of the trigger happens. Further, the thumb is sometimes wrapped and sometimes isolated to produce the desired contact point of the first pad of the trigger finger to the face of the trigger shoe.
Try this – Grip your rifle with your firing hand. Now, change your grip. If you are a wrapper of the thumb, float it to the firing side. If you are a floater of the thumb, wrap it to the non-firing side. See what happens? It distinctly changes the angle and reach of your trigger finger! That change is precisely why the definition of L.O.P. needs to be reexamined.
My trigger finger comes in at a high angle.
My trigger finger comes in at a 90-degree angle
In our courses, we see the very small hands of the 20-year old woman and the very large hands of the 50-year old electrician. Short fingers and long trigger fingers ALL pull to the rear from where the middle finger of the firing hand meets the stock or grip of the rifle. This is the only common denominator in Length of Pull.
The trigger and trigger guard of all rifles are not the same and they are not set precisely in the same place from rifle to rifle with the face of the rifle grip as a reference, therefore it is not appropriate to gauge length of pull from a non-standard data point. The position where the grasping fingers provide the PULL in length of pull, however, is always the same place.
THIS is where the “Pulling” happens, thus redefining
“Length of Pull”
Now, with proper rifle set up, which we actually build for you when we reattach your scope and base to your rifle after tracking on Day One, your length of pull will be established based upon your proper, square body behind the rifle.
That distance is now, measurable, and that measurement is portable.
Your other rifle stock can now be set up to reflect that proper Length of Pull.
Next time you are discussing the Length of Pull, LEAVE THE TRIGGER OUT OF THE DISCUSSION… WHY? BECAUSE IT IS PRESSED!!!