If you are in a self-defense situation, or perhaps trying to shoot targets quickly at the range, traditional logic might suggest that you should have your finger on the trigger so that you can make quick shots when you need to. This is also what we see in most movies, where people almost always keep their fingers on the trigger.
However, in reality, this is completely against one of the cardinal rules of gun safety, which is trigger discipline.
What is trigger discipline?
To maintain trigger discipline, your finger should remain off the trigger until you make the conscious decision to shoot the gun.
Most modern guns have good safety features which prevent accidental discharge; however, accidental trigger pulls are still quite common, and there is no way to prevent them except maintaining trigger discipline.
So, the act of consciously keeping your finger off the trigger and off the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot is called trigger discipline.
Why is trigger discipline important?
Trigger discipline is essential in every scenario, whether you are shooting at the range, or in a self-defense situation. When you are in a high-stress situation like home defense, it is very easy to accidentally pull the trigger at the wrong time and shoot something for someone you don’t intend to.
Imagine you are holding a loaded gun in a self-defense situation and someone startles you. It is the natural response of our bodies to flinch, and with your finger on the trigger, you could end up shooting a loved one instead of a violent intruder.
Similarly, police officers and law enforcement officers are regularly in situations where they need to engage armed assailants in public areas, where there can be a lot of innocent bystanders. If an innocent civilian jumps in front of an officer, and their gun is drawn with their finger on the trigger, the chances of an accidental trigger pull are quite high. Whereas, if the officer did not have their finger on the trigger, there is a very low chance of an accident.
It is important to treat a firearm with respect and be aware of the damage it could cause if it is used irresponsibly. In short, trigger discipline is essential for firearm safety and responsible firearm usage.
Maintaining trigger discipline also improves your situational awareness, target acquisition skills, and accuracy.
How to train trigger discipline
To train trigger discipline, you need to consciously try to place your index finger parallel to the slide. Some people keep their fingers floating on the side of the trigger guard, but if you are training yourself to be better at trigger discipline, you should physically touch the side of the frame with the pad of your index finger.
Whenever you are handling your pistol, shotgun or firearm, consciously maintain trigger discipline, even if the firearm is unloaded. This helps build the habit of triggering discipline.
Another effective way to practice trigger discipline is to take a firearms training class. In these classes, you can go through specific range exercises that are designed to help you improve your trigger discipline.
At Concealed Coalition, we offer firearms training classes in-person and online around the country. Find the course nearest to you here.