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Old January 29, 2014, 08:14 PM   #1
Knight cadet
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Fingers on the trigger

I can't remember when the first time I went shooting was. Its always been part of my life. I remember shooting guns that were taller than me and being surprised that some of my friends' families didn't own guns.

My Dad taught always taught us the 4 rules of gun safety:
1) Always treat a gun like it's loaded.
2) Never point a gun at anything you don't want to destroy.
3) Keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot.
4) Know your target and what's beyond it.

For the whole time I've been shooting I was always trained to keep the safety on until you are ready to engage a target, then safety off, identify the target, finger on trigger, then shoot.

I've just started getting some basic firearms training in my ROTC unit and they're teaching us to keep our finger on the trigger with the safety on and flick the safety off then shoot when engaging targets. It isn't natural to me, but it's what the manuals say (I looked it up).

What do the other services and police departments teach? Which way is better?
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Old January 29, 2014, 09:12 PM   #2
James K
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"Finger off the trigger" has always been the teaching for target shooting and normal gun handling. But as a LEO, I was taught to draw with the finger on the trigger and most holsters had the trigger guard fully exposed to allow that.

The issue state police holster here retained the revolver with a spring button that locked the trigger guard; in order to draw the gun, the officer had to put his finger through the guard and press the button to release the gun.

Not only did we draw with finger on the trigger, but we began the trigger pull before the gun was on target. Years ago, I had a movie film of me bringing up my revolver. The gun was at about a 45 degree angle, and the hammer was half way back. The bullet, I recall, hit dead center on the silhouette target. That was common and I don't recall that anyone blew his toes off.

But today, with a society more concerned with safety than results, that kind of thing would not be allowed; if it were, someone would surely sue the instructor and the department for something or other even if there were no injuries. So the modern rule requires that the shooter have the gun aligned with the target before touching the trigger. It is in the interest of safety, and maybe of equality - the bad guy gets more time to shoot the officer.

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Old January 29, 2014, 09:30 PM   #3
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Which Manuall? There may be a transcription error-it has happened before.

A few decades ago, I studied Civil Engineering. I had occasion to read Davis & Foote's book, in particular the chapter on adjusting a transit's standards (vertial rotation points). When I joined the Air Force (which used Army Manuals, TM-232 and TM-233) I noticed identical phrasing in the Army Manuals, but with a difference.

So, I looked up in another copy of Davis, Foote & Kelly (they had added Kelly by then, or I had forgotten the third collaborator). They had lifted text directly, word for word from the commercial text ande used it in the Army Manual, but HAD MADE A MISTAKE and the adjusting procedure inserted phrasing that intorduced a randomness factor in the process.

My point is that the manual you have just MIGHT have an error in it. The Army has done it before, mis-copied a passage from an authoritative tome into their own manual.

Also, martial vs civilian procedures/needs may differ. I note that John Browning put a grip safety on the 1911 design because it was a requirement of the Army (I am told). His Hi-Power, unrestricted by requirements of U.S. Army procurement, does not have that feature. Also, many other 1911-derived designs remove the feature and many 1911 users pin the grip safety to inactivate it.

I feel for your dilemma. Re-training your safety processes will be difficult.

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Old January 29, 2014, 09:37 PM   #4
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When shooting a shotgun, I've always disengaged the safety and put my finger on the trigger as the gun was mounted. I've hunted with a few guys who would walk up on a point with gun at their shoulder, safety off, and finger on the trigger--that always made me nervous. After seeing someone have an AD when they pushed a thumb safety off while index finger was on the trigger, I don't do that and caution against it. I've also seen people carry a gun with finger in the trigger guard w/safety on. That resulted in an AD right next to me when a glove wedged between trigger and guard and safety was released.
I don't know that the exaggerated "finger sticking straight out" thing is necessary but if that's what it takes for some folks, so be it.
There are many things done in "the military" that are unacceptable in most civilian scenarios. Sweeping others with a loaded weapon is common in combat but highly discouraged in any civilian activity. It's evident that your "book" considers a mechanical safety more foolproof than an educated finger.
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Old January 29, 2014, 09:41 PM   #5
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Fingers on the trigger

I have to make a conscious effort sometimes to keep my finger off the trigger. I know how much pull it takes for the pistol I'm using at the time , but there's always the chance of Murffeys Law coming into play. If I'm at my range at home by myself I don't worry as much about it. I did hear about some public and training ranges that banned the Blackhawk Serpa retention holsters. This was because when depressing the release while drawing, it could put your finger on trigger if not kept straight
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Old January 30, 2014, 01:38 AM   #6
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Trying to keep an open mind on this, but really can't see the reasoning for LEO, Military or even home defense to have their finger on the trigger unless going for a shot.

Seen too many people bump into something or trip which would have resulted in an AD if their fingers would have been on the trigger.
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Old January 30, 2014, 02:51 AM   #7
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Same here HDG. My finger instinctively goes alongside the trigger guard because that's what was hammered into me since I was a little kid.

James, I'd be astounded if they still teach finger on the trigger draws to current LEOs, How long ago did you last receive that training?
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Old January 30, 2014, 04:38 AM   #8
ClydeFrog
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Military sidearms....

I'm not sure what "TM" or "FM" you read but I was on active duty in the US Army(MPs). In training & during my 4 years in service, I never heard any cadre or instructors say to keep the trigger(index) finger on the trigger.
We were taught to keep sidearms condition three(03) which means; empty chamber, loaded magazine, safety on.
You put your finger on the trigger guard or frame until you were ready to shoot.

That's not always practical but it is very safe.
I for one, wouldn't go by some cadre or ROTC trainer who wants to go "rogue" or thinks he/she is some DevGru or ACE operator .

Learn the basics first. Then advance to the other courses/tactical training.
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Old January 30, 2014, 07:36 AM   #9
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I have been shooting for a long time and truthfully, I never gave a lot of thought to trigger finger placement. I am always aware if a gun is loaded and whether the safety is on.

It was not until I started shooting with a sworn officer that I learned how to place my finger along side the frame and out of the trigger guard.

I had asked the fellow I shoot with to let me know if he observed unsafe handling. I told him I did not like to be corrected ( still don't ) but also told him I would listen and correct my actions. He told me the bad habit I had was immediately inserting my finger into the trigger guard. I had to work on it and he corrected me each time he observed it.

I am a safer shooter now and I credit him with showing me what I was doing wrong.

Now, it is second nature to get the right hand grip with the gun well back in my hand and finger along the frame and both thumbs forward ( baby bottom ).

My shooting has improved also.
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Old January 30, 2014, 12:11 PM   #10
Frank Ettin
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I got into USPSA shortly after I started shooting. There you quickly learn to keep your finger off the trigger, indexed along the frame, unless actually firing. If you don't, you're told to pack up and go home for the day.

That's stood me in good stead shooting IPSC/USPSA, Cowboy Action, and training at place like Gunsite.

This is also how the group I'm with teaches gun handling in the monthly NRA Basic Handgun classes we put on. We do a lot of one-on-one hands-on work with students, and we continually reinforce this. All my fellow instructors have been trained as I have, and we continual model this behavior with our own gun handling.

Guns are in fact designed so one's falls naturally on the trigger. So keeping one's finger off the trigger and indexed on the frame is something one must consciously train himself to do. But I consider it the "gold standard" for gun handling.
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Old January 30, 2014, 02:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
I did hear about some public and training ranges that banned the Blackhawk Serpa retention holsters. This was because when depressing the release while drawing, it could put your finger on trigger if not kept straight
That's an artifact of people seeing the release on the holster as a button. Using the holster properly, your trigger finger will end up along the frame, outside the trigger guard on the draw. In other words, problem is with user, not holster. You misuse anything, and it might have the capability to bite you.
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Old January 30, 2014, 02:58 PM   #12
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Of course its just Hollywood -

In WW-Z a doctor or scientist runs up the ramp of a cargo plane fleeing Zombies with a Glock 17 ( I believe ).

He trips and falls halfway up the ramp with his finger on the trigger and puts a round through his head .

Stuck in my mind.

Just Hollywood - but ---
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Old January 30, 2014, 03:07 PM   #13
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Well yeah, in movies, everyone always runs around with fingers on the trigger, and the ever so tactical gun pointing up ready position.
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Old January 30, 2014, 03:10 PM   #14
Frank Ettin
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Just a reminder -- movies are fiction. They aren't real.

Let's kept movies out of this.
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Old January 30, 2014, 03:19 PM   #15
manta49
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I think it should go without saying, keep your finger of the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
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Old January 30, 2014, 03:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClydeFrog
Military sidearms....
I'm not sure what "TM" or "FM" you read but I was on active duty in the US Army(MPs). In training & during my 4 years in service, I never heard any cadre or instructors say to keep the trigger(index) finger on the trigger.
We were taught to keep sidearms condition three(03) which means; empty chamber, loaded magazine, safety on.
You put your finger on the trigger guard or frame until you were ready to shoot.

That's not always practical but it is very safe.
I for one, wouldn't go by some cadre or ROTC trainer who wants to go "rogue" or thinks he/she is some DevGru or ACE operator .

Learn the basics first. Then advance to the other courses/tactical training.
Yeah, that's how I was taught too. We have some pretty high speed prior enlisted guys in the battallion including a ranger SF NCOs. They pretty much do what they want to do and are tasked to teach more often than sit in classes.

We haven't done anything with handguns though. Unlike enlisted soldiers, as officers we'll be carrying handguns alot once we make rank, but unless I end up in a pogue branch I don't expect to get issued a handgun anytime soon.

I was talking to my recently retired (Army infantry enlisted) dad about it and he said he was never issued a handgun except for an occasional detail during his entire career.
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Old January 30, 2014, 08:33 PM   #17
jason_iowa
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I'm also highly suspect of that training. Your finger should not be on the trigger until you are ready to send lead down range. Your safety should come off as soon as you draw your weapon.

Blackhawk Serpa retention holsters are the most popular holsters in the world outselling all others according to blackhawk, could be hype. I have used many of them and they seem to work very well. I prefer a thumb snap or nothing for retention so I do not use a Serpa for carry but they are fine for the range.
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Old January 30, 2014, 08:35 PM   #18
raimius
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I have heard some people talk about the technique of taking up the slack in an M9's double action trigger AS you push the front sight to the target (e.g. already pointed in the direction of the target).
I've also seen a moderate to experienced shooter put a hole in the roof of the range shelter trying to do this!
Therefore, I DO NOT RECOMMEND it.

With an M4/M16, there isn't enough take-up for this to make a big time difference, and the potential for a negligent discharge is high. With an M9, there is a little benefit, but I don't think it is worth it, unless you train that to a "superman" level. The human flinch response can generate something like 25lbs of trigger pressure (or so I've heard)...more than enough to launch a round by accident.

Also, DON'T RELY ON THE SAFETY TO KEEP YOU SAFE! The safety is there as a back-up for you, not the other way around.
(Based on AF, CSAT, and civilian experience)


Watch out for suspect military training. If something sounds stupid, and doesn't work, it is stupid. There are more than a few people trying to instruct without the knowledge or skills to impart good training.
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Old January 30, 2014, 10:30 PM   #19
James K
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Hi, Knight Cadet,

I didn't make it clear enough that my training was a long time ago, in the 1960's. But it was not unusual for the time. Modern training is much safer, but I wonder if it over emphasizes safety at the expense of a rapid response to deadly force.

Jim
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Old January 31, 2014, 02:09 PM   #20
Derbel McDillet
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Quote:
I've just started getting some basic firearms training in my ROTC unit and they're teaching us to keep our finger on the trigger with the safety on and flick the safety off then shoot when engaging targets. It isn't natural to me, but it's what the manuals say (I looked it up).
Will you please identify the specific firearm and manual?

Thanks!
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Old January 31, 2014, 02:23 PM   #21
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You were shooting a revolver correct? What was the DA trigger pull if I can ask?

With the number of NDs we hear about (including someone blasting the inside of a cruiser with a shotgun in my neck of the woods-San Antonio) being trained to have the finger on the trigger and pulling said trigger on the draw sounds almost terrifying.
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Old January 31, 2014, 02:44 PM   #22
Gaerek
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Safety vs. Speed is something that has to be taken into account in many areas of shooting, especially in a life or death situation. That said, the movement from the frame to the trigger is quick and the high amount of safety you get from that is worth far more than the tiny bit of speed you get having your finger on the trigger on the draw.
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Old February 1, 2014, 01:50 PM   #23
Al Thompson
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The military has some astoundingly bad gun legends that seem to perpetuate themselves over and over again. After 30 + years of wearing a uniform, every time I think I've heard it all, something else crawls out of someones ignorant imagination.

FWIW, if you follow COL Cooper's four rules, you'll be good to go. I did see them posted at FT Benning and in Iraq, so they are in the .mil system somewhere.

Quote:
RULE I: ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED
RULE II: NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY
RULE III: KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET
RULE IV: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET AND WHATS BEYOND IT
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Old February 3, 2014, 11:49 AM   #24
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I didn't make it clear enough that my training was a long time ago, in the 1960's. But it was not unusual for the time. Modern training is much safer, but I wonder if it over emphasizes safety at the expense of a rapid response to deadly force.
My LEO firearm training was 10 years after James, even then the fully exposed trigger guard style holster was issued and required. If I remember correctly there were no "duty style" holsters that covered the trigger guard, with the exception of the military 'full flap" holsters. It may have happened, but in 27 years as a cop I never experienced, witnessed, or heard of an A/D caused by an exposed trigger guard style holster.

Are the current holsters better and Perhaps safer than what was in use 30+ years ago? In many cases they may be. But I still believe the greatest safety devise is the person using the gun.

We were also trained to insert our trigger finger into the trigger guard as the barrel of your revolver cleared the top of the holster, and was moving forward. Again, I know of no A/D that was caused by the above.
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Old February 3, 2014, 12:08 PM   #25
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Are the current holsters better and Perhaps safer than what was in use 30+ years ago? In many cases they may be. But I still believe the greatest safety devise is the person using the gun.
Unless of course a branch catches that open trigger on your revolver as you're running through trees chasing a bad guy...

I have one of those holsters as well for my hoglegs and never had problems with it, but I could see where something could happen.
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