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Old September 29, 2017, 11:02 AM   #1
OhioGuy
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Where to keep the trigger finger

Yeah, out of the trigger guard! We all know

An instructor recently called my attention to something I'd never considered before. I was first taught to keep my finger along the frame, just over the trigger guard. That way I can't pull the trigger, right? Well, he had me hold my (UNLOADED) gun near my side, with my finger in its usual place. Without warning he got in my face and grabbed my shirt collar, pushing me backwards a bit. Instinctively I stepped back to brace myself and gripped his hand with my free hand (left) hard. And wouldn't you know it, my right hand clenched too...and my finger slipped right down and pulled the trigger.

Well, dang.

I recently found this article describing the same problem, and the experience of a seasoned instructor who'd actually shot himself this way!

http://www.saddleriverrange.com/trig...al-discharges/

This instructor's advice, like the article's, was to keep the finger very high and if possible by the ejection port, at least on the draw. That way, a clenched finger won't slip down. I think they're correct.

Where do you keep your fingers?

Practice and training are the antidote for everything I guess, but for now I have two problems:

1. My fingers aren't that long to begin with, and reaching the port without shifting my grip is difficult.
2. Quickly dropping my finger to take the first shot tends to badly yank the gun off target--far worse than a heavy trigger pull might do.

Thoughts? Experience?
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Old September 29, 2017, 11:55 AM   #2
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Don't have to touch the port. Just get your finger as high as its natural movement limit (this will be different for everyone) if you can't quite reach that spot.

Do find a "felt index" under your finger -- that is, make a habit of consciously feeling a specific thing. That's why the edge of the port works well, because it's a very specific sensation for your finger to sense.

For the other issue, I prescribe lots of slow motion dry fire. Don't practice this quickly until you've got the hang of it slowly.

In dry fire, start with practice changing gears when you touch the trigger. That is, move your finger quickly down to the trigger, without pressing the trigger at all. Do that over and over until it's second nature to pause when you feel the trigger under your finger.

Next. Start by moving your finger quickly to the trigger, as before. As the finger touches the trigger, consciously feel your finger and especially what's happening to the trigger under your finger. At the very beginning of the press, feel the slight pressure against your finger. Feel whatever's happening mechanically inside the gun. Feel when the pressure changes as you remove the slack. Press the trigger so slowly and smoothly that you can feel every tiny little hitch, every bump, every change in pressure, throughout the entire press. Close your eyes so you can really concentrate on the feeling. Do this exercise repeatedly and (tricky bit here) with complete, mindful attention. If you find your attention starting to wander, stop. Go back to it only when it has your complete and undivided attention.

After doing the above every day for at least a week, open your eyes and look at the sights while doing your mindfulness exercise with feeling the trigger. Don't worry about the sights or try to change anything the first few times you do this. Just look at them while feeling the trigger.

Later on, line up the sights and keep re-aligning them as you press the trigger. Still slow motion with the trigger press.

By now you have built the neural pathways to move your finger in two very different gears: quickly getting on the trigger, then slowly and smoothly pressing the trigger.

Now start speeding up your trigger press while you continue to re-align the sights throughout the press.

When you notice the sights / press falling apart, slow back down and practice doing it correctly. Repeat doing it correctly at least ten more times before speeding up again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Also -- here's an article I wrote about where to park the finger when not shooting, and why. You're on the right track!

http://www.corneredcat.com/finger/

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Old September 29, 2017, 11:57 AM   #3
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Forgot to add: any time we talk about dry fire, it's useful to also talk about dry fire safety. Here's the procedure I recommend.

http://www.corneredcat.com/article/p...y-fire-safety/

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Old September 29, 2017, 12:17 PM   #4
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Kathy, your website is awesome! I wish I'd found it a year ago when I started shooting, it may have saved me a lot of Googling

I will take your advice about trigger finger location and training to heart. I've heard SO MANY arguments about what kind of trigger is "too light to be safe." Whatever arguments may be made, I can guarantee that in the moment when my instructor pushed me off guard and my finger went where it shouldn't, my 6 lb trigger may have well been a 16 lb trigger and I still would have pulled it. It really opened my eyes to how easily my training can come undone in a moment of instinctive reaction.

The accidents (so-called) that happen during dry firing or cleaning are just mind-numbing. When I first got started, I picked a specific area in my basement and (as you suggested) taped up a few targets, that come down again when not in use. Every wall is backed by concrete, so I won't be putting any neighbors at risk! I always load, unload or press-check the gun aimed at the same filing cabinet (filled with old tax returns!) that has a concrete wall behind it. Lord willing, I'm only risking hearing loss. (Maybe I should put on some earmuffs too...hmmm...)

I hope sites like yours can get more people (men AND women!) into shooting.
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Old September 29, 2017, 01:13 PM   #5
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Thanks. I hope your day is as awesome as you just made mine.

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Old September 29, 2017, 01:39 PM   #6
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I teach my students a "full fist" grip on any firearm when in fast movement or on uneven ground. A full-fist is just what it sound like. All fingers under/behind the trigger guard.If you fall or stumble it's very natural to move to cinch your hand, or open your hand flat. Subconsciously it's done before you think about it. if you are in 'full-fist' you can't fire a round. I have been teaching this grip for hard/fast movement for over 40 years. I don't know if any one else teaches it, but ALL my students are taught to use it in those kind of situations from my days with Marine Recon, to my days teaching for DOD, and all my time teaching Police and military personal and still toady. In fact, I'll be going over that again in tonight class. We are doing staircase clearing and movement in the dark.
Full Fist is a back-up or secondary grip. It's not to replace the straight finger grip, but to augment it when and if the situation calls for it.
One more tool in the box.
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Old September 30, 2017, 10:33 PM   #7
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I keep my finger on draw...or reholstering...high on the slide ..nowhere near trigger guard....( and I have done that for many years ). I was taught that many years ago....

I have big hands ...but on a full sized, 5", 1911 its easy to do for me.
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Old October 2, 2017, 07:04 PM   #8
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Placing one's finger on or near the trigger guard is dangerous for everyone around you and causes major consternation for Instructors.

I always instruct my student to find a point of reference on the slide or frame so they can consciously feel that point of reference and know they are away from the trigger and the trigger guard. For example, on a 1911, the pin end of the slide stop pin makes a great reference. Easily felt and away from the trigger guard.

If you happen to be a revolver shooter, the disassembly screw for the cylinder is usually forward and slightly above the trigger guard. Just another reference point. You can find a point of reference in nearly every gun. It's for everyone's safety.

As a point of interest, I attend a 4 Day Defensive Handgun Course each year to regain and sharpen the skills I may have lost during the preceding year. When one is doing a chamber check, they insist upon the trigger finger drift up and away from the gun. Follow that procedure and you will surely not shoot yourself or the guy next to you.
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Old October 5, 2017, 02:56 PM   #9
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Thank you. This thread had me thinking the next time I had my pistol out at the range. I was always one to extend my finger straight across the trigger guard to keep my finger off the trigger. The ejection port proved too far for me to reach. I ultimately settled on the take down/slide release lever pin. On my SAR K2P it is easy to find without looking as it protrudes from the frame a good bit. I will be mindful of this from now on and will be practicing so it becomes automatic.
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Old October 5, 2017, 08:44 PM   #10
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I can only speak for myself.. context is everything. If I am in a dangerous situation, my finger will be out of the trigger guard until I have the gun on target. If I am pointing the weapon at the target, my finger will be on the trigger. As far as where my finger will rest outside the trigger guard. Honestly I don't even think about it. I simply keep it in a natural position that may vary slightly each time. I try not to make any of this stuff rocket science.
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Old October 5, 2017, 09:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
If I am pointing the weapon at the target, my finger will be on the trigger.
That was this law enforcement officer's plan, too.

Maybe ... just maybe ... when handling something that can KILL SOMEONE who does not need to die if we get it wrong, it's okay to give it a little thought.

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Old October 7, 2017, 05:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Maybe ... just maybe ... when handling something that can KILL SOMEONE who does not need to die if we get it wrong, it's okay to give it a little thought.

pax
nothing I said would be preventing me from "giving my actions a little thought".
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Old October 7, 2017, 07:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FireForged
Honestly I don't even think about it.
When it comes to handling deadly weapons, it's good to think through -- in detail -- how we will do that. And then build solid habits around that, that will hold up under both life-threatening stress and the more mundane danger of an ordinary brain fart.

The link in my previous post goes to a somewhat famous event where a female LEO was pointing her firearm at a suspect -- a target -- with her finger on the trigger, while her partner puts the cuffs on the suspect. She is obviously amped up, as anyone would be in that circumstance.

The ND she fired obviously took her by surprise, and missed her partner and the suspect by only a few inches. (Good thing her aim was poor, hm?)

She could have avoided that ND by keeping her finger off the trigger until she had made the decision to shoot -- which is the modern standard for gunhandling in high stress situations, and with good reason. To the best of my knowledge, there are no longer any American LE agencies that would accept a finger on the trigger just any old time while the muzzle is on target. Instead, the finger moves to the trigger only when in the very act of firing the gun.

As for where a person's finger rests when it's off the trigger, a whole lot of people spilled innocent blood to learn what a good idea it is to get it away from the trigger guard and high on the frame. Again, worth thinking about.

pax

ND's don't happen to idiots. They happen to smart, experienced, professional gun handlers. They happen to Marines, LEOs, and candlestick makers. They can happen to anyone, and my own ND causes me to be a better and safer shooter. In a way, I wish every shooter could have an ND that didn't kill anyone just to be convinced that this can and does occur to intelligent people who handle guns every day. – ajaxinacan
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Old October 7, 2017, 07:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garandtd
Thank you. This thread had me thinking the next time I had my pistol out at the range. I was always one to extend my finger straight across the trigger guard to keep my finger off the trigger. The ejection port proved too far for me to reach. I ultimately settled on the take down/slide release lever pin. On my SAR K2P it is easy to find without looking as it protrudes from the frame a good bit. I will be mindful of this from now on and will be practicing so it becomes automatic.
Love this.

Another advantage to doing things this way, is that it's a comfort and a model for people around you. Doing it the other way, with finger low, it's a lot harder for a casual observer who isn't yourself to see that your finger is off the trigger. With it high on the frame, anyone can see at a glance how that finger behaves.

For the new shooters near you on the range, that good modeling could help them develop good habits too.

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Old October 7, 2017, 08:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
When it comes to handling deadly weapons, it's good to think through -- in detail -- how we will do that. And then build solid habits around that, that will hold up under both life-threatening stress and the more mundane danger of an ordinary brain fart.

The link in my previous post goes to a somewhat famous event where a female LEO was pointing her firearm at a suspect -- a target -- with her finger on the trigger, while her partner puts the cuffs on the suspect. She is obviously amped up, as anyone would be in that circumstance.

The ND she fired obviously took her by surprise, and missed her partner and the suspect by only a few inches. (Good thing her aim was poor, hm?)

She could have avoided that ND by keeping her finger off the trigger until she had made the decision to shoot -- which is the modern standard for gunhandling in high stress situations, and with good reason. To the best of my knowledge, there are no longer any American LE agencies that would accept a finger on the trigger just any old time while the muzzle is on target. Instead, the finger moves to the trigger only when in the very act of firing the gun.

As for where a person's finger rests when it's off the trigger, a whole lot of people spilled innocent blood to learn what a good idea it is to get it away from the trigger guard and high on the frame. Again, worth thinking about.

pax
It is not hard to find an example to support darn near any point of view. Violence is dangerous business .. combating or mitigating violence is dangerous business. Each person must decide for themselves what risks and what precautions they are willing to take. We all must decide what methods will likely afford us the greatest potential to prevail. I have already stated where I stand in that regard and although your example is reasonable, it does not tilt the scale. If the situation is serious enough to warrant pulling a weapon, my finger will be on the trigger (if) the weapon is pointed at a target. Until it is on a target, my finger remains outside the trigger guard. That's just me.
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Old October 8, 2017, 01:45 AM   #16
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"Once while shooting ground squirrels for a local rancher with my .22. It was pointed where they were, and I was waiting for them to pop up, and I had my finger on the trigger. I must have had an involutary twitch or something, because it fired when I wasn't planning to. I never conciously pulled the trigger. Granted, I was in shooting position, and aiming, just waiting for the "pop up target," so I had my finger on the trigger, but I didn't mean for it to go off... " http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...d.php?t=191417 post #7


“I was practicing at the range with my double action revolver when I decided to cock it for some single action shooting. In my mind I was thinking about how in a real confrontation, my nerves would be high and adrenaline would be going, and the revolver fired into the berm. Just thinking about being hyped up, I'd pulled the light single action trigger before I was completely on target.” https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...=327362&page=3 post #55

"some years back I was camped out on private, remote land w/a shooting buddy and we were stting around the campfire area. there was a large bug crawling along the ground in between us and I drew and trained my .45acp on it. I thought the thumb safety was on but it wasn't and the pressure I put on the trigger - well, BOOM!” https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...=327362&page=3 post #74


“While coon hunting with a 30cal. Ruger blackhawk SA and just cocked the hammer back for a shot and my prey moved. I quickly moved forward, finger outside the trigger guard, stumbled on a cross tie and in trying to keep my balance somehow squeezed the trigger.” https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...=327362&page=4 post #91

***

Have literally hundreds of these stories, collected from decades of reading gun forums and news articles. Huge number of them came from men just as smart and skilled as anyone posting in this thread.

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Old October 8, 2017, 09:38 AM   #17
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Also, here's an interesting quote from a study done by the LA Sheriff's Dept:

Quote:
Originally Posted by LASD study

In fact, the Weapons Training Unit analysis found in all but two of the thirty-one 2014 unintended discharge incidents, the employee had his finger on the trigger when the firearm discharged. The two exceptions occurred when an object, a coat hook and a portable radio antenna, respectively, caught on the trigger of an M&P pistol. The authors of the analysis noted that until 2002, LASD personnel were trained, “on target, on trigger,” meaning that as a deputy is pointing his or her Beretta 92F at a target the finger would be on the trigger. According to interviews we conducted, in 2002, the training curriculum was updated so that deputies were taught to keep their trigger finger along the frame of the pistol and off the trigger until he or she made the decision to shoot. According to the Weapons Training Unit report, older deputies often kept the prior learned practice of resting their finger on the trigger, despite the new training. The report’s authors concluded “that the practice of ‘riding the trigger’ has resulted in an increase in unintentional discharges.
Can read the full report here: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/d...rge+Report.pdf

Just another point of interest.

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Old October 9, 2017, 01:14 AM   #18
Ghost1958
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Been carrying and shooting for over 50 yrs.

If Im pressed enough to draw a weapon I intend to fire and finger will be on the trigger.
If by chance I don't need to fire after all because of the assailants actions [ has happened ], then I don't fire. Simple as that.
Gun handling shooting and SD with a firearm , has been turned into something as complicated as brain surgery by the training industry.
It's not that complicated. People have been doing it for a couple hundred years.
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Old October 9, 2017, 05:37 PM   #19
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Quote:
Been carrying and shooting for over 50 yrs.

If Im pressed enough to draw a weapon I intend to fire and finger will be on the trigger.
If by chance I don't need to fire after all because of the assailants actions [ has happened ], then I don't fire. Simple as that.
Gun handling shooting and SD with a firearm , has been turned into something as complicated as brain surgery by the training industry.
It's not that complicated. People have been doing it for a couple hundred years.
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Exactly! Its just plain ole common sense, not "lowest common denominator"

There will always be those people who fancy themselves some sort of quasi-LEO or something. I am just a guy going to the store who wants to be let alone. I am not clearing buildings, capturing people at gunpoint or investigating odd happenings in dark alleyways. If I pull a gun it will be due to immediately dire circumstances.. and my finger will be on the trigger as soon as its trained on a target.

Can an ND happen?.. sure. Has it happened to me in more than 35 years of shooting?.. nope. Might it happen tomorrow.. yes it could. That being said, I will accept the risk in exchange for the ability to get a shot off .5 faster. I am not responsible to hundreds of LEOs which make up an entire police force.. I am responsible for me. Where LAW exists, I follow the law and where it does not, I follow rules which are developed around my personal experience , morals and abilities.

The failings of others can always exist as a guide but those things must be weighed against many things. If I saw you pet a dog and it bit you, I would not pet it. That does not mean that I would not ride a motorcycle just because some people have fallen off. I have weighed and measured this issue regarding where to put your finger... I will put it on the trigger when on target. Others may do something else and that is just fine.

as you suggested earlier, it shouldn't be brain surgery. I agree
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Old October 10, 2017, 06:29 AM   #20
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A retiree from the local sheriff's office joined a bunch of us at the range one day with a timer. With the pistol loaded and aimed, but the finger off the trigger, it took most of us about 0.3 seconds to react to a buzzer and fire. Lowest was 0.22, highest was 0.4.
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Old October 21, 2017, 03:55 PM   #21
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I choose to leave mine attached to my hand. My father cut his trigger finger off with a saw. It took the shop class three days to find it. By then he had no recourse to go back on his decision. Seriously, I generally, but not always, keep it indexed on the gun where the frame and slide meet for Glocks, because where that finger points is where the gun points. Sometimes, I do prestage some guns on drawing and presenting the gun, but NEVER with a striker fired gun. This is a double action revolver or pistol technique, I have used for 40 years, or so. I have, so far, never had any negligent discharge doing this, and I "NEVER" practice like this at any organized shooting range. I also NEVER go shooting outside of a range alone. Should I ___ up, someone needs to be around to see to it I can get medical attention. Generally I have put a spot of grip tape on all of my pistols that lines up with where to put that trigger finger, so it will point the same exact place as the gun. Point at my target, check my sight picture, then place finger on trigger, and fire the gun. I do prestage a few guns that have a very predictable double action pull. Daewoo DP51, Colt Detective Special, Charter Arms, any revolver, etc. A Sig P226, 228, 220, 225, 229, etc. is not at all a good gun to prestage double action. In 40 years I have had 3 NDs. One was the famous Marlin Model 60 .22LR, that you have to dump two live rounds from before it is clear. The other was a Browning .22 SA, that the ammo's wax had fused all the ammo into a long stick, and that could be called a malfunction. The other was lowering the hammer on an old Stevens single shot shotgun, in freezing rain. Every single time the muzzle was pointed in a safe direction. No ND's with handguns, yet. Old .22s and a shotgun.
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Old October 21, 2017, 04:57 PM   #22
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Quote:
If Im pressed enough to draw a weapon I intend to fire and finger will be on the trigger.
Can't go along with that.

One may draw if and only if drawing is justified, and in all but a handful of states that means that the use of deadly force would be justified--at that moment.

One should not draw any sooner, or any later.

But the fact that drawing may be justified when one draws does not mean that shooting will be justified after one has drawn. There's that little matter of immediate necessity.

One should not intend to fire--ie, make the decision to shoot--until one has a reasonable belief that doing so would be immediately necessary.

I have presented a firearm in a deadly force situation on three occasions. In none did the need to shoot remain after the gun was presented.

And I am extremely lucky that my failure on those occasions to hold my finger in the manner described here by pax did not result in tragedy.

I did not know than what I know now.

Quote:
If by chance I don't need to fire after all because of the assailants actions [ has happened ], then I don't fire. Simple as that.
That's the stuff that negligent dischargee are made of.
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Old October 21, 2017, 06:02 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost1958
....Gun handling shooting and SD with a firearm , has been turned into something as complicated as brain surgery by the training industry. It's not that complicated. People have been doing it for a couple hundred years....
Really now? Two hundred years ago the handgun in common use was a single shot, muzzle loading, flintlock (there might have been the occasional percussion cap lock around at the time).

Guns have changed just a bit as has the way they are used and handled. And roughly fifty years ago Jeff Cooper and the other folks of the Southwest Combat Pistol League had a lot to do with teaching us a lot about ways of most efficiently using handguns as fighting tools.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FireForged
... I will put it on the trigger when on target...
And indeed the Modern Technique of the Pistol teaches that the finger is off the trigger until the gun is on target and the shot is to be taken.
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Old October 21, 2017, 06:44 PM   #24
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Let me define pressed enough as it seems it's not clear to a few.
It means someone has put me in a position where shooting that person would be justified and my finger will be on the trigger when I draw.
If said person becomes submissive or manages to stop the action that caused me justifiable reason to shoot them in the second or two it takes me to draw them I won't shoot them.

Simple as that. Been there done that.
My state also happens to be one I can take my gun out of my holster pretty much whenever I like.
Doesn't even have to be carried in a holster here.
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Old October 21, 2017, 07:16 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost1958
...My state also happens to be one I can take my gun out of my holster pretty much whenever I like. ....
Cite the law.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost1958
...It means someone has put me in a position where shooting that person would be justified and my finger will be on the trigger when I draw. ..
Which sets a poor example for others.
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