I got a tremendous amount of feedback from the Failure to Follow Instructions blog, thank you to those of you who posted, messaged or called. I really appreciate the support and had planned on releasing this blog later in the year, but it seemed appropriate now.
Too many times I see folks out running their headlights, more interested in looking cool than being cool. Cool to me, means being trusted and safe. Let’s look at some problems we see in our classes as it relates to safety starting with another pet peeve of mine; premature trigger finger. There is this desire to get your finger on the trigger the moment it clears the holster. While this may seem like a good idea it is fraught with problems. To a large degree it is a timing issue. The student feels they will be faster if they get their finger on the trigger sooner. The harsh reality is you can only shoot accurately as fast as you can see your sights. The negative results of this practice ends up “rushing” the student to break the shot before they have confirmed their sight picture. At some distances this may not be that big a deal and some will brush it off as being “good to go”. I know it seems harmless, but all it means is you don’t have basic marksmanship skills developed and rely more on luck than skill.
Out of sequence
The next problem from this practice has to do with discharging the weapon before you intend to and while this happens from time to time it is exasperated by this practice. In particular it is dangerous when you add speed to your drawstroke. There is a point where we can see the trigger finger moving to the trigger way too early to the point as soon the pistol has cleared the holster the finger is in the trigger guard. Add a little stress and pressure is easily applied without any sight confirmation. The results here can lead to personal injury as the student potentially can end up shooting themselves. While some will blame the holster, the real culprit was the lackadaisical attitude towards safety and understanding the appropriate time to engage the trigger.
The dreaded scan
The next issue occurs post shooting when a student has completed a course of fire. The tendency to keep the finger on the trigger as they perform some ritualistic scan (insert sarcastic emoji) is another huge problem. It does you no good to have your finger in the trigger guard and even if it is off the trigger, in fact resting on the trigger guard itself we still see as a failure. The big presumption so many students make is they will be stationary in their altercation, similar to how they train on a flat range. The moment you start moving, trip hazards abound and it is very easy to engage the trigger with improper placement when you loose your balance or are startled.
Out of ammo
The last one for this piece has to do with firearm manipulations such as conducting a reload. By failing to adhere to safe practice and placing your finger on the trigger index it is easy to see trigger fingers in the trigger guard during the reload. Again, one might scoff and remark how the firearm is empty. It is, but not for long and the moment you complete the reload you now have a live round in the chamber and trigger finger in the trigger guard. Fumbling around during this reload and it is easy to see a negligent discharge. A similar problem would be the “floating” trigger finger, where the finger is slightly off the firearm. While this seems safe, safe is tactically registered on the trigger index of the frame.
Your trigger finger should be in one of two positions; either on the trigger index or on the trigger. If it is on the trigger it is because you have made a conscious decision to firearm your weapon and part of that decision is because your sights are on target.
Photo credit to Matt Stagliano at Firelance Media