Does it do the student any good to have their finger on the trigger before their sights are aligned? Are they gaining any genuine value or is it an accident waiting to happen.
As an industry we are always looking for ways to be faster, to get first round lethal strikes before the bad guys. Who wouldn’t want to be faster today than they were yesterday and of course we are talking about accurate shots as fast as possible. One thing I have noticed is the importance of sequence. When tasks are performed in proper sequence they tend to be more durable under stress. Meaning, if you take the time to learn a task in the logical sequence it would normally occur it is more likely your movements will be precise and quick. If on the other hand you try to take short cuts, but jumping ahead or going out of the correct sequence you may find you have created a monster.
Sights first or trigger?
Here is an example of proper sequence, the placement of the trigger finger and the application of pressure to the trigger. When should your finger move from the index point to the trigger face? Is it once your sights have been aligned or the first opportunity you can out of the holster. This is a more complex question to answer than giving a hard and fast response, but one thing is for sure, safety must drive the train. At some point we have to step in and recognize the dangers and unsafe practices that can occur under duress we cannot replicate in training.
At the basic level we teach the student to mount the pistol on target. To drive it exactly to their strike point while aligning their sights then once the sights are confirmed to touch the trigger and take out the slack. Keep in mind this is a basic class where some students have never fired a firearm. However, even at the intermediate level we see students benefiting from this technique so don’t think this is for beginners. The other problem I see is the anxiety of firing the shot. For some students it can be a bit nerve racking and others compensate through flinching and muscle tightening. One student had a flinch so bad he would miss the target from the five yard line. As soon as rounds start missing the target we had to take action for safety. What I had him do was to mount the pistol on target then align the sights. Not until his sights were perfectly aligned was he allowed to touch the trigger.
Breaking down the task
The stress of firing the shot was somewhat diminished as we broke the action of firing down into more bite size pieces. He felt more in control and when he could “see” his sights first he dramatically increased his trigger management. The massive flinch became more subtle allowing him to gain a foothold on his technique. He even observed it himself and only when shooting shifted more towards timed drills did he feel the anxiety creep back into his technique. The benefit was huge for the simple fact he learned correctly how to fire an accurate shot following a logical sequence. Some may not agree with the logical sequence, but if you were to think about it this way. If the object of firing a weapon is to accurately strike a target then you will first need to present the firearm to the target. Next, you will need to align or confirm your sights and lastly and with minimal disturbance to the above, squeeze the trigger to the rear firing the shot.
Performing these actions out of sequence is not only potentially unsafe, but inefficient. If your sights are not aligned correctly squeezing the trigger is going to produce sub optimal results; which is code for a miss.