Posted on January 15 2019
If you're a true man (or lady) of action, where should your booger picker go?
We see it all the time from Hollywood-- actors and actresses holding a firearm with their finger resting on the trigger. Until recently, resting the finger on the trigger was standard practice for many firearms schools. In fact, I remember my drill sergeant telling me to keep my finger on the trigger so I was ready to go in case of a fight. "Seconds count," he said.
Not long ago, I debated someone who claimed to have studied at numerous firearm schools and argued that a finger on the trigger was the only way to carry a firearm, especially a pistol. I explained that no credible modern school of firearms teaches to keep the finger on the trigger. Just read the Four Rules of Firearm Safety.
Why do we now keep our proverbial booger picker off the trigger until ready to shoot? What changed?
I was in the service for twenty-eight years-- in the Middle East from 2002 up until 2015. I got to be part of the evolution of modern gunfighting. Here are my observations:
Pistols of the past.
Handguns were typically carried and shot with one hand. Pistols would not fire unless they were cocked, and the act of cocking a pistol meant that someone was getting ready to throw down. Many gunfighters in the late 1800’s wired their triggers back so all they had to do was thumb the hammer. In single-action scenarios, there wasn’t much reason to keep the finger off the trigger. Even many of the rifles of the day took a direct hand action to take them off of safe,. It wasn’t until WWII that ergonomics became a consideration with rifles.
Civilian inexperience with firearms.
There was very limited understanding of the use of firearms under stress. The art and science of handling a gun didn’t have much time to develop until World War II. In the mid 1970’s, Jeff Copper started a firearms training school--one of the first of its kind. It didn’t take long while running a school for Cooper and others to start pushing safety, since plenty of folks would be heading to the hospital after a day or two on the civilian firing line, given the old rules of safety.
The Combat crucible brings safety home.
Like we have seen so many times in America, old paradigms die-hard. 9/11 took place and the United States found itself in a long war with large numbers of Special Operations soldiers performing tour after tour. The cycle of theory to combat proof became very tight in tactics and gun handling, and Special Forces operators shared that information liberally with one another.
Why don’t we put the finger on the trigger? The simple reason: there’s a much greater risk of accidentally shooting yourself or someone you love than there is of being slightly slower to a gunfight.
For homeowners, the “Probability of Threat” of accidentally shooting a loved one, one's self, or the dog is a much higher probability than losing a quickdraw with the boogieman.
In combat, or under high stress, I have yet to see someone move too slowly. More often than not, they move much too fast.
With that in mind, keep your finger off the trigger until you are sure of your target, what is in front, behind and to the left and right of it.