Examples of Why You Need to Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger at all Times

Examples of Why You Need to Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger at all Times

Examples of Why You Need to Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger at all Times

One of the four rules of firearms safety is to keep your finger off the trigger until you’re on target and ready to shoot. However, from my experience many people are confused as to exactly what this means, so I thought I’d clear it up (especially since if I’m ever training with you I’d prefer not to get shot.)

So here we go: What this rule means is that until you have identified your threat and have made a conscious decision to use deadly force, you do not put your finger on the trigger. For instance, two weeks ago I had a guy arguing with me about how if he heard a bump in the night at 3am he would absolutely have his finger on the trigger from the moment he picked up his handgun. He told me that if he ran into a prowler while searching his house he wanted to be able to immediately stop him. And that if his finger wasn’t on the trigger he might not have time to shoot before the guy got to him.

In short, I told this fellow that this was a terrible idea and that one day he would end up shooting his wife who got up for a late night snack or his 16 year old son sneaking in from his girlfriend’s house.

You see, as you’re walking around your house at 3am you’re already a little nervous.

And if you see someone you’ll be startled and that startle will cause you to flinch causing your fingers to tense up. And if that finger happens to be on the trigger it’s going to pull the trigger and you’re going to shoot whatever startled you.

That’s why you never put your finger on the trigger until you’ve identified your threat and you know that it’s a person who you need to use deadly force against. In fact, about two weeks ago I heard something fall in my basement. I grabbed my gun and slowly walked downstairs.

As I was clearing the downstairs I forgot about a large cardboard box that loosely resembled a person. When I saw the box I flinched a bit and I felt my finger tense up against the frame of the gun. (My finger is always straight. Had it not been straight and had it been anywhere near the trigger, it likely would have pulled it.)

Let me give you a non-firearms related example that happened to me last night.

Every night I get up to go to the bathroom about 4am. Well, last night I got up to go to the bathroom as usual. As I opened the bathroom door in my half-asleep state to go back to bed, my wife was standing there and she about gave me a heart attack.

I shouted “geeze” and asked her why she had decided to sneak attack me and she said that she was simply waiting to go to the bathroom too. I offered her the suggestion that standing directly in the doorway like a serial killer was probably not the best way to greet me as I left the bathroom in the future.

But my point is, if for some reason I had a gun in my hand, with my finger on the trigger when I came out of the bathroom I would probably be a single man right now. (Insert hilarious jokes here.)

So from now on, whether you’re clearing your house of a potential intruder or carrying a gun for any reason, please keep your finger off the trigger until you’ve made the decision to use deadly force.

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  • Anonymous

    Good 411

  • Mgfragassi

    This is the obvious way to avoid having to tell the police….”the gun just went off”.

  • Mikk9992004

    couldnt agree more with you, Keep that finger of the trigger until your 100% sure!!

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  • Pete

    Totally agree with your point. One thing is, the wife/significant other doesn’t understand why you’re so PO’d at them for doing that. It’s been 40 years since I was overseas, but I still react to unknown threats first. If I have time, I’ll analyze them after. Finger off the trigger keeps things from escalating too quickly.

  • Jaberwok18

    Any logical person should agree to this. before i bought my gun i bought a toy gun at walmart and i practice everyday “finger off the trigger”

  • Anonymous

    excellent advice.

  • Protious

    This is something that I keep reminding my teen-aged son, along with all the other reminders.
    It never hurts us adults to be reminded as well.

  • Fourthy

    Let’s not forget that a negligent discharge is IMPOSSIBLE without your finger on the trigger.

  • Spike_dawgg

    Prudent advice. In times of stress and fear, you are no longer thinking as you normally do. The time it takes to go from ready to finger-on-trigger is very short. It’s not worth making a fatal mistake for the half second you get to analyze the situation.

  • Starlord

    Again, I have to agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Hanson.  I am very observant of actors in TV and movie dramas, and I have to give it to Hollywood, that they are finally getting the idea.  It used to be that anyone having a handgun out of the holster had his finger squarely on the trigger.  Now, it is seldom you see an actor with his finger in the trigger guard, the vast majority have their trigger fingers alongside the frame, ready to drop into the guard at a moment’s notice.

    • Fourthy

      I’m going to have to disagree with you. The cardboard movie posters for “building heist” and “abduction” both have main characters with fingers inside of trigger guards. …and in unrelated example of people learning about guns from movies… then acting in movies, a character in “bad boys” actually fans the hammer of his semiautomatic pistol.

    • koine2002

      I don’t know about Hollywood, but I’ve seen trigger discipline much more in TV-Land. I’m also seeing less and less of the cup and saucer/crossed thumbs behind the pistol/weak hand holding the wrist type grips. Now if they’d just get rid of the excessive cocking/chambering and that ridiculous clicking noise that is made when a gun is drawn.

  • Extrajustin

    Your title is misleading.  If I kept my finger off of the trigger “100 percent of the time” I would not need to buy/own a gun.  Its more like 99.89% of the time.

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