Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin
The next thing on the list of rules to live by is to keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. I shoot in International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) competition for fun and the one thing I have found that happens every time I get into a high stress situation, my brain goes into fight mode. I literally have to use muscle memory to make sure everything runs correctly with no mistakes. That’s the best reason to train repetitive motions like drawing a firearm so it is second nature.
As I’m drawing my 1911 from my inside the waistband holster, my palm finds the back of the grip and at the same time, my thumb is finding the edge of the holster to push on while my outside three fingers wrap around the grip after it is found. My trigger finger is positioned outside the holster in line with the slide as the firearm is withdrawn and my grip tightens. At this time, my thumb is in alignment to find the safety easily and rest there until time to disengage it. When the firearm has cleared the holster and I start to present it out away from my body, my support hand finds my three knuckles around the grip and forms around them. At this time, my support thumb has found the pivot point of the slide lock and makes sure it doesn’t come out inadvertently. I have squeezed the slide lock so tight that it didn’t function, so I loosened up a bit. At this time, I should be at full extension and the safety has just been clicked to the off position and the thumb is resting on it, holding it down.
As soon as the threat is in focus and my sights are lined up, my trigger finger comes back to the trigger and starts working. Any sooner than this and I could risk the trigger breaking early and missing my target. At the range against paper targets, a slight miscalculation on trigger manipulation may cost a match win but even there, bad things can happen.
The range where I attend these matches is a cold range, meaning no ammunition is allowed in a firearm until you step up to the firing line and have instructions from the range officer to load and make ready. I have witnessed an accidental discharge as the firearm was loaded and being re-holstered in preparation for the stage. Whether it was her finger or the shirttail that was inside the trigger guard, I didn’t hear her say, but when she pushed it back into the holster, it fired sending a round into the ground right beside her foot. Rocks went flying, but no one was injured thank goodness; but her nerves were well shook up and for good reason. She promptly stored her gear and excused herself from the rest of the match. Others have not been that lucky and how many tragedies could have been avoided by following this one rule? Training the finger to remain outside the trigger guard until it is needed can be a difficult endeavor to achieve, but well worth the effort.
Till next time, be safe and have fun shooting.