A Nurse with a Gun

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Rule Three

What is the quickest way to brand yourself as a gun neophyte at the gun counter or gun show? Picking up a gun with your finger on the trigger, that's how.How many things can you find wrong with Cookie's grip? Experienced gunnies watch trigger fingers, both their own and those of others. We are taught to index the trigger finger alongside the frame of the gun when handling or drawing a weapon. Some pistols, such as a 1911 have protrusions that serve as landmarks to help develop muscle memory for that finger.

Rule Three states "Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot." It can also be stated as "Get your God damned finger off the sonofabitchin' trigger!"

I am disgusted every time I hear some ignorant ass say "It just went off! The gun just went off!" This is childish, magical thinking unfit for an adult. Guns don't "just go off" any more than automobiles just start themselves and drive to the grocery store. Guns don't "just go off" and cameras don't just accidentally take photographs. Our world is full of automatic appliances. Coffeemakers brew up a cup of Joe to be ready for us in the morning, and electronics record our favorite television programs for our viewing pleasure. Guns are not automatic, and they do not "just go off!" They require a person to pull the trigger, or to somehow manipulate the action to ignite the primer that leads to the launch of a projectile. They require human input!

Gun on target, finger on trigger...No problem!The problem with guns that "just go off" is that a person put their God damned booger hook on the bang switch. In other words, the gun is in the hands of someone who doesn't know what the hell they are doing. That same person is the very type of ignorant knucklehead that will try convince others of magical thinking after a negligent discharge. They apparently believe that cameras take photographs by themselves, and cars will go to the convenience store and pick up a six-pack if you just want it bad enough. Hell, if they want to, in their Peter Pan world, they can probably fly too!

So, why index the trigger finger alongside the frame of the gun? As human beings, we have evolved to have a five digit grasp. Four fingers and one opposable thumb. From infancy we have learned to lead our grasp with the index finger. It folds first around an object we grasp, and the remaining fingers follow. Of course, our index finger is also our trigger finger.

No matter how hard we train, under the stress of a real situation, we will revert back to our basic instincts. Four well trained trigger fingersUnless we have trained our trigger finger to do something else, it will revert back to our basic evolution, to that five digit grasp. If we are suddenly alarmed, our natural response is to tighten our grasp on our weapon, be it a club, a spear or a gun. If our weapon is a gun, and that index finger is on the trigger, it will be pulled, and the gun will fire. If our trigger finger is alongside the frame of the weapon, it will stay put.

As firearms enthusiasts we train to make many motions involuntary. We strive to develop muscle memory through endless repetitions of the same motions and tasks, developing reflex actions that were not present before. There is one act that we must never allow to be involuntary. That is the act of pulling the trigger. The best way to prevent negligent discharges from occurring under stress is to train ourselves to keep our finger off the trigger until we are ready to shoot.

A prime example.


Keep your God damned booger hook off the sonofabitchin' bang switch!



Blogger Jackalgirl said...

I read your article with great amusement -- it is, of course, particularly true, but very pithily put! And you are absolutely correct to point out how natural it is to put one's finger on the trigger, which is why one always has to be really conscious about it. I learned how to shoot from James and he taught me the same thing in almost the same words. It's kept with me now that I'm in the Navy, and I often find myself saying the same things to sailors I'm helping with their shooting.

Also, I find that I now "index" everything. When I'm getting ready to pump gas, I index my finger on the nozzle handle's frame. When I'm carrying spray bottles of cleaning solution around (an extremely common task for a sailor), I index my finger on the frames of those, too. When I catch myself, I'm both really amused -- but also very pleased -- to find that it's an automatic behaviour now.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent article. One minor observation:

Keep the trigger finger outta the trigger guard - it helps with "point shooting" to have the dominant pointer do its primary job first!

Train, train, train! Then train some more!


11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minor nitpick, guns CAN go off without the trigger being pulled *if* it has a mechanical malfunction.

But otherwise, if the gun is in good working order, it goes off because someone pulled the trigger. Older guns can go off if dropped and a shell is in the chamber or under the hammer/firing pin.

Even my wife knows better than violate that rule. Her sister came over recently and picked up one of my guns that was out after being cleaned and asked about it. My wife IMMEDIATELY told her to get her booger hook out of the trigger guard, which made me proud.

SOMETHING has to happen for it to go off and usually it's a finger on the trigger.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am to the point where it almost feels UNnatural to have my finger inside the trigger guard. I like that.

By the way, nice Mak image there for emphasis Xavier. Fine little shooters they are. ;)

PS: "Booger hook" is crackin' me up!

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more observation:

The least-bad spot to send a bullet is called a target. The choice of a target is a deliberate decision. If you haven't found the least-bad spot to send the bullet, your finger does not belong on the trigger no matter what you intend to happen when the trigger is pulled.

"I was disassembling my Glock" does not provide an adequate excuse for having your finger on the trigger with the gun pointed in some random direction.

5:00 PM  
Blogger red said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:07 PM  
Blogger red said...

wow, i just got to view the videos (my work blocks all video content). i'm surprised both of those morons survived.

thanks for the great blog, it's entertaining, educational and often both!

(previous commented deleted due to my poor spelling)

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog. I ran across this picture, and the first thought in my mind was your Idiots w Guns Pages. Then I thought; "wait a sec. this is John Moses Browning. It doesn't get much higher up the food chain in the gun world than that." What a conundrum. Is he an idiot or not?


Thought you'd enjoy the problem.

george orr

3:10 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

And that is a conumdrum isn't it?

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty funny until some one gets shot. I have been. Hunting accident.

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is almost a year after the original post, but hey...

I like the other version of this rule:
"Finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target."

As the example went, if you're in the bedroom and there's a burglar in the next room over, you sure as hell might be ready to fire, but your sights aren't on the target yet.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Really informative!

2:50 AM  

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