james bond showing good trigger discipline

What Is Trigger Discipline? (And How To Best Practice It)

Hollywood has a lot to answer for. This is true with history, but it’s also true with its propensity for showing firearms usage. Not only are there poor practices of aiming firearms, but there are pretty bad examples of basic safety procedures.

If you’ve watched a lot of these movies, you may be confused as to why there aren’t more unintentional discharges? Well, it’s trigger discipline, but what exactly is trigger discipline?

Trigger Discipline is the process of placing your firing finger away from the trigger, normally extended against the trigger guard until you’re ready to fire. It’s both a safety precaution and a more effective way to master shot accuracy.

Thanks to the influence of movies and video games, many people tend to place their finger inside the trigger guard even when they’re not about to fire. 

a simple example of good trigger discipline

This explains some of the accidents of people shooting themselves or accidentally shooting others.

The fact is that every unintentional discharge could have been prevented with proper trigger discipline. It’s a basic requirement of gun safety and should be one of the first things beginners understand.

You learn how to stop a vehicle before you drive it, and you should learn how not to fire, before you learn shot placement.

In this post, I have discussed the various definitions of trigger discipline and why it’s important.

The Definition of Trigger Discipline

Trigger discipline is often defined as the act of placing your finger parallel to the gun’s barrel when you’re not firing. But it’s more than that. It’s the discipline to hold off firing until you’re sure that you’ll be firing the weapon. 

It’s also the process of always making sure that the crosshairs align with the target before firing.

Most gun users, both in video games and real-life, tend to keep firing at a target without effectively aiming at the target. As a result, you end up with lots of missed targets and wasted ammo. 

It’s more about training your mind to wait until you have a target in your crosshairs before firing.

Why Trigger Discipline Is Important

Below are some of the reasons you need to practice trigger discipline.

  • Safety – Trigger discipline is one of the four main rules of firearm usage. If you place your finger on the trigger all the time, you may accidentally fire when you don’t intend to, or when you are distracted. This scene from Pulp Fiction is 50 and 10a good example of why you should keep the finger away from the trigger. The guys were having a simple conversation, and all of a sudden, the gun goes off, shooting someone in the back seat.
  • More Quality Shots – Besides safety, you also need to know when to fire. As a result, you’ll fire fewer shots and incapacitate the assailant faster. Shot placement is the most important factor in hunting, self-defense, and combat situations. So you need to calculate your first shot and calculate the next shot if it’s a moving target.
  • Reduced reloading time – In combat, reloading time is a life-and-death situation. If you fire more rounds haphazardly, you’ll miss several shots, and you’ll often have to reload. Placing your shots accurately and firing fewer rounds minimizes the number of times you’ll have to reload.
  • You’ll get to work on your aim – Trigger discipline is more of a mind control thing. When you learn to wait until you have the target in your aim, you’re teaching your mind to coordinate both aiming and firing. You’ll create muscle memory and fire high-quality shots regardless of the firearm you’re using.
  • Clarity – The ability to wait for the right opportunity to fire improves mental clarity even in tough situations. When you panic, you’ll fire frantically, missing your target and revealing your position, especially in hunting activities.

Some Good Examples Of Trigger Discipline

A picture paints a thousand words as they say, so let’s show some examples of food trigger finger placement.

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite British secret agent, James Bond.

james bond with good trigger discipline

Despite the weapon, he is not yet ready to fire, and as such, the trigger finger is extended along the trigger guard.

Good trigger discipline there, as you might expect….

Moving along, you don’t need to be a famous secret agent to practice it.

a lady with good trigger discipline

With this young lady, despite being on the range, she has that trigger finger extended along the guard. Again, another good example, and there is no chance of an unintentional discharge.

You will be safe in her presence.

And another example.

a lady with good trigger discipline

And another.

a very young lady with good trigger discipline

Both the ladies above have good awareness and training, keeping that finger off the trigger no matter what until they are ready to fire.

Some Bad Examples of Trigger Discipline

As well as people who practice good trigger discipline, there are alos people not so well trained.

Take Lara Croft.

lara croft with poor trigger discipline

She may hit everything she aims at but BOTH fingers curled around the triggers is asking for trouble.  Not good practice here.

And this example.

a man with poor trigger discipline

It doesn’t matter that there is no magazine in the weapon, you should always treat a weapon as if it’s loaded. Especially if you’re going to put your finger around the trigger.

And there is also this.

a lady with poor trigger discipline

She may think she looks badass, but again, that finger is curled around the trigger with no intention of firing.

How To Develop Trigger Discipline

As mentioned earlier, place the index finger in a straight position parallel to the barrel. By doing this, there will be fewer chances of this finger sliding into the trigger guard and firing. 

Besides finger placement, you should also avoid pointing the rifle, pistol or shotgun at someone unless you intend to fire. 

This applies to self-defense situations or carrying a gun at a crowded place like at the shooting range. You can practice with an unloaded gun until you get used to it.

We’ve also mentioned that trigger discipline also applies when firing. For starters, you need to take into account the recoil of the firearm and the blast. But on the other hand, don’t anticipate the recoil, which is also known as flinching. 

Also, make the trigger pull to be nice and smooth. Jerking the trigger could lead to inaccurate shots. After firing the first shot, you can place the finger back to the parallel position as you prepare for the next shot. The pad of the finger is the best for firing an accurate round.

Final Thoughts

Trigger discipline is one of the most important practices in using a firearm. It ranks right up there with always assuming a weapon is loaded, and always having a weapon pointed in a safe direction.

All It involves is keeping your finger away from the trigger guard unless you’re ready to fire. If you think about it, it’s more effort to practice bad trigger discipline.

But as we’ve discussed, it also involves pressing the trigger in the right way and tracking the target to ensure accurate shots. Practicing good trigger discipline makes you a better shooter and ensures your safety and the safety of those around you.

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