What is Trigger Discipline?

Firearm training involves a lot of terminology, and it can be hard to remember which to prioritize. Trigger discipline is one of the terms you must remember and practice every time you pick up a firearm. But what is trigger discipline?

Trigger discipline is a term you will hear repeatedly while practicing in the industry. It does not matter what type of training you take, the firearm involved, or the instructor – every reputable firearms training program will stress the importance of trigger discipline.

Trigger discipline is the practice and habit of keeping your finger outside the trigger guard and off the trigger until it is time to fire.

In most cases, this will involve extending your finger. Hence, it lays straight along the firearm’s frame and parallel to the barrel. Of course, the exact placement will vary slightly depending on the specific platform used.

Why is Trigger Discipline so Important?

Trigger discipline is one of the four critical factors of firearms safety:

  1. Assume every firearm is loaded
  2. Never point your firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
  4. Be sure of your target and beyond

Keeping your finger outside the trigger guard, it will always be off the trigger. Since a properly functioning firearm can only fire when the trigger is pressed, this will prevent accidental discharges. Your finger should only be placed on the trigger when you are ready to fire, and be sure to know your trigger pull weight. If you are not sure what that is, check out our blog post on What is Trigger Pull Weight.

All the Time, Every Time

Trigger discipline is for more than just the range or beginners. It must be a fundamental part of every shooter’s firearm handling routine every time a gun is used. It does not matter if the firearm is loaded, you are alone, or you are handling a firearm you have used for years. You only allow your finger to enter the trigger guard or rest on the trigger once you are ready to fire.

The most important reason to avoid accidental discharges is safety. Because accidental discharges occur when you do not intend to fire a round, there is a higher probability that the round will hit an unintended target- this could include you or a bystander. But even an accidental discharge that does not hit you or a bystander can have negative consequences.

  • Hunting – the discharge could alert a would-be trophy.
  • Competition shooting – the discharge could cause you to have a less-than-perfect hit or even miss the target completely, resulting in a wasted shot.
  • Tactical situations – the discharge could alert your opponent to your position and cause you to lose the element of surprise.
  • On the range – places everyone in danger, causes you to lose a round unnecessarily and is likely to result in your removal from the firing line.

How to Learn Trigger Discipline

Although trigger discipline is critical to firearms safety, it does not come naturally to many shooters. It needs to be learned until it is second nature. Only then can you ensure it will be part of your firearms handling routine when under stress.

Here are some ways you can practice trigger discipline safely:

Holster Drills

With an unloaded firearm, practice drawing and holstering your firearm. Start slowly and pay attention to finger placement every time. By placing your finger along the outside of the holster, in the approximant location of the firearm’s frame, it will more naturally lay in the correct position once the firearm is drawn.

Practice slowly, building up speed as you become more proficient. You also need to practice with each firearm and each holster you own or carry.

Muscle Memory Drills

Muscle memory will allow you to repeat a physical action without conscious thought, even under stress. One of the ways to help develop trigger discipline is to not only keep your finger away from the trigger until you are ready to fire but also associate non-firing placement with something physical.

Instead of just laying your finger along the frame of the firearm, identify a physical feature of the firearm your finger will touch. This could be any surface feature within a finger’s distance of the trigger, such as a pin, contour in the frame, or even the outside of the trigger guard. When selecting a feature, ensure that placing your finger in that location will not allow it to enter the trigger guard accidentally.

Be unforgiving.

Never be complacent and allow poor trigger discipline to be okay. When you start making mistakes, accidents soon follow.

Be Disciplined, Be Equipped

Trigger Discipline best practices exist for safety.  Until you are ready to fire, keep that trigger finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard. From beginners to professionals, develop and follow a trigger discipline routine.

Frequently check your firearm to make sure every part is working properly. Make sure your trigger is maintained and up to date. If you’re in need of a new rifle trigger, check out our selection of high quality aftermarket rifle triggers. We believe in trigger discipline and want to ensure everyone firing a rifle is as safe as possible when doing so.

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