Basic Shooting Safety Rules and the Importance of Trigger Finger Discipline


The Texas CHL class covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Safe handing and storage is a crucial aspect of being a responsible gun owner and CHL holder. And while we could easily spend hours on that one subject, there is only a finite amount of time to hit on the necessities.

We cover the basic rules of firearm safety in every class. That is the case in every class I’ve taught (CHL or otherwise) and every class that I’ve ever taken. You simply cannot have a firearm class whether it’s intro to shooting or an advanced class without covering the safety rules.

Injuries from negligent discharges are fortunately at all time lows. However, injuries from negligence could be virtually eliminated by consistently following the most fundamental safety practices;

1) ALWAYS keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

2) Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to fire.

3) Know your target, what is beyond your target, and between you and the target.

4) Treat every gun as if it was loaded.

There are of course many other rules that enhance safety, but these are the most basic. While these seem fairly obvious to most, breaking one or more of these rules is involved in every negligent discharge. I think this is often due to shooters becoming complacent and taking shortcuts or being distracted and not focusing completely on carrying out the task (shooting, drawing, holstering, cleaning, storing, etc.) safely.

I cringe when I see fingers inside of trigger guards. Especially when I see it happen when the user is manipulating the slide such as when chambering a round. Depressing the trigger and then sending the slide forward can lead to a discharge. I’ve seen it happen and seen the shocked look on the shooter’s face. Good thing their muzzle was pointed in a safe direction at the time.

Good trigger finger discipline is crucial. That trigger guard is NOT the finger protector. It is there to prevent “stuff” from touching the trigger. That “stuff” includes the index finger.

Trigger finger discipline is also vitally important when drawing from a holster. The pistol must come out of the holster in a manner that does not result in your finger on the trigger.

Keep that trigger finger parallel to the barrel, along the side of the frame. Your finger should be pointed at the target and not move towards the trigger until you are on target and ready to fire.

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