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Single action trigger control in a high stress situation?

2521 Views 10 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Rosco Benson
I am a BIG 1911 guy, it is one of the finest combat pistol ever design and have used and carried one for several years. But lately I have begun to worry about an accidental discharge with the single action trigger in a high stress situation (Perp disarmed and held at bay, etc.) I am bernie, husband of one, father of 2, and Mack truck salesman and going off too Thunder Ranch, Front Sight, etc. is not feasible any time in the near future. I do have the ability to shoot on my farm any time I wish and ammo is not a problem. Are there any drills or techniques to practice trigger control in a situation requiring great restrain? I know this is a difficult question to answer and all responses are appreciated.
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Keep your finger off the trigger and you can't have an unintentional/negligent discharge.
Originally posted by bernie:
I am a BIG 1911 guy, it is one of the finest combat pistol ever design and have used and carried one for several years. But lately I have begun to worry about an accidental discharge with the single action trigger in a high stress situation (Perp disarmed and held at bay, etc.) <snip>
"Involuntary Convulsive Reflex" - that is what happens under conditions of extreme stress when you are unexpectedly jostled - it happens even to seasoned vetrans. It happens with S&W and Beretta DAO guns! Your index finger can pull as much as 50 pounds under these conditions.

The answer is not to choose a gun with a 51 pound trigger but to learn that you keep your finger off the trigger unless you are ready to actually fire (this decision takes less than the time it takes to blink your eyes and it is no problem get your gun into action from the ready in that space of time).

It would still be worth your while to find a good school you can attend... the confidence gained there by could be worth its cost many times over.

Stout heart and good cheer!

Jim Higginbotham
I'll say it too! Finger out of the trigger guard, until ready to shoot.
Not just out of the trigger guard, but along side the frame, above the trigger guard. Some folks have a habit of putting their finger along side the trigger guard, with the tip on the guard itself. But if you are startled, it seems to me your finger could easily slip off the guard and onto the trigger.

Put it alongside the frame, either straight or bent. I like straight, with my tip on the extension of the slide-stop. That tactile reference lets me know that my finger is in the right place.

Thanks for all the feedback. Not being a "tactical" guy, you don't always get the obvious. Again, thanks.

All the others hit it on the head... trigger out of the trigger guard.

There are ways to develop this skill until you do it reflexively. I never pick up a gun, any gun, and put my finger on the trigger until the gun is on target, even when doing dry-firing practice. Whether unholstering, picking a gun up from the safe, or off the workbench etc, my finger is ALWAYS out of the guard. It takes a few hundred repetitions to develop habit and muscle memory. Work on holster presentations with finger out, over and over. It will come. Soon, you'll never handle a gun with finger on the trigger until you're on target. That's the first step to eliminating AD's/ND's. Imho. Good luck.

The person formerly known as Covert Mission.

[This message has been edited by Mall Ninja (edited 03-23-2001).]
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Everyone so far has hit the nail right on the head. The answer is RULE THREE: KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET.

The way to train yourself to do this without thinking, is has already been stated, repetition. The dry practice drill for this is as follows:

Preparation for Dry Practice:
1. Remove the magazine
2. Rack the slide to rear, ejecting any cartridge from chamber.
3. Lock slide to rear, visually inspect the chamber to be sure it's empty.
4. Stick your little finger through the ejection port into the chamber to double check that the chamber is empty
5. Make sure that all live ammo is in another room.
6. Place a target up in a safe direction
(the definition of a safe direction is any direction which,if a negligent discharge should occur, only minimal property damage and NO personal injury will result)

Sorry for the above, but on the Internet, I have no control over who knows this, and who doesn't.


A. Assume your preferred stance Weaver or Isosceles) ready position with the muzzle depressed, finger off trigger and on the locator. For many of us, the locator is the end of the slide stop pin on the starboard side of the frame.

1. Raise the pistol until the front sight interrupts your vision of the target, place your finger on trigger, and take the slack from trigger as your focus shifts to the front sight.

2. Lower the pistol to the ready, remove your finger from the trigger guard, find the locator.

Repeat 1,2,1,2,1,2....

For initial training, as many as needed to make the move reflexive. DON'T OVERDO IT! Limit this exercise to no more than 10 minutes.

For daily dry practice, 10 reps recommended.

Hope this helps.

Roger Shambaugh
Ottawa, Kansas

[This message has been edited by KSLawman (edited 03-22-2001).]
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Aside from keeping your finger off the trigger, you may try to develop some shoot/no shoot drills. I don't know what constructive talents you have or materials access, but you can create a variety of kinetic targets that move in and out of concealment. Some should be no shoot targets and some should be villians to be shot.

People shoot under high stress situation when the don't intend to sometimes, hence keeping your finger off the trigger, but sometimes they shoot when they meant to shoot and hit their target, but shoot an one of the good people. Of course, they didn't mean to shoot a good person.

Under high stress, many people will end up shooting at movement from the area where they perceive the villain to be. This may mean you win quickly or you kill the wrong person. The value of the drills will help with one aspect of the high stress unintended shooting aspect and that is to help you develop your abilities to learn to identify what targets should be shot and what targets should not be shot. Most LEO training will involve some of this. The classic scenario is pulling up to a liquor store where a robbery is reported to be in progress and a guy comes running out with a gun. He is obviously stressed and is not responding well to commands by you. Do you shoot him or not? There is an inclination to shoot him because you know there was a robbery going on, the guy appears hyped up on something and he isn't functioning normally. So is it the robber or is it the onwer or manager who was trying to give chase after being scared to death and now suffering from an extreme adrenaline rush?
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The only accidental/unintended discharges I ever had were caused by transitioning from DA to SA on a double action handgun. That's why I shoot single action autos only.
Don't let the expense of going to Thunder Ranch keep you from getting good sound training. There are a number of excellent instructors who go "on the road". Training near your home eliminates the travel and lodging expenses associated with going to one of the fixed-base schools. Tom Givens (www.rangemaster.com), Louis Awerbuck (www.yfainc.com), Randy Cain (www.guntactics.com), Ken Hackathorn (no web site), and a number of other excellent instructors will come to YOU. You already have the part of the puzzle that is difficult for some people to arrange. That is, a PLACE to practice what you learn. However, you must still be grounded in the proper fundamentals or all you'll be practicing may be bad habits.

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