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A couple of years ago, I chided gun guru and firearms merchant Gabe Suarez for telling his acolytes it’s OK to keep your finger on the trigger in defensive situations. OK, I called him insane. But for good reason! To wit: “I have never pointed a gun at a bad guy with my finger off the trigger,” Gabe wrote. “Just like I have never challenged anyone from low ready. And I had plenty of opportunity when working night watch patrol, gangs, dope, crime impact and SWAT.” Assuming Mr. Suarez maintains an iron grip on his trainers, I’m happy to report that the firearms fanatic has had a change of heart . . .

Over at, Suarez International trainer Brent “Part of me wants to live in a world where it is acceptable to knee-cap people simply for rude behavior” Yamamoto offers an exhaustive and in some ways exhausting article on how to train yourself to keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot:

Every skill we practice incorporates trigger finger discipline: drawing from the holster and pointing toward the target; getting up from one firing position to move to another; magazine changes; training with partners in class.  Real situations where the stress of danger can degrade our fine motor skills: a family member inadvertently crosses your firing path, moving through crowds, holstering the pistol after the adrenal dump of a gun fight.  Each of these situations involves your finger going on or off the trigger at the appropriate time.  Perhaps that’s an obvious point, but do you know that you have this skill mastered?

How does one know how one will behave in the midst of the Mother of All Adrenalin Dumps? One doesn’t. But Brent has some excellent exercises to increase the likelihood that an armed self-defender will maintain trigger discipline when push comes to shove. And even if he is at odds with the Gabester, it’s clear Brent’s got the boss’s ‘tude:

With the rifle in high ready, off-trigger.  Drop to the squatting position, on-trigger.  Squatting is uncomfortable for you?  Hmmm.  Unless you’ve got an injury that precludes this position, shut up and practice it.  Out of 20 times, did you get the trigger right every time?  If so, great!  If not…hmm, more practice!

Roger that. Perfect practice makes perfect.

While I noogie Gabe for his Pattonesque approach to armed self-defense, I give him credit for “allowing” a disciple to say the right thing. (Note to Brent: you did clear this with Suarez first, yes?) Which is . . .

To repeat the rule, “Keep your finger off the trigger until you’ve made a conscious decision to shoot.”  It takes conscious, disciplined practice to make this skill stick.  If we intend to be skilled gunfighters, we must practice and seek training.  If we are to be safe students and training partners, trigger finger discipline must be mastered.

Amen. [h/t Eric]

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  1. Off-topic, but I read through Brent’s “25 Questions” post that you linked to, and find that #11 sums up the entirety of the gun rights argument:

    11. Do my kooky beliefs impact your liberty? Do yours impact mine?

    That’s all of it, the whole enchilada, distilled down to its chewy center. If the answer to the first part is no, then shut the hell up. If the answer to the second part is yes, then shut the hell up.

    Carry on.

  2. It has to depend on the threat level. If the BG has only a knife or a club and is some distance away, fine, keep finger off the trigger. If you’re confronting a BG with a gun, you may not have that split second.

    • This. I think people who have only trained and never had any experience in actual firefights shouldn’t insert opinions into people with “field” experience’s mindset. I’d take Gabe’s word over Farago’s any day.

      • +1 on taking Gabe’s word over Farago’s…

        Farago would be better served to leave his editoral comments (Like this: the felonious firearms fanatic) out of the article; it hurts his credibility. Whether you like Suarez or not, he is not a felon and doesn’t deserve to be called such. You can find both accounts of what happened to him out there on the web…I’d encourage you to read both sides and make your own decision. Personally? I think he got railroaded.

  3. Is there anyone in the firearms training industry that isn’t a D-bag, a D-list gym rat, or dojo ballerina? A Malignant Machiavellian half-wit? A walking episode of American Chopper only much less entertaining?

    Where are the scholarly, quiet professionals?

    R.I.P Col Cooper.

  4. Back in the late 1970’s early 1980’s, on my short side trip into LE for the Federal gov’t, it was taught thru the word of mouth academy, the following … “Don’t draw unless you intend to shoot. Don’t shoot unless you intend to kill”…..Saw a guy almost fired for just drawing on a prisoner attempting to escape…consensus by the big boys was he should have dumped the magazine in him…No warning shots. No theatrical displays. And no wounding allowed….

    Ah those were the days…

    P.S. for fun, go back and read Keith, Askins, Jordan about the 1920’s and 1930’s on the Border Patrol. Quite the different time….

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