Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger…
…until you’ve positively identified your target and you have made the conscious decision to shoot.
Lately, we encountered a few more beginning students than usual that just cannot seem to get that rule down and actually practice it EVERY time. During our classes or private sessions, we are relentless and adamant about the rule. We will not issue a student a certificate until they fully demonstrate complete safe gun handling from the draw and presentation, engaging a target, through to reluctantly re-holstering. We give positive reinforcement clear down to saying, "keep your finger..." rather than "don't put your finger on the trigger".
One of the keys is to find a spot on the gun to rest your finger. Not on the front of the trigger guard. Not on the trigger guard. Higher. Get comfortable with that spot. That is where your finger goes!
We always give our students homework and things to do at home -both on the range and dry fire at home. As far as dry fire at home, here are a few to practice. First, clear your gun. Double check it again. Empty all magazines and take your ammo into another room. Triple check there is no ammo in the room where you will practice.
Take your empty gun and walk around the room with it, pointed in a safe direction and keep your trigger finger off the trigger. Index your finger nice and high. Put your finger on the ejection port if you can reach it. Stay in the room, watch tv, do what you do while holding the gun and keeping your finger off the trigger.
Practice your draw in the mirror. Over and over until you can’t do anymore. Do it without putting your finger on the trigger.
If it still seems like you have a trigger magnet on your finger, get a training gun. Blue, orange, yellow doesn’t matter. Now you can walk around your house and yard with the dummy gun in your hand. Of course, you are keeping your finger off the trigger the entire time and keeping it pointed in a safe direction. Holster it. Draw it with it, clear rooms with it. Just keep your finger off the trigger.
Repetition, practice, and finding a spot to rest your finger will lead you to safe gun handling. Remember that just owning the gun isn’t enough. Nor is the ability to hit a target with it. Your sidearm will not do you or anyone around you any good if you cannot handle it safely!