Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Tale of Two Trigger Guards. With and Without


     Just below is a picture of two training guns. One with a trigger guard and one without. In my travels, I am in all kinds of schools, academies, and gyms. I see lots of gear. In martial arts schools and some Krav organizations, I see rubber guns without trigger guards. I have seen these guard-less, training guns here and there for about 30 years now. The only reason for their removal I’ve ever been told is that during disarm training, the trigger guard “hurts” the fingers of the students. And, of course, the classic story ... "once, one guy had his finger broken" inside the trigger guard by that infamous "overzealous" training partner.

     Shucks. Okay. Well, catching the finger inside the guard is the whole point on that one. How can you possibly practice and experiment with that move without a solid trigger guard? (I have been teaching that disarm for about 30+ years and never had a broken finger. Even with very hard rubber guns and wooden guns.) How?

     But there is something far more important at play here than just disarms. The main issue of this essay. When people are handling these training guns, they simply need to have trigger guards. A solid handgun training program has “students/attendees/whatever” moving around terrain with these handguns. Drawing. Searching. Responding. Chasing, etc., and fingering or not fingering triggers.

     The “rule of thumb” is to keep your trigger finger off the trigger until the very last possible second. This is a safety issue, even a "friendly fire" issue, understood by probably 99.9% of the shooters of the world. You say, 99.9%? Yes, there are few strays that think they can run, jump, fight, sneeze, crawl, climb, and yell with their fingers placed right on the triggers. I won’t bore you here with the numerous tests done for decades and as far away as Germany with pressure sensitive equipment catching people’s trigger fingers, applying unsafe pressures on their triggers while performing various chores and running obstacle courses. (“Sympathetic body movement” is often a named culprit.)

     Also, at times, tested people swore they never even put their fingers inside the trigger guard in these tests, least of all touched the trigger, yet sensors proved they indeed had. So even with trigger guards, there are still plenty of problems.

     It is imperative that students become familiar with, even on a subtle and subliminal level, the feel of their finger on the side of the gun and its relationship with the trigger guard and getting inside the trigger guard, and out again, while running through chores and scenarios. You get this subtly by running the guns and running with the guns.

     As far as a way to practice that finger-catch disarm - my friend, Florida instructor Frank Ehnle, captures a training process well:

     "During some Hapkido disarms, the finger would be broken or seriously damaged during the disarm, the trigger guard is used for that finger attack specifically. Our training weapons are perfectly molded and weighted replicas including the guard. We have students do them at realistic speeds with the trigger fingers elongated and not in the guards (as you would safely carry a real weapon). Then they practice the disarm slowly with the fingers in the guards so they can feel the stress and pain of the actual finger lock that occurs during the disarm. When they feel that pain and stress, they better understand the technique. The training weapon without a trigger guard would be of no use to us." - Frank

     Please cease and desist from clipping off the trigger guards from your training handguns.


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     Update:  This little essay has already gotten around the net, and numerous people (a minority) think I am wrong. One said I was "dead wrong." Without much explanation either. Just “wrong.” Also as an aside, some of the people in the FB universe, which is vast, are responding to the idea that you keep your fingers off the triggers until the last possible second - you know, that .01% who think they can and should keep a finger on the trigger all the time. And, by the way, I am not advocating for that particular disarm; it’s just one of many.

     In terms of doing disarms, I can’t see how you can practice that particular pistol disarm without a decent trigger guard to experiment with. How? 


     Well anyway …"hand" people or "Kuraty" people never consider this gun issue and usually don't even know the aforementioned important nuance of the proper trigger guard on training guns. Gun people get it instantly. Hand people just want to do disarms. Hand, stick, knife, and gun people want to do it all.

     But to clip off the guard on the idea based on the principle that “one guy - once - hurt his _____ policy, so we did such-and-such.” Here’s the deal; where else do we use this policy in a school or training course? Is it a real policy? One guy hurt his finger once doing disarms, so we clipped the guard off. This “one-guy policy.” What if this policy were a real policy for everything? What if one guy was hurt doing a takedown,  so we stopped doing full takedowns? Or one guy – once- was hurt by a punch, so we quit doing full punches.

     At any given time, just "one guy" can be overzealous doing anything and hurt a training partner. I mean, if the one-time incident was really lethal or really, really bad, then make changes. Sure. But does this “One Guy Hurt” policy work across the board for ALL training or just for some odd reason, it only counts with one finger and clipping rubber trigger guards off of training guns?



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