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By John Farnam

Oops crying

Middle Finger and Unintentional Discharges: He was on-line, and the downrange area was clear, but the discharge was obviously unintentional, a great embarrassment to the student, and a startling surprise to the rest of us.

Defense Training International, Inc

Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO --( “‘Shibumi‘ is a Japanese word that loosely translates to ‘effortless perfection.’

Anything that is ‘Shibumi‘ is quiet in refinement, noble, and fulfilling in a manner not shaped exclusively by analytical thought. In Japanese culture, Shibumi implies ‘simplicity of spirit,’ an attitude of refinement without pretense, honesty without apology, beauty without gaudiness.

Shibumi must be found, not won. Shibumi is understanding, rather than knowledge. It is harmony, in action. In art, it is understated beauty, elegant brevity. In philosophy, it is spiritual tranquility that is not passive; it is ‘being,’ without the constant anxiety of ‘becoming.’

In serious fighting, it translates to, ‘No wasted parts; No wasted motions.'” ~ Rick Wiggington

We run many hot-range Courses every year, including Urban Rifle. Negligent Discharge (ND)s are extremely rare. Even at that, most ND expend themselves harmlessly downrange, or strike the deck several meters in front of the blushing student. I believe students need the experience of personally carrying loaded guns (pistols and rifles), all day.

I’m not sure how we’re supposed to train people to do things without actually doing them!

NDs happen, even on “cold” ranges too! Risk can be “managed,” but never eliminated completely. Risk is inherent to all weapons training, indeed to all gun-handling. Ill-conceived, indeed maniacal, attempts to absolutely do away with all risk, invariably result in “training” that is stilted, sterile, worthless, and little more than meaningless masturbation!

Sometimes, inexperienced students will cause an unintentional discharge as they holster loaded pistols. Fingers in inappropriate places are occasionally pushed into the trigger by the holster itself as the gun is holstered. Such NDs often cause wounds to the buttocks, leg, and/or foot. A number of years ago, I had a student put a streak-mark down her thigh during just such a mishap.

Last week, during an Urban Rifle Program, a student shot the dirt in front of himself with a single round from his AR. He was on-line, and the downrange area was clear, but the discharge was obviously unintentional, a great embarrassment to the student, and a startling surprise to the rest of us. The manual safety on his rifle had been inadvertently pushed to the “off” position, and he subsequently got a finger where it didn’t belong!

As loaded rifles are carried (slung muzzle down), I encourage students to confirm the position of the manual safety every few minutes, as gear, clothing, etc can inadvertently push it “off,” as happened in this case.

In most such cases, the problem is not the strong-side index finger (“trigger” finger) getting where it doesn’t belong, as students learn quickly the correct “register position” for that finger among their fist lessons. The culprit is usually the middle (“bird”) finger!

Thus, in addition to learning the correct “register position” for the trigger-finger, students also need to learn that none of the other strong-side fingers, particularly the middle finger, are ever allowed above the trigger-guard. They must remain firmly wrapped around the pistol grip and never stray.

When beginning students holster pistols, the middle finger can often be seen straying upwards and onto the pistol’s frame. This must be corrected immediately, as it is the middle finger erroneously finding its way into the trigger-guard, that causes many, probably most, NDs.

The foregoing comes under the heading of “Form.” Correct form (in every detail), in gun-handling, other martial arts, dancing, and golf separates professionals from amateurs.

Students, and instructors, need to understand this thoroughly!

“Often, hands will solve a mystery with which the intellect has struggled in vain.” ~ Carl Jung


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit:

  • 5 User comments to “Middle Finger and Unintentional Discharges”

    1. Lets ask Dick Cheney.

    2. Never rely on your safety. The gun is always loaded.

    3. ray hampton on September 2, 2014 at 7:40 PM said:

      why not ask all of the police dept. how many mistakes that the officers make

    4. Mr. Farnham

      I am instructor and your words and reminders are a BIG help.
      I look forward to your comments


    5. Just a Deputy on September 9, 2014 at 10:20 PM said:

      And on the eight day, GOD created John & Vicki. Thank you both for your years of service. Amen.


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