Your Trigger Finger is Not a Broom


by: B. D. Pruitt

Trigger reset – some instructors have taken to calling it “overemphasized” or “hackneyed” or “unnecessary”. Their arguments generally follow the pattern of: It’s not a necessary skill, so why spend time teaching it? Or, the student won’t remember in gunfight, so why bother? I’ve even had another instructor try to convince me that “sweeping” the trigger (we’ll get into that in a second) was faster than using trigger reset.

Let’s start from the beginning…

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the terms, we’ll define both “sweeping” the trigger, and “trigger reset”.

Trigger reset – or the concept of trigger reset – has been around for approximately 100 years. First used by rifle shooters, it allowed them to reset the trigger for a follow-up shot while keeping their sights on target. The idea is that after the weapon is fired, the shooter only allows the trigger to travel forward just far enough for it to reset the sear, thus making the weapon ready to fire again with as little trigger movement – and weapon movement – as possible.

Sweeping the trigger has been around as long as double-action revolvers. The idea being that the trigger on a double-action revolver must be completely released and then pressed again for the revolver to function properly; otherwise we end up short-stroking the trigger. Thus, we get the term, sweeping the trigger. The shooter completely presses the trigger, then lets the trigger travel forward its full extent, and then compresses the trigger again “sweeping” through its full arc of movement.

Let’s look at the arguments against using trigger reset.

Argument one: It’s unnecessary. This argument is 100% accurate. Trigger reset isn’t a necessary skill. Then again, a proper grip on the gun isn’t necessary in order to fire it either. Yet, every instructor I know teaches his or her students how to properly grip the pistol. Why? Because properly gripping the pistol makes us more effective shooters. And that’s what training is all about, isn’t it? Trigger reset is unnecessary, unless you want to become a more effective shooter. In an actual gunfight, I want to be as effective as I can possibly be. Thus, I choose to use trigger reset. More on why later…

Argument two: The stress of a gunfight will prohibit the student from remembering trigger reset. Sounds similar to the argument against using your sights in a gunfight, yes? The answer: Training. We’ve all heard the addage: “We fight how we train.” It’s a true statement. If we train to focus on the target, then we’ll focus on the target in a gunfight. Whereas, if we train to use the sights, we’ll use the sights in a gunfight. It’s no different with trigger reset.

But, Brett, we hear of police officers who say they didn’t see their sights in a gunfight! They say they don’t remember using trigger reset in a gunfight! Don’t worry, I believe the officers. The problem isn’t how they were trained. The biggest problem is the lack of training in preparing for a gunfight. Law enforcement firearms training is woefully lacking. The vast majority of officers receive about 40 hours of firearms training in the academy, and then only shoot about 200 rounds per year after that to maintain their qualification. Ladies and gentlemen, this is simply not enough to gain, nor maintain, any kind of proficiency with a firearm. Familiarity, yes. Proficiency, no.

Look, I understand agencies can’t afford to train every officer to be a Delta-Seal-Ubertactical Operator. Perhaps your budgetary constraints prohibit you from shooting 1,000 rounds per weekend, every weekend of the year too. I understand. This is the beauty of dry-fire. It’s cheap. You don’t even need a shooting range to do it. But, how many of us actually take 5-10 minutes out of our day to do it?

Moving on…

The argument that sweeping the trigger is faster than using trigger reset is absurd. More movement takes more time. Less movement takes less time. It’s as simple as that, and I won’t waste anymore space entertaining this patently false claim.


Why do we teach trigger reset? Why do we use trigger reset? Because it allows us to shoot faster AND more accurately. Trigger finger movement induces muzzle movement. Muzzle movement induces errant shots. By minimizing muzzle movement, I’m a more accurate shooter. Furthermore, since my finger travels a shorter distance, I can shoot faster. Thus, more accuracy and faster strings of fire. And that’s what it’s all about in a gunfight.