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Trigger Discipline for Woman

Trigger Discipline for Woman

Contributed by Chase from


Whether you are a civilian, police officer, or in the military, if you plan on carrying a gun the first thing you must be taught is firearm safety. This includes being instructed on proper trigger discipline.  Trigger discipline eliminates a large percentage of mishaps and accidental discharges. You must practice appropriate trigger discipline regularly and consistently. Practice until it feels entirely unnatural not to perform it correctly. Unfortunately, training best practices may not be the same between men and women and these differences are not always addressed.

While trigger discipline is covered at length by a variety of pro’s it is rarely explicitly addressed for women. While the mechanics do not change depending on your gender, there are subtle differences that we need to discuss.  The most basic rule of trigger discipline is you are going to keep your finger off the trigger until you plan to shoot. However, that is not all that trigger discipline is. For you to master trigger discipline completely, you also need to be emotionally in control. When you’re in control, the “decision to fire” is justified.   You also need to be accurate with your firearm; otherwise, you could miss your target. Of course, this all applies to males and females, but now let us focus on improving these skills for women using scientific data.

What is Proper Trigger Discipline?

Learning when to put your finger on the trigger, and when not to, is the basis of proper trigger discipline.

“Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot”

If the trigger is not compressed, a correctly assembled firearm should not be able to fire. If the trigger is touched, whether squeezed or not, you should be accurately aiming in on your target and understanding what lies in front and beyond it. Once you touch the trigger, you should be expecting to fire your firearm. Most firearm handling rule sets (more on these later) demand you keep your trigger finger straight and outside of the trigger well until you are aimed in on your target.  The likelihood and severity of firearm mishaps require this level of respect.

The images below brings a few points to light.  Many women new to guns will place their finger on the trigger while racking the slide of their firearm.  Unfortunately, they try to use their upper body and hand strength to rack the slide. This often results in the gun turning to the side and pointing to the people next to them.  In other words, unknowingly breaking a firearm cardinal rule to always point your gun in a safe direction.   The good news is there is an easy method to correct this issue.  Learning how to properly rack a slide changes everything.  I highly recommend you review this article that breaks down the correct technique for racking a slide as seen in image 2.  After reviewing, be sure to practice proper racking your guns slide.  

Rack The Slide Step 1



Firearm Safety Always Includes Trigger Discipline

There are many variations to the rules of gun safety. They all mean the same thing in the end (and for the record, trigger discipline is always included). The two examples we will look at are the NRA’s Safety rules and the United States Marine Corps gun Safety Rules:


  1.    Point the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  2.    keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  3.    Keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

–    National Rifle Association, Gun Safety Rules

  1.    Treat every firearm as if it were loaded
  2.    Never point the gun at anything you do not intend to shoot
  3.    Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you’re ready to fire
  4.    Keep the firearm on safe until you want to fire

–    United States Marine Corps firearm Safety Rules

Other rules sets are out there. For example, the  “Ten Commandments of Gun Safety” by the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) included for number ten: “Do not mix gunpowder and alcohol.” Although good advice, this goes a bit beyond the scope of the current article….

Studying Trigger Discipline and Pull for Women

The mechanics of guns do not change depending on the personal characteristics of the shooter. Therefore, differences between female and male shooters are worth addressing. That is why studies like this are important. They attempt to determine if there are any significant marksmanship or decision making differences when it comes to female versus male gun users. While results are generally standard across the board for both women and men, some studies could offer a viable and practical solution for women looking to sharpen their gun handling skills.

Grip Strength is Important for Gun Handling and Proper Trigger Pull

Cognitively women have always performed as well if not better than men in many studies. When it came to overall shooting accuracy, some studies suggest women have trouble scoring as high as their male counterparts while shooting if not given training tailored to women. Of course, this is not a universal rule, but there is enough data leading to this conclusion that it is worth addressing, and can be beneficial to those who understand it. A past study by the University of Illinois sheds some light on this issue and how it also ties in with the proper pulling of the trigger. The study measured the overall grip strength and effectiveness of many police recruits. It was found that better grip strength allowed the recruit to keep the gun steady and more in control while drawing, aiming and throughout the trigger pull.

A similar study with similar results was conducted a couple of years earlier by the Illinois Police Training Institute and concluded that

The Institute believes that females can ultimately shoot as well as their male counterparts if their special training needs are recognized.”

This basically distills down to improving and equalizing overall wrist strength and stability. Other studies where short rifles were used saw a much smaller variation in accuracy between men and women, adding credence to this wrist strength theory.

How to Quickly Improve Basic Attributes Based off this information

While realistic practice is always going to be the best way to improve your abilities, cross-training and emphasis on specific muscle groups can make you better exponentially fast. In the same way that NFL receivers will take ballet lessons, finding a way to challenge and strengthen your hand and wrist muscles can have amazing results. A study we cited earlier had the women use a Gripmaster for less than three months, and they saw measurable improvements in accuracy. While you may not have to use a Gripmaster, finding ways to build hand strength and dexterity will help you in the long run.

Real Trigger Discipline Requires Mentally Preparing Yourself

In the scientific piece  Understanding Female Gun Ownership: 1973-2010 by Maria D. H. Koeppel, Matt R. Nobles they found that Female gun owners in this sample were more likely to live alone and have children in the home. This leads to the logical assumption that most female gun ownership is doing so for personal protection. Conversely, when you look at high-level personal protection training groups, they are made up almost entirely of males. Training and preparation for personal protection scenarios should reflect reality; otherwise, you are missing the most significant half of your practice.  According to Marie Claire, 77% of gun-owning women say they do so for defensive reasons against possible attacks by strangers.  This is why there must be gun training tailored specifically for women. Training that can be found via The Well Armed Woman.

“The best protection any woman can have … is courage.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Stimulate Stress

Finding ways to simulate the stress, fear, and panic in your training is the only way to effectively prep yourself for reality. Training where you have to simulate making split-second decisions to eliminate a threat in your own home and amongst family, will quickly teach you the importance of trigger discipline. Muscle memory, especially including proper trigger discipline, may be the only thing that keeps your firearm in a safe state while your adrenaline spikes and you fight off panic.

Practice, Practice, Practice

There is no reason to carry a firearm if you don’t have the patience to be able to utilize it correctly. In fact, without proper discipline, you are more likely to harm yourself or others than the threat. You need to understand your own body, its advantages, and weaknesses and apply your training to address it. Self-growth and empowerment require you to explore and challenge yourself honestly. Push yourself until you fail, find your limits and train past them. Perhaps this entails wrist strength; maybe this requires slowly removing and replacing your gun in its holster while keeping your finger off the trigger.


Safety and Discipline Stems from Proper Training

Learn to do it slowly, learn to do it fast, and learn to do did in different training scenarios.   If you want to control your trigger discipline accurately, you must learn to do so at every intensity. There are always much fewer training seminars and classes geared towards women even though they are a massive percentage of the gun owning population. That is why The Well Armed Woman is such a critical resource for women.   Remember, when you are training to always focus on trigger discipline. Be sure to include high intensities training every-so-often with a focus on trigger discipline as well. You and your family’s safety may ultimately depend on it.


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One thought on “Trigger Discipline for Woman

  1. Carol A Taylor says:

    I plan to purchase and go through training. Women need to protect themselves these days

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