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An interesting post on Twitter/X by Yellow Peril Tactical raises an interesting question: does trigger finger position matter? In this article, I’m going to explore this topic. They’re right in some ways, but it’s a complex topic that needs to be explored further.

The post goes on to explain further:

You’re tightening fingers on firing hand during shooting, moving the gun off target.

More support hand pressure will *suppress* this effect. Trigger control at speed drill w shot timer will show what’s going on and help you reduce that movement of the non-firing fingers.

If the shots aren’t even close to point of aim, then you are either not using the sights correctly, the gun is not zeroed, or you’re applying drastic movement from the wrists or shoulders in recoil anticipation. But for 90% of handgun shooters, the issue is firing hand tension.

What I’ve Seen In My Career

I’ve struggled with this problem a lot in my career as an instructor. Getting a beginner on the bullseye at 5 yards and then moving to 10 is often easy for first time shooters, but harder for people who have developed bad habits.

Pretty early on, I figured out that the old Army handgun diagnostic shooting chart was irrelevant 95% of the time, as was most of the shooting fundamentals we’re supposed to overload shooters’ brains with before going out on the range. I still taught the six fundamentals, but spent more time focusing on sight alignment and trigger control, then explained how the other four fundamentals (stance, grip, breathing, follow through) are really supporting actors in this play.

The next thing I figured out was that once a new shooter had the fundamentals (especially sight alignment) figured out well in dry fire, live fire really comes down to two things:

  • Missing slightly left and right is mostly trigger finger position. I found that this was a problem with elderly people more often than younger people (more on this later)
  • Up and down misses, or really far off target in any direction, is almost always recoil anticipation, solved by more dry fire and “ball and dummy” training.

I have been aware of the problem of tightening the dominant hand during firing, as that’s already listed on the old Army chart, and one of my academy instructors years earlier dispelled the notion that hand tension should be 80/20 (80% weak hand, 20% strong), instead saying it should be “100/100” (max out grip in both hands). Maintaining 100/100 pressure can lead to muscle tremors on longer strings, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re probably all going to go 100/100 during a defensive shooting.

So, I’ve generally given students this advice anyway, but had to use trigger position to tune up some struggling students’ marksmanship.

Giving This A Fresh Look To See How It Applies

With my experience with this out of the way, I decided to give trigger finger position and hand tension a fresh look doing some dry fire with my SIRT pistol.

When I intentionally gave my right hand less tension than usual, the guys at Yellow Peril were proven correct. The more I moved my finger left or right, the more the laser would jump in that direction. Tensioning the strong hand back up did indeed suppress that effect, rendering the finger position almost completely irrelevant.

When testing this for off-hand shooting, I found that people naturally tighten more when shooting one-handed. This leaves more room for other errors, like riding recoil and anticipation.

All this having been said, I did find that extreme mispositioning of the trigger finger did still introduce errors, even with a tight grip. Finger-tipping the trigger, burying the trigger finger all the way past the first joint, and hard slapping all still bounced the laser around and introduced other grip issues. So, it’s still essential to teach students to roughly center the trigger on the pad of the index finger and to squeeze it straight back to keep them away from extreme errors.

The other caveat here is that elderly people and people with low grip strength might not be able to give enough grip strength to suppress the trigger finger position effect. So, if someone shows up to class with a Shield EZ (or you’re the Shield EZ owner), you probably need to watch out for this one and tailor instruction and/or practice to compensate and accommodate.

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  1. Once you are well trained and informed about guns enough to worry about trigger finger placement for accuracy, it has really become a non issue.
    Keep your trigger out of the trigger guard when not ready to fire, and shoot in the way that’s most comfortable to you. Grip the gun high and tight, and use grip panels or backstraps to make it fit your hand as well as you can.

    • Concur. I also tell students it’s more of a left/right press of the hands versus a death-squeeze. When you tense the forearm, it is harder to just move the trigger finger, and tends to result in low-left hits (for righties).

      The other thing would be slapping the trigger, or taking your finger off the trigger after each shot; this tends to affect consistency, so I don’t recommend it and try to have students use the trigger reset approach.

      What I teach my students is that the pad of the finger allows more tactile feeling of the trigger and reset. It’s also generally what’s used for rifles. Using the first knuckle allows for an easier straight-back trigger pull. Bottom line, use what feels right for them.

  2. Triggers are usually levers/fulcrum systems (disregarding sliding-tracked triggers like those found in 1911s). Flat triggers offer a dynamic pull surface, with shorter but relatively heavier-pulls nearer the axis (better for rapid-fire with shorter felt reset) and lighter pulls further down the lever (trigger)…obviously the latter being better for more precision application. Generally speaking, 2-stage setups are better with the flat-triggers. But that’s just my opinion.

  3. Good story

    The fellow in the image has a weak grips needs to move his hand up and over lap other hand
    get the thumbs forward

    Keep these reports coming

    • Wow Nebraska sure is changing. The last time I was there concealed gunms was a big No No.
      Seemed to be a FUDD state.

        • “…it was manually approved.”

          Are you one of the new guys? Comments regularly disappear into the ether around here. We haven’t completely figured out the algorithm yet, but we know how it was written:

          Begin with Carlin’s List. Send it to the Puritan Ladies Moderation Union, and then to Moms Really Want Some Action for balance. Then, the boys from Sister Mary Elephant’s class somehow got hold of it during one of their He-Man Woman Haters Club burp and fart sessions, after a long day of getting their knuckles whacked by Sister’s ruler. Final editing was completed by the three monkeys. Then, you hire miner/dacian/al to provide color commentary that invites, er, lively, participation because eyeballs are what pay the bills, and you need a steady supply.

          That’s it in a nutshell.

  4. Let’s begin with positioning the extended “finger off the the trigger” trigger finger. The extended finger tip should be resting along the fame at the slide. The knuckle should bend slightly as the finger glides to the trigger without disturbing aim.
    Then there is pick it up and shoot or pick it up and load, ,chamber, flip safety and shoot, etc.
    Rapid fire from trigger reset is more complicated. Most of it has to do with the particular firearm, the grip, the trigger and practice, etc.

  5. “Trigger Finger”? Who the hell uses their finger? I just stick my nearly 8″ d**k in there.

    • I’m hoping your trigger guard is set up for winter gloves.

      Dang it, now I’ve got trigger finger envy.
      I sure do like my Rem870 with the 30inch barrel.
      I like rubbing oil on it.

  6. The correct finger position on the trigger is going to be linked to the shooter’s hand size and the gun size, especially the reach between the back of the grip and the trigger at the moment the trigger hits the wall. (NOT the reach to the initial trigger position.)

    What matters is, is the trigger being pulled straight back or not?

  7. I’ve noticed a lot of attention is being focused on the reset.
    I’ve never thought about reset.
    Of course I dont use Glocks or plastic frame pistols.
    Well that’s a lie. I forgot about the Taurus TCP738, but reset on that is like two inches beyond the barrel.
    Weaver stance, hand holds, this that and the other.
    When the bullets are flying and your ducking for cover all that flys out the window.
    Theres a difference between target shooting and defensive shooting.
    I practice precision with my hunting handgunms and I practice shuting one handed with my defense handgunms.
    The weaver or isosceles stance gives your adversary a bigger target and the vitals are there in front.
    One handed sideways is a less target and protects the vitals a little better. There used to be a stance where the off hand actually covered the heart.
    I suppose a person could a wear bullet proof vest so none of that would matter.

  8. It always amazes me when I see peeples doin stuff with no eye protection. I treasure my eyesight way more than others. Using grinders, beating the shit outta somethin with a hammer. Welding with eyes closed always cracks me up.

  9. Watch a competition shooter slap the shit out of the trigger and hit alpha after alpha at speed.

    It’s not pulling the sights off target and recoil control from the weak hand grip. That’s it. It’s not rocket science.

    • yup.

      these articles are silly. if you can set your grip like a vice, you can slam the trigger with a hammer and get A zones.

      secondly, your body will likely death grip the pistol during adrenaline dump, so best get used to shooting in that state.


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