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It’s one of the most asked question trainers get from new shooters. And one of most frequent mistakes even experienced shooters make…where and how they pull the trigger on a handgun. Do you know what part of your finger to use? Where on the trigger to place it? How high to hold your strong hand?

Jeff Gonzales, director of training at The Range at Austin, covers all the basics you need to think about in this first in a new series of training videos. If you want to improve your shooting, watch this space for more coming your way.

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  1. Sink your finger in? That’s not very precise. How about until the crease of your first knuckle reaches the right edge of the trigger? Massad Ayoob figured it out a long time ago for any double action trigger.

  2. I’ve wondered why custom-fit triggers aren’t really a thing for precision marksmen.

    A custom depression your finger naturally wants to drops into, positioned so the finger neither pulls the weapon towards the hand or pushes it away from the hand when pulled, just straight back…

  3. I wonder whether there are any triggers out there specifically designed to take two fingers, the index and middle fingers, to pull. You’d have more skin on the trigger and a more powerful pull using two fingers. You’d need a larger trigger guard, of course, but that’s easy.

  4. “Do you know what part of your finger to use? Where on the trigger to place it? How high to hold your strong hand?”

    Yes, yes, and yes.
    Anywhere from the first knuckle to halfway to the tip. I’m right in the middle of the pad because on the Glock, the blade would be uncomfortable in the crease. Also, I don’t want too much finger sticking out that could rub on the trigger guard.
    Most triggers are curved so where to place the finger isn’t really an issue. It finds the middle naturally.
    Your strong hand goes as high as possible with the backstrap centered in the webbing and V between the thumb and trigger finger.
    What’d I miss?

  5. I know this will get shit, but I’m of the thought that where you put your finger doesn’t really matter. It’s a sufficiently tight grip and management of your flinch that matters. There are a good amount of high level shooters that agree slapping the trigger or bad placement don’t matter.

    • I’m not sure I completely agree but understand what you are saying. For my EDC, I use the pad of my finger and all works out great. For my Model 29, I go deeper up to the knuckle. If I use the pad I shoot slightly left. This slight change in trigger finger placement fixes that issue, which is actually caused by my astigmatism. So yes, MichaelinGA, the combination of things makes results.

    • I never saw any difference in my usmc days (03 + CMCC)… to this day everyone still gives me shit for using the crease in my finger for placement rather than the tip. Any other placement feels very awkward, I could see the tip being useful if you are using some absurdly light weight trigger in the area of 4oz.

      Then again, I also claim ear plugs hamper my shooting too but was too cheap to shell out for some muffs…

  6. Admittedly I cannot see the video, however, it is my experience that trigger finger placement is a function of both the shooter and the firearm. Dry firing practice to determine least muzzle movement has always been my teaching method. Once on the range, we use the one shot two pull training method. This not only helps identify trigger pull issues but also helps with muscle anticipation to reduce movement. Revolvers loaded with empty cylinder chambers are another good method to identify problems with mechanics.

  7. Yesterday on the range there was a couple on the lane next to me. The woman was shooting a 92-22 and her groupings at 15 feet were about 10″. I watched her mechanics and noticed she was pulling and then quickly releasing the trigger. I suggested that she hold the trigger for about a second before resetting and her grouping decreased to about 4″ on the next and subsequent groups. I try to help newbies on the range, but it is not the best environment for instruction on the simple basics.

    • Good tip. For all the material that I’ve read on “Proper Trigger Technique” … I’ve seen VERY little (none?) info on when to release your finger. Now I know. Thanks.

      • Jeff will have another video on “follow-through” fairly soon. Whether bench rest shooting or combat pistol shooting, follow-through is important to accuracy and consistency.

      • I reset my trigger as the gun comes back on target after the recoil.
        But if I only intend one shot, I hold the trigger back.
        I think “slapping” the trigger came about when guys were riding the reset for speed and tended to short stroke it. Race guns have shorter travel so it’s easy to take the finger off between shots and some call this slapping. I wouldn’t call it that.

    • This is a good tip for beginners, because it slows down their trigger and makes them pay attention, but it is a horrible habit to get in to.
      If there is even 1mm of travel to the stop of the trigger after the primer has been struck, that bullet has left the barrel before your finger stops. Once the bullet leaves the barrel, nothing you do to the gun that will effect it. Now you need get your finger back forward as fast as you can for the next shot.
      Take a look at Bill Wilson using the trigger here:

      • In the real world of us non professional shooters, the time to reset and re-fire is enormous compared to competitive or professional shooters. I consider my recoil management quite good, but the time it takes to get back on target, reset, and fire another accurate shot I would venture to guess is about .75-1.25 seconds. Sure, I can get two off as fast as the gun can cycle, but I also know that when I do that the second shot will be about 6 inches low and 2 inches left at about 25′. I think that the trigger “slapping” I witness all too often is less about what the finger is doing and more about what the rest of the hand is doing. As I said, the simple act of holding the trigger reduced her (and most) groupings by 50%. When teaching basic mechanics, going slow and reducing the number of variables is the key. One must learn to crawl before they walk and before they run. I don’t think crawling is a horrible habit to get into, nor does it have to hinder learning how to walk. Every time I hit the range I start with the 1 shot 2 pull drill just to relax, check my mechanics, and calibrate my eyes (astigmatism sucks). I find that my overall accuracy is much better after practicing the basics first. Call it stretching before exercise.

        • ” I can get two off as fast as the gun can cycle, but I also know that when I do that the second shot will be about 6 inches low and 2 inches left at about 25′.”

          I call that a success story.

  8. In socialist controlled territories, you must keep your finger up your butt until you are absolutely really really sure you need to open the firearm safe, take the trigger lock off…………………never mind.

  9. While I agree here with range handguns or “full size” sidearms, how much different is it to fire a compact .380, or a Makarov, or for that matter a pocket pistol in .25 or .22? While we are learning how to handle a duty weapon, how about those of us that want to CCW with a hideaway gun?
    The duty weapons in Europe are/were smaller, even the military handguns for the most part were.

  10. Grip is the critical issue, with the perfect grip you could slap the trigger as hard as possible with any part of any digit and get perfect hits.

  11. Shooter stance matters as well, the above video looked like she had high heels on and a runners start stance.

    I do not recommend her stance and foot placement at all. Too wide front to back, and too narrow side to side? Push her from the side slightly and she would start to fall easily. YMMV


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