Mouse-Finger versus Trigger-Finger

Here are two experiments for you.

First, try this:

  • Rest your hand on the table, palm down, in a relaxed and slightly arched shape.
  • Tap the table with your trigger finger.

That’s mouse-finger tap like you’d use to click a web-link to get here.

Note that if you use the mouse a lot, you’ve probably become very good at clicking and double-clicking. Your motor skills are nature: you see what you want on the screen and your finger clicks. There’s hardly a thought. It’s almost completely automatic.

Like many of you, I’ve used a computer mouse for many hours just about every day. As a result, I’m good with it. Real good. In the Windows OS configuration, my double-click speed slider is all the way over to the fastest limit.

That’s mouse-finger.

Now, second, rotate you hand so it’s upright like you’re going to hold something. Imagine you’re holding a gun and your finger is resting on the trigger. Imagine you want to shoot something and watch your finger as it pulls the trigger.

That’s different. That’s trigger-finger.

It’s different from mouse-finger.

One is a tapping motion, mouse-finger, and the other is a squeezing motion, trigger-finger.

What happens if you mix them up?

If you’re holding the computer mouse and you do a trigger-finger, depending on the mouse’s construction, it may or may not work. If it does, you’re done. And if it doesn’t, no harm done. You just mentally switch and do it the right way.

But with a handgun, if you do a mouse-finger, right-handed shooters will push the end of the gun left. And if it’s a sensitive-enough trigger, the gun will then fire.

Jerked shot!

In other words, if you’ve used a mouse daily for twenty years, your habit of mouse-finger is going to jerk your shots.

Technically speaking, jerking is when you anticipate the sound and the recoil of firing a gun such that your grip and body flinch before the bang. (The body is starting toward a fetal position to protect itself.)

Technically, that’s a jerk.

Mouse-finger, on the other hand, pushes left and there can also be a downward component too as we’ll see in a minute, but the source of the movement–the reason for these movements–is not a flinch. It’s the body trying to click the mouse (down) rather than push the trigger (back).

There is a 90 degree difference. One is “down” while the other is “back”.

And to see where the downward movement comes from in all this, we need to shift to the the trigger-finger motion.

So, put your hand back on the table.

This time, however, imagine your finger tip is gently touching something soft and gentle (!). With that thought in mind, use your forefinger to gentle caress it.

OK, bring your mind back from erotica-land, please.

Focus attention on the gentle stroke. There are several things to notice about this action as compared to mouse-finger.

  1. The direction of movement now is back toward your wrist not down into the table.
  2. The speed of movement is dramatically slower than before.
  3. It is a gentle movement, not abrupt like mouse-finger.

This is how the trigger should be moved when releasing a shot.

But we’re not quite done yet. Rest your hand on the table again, palm down as at the beginning and with that same relaxed arch.

Moving only the trigger finger, move it over so it touches the middle finger.

Now try that caressing motion.

Can you move it straight back without moving the rest of the hand? I can’t! With my trigger finger “down” toward the middle finger, when I try to bring it straight-back, my whole hand arches.

Oh it’s true that if I “aim” the motion toward the base of my thumb, the finger can move and the hand remain still but I’m not moving straight back. My trigger finger is moving “up” to do that.

Conversely, if you scoot the trigger finger over toward the thumb and then try to move it straight back, the tip of the finger draws a gentle arc on the table-top. Again, I can’t move it straight back.

So, trigger-finger is most naturally accomplished when the fingers are in their most natural and relaxed position. Ideally, this is how the gun should fit your hand.

If your fit isn’t perfect like this, then you’ll have to learn to move the trigger straight back in an unnatural (for you) movement. The more awkward the fit, the more challenging the motion.

Custom target-shooter grips attempt to put your hand in a natural position. This will be instantly obvious the first time you take hold of grips that fit your hand. All others require some touchy-feel’y experimentation to find that position where “straight-back” happens most naturally.

So, here are the rules:

  1. Mouse-finger bad;
  2. Caress-finger good; and
  3. Natural hand position including all fingers is also good.

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