Common trigger finger mistakes

common trigger finger mistakes

When someone begins shooting it seems to be a pretty straight forward endeavor. Point the gun at the target and pull the trigger. However, once you start firing, you may wonder why your shot group is wide and inconsistent or you may be consistently hitting an area outside of the target. There are many common mistakes that could affect the way you fire a gun and where that bullet will end up after it leaves the muzzle. Understanding what these are and avoiding them can help you improve your control and accuracy.

Before we delve into the common trigger finger issues, let’s first address trigger discipline. Unless the shooter is ready to aim and shoot at a target, their trigger finger should not be on the trigger. The finger should be rested above the trigger along the side of the weapon on the slide. This is the safest way to handle a weapon and to prevent an accidental discharge.

person holding a hand gun


This occurs when the shooter “jerks” the trigger at the perfect moment the sight is on the target, or might be trying to make the shot as quickly as possible and squeezes the whole hand. Usually when the round of a right handed shooter is hitting the lower left section of the target that is an indication that the shooter is jerking. The jerk comes from when the shooter is trying to time the shot with their breathing and then quickly pulls the trigger at a point they think they have perfect sight alignment or are in a rush and squeezes the whole hand causing a jerk.


Loud noises and the abrupt movement of the gun can take some getting used to for new shooters. Anticipating the sound and recoil of the shot can cause the shooter to “flinch” while pulling the trigger. Flinching is an involuntary physical response to a shot being fired and is perfectly normal. A shooter hitting the target high and to the right or left is usually an indication of flinching when they shoot. To help overcome flinching it is best to put a lot of rounds down range and get comfortable with the sound and recoil of the gun.

man firing handgun at indoor range


Milking is when your fingers that are on the top of the grip (middle and ring finger) of the weapon squeeze at the same time as pulling the trigger. The milking and extra movement affects the accuracy of the shot. The best way to combat milking is to focus on only moving the trigger finger straight back.


Heeling usually occurs when the shooter exerts excessive pressure with the heel of their hand on the grip as they pull the trigger like they are pushing the gun away. The pressure from the heel of your hand forces the front sight up. This causes the shot group to be high near the top middle or 12 oclock position of the target.


Not unlike heeling, thumbing is when the shooter exerts pressure on the side of the weapon by squeezing their thumb while pulling the trigger. As with milking, the best way to combat thumbing is to focus on the trigger pull with only your trigger finger and to not allow your thumb to sympathetically move or squeeze with it.


A mistake when the shooter does not pull the trigger straight back, but instead pushes the trigger to the left or the right slightly as well as pulling back. Placing too little of the finger on the trigger can cause pushing. The round usually impacts either around the 9 o’clock position or the 10 o’clock position when pushing is occurring. To help combat the mistake, the shooter should place the middle of the pad of their trigger fingertip on the center of the trigger.

Holding too long:

This happens when the shooter is taking too much time to pull the trigger. A shooter may shoot slower because they’re trying to make a perfect shot and instead of pulling the trigger approximately every 3 seconds the shooter is taking 7 or 8 seconds which does not coincide well with a proper breathing technique. If the weapon were to be used in a real life situation that much time spent holding could literally be the difference between life or death.

handgun with target shot group

How to Combat Trigger Pull Errors

Even though there are multiple ways not to pull a trigger, there are also plenty of ways to combat those mistakes. Our experienced staff can help you combat these mistakes and more and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

About Heart of Texas Shooting Center

We are Waco’s Premier Indoor Gun Range. Conveniently located near I-35 on Hwy 6/Loop 340, we are proud to be a locally owned and operated business.

Recent Posts

Follow Us