The Finger

16-Aug-11 – 17:04 by ToddG

This past Saturday, six of us (all F.A.S.T. Wallers) did a little data gathering on the range. One of the interesting results came from measuring the difference between beginning with finger off the trigger versus finger on the trigger. Targets used were 40% IPSC steel targets (about 12″ high by 10″ wide) at twelve yards.

(This information is offered merely for the sake of sharing data. It is not intended to prove or advocate anything. The number and skill level of the shooters as well as the small number of repetitions per shooter make conclusions impossible to draw. There was also absolutely no target identification or judgment — shoot/no-shoot — involved which further limits the usefulness of this data in broader terms of self defense, etc.)

First, we measured when the shooter was aimed in on the target. Each shooter fired a shot starting with finger in the register position then one shot with finger on trigger (without taking out any slack). Difference ranged from 0.07 to 0.27 seconds with an average of 0.13 seconds.

Next, to be more realistic, we began with the gun pointed at a different nearby target. Results ranged from being 0.05 seconds slower to 0.18 seconds faster when starting with finger on trigger. Average for all shooters was 0.08 seconds faster.

There was a close correlation between overall speed and the effect of finger position, as well. The fastest shooter, finger off trigger, averaged 0.28 when aimed in and 0.68 when aimed off target; finger on trigger the times were 0.21 and 0.73. The slowest shooter was 0.69 when on target and 1.00 when aimed off target; he was 0.42 and 0.81, respectively, when starting with finger on trigger.

These times only reflect hits; misses were not counted and the shooter was given another chance. We did not record specifics on hits/misses, but qualitatively it appeared that finger on trigger had a decisive hit ratio advantage when the shooter was already aimed in on target for many in our group, while that benefit disappeared when the gun had to move onto the target before the shot could break. I attribute this to “perfect sight syndrome” on the aimed-in shots.

The results aren’t earth shattering. Finger on the trigger is very slightly faster. Personally, I wouldn’t compromise safe gun handling for that tiny difference. I’d rather work on taking a tenth of a second off my draw…

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 7 Responses to “The Finger”

  2. A gun mag (SWAT maybe?) did this test a number of years ago with similar conclusions. The safety gained by following “keep your finger off the trigger” is absolutely worth the fractional savings in time.

    Thanks for sharing your findings!

    By raks on Aug 16, 2011

  3. I see this more than anything as a reason to practice more drills from a ready position where I start with my finger off the trigger/on the frame.

    Scenarios like I have a BG at gunpoint who has surrenderd then resumes aggression. It would seem important to minimize delay and jerked triggers by training for this finger position transition.

    By Lomshek on Aug 16, 2011

  4. Your findings certainly fall in line with what I would expect. “Perfect sight syndrome”, to me is just another way of saying “tunnel vision.” Although the data itself in this test can’t really conclude much, the analysis of it can, I think.

    Keeping with finger placement, as you say “perfect sight syndrome” can very easily get a friendly or innocent killed if one’s finger is resting on the trigger in a high stress situation. The basic principles of fight or flight take over and the age old “I’m going to shoot the next thing that comes around the corner” mentality can subconsciously take over.

    I absolutely agree, 1 tenth of a second isn’t worth the added risk.

    By SRT/K9 on Aug 17, 2011

  5. Am I correct in thinking that the drills were all shot two handed?

    If that is the case, I wonder how much of a difference there would be if the drills were done one handed.

    Moving the finger from register to the trigger without having a second hand support the gun chould temporarily change the aiming point as the hold is slightly different.

    By Terry on Aug 17, 2011

  6. Finger on the trigger has its place in less than 10% of 1% of shooters in the world.

    If one has to ask what that time and place is……they are not in that 10% of the 1% of shooters, and should be keeping their fingers indexed along the frame at all times unless actively engaging threats/targets.

    By Sean M on Aug 17, 2011

  7. Since people pulling the trigger when their fingers shouldn’t be on the trigger is the single biggest cause of “accidental” discharges, and since there are very, very few times when this tenth of a second might make a material difference to something important, I’d say Todd’s conclusion is necessarily correct.

    By SteveJ on Aug 17, 2011

  8. I’d like to see what the difference would be if the shooter had to focus on the target and fire only when a threat cue was given, such as reaching for a gun, etc.

    I know some folks will look for any little perceived advantage, but since even with a perfect heart shot the bad guy may have 15 seconds of oxygen in the system to keep the brain running, .08 of a second is a retard edge to try and chase given all of the attendant risks of doing so.

    You are WAY better off learning to hit repeatedly at speed while moving than you are keeping your finger on the trigger.

    By Chuck on Aug 17, 2011

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