Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Does Your Pistol Fit You?
No one would wear clothes or shoes that are uncomfortable and don't fit on purpose, right? We know that we might squeeze into a pair of pants or shoes for a short period of time just to look good, but we'd rather not do it. If we had our druthers, we'd always wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
So why on earth would we women settle for shooting guns that don't fit? I'll tell you why - because most of us got our start shooting our dad's, brother's, or significant other's guns. They probably fit the males in our life, but most assuredly didn't fit us. I'll clarify my phrase probably - there are a lot of avid male shooters out there that don't know if their gun fits them either. From my experience, men are great about making sure their long guns fit them properly, but don't pay much attention to their pistol fit. Maybe that's because if a long gun doesn't fit properly, it tells you about it often and painfully. But if a pistol doesn't fit, it's only slightly uncomfortable.
Finding a gun with the proper fit will make all the difference in your shooting. Your accuracy will increase, your speed will increase, you'll flat-out have a lot more fun and be less fatigued at the end of the day.
To determine if a gun fits you, pick it up in your dominant hand (after ensuring that it has been properly unloaded), placing the back of the gun in the web between your thumb and fingers. The gun must fit snuggly into that webbed area; that way, when you fire, the recoil is allowed to move straight back into your wrist and arm. If the gun's not tucked in there properly, the recoil is typically moved back into your hooked thumb. Can you shoot that way? Yep. Is it uncomfortable? Yep. Will it fatigue your hand quickly? Yep. Most importantly, though, not having the gun tucked into the web of your hand will affect your accuracy.
Next, lay your trigger finger along the frame of the gun and look at the your finger in relation to the trigger. With the gun tucked properly into your hand, your index finger should extend beyond the curved end of the trigger. If it doesn't, then you'll end up making an unconscious adjustment to reach that trigger. The adjustment will be to "hook" the back of the gun with your thumb so you can reach. Remember that moving the gun out of the web between your thumb and fingers will redirect the recoil of the gun, allowing it to move into your thumb instead of your wrist and arm.
If your finger extends beyond the trigger without adjusting the position of the gun in your hand, move your finger onto the trigger. You should be able to place the middle of the pad on your index finger on the trigger, while flexing the second and third joint of your finger. If you have to keep your finger straight to touch the trigger, the pistol doesn't fit. There should be visible space between the gun and your flexed index finger.
A gun that fulfills those three simple things is a gun that fits you. Take a look at how my Para fits my hand:
Gun tucked securely into the webbing between my thumb and fingers: CHECK
Finger extends beyond the curved end of the trigger: CHECK
Middle of the pad of my index finger fits on the trigger, with the second and third joints of the finger flexed and the gun is still tucked into my hand properly: CHECK
Another view of my finger on the trigger, the middle of the pad is securely on the trigger without shifting the gun out of the webbing of my hand.
Now, take a look at this Sig that doesn't fit my hand at all:
Top Left: you can see that I'm having a hard time getting the gun tucked into my hand properly. I can't even lay my finger along the frame smoothly.
Top Right: my finger is attempting to reach the trigger. I can sort of hook it with the very tip of my finger.
Bottom Left: you can see that I had no chance of laying my finger on the trigger properly - it barely reaches the trigger.
Bottom Right: in order to even get this much of my finger on the trigger, I had to shift the gun so that I was hooking it with my thumb.
Next time you're out at the range, be sure to pay attention to how the gun your shooting fits you. If it means that you'll have to modify your gun or *gasp* buy one that actually fits, you won't regret doing so. Your shooting experience will improve dramatically, as will your control and accuracy.