Shooting Tip: Don’t Be All Thumbs

By Tom McHale

Crossed thumbs shooting grip
Trouble is on the horizon! If you cross your thumbs like this with a semi-automatic pistol, a bloodletting is inevitable!
Tom McHale headshot low-res square
Tom McHale

USA –-( Here's an excerpt from my book, The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Chapter 8 – A Fistful of Shooting Tips:

Don't be all thumbs!

How to keep your thumbs attached to your body:

The wrong thumb position may cause you to bleed all over the shooting range. We don’t recommend it. I can share this new-shooter tip from a vantage point of, ummm, let’s call it personal experience.

Remember Ghostbusters? And how it’s really bad to cross the streams of the Proton Pack particle accelerators? Well there’s a similar rule of thumb (pun fully intended) for shooting semi-automatic pistols. Don’t cross your thumbs as in the picture above.

Sooner or later, that thing called a slide is going zoom backwards at Warp 17 and slice the dickens out of the webby, sensitive skin between your thumb and your index finger.

If you want to splatter copious amounts of blood around the range, feel free, but once is enough for me. Every single time I go to the range, I see new shooters crossing their thumbs while shooting a semi-automatic pistol.

It’s a mini-tragedy waiting to happen!

Fortunately there’s an easy way to avoid bleeding all over your range. Don’t cross the streams. Point both thumbs forward and keep them on the weak hand side of your handgun. Your hand, and your local drug store, will thank you.

Revolvers present an exception. Since a revolver has no slide that zooms backwards, you don’t have to worry about getting cut. In fact, many revolver shooters prefer to cross their thumbs. If you shoot a single-action revolver, that support hand thumb may be used to cock the hammer between shots.

Bottom line? Think about that grip. Because bleeding all over the range is embarrassing.

Be sure to check out The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It's available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition
The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition


Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

  • 2 thoughts on “Shooting Tip: Don’t Be All Thumbs

    1. Trust me…it hurts. I would imagine about 90% or more of semi-auto hand gun owners have experienced this…especially if they were used to firing a revolver in a previous lifetime.

    2. Been there, done that, got the scar. My SR9c didn’t get the webby part, but rather the top of my knuckle when I was trying the gun left handed for the first time. So used to the right hand thumb going on the left side of the frame, it just went there… once.

      And yes, it is embarrassing to bleed all over the range.

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