You’re doing it wrong.

The words repeated themselves over and over again in my head.

I adjusted my grip, stared down the front sight, and slowly pressed the trigger of my M&P 9mm.

You’re doing it wrong.

The phrase echoed again.

“I used to be good at this,” I thought to myself as I looked at my target and replaced my gun in the holster. I used to be able to shoot the bullseye just about every time…before I started hearing those words.

You’re doing it wrong.

That phrase has a lot of power. And I can’t attribute those words to just one person who has said it to me; I’ve heard those words—or phrases similar to them—on and off over my entire life. In some cases, I think people were genuinely trying to be helpful. They, perhaps, saw potential in me and wanted to fix or adjust what they thought was giving me troubles with my shooting. In other cases, I honestly believe they picked on me and highlighted what they saw as flaws because I am a girl. And, apparently, it’s okay to pull a female aside, even during a shooting match, and give her a lesson on what you believe is the right way to shoot.

All I know is that oftentimes, I hear those words. Even when my shooting is on target. Even when I am doing well.

Funny thing is, the one thing that comes up the most often that I am supposedly doing wrong is that my trigger finger is curled into the trigger too much. I’m not using the “correct” part of my finger to press the trigger.

Ah, yes. Believe me, I’ve tried many times to do it that way, the “right” way. But that method doesn’t seem to work too well for me. What people don’t know just by looking at me or by watching me shoot is that I am double jointed in my fingers. This hypermobility gave me a ton of trouble when I played piano (and my piano teacher would reprimand me for having “sloppy fingers”). It caused many elementary school teachers to scold me for not using a pencil correctly. And it also gives me issues now when I am shooting. I have little strength (and little control) in that first joint. So if I attempt to manipulate the trigger using that “correct” part on the pad of my finger, I’m not consistent. That joint will bend backwards, and, not surprisingly, that motion negatively affects my trigger manipulation…and my shot.

You’re doing it wrong.

The words still resound in my mind now and then. And I’ll second guess myself and wonder what I need to fix. In that case, it’s okay, because I’m always striving to improve. But, thankfully, those aren’t the only words that get stuck in my head. I also hear the words of my friend and mentor George Harris, owner of International Firearms Consultants LLC, and co-founder of SIG Sauer Academy. He stated, “Simple is good.” And he reiterated to me that I should not overthink things. If I am shooting safely and effectively, what does it matter who thinks it’s “wrong?”

No doubt, I’ve realized that when it comes to shooting, my mental state is just as important as my physical state. I can choose to be burdened by the thought that my stance looks odd, my wrist isn’t angled enough, or my right eye is closed. I can listen to that negative voice in my head and continue on that downward spiral of self-fulfilling prophecy. Or I can choose to not be bogged down by the details. I can focus on what’s going well, adjust and change, as needed, and continue building on my strengths.

And I don’t know about you, but the latter sounds pretty right to me.