Cold Hands Effects on Shooting

Hello folks, we were out in the high desert of northern Utah today taking some photos. So, as in all stories, there is a good side and a bad side, first the good side – we turned, now the bad side – fingers move slowly and hands clench.

As my fingers melted, this article came to mind. I will focus strictly on the local effects of cold on the hands in terms of absorption. I won’t go into hypothermia or frostbite; I have an idea in mind to write another article on the hidden dangers (bandages, cold dehydration, etc.) of cold weather in which I will cover these topics.

To set the tone for this, we will briefly discuss the normal term in relation to hand and finger temperatures. We will call normal what people experience daily in comfortable, often spatial conditions. In the normal equilibrium state we consider cold, and for the sake of simplification we will only use the terminology cold.

Cold voltage and cold operation

Cold stress can manifest itself in various forms and can affect both the heat balance of the whole body and the local heat balance of the extremities. Cooling of the entire body, or in this case of parts of the body, leads to discomfort, disturbed sensory and neuromuscular functions and, ultimately, injury from cold.

The most obvious and immediate effect of exposure to cold on this article is the immediate cooling of the skin. The nature and extent of the reaction is mainly determined by the nature and intensity of the cooling. Local exposure to cold can cause systemic excitation, i.e. elevated stress levels increase sympathetic nerve activity and thus readiness for action. When our bodies prepare for action and respond to cold stimuli, our fight or flight nervous system is activated and adrenaline is released. This function counteracts the stimulus of cold by stimulating the muscles to twitch AND by constricting the blood vessels in the limbs, leading to a reduced blood supply to the muscles and skin. This limits fine motor skills and significantly reduces trigger feel. It’s an unpleasant effect when you’re trying to hit a target, or when you’re trying to escape a bear or survive a snowstorm, but we’re not in those situations.

The answer is simple: keep your hands warm or wear gloves. Wearing clothing, footwear, gloves, and headgear in cold weather to prevent the shooter from getting cold affects the shooter’s dexterity and dexterity. Protection comes with a price, in that movement and displacement can be restricted and weakened.


The function of the hands is very sensitive to the effects of the cold. Due to their low mass and large surface area, hands and fingers lose heat while maintaining a high tissue temperature (86 – 95ºF).

Therefore, maintaining such high temperatures is possible only with high production of internal heat, which allows high and sustained blood flow to the extremities. The most practical way to determine if your hands are beginning to suffer the effects of cold, which can lead to decreased performance, is to check for the White Cam Grip. If your hands look like they’re holding the wheel of a truck on ice when you’re going down a hill, you know that the tissues are suffering from a lack of perfusion, or that the blood can’t bring oxygen to the tissues, and that the hand’s grip, finger traction, and support function have been compromised.

Hand and finger function is directly affected by skin temperature (this is the only way to measure in the field). Fine, delicate and rapid finger movements are affected when the temperature of the tissue drops just a few degrees. With a greater drop in temperature in the tissues, general manual functions are also affected, the hands become sticky and fine and gross motor skills are no longer possible. You might get to a point where you can’t really pick up a gun.

Significant impairment of skin function of the hands is observed at temperatures of approximately 59ºF, and severe impairment occurs at skin temperatures between 42ºF and 46ºF due to blockage of sensory and thermal functions of skin receptors. Under certain exposure conditions, the temperature of the fingertips may be more than ten degrees lower than the temperature of the back of the hand.

In addition, the viscosity of the substances increases (i.e. instead of flowing like oil, everything now flows like sludge), resulting in greater internal friction during movement. In case of increased internal or muscle/tendon friction, smooth movements are not possible and muscle twitches are normal. Isometric output force (traction) decreases by 2% per ºF with decreased muscle temperature. Dynamic output force (overall fluid motion) decreases by 2-4% per ºF with decreased muscle temperature. In other words: Cooling reduces the force exerted by the muscle and has an even greater effect on dynamic contractions. This affects the overall controllability of the weapon and has a major impact on the trigger and the proper functioning of the grip.


There is evidence of different forms of acclimatization during prolonged exposure to cold. It is preferable to maintain hand performance (dexterity) after repeated exposure to cold, as discussed below with the use of cold-water baths and dry-fire exercises.

Improved blood flow to the hands and fingers keeps the tissue temperature higher and causes greater cold-induced vasodilation. That this is probably the best science talk ever, means – warm up – flex your fingers, shake hands, get them ready for the cold gun work. Due to the many complex factors affecting a person’s heat balance and the large individual differences, it is difficult to determine the critical temperatures for sustained performance.

There is an easy way to test the effects of cold on your hands and your performance, and learn how to adapt to this environmental challenge and improve your performance as much as possible. This simple and free or almost free acclimatization method will make you less vulnerable to cold hand problems. If you are exposed to cold water from the sink, then possibly ice water in a bowl, etc. and dry-fire exercises, be sure to include shooting (dry-firing) and weapon handling, fogging exercises, etc.

These drills should be practiced by all shooters, not only pistol shooters, but also hunters with shoulder weapons. I’m just stating the obvious – make sure the gun is unloaded and there is no ammo in the room – Okay, now we can move on. Get a simple, inexpensive surface thermometer from the pharmacy, the type that only shows skin temperature, then put your hands in cold water, use the thermometer and take your skin temperature, test it. You can check the difference in performance between hot and cold hands in dry heat, use a stopwatch to check the speed or operation. Over time, you will see if your acclimatization efforts affect your shooting performance, and you will try to improve by actively training to fight the cold.

If precautions are taken and a simple warm up can be done, the shot should not suffer too much, it will be a bit like cold weather. If you find that you shoot a lot in cold weather and need a precise shot. Try these simple steps to get your body used to this way of shooting. This combined with a simple warm-up and you’ll be less bothered by it and maybe even reach the gold ring of being the only guy in the group who can shoot as cold as everyone else in the heat.

Good luck and take care of yourself.

96.8 – 90*F Optimum mobility of the hand and fingers. Good shot.
90 – 81*F Effects on agility, precision and speed. Firing CO
81-68*F Impact work with small parts, reduced endurance Low shot
68 – 59*F Loss of rough work with hands and fingers Bad shot.
59 – 50*F Reduced overall muscle strength and coordination Very bad shot.
46 – 43*F Blocking sensory and thermal receptors on the skin surface Dangerous shot.
Numbness, less manual work to grasp, push, etc. Impossible shot.
tissue freezing

Copyright © 2021 Tactical Intelligence. All rights reserved

frequently asked questions

What is a cold hand?

Cold hands can be caused by poor blood circulation, which prevents proper blood flow to the extremities. Poor circulation in the hands can be caused by underlying conditions such as diabetes, obesity, blood clots and Raynaud’s disease.

Can cold hands be a sign of heart disease?

People with heart failure may find that they often feel cold in their hands, arms, legs and feet (limbs). This happens because the body sends most of the available blood to the brain and other vital organs to compensate for the inability of the failing heart to pump enough blood through the body.

What condition causes cold hands and feet?

It is usually caused by an iron deficiency. With an iron deficiency, red blood cells may not have enough hemoglobin (an iron-rich protein) to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. This can result in cold toes and cold trains.

Related Tags:

what are cold hands a sign ofwhat do cold hands mean spirituallywhat deficiency causes cold hands and feetcan cold hands be a sign of heart diseasecold hands anxietycold hands symptom checkerwhy are my hands always cold to the touchcold hands treatment