Mouse aim is an essential mechanical skill. Whether you are playing through a story-based adventure or a high-stakes competitive match, it’s a skill we can all work to improve in one way or another. Whether you have just moved to mouse and keyboard or want to improve your aim, this guide will help you get on target!
We’ll start with ergonomics as PC gaming setups are usually on desks. The point of ergonomics isn’t just about making your setup comfortable and avoiding posture problems. It also makes it easier for us to play our games, making sure we have a solid range of motion and enough space to move our mouse around.
The image shown is a rough guide for an ergonomic desk setup. What we are focusing on is the posture of your shoulders, arms, and hands. Your shoulders should be level with each other with your elbows at a roughly 90 – 120 degree bend. This will give a stable base for your arm and wrist movements. A good chair with solid, adjustable armrests will help especially if you use your forearm and shoulders in your mouse movements.
We also have to look at the placement of your mouse and keyboard. Your spacing can be different from another person’s setup. This depends on the size of your desk, keyboard, mousepad, and your mouse sensitivity. Make sure you have enough space to move your mouse around without hitting your keyboard.
If your keyboard is taking up more space than you would like. You can try tilting it sideways to make more room. This trick is used by pro players at LAN events to make space for their mouse movements although your mileage may vary with this trick.
Mouse and Mousepad
Your mouse should be an extension of your hand. Having a proper gaming mouse that fits your grip will make your mouse movements easier. Most gaming mice on the market have high-quality sensors that can properly track any kind of movement. This will make sure any motion in-game will only come from your movements.
If you’re looking for a new mouse and don’t know where to start. We have a guide on how to pick the right gaming mouse for you. There you will find out how to choose the right mouse that fits your grip style and hand size, along with some recommendations.
Mousepads can vary with different materials and sizes, from large desk-sized cloth pads to medium-sized glass-coated ones. A proper mousepad will give a consistent surface for your mouse’s sensor to track. It will glide around without much friction, also saving wear and tear on your mouse feet. Be sure to pick one that suits your setup and range of movement.
Mouse and Windows Settings
With your desk and hardware set up, we can now move to your system and mouse. It’s important to make these changes as they affect everything you do with your mouse both in and out of games.
We will first start with Window’s mouse settings. The settings we will change are in “Mouse Properties.”.
You can find this menu by opening your Windows Settings, go into “Devices,” click on the “Mouse” section, then click on “Additional mouse options” in the “Related settings” on the right side.
In Mouse Properties, click on the “Pointers Options” tab. You will need to set your pointer speed right in the middle, so it will be on the 6th of the 11 notches. Be sure to uncheck “Enhance pointer precision,” which is Window’s way of calling mouse acceleration.
Disabling mouse acceleration will make your mouse and pointer movements exact. Keeping your mouse motions consistent between games and leaving any adjustments down to your mouse’s software and each game’s settings.
Most gaming mice have software that you can use to change settings, such as the DPI and polling rate. These can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website. Alternatively, some mice use physical buttons to change these settings. In that case, you should look through the manual included with your mouse.
We are looking to change the DPI and Polling Rate of your mouse. Your polling rate should be at the highest setting available on your mouse, usually 1000 Hz on most gaming mice. A higher polling rate will make your mouse send more data to your computer, giving better accuracy from the sensor.
DPI (Dots Per Inch) is the sensitivity of your mouse, measuring in how many pixels your cursor will move with one inch of mouse movement. You will have to experiment on finding the right DPI for you because it’s all on preference. Keep in mind that a lower DPI will make minor adjustments easier and significant movements harder. The opposite will happen with a higher DPI. So try to find a nice balance for yourself between these two extremes.
Finding your sensitivity
Now we can start finding a good in-game sensitivity value for you. You would need to pick a game to tweak your sensitivity. Ideally, one that you play regularly. If your game has a practice mode or tutorial, that would be the ideal place to start. We want to match the movement on-screen to the range of motion of our mouse hand. You can figure this out by doing this exercise:
Place your mouse at the center of your mousepad, then make a sweeping motion from side to side until you can’t move any further or run off your mousepad. This motion is basically like doing a 180-degree sweep in-game. So you want to tune your sensitivity value until an entire side-to-side sweep of your mouse matches to a 180-degree sweep in-game.
If your movements only involve your wrist, your mouse sensitivity should make up for your limited movement. If your aim uses the rest of your arm, you can comfortably go for lower values. Keep in mind that you may still be limited by your desk and mouse space.
You can now try aiming at objects around you. Try shifting your aim from one target to the next or tracking a moving object. If you are overshooting or undershooting your targets, tweak the values more until you reach a comfortable speed.
Once you have found a comfortable sensitivity value, avoid changing it any further down the line. Because you will have to start developing your muscle memory with that sensitivity.
If you play different games, you will probably try matching sensitivity values between games. Each game has a different scale for sensitivity values, making it hard to match sensitivities between them. This is where sites like Mouse Sensitivity and Aiming.Pro can help. They have calculators that can convert your sensitivity from one game to another. These sites are convenient if you want to save time or have trouble finding matching sensitivities on your own.
Mouse aim techniques
Mouse aiming generally falls into two techniques which are essential for proper mouse aim.
Flick aim is where you move your crosshair directly from to a target. This technique can be used for short flicks to hit multiple targets or a wide flick to hit a farther target.
Tracking aim is where you will keep your crosshairs on a moving target. This technique can be used to follow a single target moving around your screen or a stationary target that you are moving around.
Now that you understand these aim techniques, we will go into how you can learn and practice these techniques.
Programs and games for practice
Due to the popularity of competitive games and the boom of eSports, there is a new market of gamers looking to improve their mechanical skills. Developers, modders, and community members have started making games, mods, and custom maps designed to help players learn and practice their aim in games. Here are two games explicitly made for aim practice:
Aim Labs is a free aim trainer with tasks that cover different aim techniques and situations. With each exercise that is played, the game analyses your performance and mouse movements giving a detailed breakdown of your aim and provides suggestions on how to improve. Aim Labs is still in early access, with two to three updates being added per week. This trainer is a beginner-friendly option if you want to get into aim training or need detailed feedback on your performance.
KovaaK 2.0 is a paid aim training program packed with thousands of scenarios for users to practice their aim. A crucial part of KovaaK 2.0 is that it allows its users to create and upload their own custom scenarios for others to practice on, with community members even creating aim training guides that include scenario lists and practice times. KovaaK 2.0 gives players a massive amount of choice to practice their aim.
In-game Practice Ranges and Maps
Some games even have practice modes and ranges for users to warm up their aim before getting into a match. Apex Legends and Valorant have firing ranges with targets and their entire arsenals available.
While Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has community-made Workshop maps made to help players practice every aspect of the game.
These are all viable ways to improve your mouse aim but don’t forget to have fun and actually play some matches. Aim training can be treated as an exercise in a way—the best thing to do is take your time and pace yourself. There is always room for improvement. Just be sure not to beat yourself up too hard if you have an off day.
I hope this guide can really help improve your mouse aim in some way. Whether you are new or experienced, we can all improve our skills. It’s never too late to take those steps forward to become better players!