One Handed Shooting

This is a guest post by Scott Sylvester

One Armed Man – One Handed Shootingone handed shooting

Despite what I’m doing it always seems like I have something I need to carry. Be it a folder, grocery bag, holding a door, holding a phone or my daughter’s hand, I usually have something in my non-gun hand. If you carry a concealed weapon, you should take great care and practice making sure you always have your primary or gun hand free in case you need to access your weapon.

Keeping your gun hand free limits your options on how much you can carry and usually means your off hand is occupied. For the article I’m going to use the phrase off hand. I know the more common description is “weak hand,” but I prefer to keep the work weak out of my vocabulary. You may be less skilled, but you are not weak!

I bring this topic up because I want you to think about how much time you spend shooting one hand only? Very few instructors offer courses where you are required to shoot your handgun with your primary hand only, not to mention your off hand only. Most training course emphasize good marksmanship which is achieved by a solid stance, grip and the other applied fundamentals. This is a great way to learn, but how you learn to shoot is going to be very different from when you have to shoot to survive. Outside of some advance police pistol training I do not see one handed shooting in very many curriculums.

Whether you attend my basic handgun or one of my more advanced courses, I make all of my students shoot with one hand for several reasons. The first reason is to show them it is possible. You should see the looks I get from students when I tell them to let go with one hand. After some initial apprehension, the student always shows intense concentration and they shoot exceptionally well with one hand only. Just when confidence starts to increase I have them put the gun into their off-hand only. Again, more looks of horror and doubt followed by encouragement, concentration and success.

In my Offensive Pistol course we up the ante a bit by giving the student a life size doll which completely ties up one hand, forcing them to access, withdraw and shoot the target with one hand. This is important because like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, we are always carrying or holding onto something. In a real life encounter we may have our off hand occupied, or if we are with a loved one they may be latched onto one of our arms in panic. In the event you are involved in a gun fight and become injured and lose the ability to fight with one hand, having a skillset you have trained will make a life-saving difference.

While shooting with one hand usually requires a bit more concentration when practicing, you will find that over time you can make very accurate hits. In practical or defensive pistol training we need to remember that we are not looking for the same level of accuracy as someone who is participating in a marksmanship competition. While we should always strive to shoot faster and try to make our rounds touch each other, in a real life environment we should strive for, “Combat accuracy.”

There are varying definitions of combat accuracy so let me explain my perspective this way. When shooting I want my students to get their rounds into a soccer ball size area of center mass. When shooting with one hand, and shooting quickly this is not difficult to achieve with a little practice. As your skill increases you will be better able toone handed shooting control the recoil and get those rounds closer together, but if you can put your shots into a soccer ball size area you will be effective against a lethal threat.

To close out the article I want to give you a tip you can try that may make shooting with one hand a bit easier. Sitting or standing where you are shake your arms to loosen up a bit. Now raise them up in front of you and notice how your hands are naturally pronated or angled towards the center line of your body. This is the common way you rest your hands on a piano, or computer keyboard.

This is a very natural position for your body. Now, keeping your hand in that position, simply add the handgun. You will notice that the handgun is also pronated or angled slightly inboard towards your centerline. This should feel natural and comfortable, but be careful not to over pronate and one handed shootingend up going full gangster as you hold the handgun. The gun should rest naturally at a 45 degree angle. (See photos)

From this position you can easily see your front sight and achieve a good sight alignment and picture. Shooting one handed from this position also allows you to stand square to your target instead of turning sideways and exposing your vital organs.

The other thing to avoid is over rotating your hand the other way so your handgun is sitting straight up and down or about 90 degrees. If you rotate you’re the gun you will feel additional tension in your forearm and wrist which will cause you to fatigue faster and will make mitigation of recoil more difficult. If you notice with your hand in the pronated position, the grip panel is facing downward, allowing gravity to assist you in by counteracting the rise of the handgun during recoil.

Next time you head to the range, make sure you spend some time outside your comfort zone. Spend some time shooting with one hand and apply some of the techniques I’ve mentioned above. When you have adequate control, shoot faster but maintain accuracy. Build your skills and confidence and then shoot with your off hand as well. If you carry a concealed handgun, make sure you carry in such a way you can access and draw your handgun with one hand as well. This skill is vital to your survival. It pays to be one armed man!

Be safe, and remember: Your mind is the weapon, everything else is a tool!

Scott S
Founder – One Weapon Any Tool Firearms Training
www.oneweaponanytool.com
New classes have been added! Sign up in you are in the Northern California Area

Comments

  1. One handed shooting is something that should not necessarily be practiced by everyone. Safety is key when it comes to firearms and using proper technique will only help ensure that the shooter and surrounding individuals are safe at all times.

    • Really? What do you suggest that everyone just go to the flat range and shoot straight ahead with two hands.

      We’re not suggesting that the new beginner immediately start blasting away one handed. What we are saying is that if you really want to be proficient you need to practice these different techniques.

  2. Thank you for sharing information on One Handed Shooting. I love shooting and consult MT2 for firing Range Services who provide free Project Assessments and Range Audits & quotes for most firing range and soil remediation projects.

  3. I suffered a stroke a few years ago and no longer have the choice to use both hands.It changes things but with some time on the range you can become proficient.There is the problem of keeping your hand free , IT’S HARD to carry much. But I make the effort because I cant run and I cant fight.

    • Jack Schuler says:

      Several years ago I was in a motorcycle accident. It left me as an incomplete quad. I live my life in a wheelchair, but I do have most of the use in my right hand and arm. Shortly before my accident I bought a semi-auto in .40 cal. I’ve yet to fire it because I can’t rack the slide & have been hesitant to fire it one handed due to the recoil. I don’t want to give up my right to protect myself even if I have to shoot one handed. I’m sure their are many others with similar circumstances. This article and Chris’s reply gives me hope that with plenty of practice, ”the one armed shooter” can protect him or herself!!

  4. “Shooting one handed from this position also allows you to stand square to your target instead of turning sideways and exposing your vital organs.”

    Doesn’t standing square (I presume this means shoulders square and the full front/chest part of your body facing an attacker) expose more vital targets and make you a bigger target than standing sideways?

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