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Weak Hand Shooting: Tips to Improve Support Hand Skills

Being able to shoot with your non-dominant hand can save your life. Read on to learn how to shoot with your weak hand and why it's important.

One of the most valuable life-saving skills a concealed carrier can learn is weak-handed shooting.

Weak-handed shooting simply refers to using your firearm with your non-dominant hand.

Luger One Handed Shooting
If John was a lefty, then this would count as weak-handed shooting.

It’s the hand you don’t use for fine motor tasks. Basically, the one that gets neglected when you write, catch a ball, or grab an apple from the office snack bar.

But why is weak-hand shooting a skill you should learn and how do you even shoot with your non-dominant hand?

weak arm shooting practice

Today we are going to dive headfirst into weak-handed shooting! We’ll explain the reasoning behind buffing up those skills and give you some drills to work on at home and at the range.

Table of Contents

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Why Learn Weak-Handed Shooting?

The biggest reason to learn how to shoot weak-handed is in case you are ever forced into a situation where your strong hand is injured beyond the point of use.  

Considering violent events, it’s very much in the realm of possibility that your dominant hand could become compromised.

Daniel Defense MK18
Things get weird when other environments and people are involved…

When thrown into a violent confrontation you may need to use your hands to defend yourself until it’s safe to pull a gun. This may mean striking an opponent, which can also mean a broken hand.  

Firing a weapon safely and accurately with a broken hand is challenging to say the least.

You could also be involved in a gunfight where your arm or hand becomes injured by gunfire.

Civilian Medical Class
Injuries happen in gunfights. (Photo: Civilian Medical Class)

If your dominant hand gets hurt, it’s critical you stay in the fight. So, you need to be a skilled weak hand shooter to improve your chances of survival.  

Of course, you want to stop the threat. But if you suck at weak hand shooting, you will likely miss, and if you miss that bullet still has to go somewhere.

Remember, you are held responsible for every round you fire.

Draco NAK-9 Russian Steel Ammo

Having the ability to use both hands is part of the responsibility of knowing how to use your weapon safely and responsibly.

Weak handed Shooting Techniques

There are two basic techniques to use when shooting with your weak hand — straight arm and cant.  

Kind of like choosing between the Weaver and Isosceles stance this will largely be up to the individual shooter.  

Try out both and see what feels more natural to you.

Straight Arm Technique

The straight arm technique is very simple.

Drive your weak hand forward until the elbow locks in place, resulting in the weapon being parallel up and down.

One Handed Shooting
Straight Arm

This technique replicates most standard shooting positions and gives shooter’s a predictable upward recoil.  

Many shooters prefer to keep things as close to standard two-handed shooting as possible. 

If you run a miniature red dot on your carry gun, this technique may be more valuable due to familiarity with ‘finding’ the dot.

Canted Technique

The canted technique involves driving the firearm straight out in front of you, locking your elbow, and canting the weapon anywhere from 10- to 45-degrees.  

A lot of people find this position to be more natural and comfortable. It can also make using your dominant eye more natural.

one armed canted position
Canted Shooting Stance (Photo: Lucky Gunner)

For example, if you’re right hand and right eye dominant crossing your body with your left hand, allows you to use your dominant eye.  

But you are right-hand dominant and left eye dominant this technique isn’t as advantageous.

Not sure what your eye dominance is? We got you. Take a look at our Eye Dominance Guide here.

What to Do with The Other Hand

This really just depends on just how injured your hand is.  

If the damage is in the arm it may be best to let it hang naturally until it is safe to apply first aid.

Mountain Man Medical SWAT T Tourniquet
Applying a SWAT-T Tourniquet

If the injury is to the hand, it’s a good idea to bring the hand into your chest to give you a more balanced position and keep the damaged hand out of the way.  

The last thing you want is for an injured hand to strike something while you run and gun to safety.  

In an extremely close quarter fight, it will also protect the hand from someone attempting to grab it.

Anchor your hand to your chest to keep it out of the way while you shoot.

Your Stance

I won’t go too deep into what to do with your stance.  

Like any situation, you want your legs shoulder-width apart, and your weight forward.  

Since you only have to use one hand, you can also blade your body a bit. This will make you a smaller target overall, and that is always a good thing.

Weak Handed Weapon’s Manipulation

When we say shooting, it’s easy to focus on just the act of pulling the trigger and hearing the bang.  

Without a doubt, shooting is the most important part of weak-handed weapon manipulation. But that’s not all there is to it.  

You’ll need to be able to effectively manipulate your weapon in a variety of situations to ensure you’ll always come out on top.

Drawing

Before you can shoot your gun you need to be able to get the gun into action.  

Depending on how you carry this can be simple or quite challenging.  

Appendix carry makes drawing with your off-hand quite easy, strong side carry is a slight challenge, and pocket carry is basically impossible.

Appendix Carry, HHH with EMP
Appendix Carry, HHH with EMP

To draw from the strong side you’ll reach over with your non-dominant hand and grip the weapon in an inverted manner, so your thumb will be facing the magazine of an automatic.  

Pull the weapon from the holster and bring it under your arm.  

Womens Concealed Carry IWB
This is a bit tricky but doable.

Pin the weapon between your body and arm, and use your weak hand to assume a proper grip. Engage the target.

From an appendix position, you can simply reach over and grip and rip the gun from its holster.  

This is easily the fastest method to draw your firearm with a weak hand. There are numerous benefits to appendix carry, and this is certainly one of them.

Reloading

Reloading a semi-auto with the weak hand is quite simple.  

With the slide locked to the rear place the gun between your knees with the grip facing upwards. Insert the magazine, ensure it’s locked into place, and remove the gun from between your knees. Use your hand to hit the slide release and get back into the fight.

A revolver is a little more challenging, especially a snub nose.  

This assumes you’ll be reloading with a speedloader or moon clip.  

HKS Revolver Speedloader

Open the cylinder by pressing, pushing, or pulling the release and flick the wrist to allow the cylinder to pop out. You can push the ejection rod against anything that can push it. If nothing is available, take a knee and use your shoe if you have to.  

With the cylinder hanging out of the weapon, place it between your belt and your body. Again, challenging, but possible with a snub nose.

Drop the moon clip or speed loader in.  Retrieve the weapon and push the cylinder in place.

Obviously, neither of these weapons are fast, and both assume your dominant hand is completely and totally out of the fight. If you can use your dominant hand to help you, I’d advise doing so.

Drawing and reloading are both skills that should be practiced extensively. These should be perfected through dry fire first. 

Do not move to live fire training until you are absolutely positive you can draw and reload with live ammo safely.

Support Hand Drills

You now know the how of shooting with a single arm; so let’s talk about what you can do to get better at shooting with one hand.

Above we make it sound and look easy, but it is one of the more challenging aspects of firearm handling.

As such, it’s time to get some training.

Dry Fire

This should go without saying. Get out there and do some dry fire with one hand.

But swap hands and get equal practice with both hands.

Mantis X Laser Bullet
Using a laser system can help with dry fire too!

This will get you used to the act and the effort required.

You can also experiment with some of the techniques above and find what works for you. This makes it easy to pick what works for you when you go to the range.

Hold Something

When dry firing at the range, I challenge you to hold something with some heft to it — I use a kettlebell.

You want a little weight, nothing crazy, but something like a gallon of water.

One Handed shooting drills
One-handed shooting drills

This truly takes your arm out of the fight and feels representative of holding a child back or having a massively wounded arm.

It makes one-handed shooting a little bit tougher and makes it a true one-handed affair.

Use the Dot Torture – One Hand Only

Dot Torture stretches a wide variety of skills throughout 50 rounds of ammunition.

Two of the 10 dots challenge you to shoot with a single hand.

Well, to that, I say, let’s shoot all 10 dots with one hand! Shoot it twice, once with each hand.

Low Round Count Drill Dot Torture
Dot Torture

This will challenge you to do more than shoot. You’ll need to reload with one hand, draw with one hand, and sometimes draw with your off-hand.

Go slow with these skills and build them.

It’s a frustrating thrill that will challenge the hell out of you.

Switch Hitting

Created by the late Todd Green, Switch Hitting focuses on single-hand shooting. Set up two small targets about a foot apart — 3×5 cards work.

Set a par time of 10 seconds. Start 3 feet from the targets with a gun in your strong hand only.

WPSN Pistol 3 One Handed Shooting

Engage the target on your strong side with one round and pass the gun to your non-dominant hand. Then fire one shot on the opposite target.

Repeat this until both targets have two holes in them. It should be doable in 10 seconds.

Obviously, be careful handling a hot gun. If it’s too easy, crank up the distance and try again.

Draw And Engage

This is a very simple drill. Get two fairly large targets. I use man-sized printables from Sage Dynamics.

These targets only focus on the vitals of a bad guy and prove quite nice for training purposes.

Low Round Count Drill Sage Target
Sage targets

Start at 10 yards with the targets at least a yard apart. Set a par time for 10 seconds. Draw with your dominant hand and engage each target with two rounds in 10 seconds.

Focus on your accuracy. Ten seconds is a long time! Make those shots count and apply speed when possible.

weak hand only shooting
Folks at the Appalachian Tactical Academy learn to shoot with their weak hand during a drill.

Switch to your non-dominant hand and practice drawing and engaging with the same amount of rounds.

Those 10 seconds will feel a lot shorter here. Still, be safe and go slow with it.

Conclusion

Learning to shoot with your weak hand is a skill that could save your life, and it’s also a difficult and challenging new skill to learn.  

one handed straight arm position
(Photo: Lucky Gunner)

If you live by the motto that you’re a beginner only once, but a student forever, then weak hand shooting should be a skill on your gunfighting syllabus.

How do you train weak-handed shooting? Let us know in the comments below. Looking to strengthen your skills? Check out our recommendations for the Best Shooting Drills.

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5 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Jingo

    Not amspidextrious but I did play baseball as a youth, hence I catch a ball left handed. Learned to switch hit just cause. Later got shot in the palm of my right hand so I kind of learned to do most everything lefty to some degree. I point to shoot so it doesn't matter which hand I point with.

    December 21, 2021 4:05 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    jim

    In all training sessions; I do at l east one mag strong and weak per drill that I'm doing

    December 19, 2021 2:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    tirod3

    3.5 out of 14 pics of guns in hand are in the left hand. Editor: it's kinda hard with the stock photos available, tell your bloggers more LH pics for this.

    And yeah, not a lot of us train "off handed" because so much of the competition on the range and online is target precision shooting. Not tactical.

    And yet the basic origins of armed self defense are tactical. How did we get sidetracked?

    December 18, 2021 6:44 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Joe L

    I was surprised at the number of people that told me they never train with their weak hand.(or even one-handed with their strong-side.) I mean, what if you're carrying your kid on your strong side, or you injure your hand or arm?

    December 11, 2017 10:47 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Johnctee

      Maybe some people are new to guns and what to do? There IS that possibility.

      September 6, 2018 12:02 pm
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