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Weak Hand Shooting

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

Weak handed shooting is simply using your firearm with your non-dominant hand.  For the majority of us, our right hand is our dominant hand, so our non-dominant hand is the left hand.  Vice versa for those who are left-handed.  Learning to shoot one handed is a valuable skill and learning to shoot with your weak hand is just as valuable.

Today we are going to dive headfirst into weak handed shooting.  We are going to talk shooting and weapon’s manipulation, and leave you with a few drills to improve your weak handed shooting skills.

Why Is Learning Weak Handed Shooting Valuable?

Good question.  The biggest reason to learn how to shoot weak handed is in case you are ever forced into a situation where your strong handed is injured beyond the point of use.  Considering violent events it’s very much in the realm of possibility that your dominant hand can become injured and compromised.

If you get thrown into a violent confrontation you may be forced 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 in a broken hand.  A solid punch to someone’s head is likely going to hurt you more than them.  A broken hand makes firing a weapon safely and accurate challenging to say the least.

hand in guaze
You want to be able to shoot even when injured.

You could also be involved in a gunfight where your hand is injured by gunfire.  It’s not incredibly uncommon for guns, hands, and arms to be shot in a gunfight.  In a lot of cases, the gun is at chest level, which is a natural target in a gunfight.  The gun is pushed out in front of you as well.  Lastly, people tend to focus on what they consider threats, and your firearm is a visible and present threat.

If your dominant hand becomes injured it’s critical you can stay in the fight.  You need to be a skilled weak hand shooter for a number of reasons.  Of course, you’ve got to be able to stop the threat.  If you suck at weak hand shooting you are likely to miss, and if you miss that bullet still has to go somewhere.  If you’re lucky it will only damage property, but if you aren’t lucky you could strike a completely innocent person.  You will be held responsible for every round you fire.

Being a skilled with both hands isn’t just something to do, it’s 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.  The straight arm and the 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

one handed straight arm position
Straight Arm Shooting Stance

The straight arm technique is very simple.  Drive your weak hand forward until the elbow locks in place.  The weapon should be parallel up and down.  This technique replicates most standard shooting positions and gives shooter’s a predictable upward recoil.  Many shooters training with the weak hand 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

one armed canted position
Canted Shooting Stance

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.  For example, your, if you are right hand and right eye dominant crossing your body with your left hand, allows you to use your dominant eye.  If you are right hand dominant and left eye dominant this technique isn’t as advantageous.

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.  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 quarters fight, it will also protect the hand from someone attempting to grab it.

weak arm shooting practice
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 you want 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’s 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.


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.

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.  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.

Drawing from the pocket with the weak hand is slow, clumsy, and damn near impossible.  I can’t advise any safe or easy method to do this with just a weak hand.


Reloading an automatic 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 speed loader or moon clip.  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 it 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.

One hand pistol reload
One Handed Pistol Reload

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 in any way to help you, I’d advise doing so.

Drawing and reloading are both skills that should be practiced extensively.  These skills should be perfected through dry fire first.  You should take plenty of time to really develop them, and learn what methods work best for you.  Do not move to live fire training until you are absolutely positive you can draw and reload with live ammo safely.

Basic Marksmanship

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

Actually shooting with one hand gives you a good set of fundamentals to build on.  Whenever you can squeeze in a little one handed training at the range do so, even if it’s only 25% of your training ammo.  This will help you determine what style of weak handed shooting works for you.  You should also work in some basic dry fire drills when you have the opportunity to do so.

You’d be surprised how awkward and clumsy you’ll feel when trying to shoot with your weak hand.  Some dry and live fire practice will help you gain some muscle memory in your left hand.  In a short period of time, it won’t feel near as awkward.

Once you feel confident in basic weak hand shooting move to basic combat drills with just your left hand.  This includes Mozambique drills, double taps, drawing and firing, reloading and firing, and of course box drills.  Don’t forget to practice firing around and over cover, as well as drawing from behind cover.

One of the best to gauge skills is the El Presidente drill.

You need twelve rounds and either two magazines or a speed loader.  Load six rounds in each magazine or load 1 speed loader and the revolver.  Place three targets 1 yard apart.  Holster your weapon and turn your back to the targets.  Use a timer or some kind of alarm to be the go signal.  On the go signal, turn around, draw your weapon and shoot each target twice, reload, and shoot each target two more times.  This test will cover the basic skills of shooting with your weak hand.

Make sure you have adequate practice in drawing, reloading and shoot with your weak hand before attempting this drill.  Get plenty of practice doing this drill dry before you go live.

Final Thoughts

one hand shooting drill
Weak Hand Shooting Drill, Personal Defense World

Outside of the firearm realm I’ve found simply using my weak hand for more tasks has made me a better weak hand shooter.  This includes writing short notes, operating a TV remote, cooking dinner, and texting left handed has translated into greater levels of weak hand dexterity.  It allows me to work my weak hand shooting skills in my everyday life.

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.  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 gun fighting syllabus.

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2 Leave a Reply

  • 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
    • Johnctee

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

      September 6, 2018 12:02 pm