One Handed Shooting

Shooting one handed may be the most necessary skill no one teaches or practices. Trainers typically have you shoot from a fixed stance. Mostly it makes it easier to feel good and get hits. War stories are culled from the annals of lore about finishing the fight after getting shot never shooting single handed again.  Getting shot is possible, but not the only reason to shoot single handed. Moving about the real world is the most likely way it will get used and the world is not a shoot house, square range or video game.    

You are fighting your way out, not in!

            Shoot houses and simulators are great, too often they are nothing more than a house or trail where you shoot stuff.  Slicing the pie, moving through rooms and walking the trail are great fun, but there is always something to shoot.   An occasional “no shoot” will appear but the solution is always the gun. Find it, get steady and fire away living that save the day hostage rescue fantasy.  Same with most force on force, at some point you will either shoot or get shot. Valuable training, but you are more likely to fight your way out of a problem, not in. Restaurant, mall, event or home, you should be avoiding confrontation protecting self and loved ones by bunkering or exiting. Trust me, hunting bad guys is problematic, it seldom works out as planned and you can end up dead doing it. Moving to the exit or safe spot “prepared” to defend doing everything you can to avoid the fight is the ticket. Fight your way OUT to safety, there are people who get paid to go in and even they seldom do that much these days.

The Real World is not Flat, Square ,and Void of Obstacles

            Self-Defense situations have real world obstacles. People, chairs, tables, lots of things you must maneuver around over and through. Doors need to be opened or closed, items need to be pushed aside making your way to the exit. Family will need to be contained, you may have to carry small children. Hopefully you keep your firearm holstered or rifle slung, probably not, if so one hand will be occupied. You must clear clothing single handed, and possibly re-holster similarly.  Grabbing someone by the hand or shirt may be required, or pushing people out of your way. Exits have to be opened or held open while covering towards the threat. Restaurant kitchens use hanging plastic you walk through and cannot see beyond. Things will run into you, obstacles appear, your balance will not be perfect. You and everyone else will be moving, the threat may be hunting you. Everything in the real world eliminates your favorite stance, best two handed grip and precise aim. Practice those skills on the range rather than pray for divine intervention or expecting to “rise to the occasion”.  In over three decades of experience the former is out of your hands, the latter is pure fantasy. 

Choose your firearms “wisely”! 

            Preparation includes using a firearm you can shoot one handed accurately. Revolver, semi-auto, rifle, shotgun, does not matter, it must work under the least favorable conditions. One hand, off balance, with a crappy stance, less than perfect grip, on the move. Seated, on one knee, on the ground behind cover, walking backwards protecting you family. Real fights are messy and Itty bitty guns may not work. This is the sweet spot for RDS equipped pistols. Ten pound rifles with tons of useless crap are worthless if you can’t hold them up with one hand. This is where light weight AR’s shine, or rifle caliber pistols, even SBR’s (Short Barreled Rifles). There are pros and cons to light weight AR’s. Keep it light, accurate, and capable of use single-handed.  Same with handguns, small enough to carry, big enough to get the job done while working from the least favorable position possible in the worst conditions.   

            Carry your handguns LOADED!!  Unloaded handguns are expensive impact tools, lousy ones at that. If you want an impact tool carry a sledge hammer, not a firearm. Too frightened to carry a loaded pistol, don’t carry it. If you must carry off body use a safety or a revolver, but carry it loaded. Placating those afraid of loaded pistols may be politically correct but it’s dangerous on so many levels. And yes, I get it, super high speed tactical types from foreign lands to it all the time.  Sorry, that’s probably not you, and its why I live in America. Everywhere you can legally conceal a firearm in this country you can and should carry it loaded. Afraid, learn not to be, that’s what training is for. 


            Become accurate with one hand.  Presentations from concealment, aiming, trigger manipulation and getting hits. Single handed stoppage and reloads drills are great, but you will probably have both hands for that so keep it to a minimum. Got it down standing still, start moving, shooting from seated, on one knee, around, through and over obstacles.  Make sure it works with the ammunition you carry under those conditions and you can keep it running.

            Grab a pillow, basketball or something similar and carry it in your off hand while shooting. Load up a suitcase or other wheeled case with something heavy and drag it around while you shoot simulating holding a hand, or dragging someone. Kneel over the pillow or case and shoot as if holding someone down. Maybe they are injured, a child or loved one that’s scared, or they just end up in the line of fire and you push them down. Set up steel targets and push them with one hand while shooting as if to move someone out of the way. Practice  presenting your pistol from a seated position like a bench or chair without covering you or others. Do it slowly, quietly, and covertly, it’s not about speed. Quick draw McGraw is a cartoon you want surprise on your side.  Practice dry or with a blue gun, then live. Bring out a table and start behind it, push it over while staying on target with the other, learn to work around it. Practice transitioning with one hand, then shooting with that same hand. Set your spare magazines so they can be reached with your strong hand.  Get creative, stay safe, but figure out how to safely simulate the real world whenever possible.

Bottom Line

            None of this is easy, never said it was, the most useful skill is often the most difficult to learn and practice, of not everyone would do it. Unfortunately the easiest and most fun practice is often the most useless. We all like to do what’s fun, and should, but it just can’t stop there, not if you intend to use that skill for self-protection. The key to becoming better at fighting is practicing what you need not just what you like.  You always get to choose whether to shoot, you seldom get to choose when, assume it will be the least favorable.  One of my favorite quotes from Bruce Lee states “Use only what works, and take it from whatever place you can find it”.  Find it, learn it, practice, and make sure it works.  It may not be easy, but it may just keep you alive long enough to practice the fun stuff.

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