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How often do you practice shooting with your support hand? Dominant hand shooting gets us where we want to be proficiency wise. Tactically, support hand shooting provides you with peace of mind. Think about it: which part of your body would an assailant most likely attack? The part of your body that’s closest to them. The bit that’s holding a weapon. The one that has your strong or “gun” hand at the end of it. Even if the attack is random, there’s a chance your strong hand side may be knocked out of commission. So unless you master support hand shooting, you’re only half-prepared for armed self-defense. Time to fix that . . .

Estimates of the number of ambidextrous people in the world varies; it’s generally thought to be somewhere between three to eight percent of the total population. The odds of the person reading this article being able to shoot single-handedly with either hand with equal dexterity are slim. Equally, the number of people who are unable to shoot well with either hand (a.k.a., ambisinister) is also fairly small.

Just thought I’d mention that. So, start by shooting one-handed with your strong hand.

1. Clear the gun. Hold your unloaded and safety checked firearm with your dominant hand only. Slowly and safely bring the firearm to your line of sight from your holster or the ready position. Finger off the trigger.

2. Sight the target. (Maximum five yards.) The gun will be seem heavier in your unsupported hand. Pay strict attention to muzzle direction; sighting the gun with one hand will require new skills. At the risk of seeming gangsta, canting the gun slightly may help with target acquisition and recoil control. Turning your body out of the isosceles stance may also increase comfort and/or accuracy.

3. Classic target shooters put their support hand in their pocket. That’s big no-no for self-defense. You want that hand free for combat, dialing a phone, opening a door, pushing friendlies out of the way, etc. Leave your support hand by your side.

4. Mentally prepare for the shot. Grip the gun tightly but do not attempt to completely stifle recoil. Allow the muzzle to rise after the shot. Depending on the size and caliber of the gun, too much arm control may cause the gun to leave your hand. If it does, let it go. Never try to catch a falling gun.

5. Dry fire. Slowly and safely replace your weapon in its holster or lower your weapon into a safe position.

6. Load your gun with a single round. Repeat the process above. Fire. After a number of single shots, when you feel comfortable with your safety and accuracy, load multiple rounds. Maintain a slow rate of fire, concentrating on regaining site acquisition.

7. Unload and safety check your weapon. Place your support hand on your chest. Using just your dominant hand, bring the empty gun to bear on the target. Take aim.

8. Slowly and carefully reach out with your support hand towards the firearm from behind the gun. Slowly and carefully transfer the weapon from the dominant to the support hand, making sure that you never put either finger on the trigger or place either hand in front of the muzzle.

9. Aim the gun with your support hand. Dry fire. Slowly and carefully transfer the gun back to the dominant hand. Replace your gun in your holster or set it down. Repeat—slowly—until you’re both smooth and comfortable.

10.  Load a single round. Repeat the process above slowly. After a number of single shots, when you feel comfortable with your safety and accuracy, load multiple rounds. Maintain a slow rate of fire, concentrating on regaining site acquisition.

Use a paper plate or single sheet of white paper as a target. Do NOT expect marksmanship. Aim for “minute of bad guy” (shots on paper).

A self-defense shooter needs to master a range of advanced gun-handling skills, from moving while shooting with the support hand to one-handed reloads. Do not attempt any of these maneuvers until after you’ve mastered the basics above. Don’t go there without expert instruction.

I carry my Back-Up Gun in my support side pocket. If my left hand (yes I’m a proud lefty) is busy thwarting an attack I can use my right hand to reach in my savior pocket, withdraw my BUG and squeeze off some lead. In case I can’t draw my gun or my BUG, I practice taking my service gun from my holster with my support hand. Here’s how . . .

1)  With my support hand I rotate (PULL!) my gun belt around my waist—along with most of pants—to the front right of my body. With my gun handle away from me I remove the gun from the holster with my support hand, rotate my wrist and aim on target.

2)  I reach across my body with my support hand. I grab the slide and pull my gun out of the holster (maintaining muzzle discipline). Once I’ve removed the gun with my support hand, I raise my leg slightly, place the gun on my thigh, change my grip (finger off the trigger) and bring the weapon to bear. (Demonstrated in the video above.)

3)   From my knees, I remove my gun belt by unsnapping the series of snaps that hold it to my waist. I place the holster between my knees and remove the gun.

[I’m not too jazzed about removing my gun belt from the safety of my waist; I’d hate for anyone else to grab the belt, remove a weapon and use it against me. But in that scenario I’m shot and fighting for my life.]

Figure out what works for you tactically, given your size, shape, gun and method of concealed carry. How well you do you know your holster? If you carry a Blackhawk Sporster SERPA type holster with index finger release, how can you remove the gun with your support hand operating the locking mechanism? Figure it out or buy another holster.

Practice gun handling and shooting with your support hand as a part of your training routine. In a gun battle, the “Meek may inherit the earth.” Be ready.

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    • Dominant hand = strong hand. Support hand = weak hand. What’s the difference? Is some firearms instructor off on another poorly conceived semantics exercise?

      • Magoo – the idea is that as you practice, by using the term “weak” as you talk yourself through an exercise, you’re reinforcing the idea that you literally have a “weak” hand.
        “Support hand” serves the same purpose and is a more positive reinforcing term.
        It’s not something that I came up with out of the blue… quite a few firearm instructors drive that same distinction. I didn’t make that comment to be petty… I think it’s a legitimate point.

  1. I like the dog in the back, who stares intently on what ever that was, that came from the gun after ejecting the magazine, and it rolled his way.

    Anyway, this doesn’t look practical. The draw with this gentelmans right hand looked downright awkward; at best. Using your knee to steady your pistol because your other hand is somehow preocupied?

    The military, and just about any other self-defense teaches you to create or maintain distance between you and your attacker until your ready to engage.

    I think if your unexpectedly attacked and try to draw while handeling the attacker with your other hand, your likely to get shot with your own weapon.

    • I agree with you. However, it remains true that support hand draws and operation is necessary practice. The day you bust up your strong side’s arm/hand and can’t shoot with it, you will appreciate the time invested in support hand practice.

  2. Whenever I go to the range I fire aleast 2 string of 20 rounds with my support hand. This gets me use to the sight picture and recoil.

  3. Farago: “Think about it: which part of your body would an assailant most likely attack? The part of your body that’s closest to them. The bit that’s holding a weapon. The one that has your strong or “gun” hand at the end of it. ”

    Don’t forget bent-arm position. Anyone training for drawing in CCW methods of carry needs to practice this. If you’re always drawing and thrusting the weapon out (as demonstrated in the video) you’re basically handing the weapon to your attacker. Draw, brace your wrist or forearm against your hip and lift your support arm above your head in front of you as if blocking an attack. Do this with airsoft long before you ever do it with live-fire. You have to make sure you’re not moving your support arm in a way that you’re not muzzling yourself.

    Also, when you’re practicing support one-handed firing, use your non-dominant eye as well. For that matter, you should practice:

    Right-hand firing, right-eye aiming
    Right-hand firing, left-eye aiming
    Left-hand firing, right-eye aiming
    Left-hand firing, left-eye aiming

    You never know which eye could be shut after being hit with high-speed debris particles due to incoming fire hitting a hard surface near you.

    Also, do you think that you’ll be able to pull-off that balancing on the knee thing during the adrenaline-dump of a gunfight? I think the Tueller drill for that would be something on the order of 25 yards.

    • which part of your body would an assailant most likely attack?

      OMG, not that!

      The bit that’s holding a weapon.

      Whew. You had me scared for just a second.

  4. Drawing under duress is a different issue from firing with your support hand.

    Learning to shoot with your support hand can be useful in the appropriate circumstances. But negotiating an encounter where your firing hand is being used to keep your attacker away is a completely different dilemma. When you have your hands on someone and lethal force is an issue, striking your opponent with a stapler, paperweight, chair, coffee mug, clipboard, framed photograph of your child’s soccer team, cellphone, or the corner of the nearest desk is a first order priority.

    Learning and practicing to shoot with your support hand is a second order issue. Getting an assailant off of your body is a first order issue.

  5. @Aaron: Do “dominant” vs “support” indicate something significantly different than “strong” vs “weak”? If so, what, exactly?

    How can you train your weak hand to be as good as your strong hand without recognizing from the start and totally owning the fact that one hand is the weaker of the two? How would that ever work?

    Are we afraid that our weak hand will hear us calling it “weak” and its feelings might be hurt?

    By “positive reinforcing,” do you mean like when Stuart Smalley looks in the mirror and says, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me”?

  6. After working my ass off shooting with my support hand, I’m getting good at it. But drawing with the support hand from 4:00 IWB is damn near impossible. Aside from carrying a BUG on the left side, which ain’t happening, what’s a feller to do?


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