Range at Austin Professional Development Gunfighter Match
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“If I knew I was going to have a gunfight, I wouldn’t go.” – Jeff Gonzales

The Professional Development class with Jeff Gonzales is a one to two-hour seminar tied directly to the monthly Gunfighter Matches at the Range at Austin. Each seminar focuses on some area that needs improvement based on the performance of the shooters in the matches. I recently shot my first Gunfighter Match, so I decided to sign up for the seminar to see how it worked.

The seminar included a very simple, but telling drill: two mags, five rounds each. The target was a 6-inch circle at 3, 5, 7, and 10 yards. You had to put the first mag in with two-handed shooting, transition to the second mag, and do three shots with your strong hand, transition to your weak hand and shoot the last two.

At 3 and 5 yards, the goal was 100% in the circle. At 7 and 10, to pass the drill, you needed 80% or better. If you made it to the 10 yard stage, time pressure was applied and you had to do the drill and score at least 80% in under 10 seconds. We had some very good shooters in our session, but the best two scores anyone could manage at 10 yards were 14 and 17 seconds.

One of the things I like as a gunfighter-in-training about Jeff’s approach is how his drills begin easily and then suddenly escalate into a level of difficulty that really shows you whether or not you have the skill you are evaluating in your own development. He says, “You must have a standard, otherwise you only practice what you’re good at.”

Getting five consecutive shots into a 6-inch circle was something all of us could do, but the breakdown happened quickly once the transition to the second magazine happened. We then talked about why it’s important to practice one-handed shooting under time pressure as an essential skill for both competition and self-defense, Jeff outlined different scenarios in which both strong and weak-handed one-hand shooting would be essential.

Stabilizing a full-size 9mm and getting a good sight picture on my weak hand is something I have only recently started working on with both a curved and a flat trigger. There’s a lot of development to do, but as usual, the pithy, direct approach quickly showed me exactly where the work needs to happen – and what I need to practice to get better.

What are your favorite one-handed shooting drills and what helps you improve?

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  1. I haven’t done much one handed shooting with my weak hand lately.

    I used to do a drill where you start with the gun is on the bench in front of you and a person behind you.

    The person behind you gets to pick the start time and the hand you use by tapping you on a shoulder of their choice. Gets tricky if the position of the gun doesn’t match up with the hand the other person picks. The shooting was fairly easy with a .22 target pistol but much more challenging with anything I’d actually choose to carry. Never pushed it out past 10 yards weak handed and never incorporated mag changes or time due to range rules.

    • Also sounds like fun. I will try this once I get the downed trees cleared off my “range”.

      Seems like it would best if you 3 or 4 people so some could watch while not shooting.

  2. Sounds like a fun drill.

    Ought to get the adrenaline pumping and show your cracks and crevices.

    I will steal this.

    I often fire 5 rounds…3 on a miniature silhouette (made from cash and carry bag) at 5 yards and two on a silhouette at 15 yards. I then repeat strong hand and then weak hand.

    Sometimes I use 3 targets at 5, 15, and 25 yards. It is telling. But fun to push yourself.

    Really fun with the LCR and LCP.

  3. I do not have any specific one-handed drills.

    Why? If I am shooting with one hand, there is a 99% probability that I am using my other hand to hold off my attacker which means that I am at contact distance. And if I am at contact distance, I don’t need any practice to be able to place effective shots on target.

    The other 1% of circumstances would be that an attacker just shot my support hand from distance. If that is the case, I will do my best with whatever inherent ability I have to shoot with one hand.

    I have a limited amount of time and I allocate my time in the wisest manner as I see it. Given other pressing demands in my life, I cannot justify time spent training rapid-fire accurate one-handed shooting for an almost impossible event.

    I tip my hat to anyone who believes that practicing one-handed drills is a wise use of their time. Just because I do not believe certain drills are a wise use of MY time does not mean those drills are an unwise use of someone else’s time.

    • I take your point but offer this.

      I have that it doesn’t add much time when throwing in some off hand shooting. And you are still working on shooting basics.

      What I found when I started shooting weak hand is that I had NO ability compared to strong hand. The muscles and tendons had been used for support and not action in shooting.

      It didn’t take much effort to actually begin to hit with my weak hand, but it did take a few outings to improve.

      If you have ever broken your strong side arm it is similar to write with your off hand.

      • Specialist38,

        Ah, now that is an interesting reason to practice offhand: in case you ever injure your dominant hand unrelated and prior to a self-defense event.

        I have an extremely unusual advantage in that regard:
        I grew up doing typical activities right-handed such as writing, drawing, combing hair, brushing teeth, using scissors, operating hand tools, playing racket sports right-handed, and throwing right-handed. And yet I ALWAYS golfed, batted, and played hockey left-handed.

        Then one day in high school I was playing ping-pong and happened to grab a paddle with my left hand. To my surprise and shock, not only did playing ping-pong left-handed feel natural, I was actually very good at it even though I had never practiced left-handed before. Then I tried throwing a baseball, football, and frisbee left-handed. While I was weaker than right handed, I could throw naturally and quite accurately given that I had never tried throwing anything left-handed. I mentioned this to my parents and they told me that I started out doing everything left-handed as a toddler and young child but the schools made me do everything right-handed because left-handed was “wrong”.

        Thus, I discovered that I am pretty much ambidextrous and can do everything with either hand. And that means that I should be able to shoot really well right out of the gate with either hand. Or so I hope!

        • Ha! Interesting.

          I know several people who golf, bat, throw left handed and write with their right.

          Are you by chance left eye dominant?

        • I have the same “condition” and I am left eye dominant. The difficulty that I have with RH (weak) shooting is focusing on the sight with my right eye. I can aliviate the focus issue by using my RH and left eye, however the slight cant in my wrist required to do this results in significant recoil flip. This shows me the value of practice and improving wrist strength.

        • Specialist38,

          I appear to be right eye dominant. I am not sure if that is by nature or because of an entire lifetime of doing almost everything right-handed.

          Fun fact: I am so ambidextrous that I honestly cannot remember whether I am supposed to be right-handed or left-handed when I use a blade putter. I just grab the putter and walk up to the golf ball from whichever side seems to give me an easier or better shot. I also carry a mix of right and left-handed golf clubs. That drives people crazy because I can never have a bad lie!

    • There was a thread on, either Glocktalk or AR15.com, about a guy who was herded into a law office with some friends one night during their weekly cigar meet up. He was armed with a 1911. (Can’t find the article/link right at the moment.)

      He drew and got hit in the hand. He also hit the bad guy who got sent away for a long time. He was not at contact distance but within ~10ft.

      So, off hand practice might come in handy. Pun marginally intended.

  4. Jeff Gonzales seems to be one of the high speed low drag guys who has successfully transferred his knowledge to the civilian world.

    pay attention to what he says.

  5. Seem to be putting the cart before the horse if you’re concerned about the differences between flat and curved triggers before building a basic skill like off hand shooting with one of them.

  6. How did the drill start are you starting from concealment and drawing from a holster or are you starting aimed in on the target.

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