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Shooting with One Hand

March 01, 2018 3 min read

When shooting handguns, it often feels like the shooter must have both hands on it in order to manage recoil effectively.  But what would happen if that shooter was unable to use both hands?  Learning to shoot one-handed, whether it is with the strong hand (right hand if the shooter is right-handed) or support hand (left hand if the shooter is right-handed) is a good skill to have in the toolbox. 

Reasons Why Shooting with One Hand May Be Necessary

  1. You are alone when attacked, manage to incapacitate the shooter, but now you need to call the authorities to report the attack and request an ambulance. You’ll probably want to access your cell phone with your support hand, while keeping the firearm pointed at the attacker, ready to shoot if they do not comply with your commands.
  2. You are holding someone’s hand. If you are a mother, you might need to hold on to your child’s hand as long as possible to keep them safe. You might also be supporting an elderly parent. Attacks requiring firearms response can happy at any moment. The more preoccupied you are with others makes you a better target.
  3. You are in the dark. Many home break-ins happen during the night when most of the lights in the house are off. In this case, you may want to have a flashlight in your support hand to use to light your way or for target identification. Turning on an overhead light is probably not a good idea because you, the homeowner, have the advantage in the dark, knowing the layout of your home better than the intruder. But you may have to use your firearm while holding your flashlight.
  4. Your arm is injured. The injury does not have to be caused by a physical altercation. You may take a bad fall while fleeing but in an event involving a bad guy, a serious injury is entirely possible. In this case, you will want to stay in the fight by being able to shoot with your remaining hand. (Hint: It may be your normal shooting hand or strong hand that gets injured).

The Fundamentals of Shooting with One Hand

  1. Stance – In an actual event, you may not have the luxury of getting to choose your stance or even if you happen to be standing at all, but for the purpose of learning to shoot with one hand, there are some difference regarding stance. Square yourself to the target as you probably usually do, but put your strong foot forward (or the other foot if you are shooting with your non-dominant hand only), bend the knee and lean into it to get support behind the gun.
  2. Your other arm - When you are at the range, practicing one-handed shooting, you will need to think about your other hand. This is another one of those fundamentals that will likely not be a consideration in a real-life event. During practice, it does create a more stable platform to put it on your chest or abdomen.
  3. Grip – A one-handed grip is pretty natural, although it can feel a bit odd when shooting with your non-dominant hand. But if shooting with one hand, be sure you are holding the firearm firm enough, really grip it!
  4. Sight Alignment/Sight Picture – Some shooters find it helpful to cant the gun a bit, rather than holding it straight vertically. The key word here is slightly. You do not want to turn the gun 90 degrees to cant it (you know like you see them do in the movies all the time?)

So it makes sense to spend some time learning and practicing one-handed shooting to develop and improve your defensive skills. It just might give you an edge if you ever need to utilize your firearm in self-defense.

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