The Importance of Being Able to Shoot With Your Non-Dominant Hand

Posted by Karen Hung on 20th Oct 2022

If you've heard it discussed, you may be wondering what off-hand shooting is. Off-hand shooting, also called weak or support hand shooting, is firing a gun with your weak hand rather than your strong one. People tend to use a preferred arm or hand with more refined fine motor skills to accomplish tasks such as writing a letter or brushing their teeth. Firing a gun is no different. However, off-hand shooting is a potentially lifesaving skill when using a gun in dangerous situations.

Why Would I Need to Shoot With My Non-Dominant Hand?

As a gun owner, you've probably envisioned the possibility of finding yourself in a defensive situation. In these circumstances, the unknown rules — you never know what will happen next, making it essential to predict and prepare for anything you could encounter. You might have to engage in hand-to-hand combat, or an enemy could target your dominant arm and injure it. Off-hand shooting is a valuable skill giving you the advantage you need in a life or death situation.

Trying to shoot with an injured hand or arm is an obstacle you don't want to face. When you have the skills to use your support arm to fire, you'll stay in the fight, increase your chances of survival and be better equipped to stop the threat.

Support hand shooting skills also make you a more responsible gun owner, as firing with a broken hand or an untrained weak hand makes you much more likely to miss your target. Training to use that non-dominant hand will better prepare you for dangerous situations and decrease the chances of you missing your mark and hitting an unintended target.

Shooting Techniques for Your Non-Dominant Hand

As you learn about off-hand pistol shooting techniques, you'll find that many gun owners use two standard methods. Choosing between them comes down to your preference and what you're comfortable with, which you can discover through repeated practice.

Your stance with your weak hand will be similar to your regular stance, consisting of having your legs shoulder-width apart and your weight forward. You can also blade your body to make yourself a smaller target. Depending on the extent of your dominant hand's injury, you could leave it hanging at your side until first aid is applied or tucked into your chest for more balance and safety.

The two off-hand shooting techniques are:

  • Straight arm technique: A simple technique offering predictable upward recoil, straight arm shooting is a traditional position. Here, you'll drive your weak hand forward until your elbow is locked and your firearm is parallel with your arm.
  • Canted technique: The cant approach is popular with shooters who prefer to keep both eyes open, allowing you to use your dominant eye. You'll extend your arm out in front of you until your elbow locks and then rotate your firearm inwards — clockwise if it's in your left hand — anywhere from 10 to 45 degrees.

Important Weak Hand Skills

Learning to shoot a gun involves much more than just pulling the trigger. Practicing good fundamentals when firing with either hand will put you in the best position to succeed during a defensive encounter.

The essential weak hand shooting skills you should focus on include:

  • Drawing your gun: Depending on how you holster your gun, you'll have to practice retrieving it with your weak hand. Doing this will force you to reach across your body, pin the gun against your body to regrip and then engage your target. The two most convenient methods of holstering to meet your needs are strong side carry and appendix carry, giving you the most flexibility in various circumstances.
  • Shooting: Shooting with your non-dominant hand will take some adjustment. You should maintain a firm grip and a smooth trigger pull to minimize shifting to your point of impact. Doing so will enable precise and reproducible shooting, which is essential in defensive situations.
  • Reloading: There are many ways to reload your gun, so practice various techniques to find what works best for you. One way you can reload involves resting your gun in the holster backward so you can easily insert a fresh magazine with your off hand. You can also choose to hold the gun between your knees or in any other comfortable location — practice is key.

Support Hand Shooting Drills

While it may seem relatively straightforward, improving your support hand shooting may be challenging. Just as you have practiced for years with your dominant hand, becoming proficient in weak hand shooting takes patience, practice and hours of mastering various skills.

Learning how to fight with your handgun means training in suboptimal conditions, with distractions and obstacles, and at various distances. Training for every unknown will help you cope with any situation you run into, even with one hand. If you want to improve your support hand shooting capabilities, consider training with the following drills to improve accuracy, strength and speed:

  • Dry fire: Dry firing will get you used to the motion and effort required to fire a gun. You can experiment with various techniques and stances while switching between your dominant and non-dominant hands to find what works best.
  • Hold a heavy object: Carry a heavy object in your strong hand, such as a gallon of water, as you shoot at a target with your weak one. This will create a situation where you are solely dependent on your off-hand.
  • Utilize a dot torture: This drill focuses on accuracy, trigger control and alignment as you work through 50 rounds, shooting at dots twice with each hand. It will also help you work on how you draw and reload with one hand.
  • Switch hitting: For this training exercise, you'll set up two small targets, like index cards, about a foot apart from each other. Start 3 feet away and use your strong arm to fire at the strongside target. Then, switch your gun to your weak arm and fire at the weakside target. Repeat until you hit both within 10 seconds and then increase the distance.
  • Draw and engage: Set up two larger targets a yard apart from each other while you stand ten yards back. Start by drawing your gun with your strong hand and firing at each target twice within 10 seconds. Switch to your weak hand and repeat. This drill will help you focus on accuracy with each hand while also going through all the steps of using your firearm safely and effectively.

Your Go-to Provider for AR-15 and Handgun Components

Are you looking to upgrade parts or accessories on your self-defense firearm? At Wing Tactical, we maintain one of the largest inventories of industry-leading products to give you the edge you need in high-risk situations. We only stock gear we would trust on our own guns to give you confidence in its quality and reliability.

You can count on our outstanding customer service and exceptional dedication to providing unparalleled value. Check out our inventory today to find the parts you need for your ideal self-defense solution. You can also reach out to our experts for ordering assistance or to ask questions about our products.