One-Handed Shooting Should Be Included In Your Shooting Practice
You should keep up with a shooting practice regimen for whatever you might use a gun for, whether it’s for protection or hunting, and what some handgunners neglect to do is any one-handed shooting.
If you aren’t practicing one-handed shooting, you need to start, especially if you carry for protection. The truth about defensive shootings is that they don’t always occur under ideal conditions. As a result, if you’re going to put on a gun belt, holster and pistol you had better know how to use it.
We’re going to go over why you should start practicing one-handed, as well as how to get started with one-handed shooting.
Shooting One-Handed May Be Necessary
One of the truths about defensive shootings is that they never occur under ideal conditions, which is exactly why shooting one-handed ought to be part of your regular practice and training regimen. The typical shooting occurs at close range. It happens very quickly and is over in roughly the same fashion.
There is also a good chance it won’t happen in broad daylight or in other ideal ambient conditions. It may happen in the failing light of dusk or at night.
You may not have time to assume one of the normal shooting stances and you may not even have time to aim much, which is why it’s also a good idea to practice point shooting.
In short, shooting with one hand is all you might be able to do when the time comes, especially if you’re trying to keep an assailant at bay with one hand or you have to have a hand on an object of some sort, such as a car door, or if you only have time to draw and fire without much time to aim or get settled.
It’s not very difficult to imagine a scenario where you can’t assume a typical shooting stance nor get both hands on your pistol.
A number of departments include one-handed shooting in their qualification tests and protocols. In fact the FBI qualification test includes a one-handed shooting portion. Not only must the shooter use one hand, they have to use both dominant and non-dominant hands.
In short, this is something that people who might have to use a pistol in the line of duty already practice in case it becomes necessary.
Since the reason – or at least one reason – that most people own or carry a gun get one to begin with is for personal protection, it therefore behooves such a person to gain something approaching the same proficiency of professionals.
Dominant One-Handed Shooting Methods
There are a number of shooting stances and techniques out there, but there are a few basic versions that will serve most people well. This for both the typical two-handed shooting stances but also one-handed shooting stances.
For instance, most people learn the Isosceles, Weaver and/or Chapman shooting stances for two-handed shooting. Each has their place, but each has a weak point or two. The Isosceles isn’t the best for controlling recoil, but the Weaver makes pivoting to the strong side more difficult and so on.
It’s the same for one-handed shooting. Here are three techniques that can get you into practicing one-handed shooting.
Straight-arm: pretty much what it sounds like. You get your eye on target and put your shooting side foot forward. You want to place a bit more weight on the ball of the front foot; about 60 percent or so. The shooting arm (strong or weak; you should practice both) is extended straight out and up until the sights align with your eye and the target. This is the method used by Olympic pistol shooters…though Olympic shooting is drastically different from practical shooting.
Canted: much the same as straight-arm, but you cant the gun slightly to the inside by tilting it slightly in towards your body. Don’t go overboard with the tilt, as you need to be able to index the sights, so no more than about 45 degrees. This works a little better for some people than others, so do a little experimenting. Some find turning the gun into the body absorbs recoil a bit better and gives a bit better control. This will also help a lot with cross-eye dominant shooters.
Shotokan punch: this technique, popularized by Massad Ayoob, is named the “Shotokan punch” technique due to being similar to the punching technique taught by Shotokan karate instructors. Just like the other techniques, the lead foot goes ahead by about ten inches, with about 60 percent of your weight on the front foot. Curl the non-shooting hand into a fist and bring it up to the body with the palm facing you and hold close the chest, sort of like the classic karate punch.
Extend the shooting arm as normal; fully extend the shooting arm and bring gun and sights into alignment with the eyes and the target.
Some insist the support hand be tucked in this position regardless, but some shooters find it doesn’t do anything. Your mileage, of course, will vary. Try all three and see what works; you might find a Shotokan punch stance with a canted pistol may work best; hit the range and figure out what works best for you.
Dialing In Your One-Handed Shooting
These one-handed shooting techniques are good for sighted fire or for point shooting. They’re all pretty basic, but there are a couple of finer points to be aware of.
First, make sure to use an adequate grip. You want to use a good firm grip but don’t white-knuckle the thing. You’ll pull shots that way. However, you also don’t want to limp-wrist the gun as it may not cycle correctly.
Next, as to the elbow: many instructors are going to tell you to have your arm about 95 percent extended, stopping just short of locking out the elbow. Some may tell you to fully lock the elbow. This is an area where some shooters find one works better than the other; some find a slight flex allows for better shock absorption and others find it doesn’t help.
Experiment with it for yourself, but a lot of people find a little bend in the elbow helps a great deal.
You’re also going to want to flex the lead leg. Part of how a shooting stance works is by using the body to act like a shock absorber. By flexing the knee, you add one more point of absorption and can therefore handle recoil that much better.
If you’re having trouble placing shots, there might be a few causes. First is that shooting with one hand can lead a person to flinch or grip harder with the recoil anticipation. A bit more trigger time can cure that, and a little more dry firing will help cure that. Dry firing is a cure for many ills, as it helps dial in the trigger pull.
Oh, and you’re going to want to do that with BOTH hands. Practice with your dominant hand, then switch to the non-dominant hand.
As far as shooting drills, start slowly with single aimed shots in 3-shot strings at combat distances, say about 7 yards or maybe a bit less. Fire three, stop and look at your groups. Once your groups have started to tighten up and become reliable, then you start incorporating other drills into your shooting practice. Controlled pairs, double taps and the Mozambique drill (aka the failure drill) are all great shooting drills to keep those skills up, but if you’re just starting out you’ll want to work your way up to them.
Get one-handed shooting into your practice routine. The professionals practice it and you should too. After all, when it hits the fan, you might not be able to get a classic two-handed grip on the gun.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.