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Learning to shoot with the weak hand

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by mikelj, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. mikelj

    mikelj New Member

    Dec 27, 2009
    SW, MO
    I've rarely posted here but learn a lot just reading old posts and answers to the questions others ask. I have read the advice of many to practice shooting with your weak hand but never bothered...mostly because I feel I need so much improvement with my basic technique since I've only been shooting handguns for about 2 years.

    Well, I wish I had taken that advice because a couple of weeks ago I managed to tear some tendons in my "strong" arm while playing racquetball for the first time in about 15 years and today I tried dry-firing one of my pistols resulting in sharp pain and considerable trouble just pulling the trigger at all. My wife took the opportunity to remind me that it's a sign of my getting older and trying to do things just to prove I can....but I'm not sure I see her point? :rolleyes:

    Obviously I now have a great opportunity to work on my weak-side shooting and would appreciate any advice on that. But also, do any of you have experience or advice on how to re-hab my strong side as well?
  2. Travismcgee

    Travismcgee New Member

    Jan 26, 2013
    I wish I could help you!!!

    I have tendinitis from constantly pulling a crossbow string. (was sighting it in)

    My strong hand is a mess.

    I will be watching this thread for advice.
  3. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Senior Elder

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    Sorry to hear of your injury and welcome to the forum.

    If you want to shoot well you need to shoot a lot no matter which hand you use. Plenty of dry firing helps and be sure when you practice you don't practice using bad technique.

    As for re-hab, a good Physical Therapist is your best bet IMO. The older I got the harder it was to heal correctly. Sometimes we need help to heal well.
  4. creeper1956

    creeper1956 Member

    Sep 29, 2012
    Washington State
    1. Practice... lots of practice. Shooting using your dominant eye and (probably) opposite hand is weird at first, but you get use to it. Take it slow... first get stable and reasonably accurate, then work on repetition or cadence.
    Once you get your strong hand recouped, practice no less than 70% weak handed any time you go practice. If you shoot competition for fun not profit, shoot one or two of the stages with your weak hand.
    2. What ever your rehab specialist tells you to do... plus, if holding a gun at arms length is difficult, get a 2-10lb weight and hold it out at arms length until you can't stand it... repeat. Get yourself a Gripmaster or Gripmaster Pro... depending on which you think you can start with.
    I have diabetes related neuropathy, and I use a Gripmaster Pro any time I'm sitting at home for more than 5 minutes. I strike fear into even the most unrelenting pepper jar. :D

  5. JellyJar

    JellyJar Participating Member

    Aug 29, 2009
    Get one of these!


    I bought one of these dry fire training pistols because I wanted to improve my trigger control by dry firing and didn't want to use a real gun because of safety issues ( I worry I would forget to unload it. I knew a man who shot his TV with an "unloaded" revolver! :what:) and because I wanted to save wear and tear on my real pistols.

    Using it I started dry firing both strong and weak handed. It first it was real weird trying to dry fire weak handed but soon it became normal. I still can't shoot weak handed as well as using my strong hand but I can shoot with my weak hand a heck of a lot better than I ever could before! :)

    P.S. The only way to learn to shoot with your weak hand is To Do It.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013
  6. plateshooter

    plateshooter Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    N.E. Ohio
    Shooting weak handed just takes some time doing it. It started for me while attending some fighting pistol classes. Now I find that when I am having a poor shooting day, I can switch hands to see if it is me or the gun. You can develop different habits, good or bad, with each hand. As a yoga instructor, I can say that your right and left side of the body is almost like 2 different bodies. You can train yourself to be just as proficient or more so with your "weak" side if you have the desire. When you do, shooting is even more fun.
  7. jeepnik

    jeepnik Participating Member

    Sep 25, 2011
    This sort of question surprises me. If you shoot, part of your practice should be shooting with your weak hand. This includes long guns as well as handguns.

    Part of your practice should also be shooting (handguns, although it can be done with some rifles and shotguns) one handed. We all know that strong side, two handed is usually the best way, but well, as the OP shows, stuff happens.

    Now that I've vented, the only way to learn to shoot weak handed is the same as with the strong side. Start shooting while paying strict attention to grip, trigger squeeze and sight picture. With repetition, your weak hand coordination will improve. You may never become as proficient with the weak hand, but some proficiency is better than suddenly needing to shoot with the weak hand and having no experience.
  8. BigJimP

    BigJimP New Member

    Dec 5, 2012
    Re-hab....talk to your doctors....( not guys on the intenet !! )

    With arm, or hand, weakness or injuries ....controls on the gun and how it fits your hands is a bigger deal ( although its always critical )...and reducing recoil. So in general - maybe a single stack gun, with a shorter trigger travel, like a 1911 vs a DA/SA Sig as an example - and a more narrow gun than a wider gun.../ and weight of the gun is your friend to reduce recoil. You don't want to go real long or real heavy - but a steel gun vs a poly gun / might feel better. Picking the right ammo / or reloading ...so it isn't too "snappy" vs more of a "Thump"....is probably smart.

    Weak hand vs strong hand...we all train a little / you'll have to train some more....and make sure the gun you choose has easily reached controls, a recoil spring that isn't too strong to manipulate the slide, ambi safety ...

    A gun that comes to mind - is a full sized, 5" barrel, in a 1911 in 9mm - a steel gun, ambi safety - a mag well - to make getting the mag into the gun easier...then experiment with 9mm 115 gr ammo / and some 124gr and find what suits you ...if you carry, does the holster position need to change, FBI forward tilt, make sure the holster stays open when you draw gun - so its really easy to put in one handed....

    but its all the subtle things - weight, trigger pull, recoil control, reaching the controls - that will make it easier ( just like some of us that are older, with a little arthritis in our hands...) ...its the little stuff tha matters...
  9. BCRider

    BCRider Mentor

    Nov 15, 2008
    Pacific North"Wet" Coast of Canada
    Between my IPSC and IDPA shooting and my practicing for these events I get my fair share of weak hand shooting. In fact I can often get results which are just as good or better from my weak hand. How you ask? Because when I'm shooting weak hand I tend to focus on the basics even more strongly than when I'm shooting two handed or strong hand only.

    And in the end that's how it works. You need to focus on the basics.

    If you can use your hurt strong hand as the new support hand it may or may not help. My suggestion would be to start weak hand only and introduce the hurtin' strong hand as possible support once you're shooting reasonably well with weak hand only.

    For any one handed shooting it helps to angle the body slightly with the gun side leg slightly forward so the feet and upper body is angled slightly at around 20 degrees to the off the straight across line. The free hand should not simply hang loose. One common style is to make a fist with the free hand and press it into the sternum at about mid chest. Something to do with tension in the free arm aiding in steadying the muscles in the shooting arm. Anyhow you look at it this works. Classic bullseye shooters know this and so they put their free hand in the same place for each shot.

    Then focus on doing nothing other than supporting the gun and only move the trigger finger all the way back until the trigger reaches the rear travel stop. And follow through by HOLDING it there through the recoil. Only then ease up on the pressure to feel for the reset point before beginning to pressure back for the next shot.

    When shooting one handed it also seems to help the get a more natural hold if the gun it tilted slightly from vertical in towards the shooter's center line. Now I'm not suggesting the homey sideways nonsense. Just a 10° or so tilt inwards from vertical. Try it, it really helps with one handed shooting.

    A little of this and you too can soon be shooting as well with the weak hand as you do with the strong even if it's slower. From there practice until it's second nature.

    And simply ignore those "getting old" comments from the missus. Right as they may be there's simply no need to dignify such drivel by acknowledging it..... :D
  10. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    Dec 27, 2002
    northern california
    Rather than just tell you to practice more, I'm going to tell you to take this opportunity to relearn how to shoot.

    Even at only 2 years, I'm sure you have habits using your right hand that you aren't even aware of. You now have a chance to evaluate your technique from the ground up and to see it from a completely different perspective...the right side of your brain (assuming that you normally shoot with your right hand)

    If you take a look at the link in my signature on Gripping the gun, start there and establish a conscious grip on your gun. Double check to see that you have it correctly positioned in your hand and that you are applying pressure to the frame correctly. Than add the other hand and really look at how it interacts with the first to complete a 360 degree grip. Lastly carefully place your trigger finger correctly on the trigger and press it smoothly and continuously straight to the rear until it releases.

    It will seem odd at first as you are now letting your trigger press be controlled by the more perceptive, as opposed to the analytical, side of your brain. To really get the most benefit from this, try aiming using your non-dominate eye. Either way, it will give you a different understanding of what it takes to correctly hold a gun and press the trigger.

    If you are going to practice shooting one-handed...you should always do this anyway...you'll find that not forcing your hand to hold the gun vertical in more natural. (This addresses how far to can the gun inward). Don't lock out your elbow and let the forearm rotate naturally; it is usually about 20-30 degrees.

    I don't blade my body to bring the shooting hand/foot forward. I just shoot from whichever foot position I happen to be standing in at the moment
  11. chris in va

    chris in va Mentor

    Mar 4, 2005
    Louisville KY
    This. I found canting the gun a bit really helps. As a matter of fact, my match score times went way down after one of our top shooters told me about it.

    Try this little test. Rotate your wrist far as it will go to the left. Do the same to the right. You'll find the halfway point in the arc is right where the natural sweet spot would be.
  12. BSA1

    BSA1 Senior Member

    Apr 20, 2011
    West of the Big Muddy, East of the Rockies and Nor
    I have a similar problem as I had rotator cuff surgery last month so I have been relearning on how to shoot weak handed.

    I have approached it as totally learning how to shoot a handgun for the first time. I focus on the basics and call every shot. I am using a 9mm semi-automatic due to its lighter trigger pull as I don't to be distracted by trying to master the heavy double action trigger pull yet.

    The key is only reinforce the good habits. I started out only shooting a magazine full of ammo, 15 rounds or so. My last session was 45 rounds which for now is plenty. When you start to get tired quit! I am also practicing shooting once a week so my range sessions are not very long.

    Oh see a doctor about your arm. It doesn't sound like a injury that will heal on it's own.
  13. mikelj

    mikelj New Member

    Dec 27, 2009
    SW, MO
    Thanks for some really useful feedback

    Well, I was hoping for a little bit of help and it looks like I came to the right place. Thanks to everyone who responded...you have given me some stuff I can and will use!
  14. sota

    sota Member

    Dec 19, 2012
    might also want to consider using your non-dominant eye as well. you're just discovered what happens when you're down an arm, what happens if you're down an eye as well?

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