One Handed Shooting

How much do you shoot using one hand only?

The art of one handed shooting is just that….an art.  The benefits from learning to shoot with only one hand are pretty self evident.  There are lots of scenarios where we find ourselves potentially with only one hand available.  Those include injury to one hand, holding open doors, shielding loved ones, holding on to a lead for a K9 for those of us that are/were handlers at one time or another.

As shooters we tend to go to the range and do the stuff that gives us emotional candy – shooting really fast on the timer, shooting itty bitty groups, and other cool guy stuff that makes us feel good.  Shooting one handed generally for most people is not one of those things.

Spending a lot of training time shooting with one hand has some advantageous side effects, so much so that I recommend that serious shooters dedicate twenty five percent of their training time to learning to shoot with one hand only.

Years ago, I had a minor disagreement with a drunk on the side of the road.  I advised him he was going to jail for DUI, and he disagreed.  In the end, he went to jail for DUI.  And resisting.  And several other more serious offenses relating to fighting with a police officer on the side of the road.  I suffered a broken finger, and a sprained wrist on my left hand.

I spent the next several weeks training and shooting with one hand only.  When I could use my left hand again, I noticed that my marksmanship at speed was better with both hands after simply using one hand for weeks.  After that, I became convinced that one handed training should make up a serious part of your training time.

The benefits of one handed shooting are obvious from a practical standpoint.  But, the other benefits are there.

Train more with one hand only.  You’ll like the results.

This entry was posted in Modern Service Pistols, Training by Jerry Jones. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones has been a Sheriff's Deputy in Kentucky since 1996. Jerry is currently assigned as a patrol deputy, firearms instructor and senior operator/training supervisor with a multi jurisdictional tactical team. Jerry is Kentucky POST certified to teach firearms, SWAT, and sniper operations and deployment at the Academy level. Jerry is also the President/CEO of Operation Specific Training and the Law Enforcement Representative for Apex Tactical Specialties.

10 thoughts on “One Handed Shooting

  1. Maybe you’ll only have one hand free to shoot because your holding two horses.

    AUSTIN (KXAN) – The gunman who attacked the federal courthouse, the Mexican consulate and the Austin Police Department headquarters was killed by a single shot taken from 312 feet away by mounted patrol Sgt. Adam Johnson who also held the reigns of two horses.

  2. Great article! All serious shooters practice one handed. Part McNamara mentioned shooting bulls eye at 25 and 50 one handed. I have been doing it for a while now and it really does help your fundamentals. Anyway great article again Jerry!

  3. I agree with you that one handed shooting will help your overall shooting. I walk with a cane so most of my shooting practice is done one handed (weapon hand or reaction hand). It has helped my two handed shooting. At the risk of splitting hairs I have noticed that most shooters that practice one hand shooting it is because they fear that one hand will be injured. I would argue that it is more likely you will have one hand occupied, using to hold a door open, loved one grabs it out of fear, etc. So perhaps shooting 2-3 shots one handed and then practicing getting a good two hand grip to further engage the target has merit? Just my two cents. Good article.

  4. Best single handed pistol training I ever received was by Mike Conti, Mass State Police. I still use he techniques to this day and highly recommend his books. Nothing better for dynamic shooting at close distance. I remember his quote during class, “it’s a handgun not handsgun”.

  5. Shooting with one hand, either strong hand or support hand, is a critical skill for a gunfighter. Anyone who doubts that should read the story of Jennifer Fulford, the Orange County Deputy who was wounded in a shootout with two home invasion robbers. She was able to stop one robber before being wounded in her right arm, forcing her to fight and ultimately stop the second robber shooting with her support hand. ( After she recovered she said her recent training was the key to her making it out alive. “[Training in] off-handed shooting really, really helped me. I just reacted,”

    One handed shooting isn’t always fun or sexy, but when you need it, you may really need it.

  6. I agree 100%. We shoot a local indoor match once a week. It’s an outlaw USPSA-style match that is usually less than a 50 round count. I got a wild hair and decided to shoot it all strong hand only last week. While i dropped in the scoring quite a bit, it was satisfying to do, and really let me know where my one handed skill level is.

  7. It’s an interesting thing seeing the subject of one-handed shooting (which I consider a critical and under-emphasized skill nowadays) coming up in a historical context.
    When I began shooting handguns to any serious degree a bit over four decades ago, using both hands was close to unheard-of.
    There literally were not many shooters who were even aware of the technique, much less conversant with it. Fortunately for me, I was raised as a voracious reader, and learning about the “Army .45”, as I knew it in childhood was a favorite subject for my library time. (Libraries were government buildings full of paper-page books you could borrow for a period of time, if you were a taxpayer with a library card to prove it. Only being moderately facetious, there.)
    Libraries didn’t have much about .45s but newsstands were beginning to by the time I hit my 21st birthday and immediately bought my first gun… a Colt .45.
    Going to the range, I never saw anyone using two hands. Two of my policeman friends with whom I went shooting had barely heard of such a thing.
    It was Col. Cooper, via the gun mags of the day who truly brought forth two-handed shooting in a broad sense.
    There’d been discussion and training of same before then, but it was in a very small circle.
    Once Col. Cooper’s combining time and power along with a modicum of accuracy was turned into organized competition, the need for better, faster shooting techniques came into regular, wide use: it was quickly obvious that two hands were better than one.
    Nowadays, I put on a lot of USPSA matches and some IDPA ones- I include as much one-handed shooting in IDPA as I can to force my charges to do it.
    Amazing to this geezer is the reluctance of some of the younger shooters to even try it, including and especially weak-handed.
    Eventually they all do and are often fascinated by it. I like to conclude certain sessions with “retention” shooting- firing with the gun just over the holster. It’s rare that anyone has even tried such a thing. But nearly all embrace it enthusiastically once they think about it.
    It’s a culture shock to someone of my generation, but this article is of great importance in suggesting the need for one-handed shooting, now the “forgotten” technique.
    In my association with police trainers, I had the opportunity to watch many videos of actual gunfights and even I was surprised at the number of them in which the good guys were firing one-handed. Perhaps 35-45% of the time, only one hand was used.
    The many causes of need mentioned above are all strong factors to be considered. Practice non-standard shooting whenever you can.
    Not only that, you can learn a lot about your gun and technique shooting one-handed and fast. That grip form or trigger or whatever may not be as helpful as might have been thought.
    As my partner likes to point out, training to what you’re comfortable won’t help you get better as much as training what you’re not comfortable with.

  8. I used to shoot my agency qual course with my support hand only. I could qualify but my score was down 20 points. Haven’t done that for a while though. I was running ballistic shield training for my groups this past week and it brought me back to the importance of accurate one hand pistol manipulation. Thanks for this article.

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