On The Other Hand

I sprained my left wrist last week and can’t even remember what happened, but the experience has given me some food for thought and reinforced some things I’ve done and taught through the years.

All my life I’ve been ambidextrous, able to do most things with either hand, but since we live in a world with mostly right hand dominant people, most things are set up and more convenient to do with the right hand. This, of course, is a problem for people with a true left hand dominance, but usually not much concern to me.

But I did notice right away that I was having trouble because I would reach for things or, especially, try to lift things with that left hand and even dropped a few of them. Not good. I hadn’t really considered how much I count on having both hands to work with until it became very painful to use the left one.

Then I went to the range and discovered I could not shoot with the left hand as I always do. Of course, I could have done so if my life depended on it, but what if it were broken and in a cast, or damaged severely some other way that prevented me from drawing and firing the gun?

That’s easy for me, I can just use the other hand. Sure, but what if I had never practiced shooting with the right hand? What if I were left hand dominant and believed I couldn’t do anything much with my right hand? What if I broke my right arm, was right hand dominant, and had never trained to use the left?

In the course of many years giving the handgun and self defense classes, I’ve only encountered a few people who insist that they “can’t” use the non-dominant hand to do anything, and most of them are hard to convince to even try shooting that way. For those who are left dominant, I suspect it’s at least partly due to the extreme pressure so many of them encountered in childhood about their left handedness, especially older folks. It used to be treated almost like a minor crime, or at least a character defect.

I don’t find quite so much resistance among the naturally right handed, but it can still be difficult to convince them to even attempt to shoot with the left hand, and a great deal of persuasion is sometimes required to get them to consider shooting with either hand alone.

But it is important to learn to do so, and to practice it consistently. The reason seems self evident, but I’ll repeat it. What happens if you hurt your dominant hand and can’t draw or fire then, even if you use both hands? If you’ve got a cast or sling or brace on your hand/arm, you will also be seen as even more vulnerable than ordinarily, I suspect.

Seems to me to be important to at least consider learning to shoot with either hand, and either hand alone. You can’t pick and choose the time or place you will be attacked, so you have to be ready for whatever comes. If you’ve never fired your gun with your non-dominant hand, or never practiced shooting with either hand alone, you are due for another trip to your friendly firearms instructor and need to add a few more things to your regular dry fire and range sessions.

I Am NOT A Victim… even with only one hand available.

Are you?

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2 Responses to On The Other Hand

  1. MamaLiberty says:

    Yes indeed! I can reload the revolver or semi-automatics with either hand, depending on how I’m shooting, but I’ve never managed a one handed reload. There just isn’t any way I could rack the slide. And yes, I’ve tried everything I’ve read on the gun blogs and fora. Might reload a revolver one handed in a pinch, but getting the cylinder open would be a real challenge.

    The more I think of it, the more I hope I never have to do any serious gun fighting with only one hand!!!

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  2. Good point. I picked up a new (to me, anyway) handgun several months ago and as part of the process of transitioning it into EDC have been doing regular dry fire exercise – with either hand. Muscle memory was no issue with my prior firearm as I’d carried it for around 20 years – but I never paid much attention to the ambidextrous issue with it til around 5 years ago. I determined that in this case I’d go ahead and get started on the right foot – or hand/s.

    This does bring up another point I hadn’t considered til just now though – off-hand reloading a wheel-gun w/ speedloaders. I’ll have to start working that in too.

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