Carrying one handgun accessible to each hand greatly enhances your ability to end the fight if one hand or arm gets injured. Guns, gun hands and gun-side arms and shoulders often get shot in real gunfights.
Carrying one handgun accessible to each hand greatly enhances your ability to end the fight if one hand or arm gets injured. Guns, gun hands and gun-side arms and shoulders often get shot in real gunfights.

At a recent meeting, another attendee commented to me that she is currently unable to shoot due to an injury to her dominant-side right arm. (I specifically avoid the terms “strong side” and “weak side” as I don’t think it’s beneficial to worry that you’re using your weak hand when you’re in a fight for your life or those of your loved ones.)

When I asked her if she could not shoot with her non-dominant left hand, I could not tell who was more surprised – she, that I should suggest that concept, or I, that my question should surprise her.

Aside from the legal issues surrounding the use of deadly force, one of the most important concepts that I took from my earliest training from Massad Ayoob was the need to be able to shoot a handgun – reliably – with either hand. (By extension, that also includes being able to shoot a long gun off either shoulder.)

There are two components to this concept so I’ll start with the simpler one: If your dominant hand or arm is incapacitated by surgery or by an injury incurred outside the context of a fight for survival, your transition will be much easier if you already have available the skills and equipment for using the non-dominant hand. Are you able to work all the controls on your handgun, one-handed, with your secondary hand? Do you own a holster and related equipment, such as carriers for spare ammo, suitable for that operation? If you intend to use a pistol, are you able to charge the magazines with only one hand?

Drawing, firing and reloading with the dominant hand only is not too big a challenge. Note that the students are doing these drills behind simulated cover.
Drawing, firing and reloading with the dominant hand only is not too big a challenge. Note that the students are doing these drills behind simulated cover.

Turning to the uglier scenario, if your dominant hand or arm is incapacitated during a fight, do you have the skills and equipment to finish the fight with your non-dominant hand? For several years, I taught a couple of drills – designed around police duty holsters – involving drawing firing and reloading, first with only the dominant hand, then with only the non-dominant hand. These are worthwhile skills to build but I came to realize two things about those drills. First, they involve enough added time that they ought not to be taught without at least the simulated use of cover – a principle that I actually favor for any reloading. Second, they are not always practical with holsters designed for discrete carry. In the latter regard, I came increasingly to advise my students and readers to carry a minimum of two handguns, with one readily accessible to either hand.

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