Pistol Shooting Tips: Introduction To One-Handed Pistol Shooting

A man firing pistol at target indoor shooting range | Pistol Shooting Tips: Introduction To One-Handed Pistol Shooting | Featured

In a real-world defensive situation, you may not be able to use both hands. Read on and check out these pistol shooting tips for one-handed shooting!

RELATED: Pistol Shooting Techniques: Three Methods For One Hand Shooting

In this article:

  1. Why You Should Learn to Use the “Weak” or “Support” Hand for Shooting
  2. Pistol Shooting Tips: How to Train for One-Handed Shooting

Pistol Shooting Tips: The Basics of One-Handed Shooting

Why You Should Learn to Use the “Weak” or “Support” Hand for Shooting

If you're used to aiming and firing from your strong hand (the majority are also), then you must know learning the same thing on your support hand is just as beneficial. It makes you a well-rounded shooter and one which is ready to defend himself in any situation.

There can be circumstances where you might not be able to shoot your gun with both hands. It is probably due to an injury you incur before or during a gunfight or you may need to fire your weapon using your support hand in a pinch.

Whatever the reason may be, it is imperative you know how to shoot using one hand, especially in a dangerous situation. One-handed pistol shooting can be a big challenge, but with proper know-how and practice, you can effectively shoot your gun with one hand.

In this article on pistol shooting tips, we'll discuss the importance and the basics of one-handed shooting. Below are pistol shooting tips to help you develop your abilities which will help you in critical situations.

1. It’s a Natural Response

It’s not uncommon for someone to shoot using only the “gun hand” when met with an unexpected attack. There’s something quite natural about simply raising the gun and shooting when a sudden, close threat appears.

In scenario training, the free hand is usually occupied with a flashlight or doing tasks like opening doors. In real life, hands are often busy too so it just makes sense to train one-handed shooting.

2. When the Other Hand Is Holding a Flashlight


Shooting with a flashlight is a skill people should learn particularly if it's for personal and home defense. Even if you’re using a two-handed shooting technique with the light, there are plenty of instances when the aim of the light and the muzzle shouldn’t be the same—which is a whole other topic.

But suffice to say, one-handed shooting skills can make nighttime navigation safer and easier for people on both sides of the gun.

3. It Is a Tactical Advantage

Is your hand injured? Keep fighting with the other one. If your firing hand is injured, then you have to fire with your support hand.

Use of cover or concealment when possible can be a lifesaver. Using one hand to shoot from behind cover can better shield the rest of your body. Sometimes, it means using the support hand to shoot from behind a barricade which is only open on the side.

4. It Builds Confidence

When people realize they can employ marksmanship fundamentals just fine using only one hand, it helps their confidence as gun carriers. Also, it can increase the likelihood they’ll stay safe when employing one-handed techniques.

RELATED: Want More Gun Control? Texture Your Grip For Better Handling

Pistol Shooting Tips: How to Train for One-Handed Shooting

This is an overview of basic handgun shooting techniques for defensive purposes. This is not the one-handed technique used by bullseye shooters in a competition.

It’s not inclusive of many other in-depth considerations for one-handed shooting. What’s presented here is for the fairly competent shooter who has demonstrated some mastery of the fundamentals of marksmanship using two hands.

If you don’t fit the description, please work on the fundamentals of marksmanship first.

1. The Proper Pistol Shooting Stance

Face the target, then place your feet at least shoulder-width apart. You may feel more comfortable advancing one foot in front of the other. If so, then do it.

You’ll want to lean forward in the direction of the target because it makes your body serve you for recoil management. You’re also removing one arm from service as part of the system, so let your stance compensate for it.

2. The Right Pistol Shooting Grip


Hold the handgun securely in your usual shooting hand. “Securely” means having the V of flesh between your trigger finger and thumb as high as reasonably possible on the backstrap, and your trigger finger resting on the frame NOT the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.

Place your support hand as a fist on your chest or you can grab a handful of your own shirt. Placing your fist on the chest helps balance, gives your vital organs a bit of protection in a real assault.

Grabbing a shirt keeps your hand from inadvertently being covered by the muzzle as you practice a new skill. It is a good tactile confirmation your support hand is where it belongs—out of the way.

3. Putting Stance and Grip Together

Raise the gun toward your intended target with the feeling you’re trying to put the gun in front of your body, not on the side. Lean in the direction of the target from the hip as if a magnet were pulling the front sight toward the bullseye.

Press the gun toward the target making sure your wrist is rigidly tight and not all wobbly. Your locked wrist helps to ensure a semi-auto doesn’t malfunction because you failed to provide a stable platform for the slide to perform its gas-driven cycle.

Now, keep the front sight stable on the bullseye and your support hand’s fist on your chest as you press the trigger. Try some sequences of two, three, and four shots.

4. Repeat the Exercise with Your Support Hand


If your gun has an external safety, you may need to disengage it before transferring it to the unfamiliar hand. Remember, the support hand trigger finger’s job is to rest straight and on the frame until your sights are on target and you’re ready to shoot.

5. Evaluate Results

Most people will find they unintentionally pushed some shots to the opposite side of the target in relation to the hand they were using to shoot. If so, pay attention to stiffening your wrist and staying focused on keeping the front sight right over the bullseye all the way until the shot breaks.

If you’re jerking the trigger in anticipation or excitement, then go back to trigger control fundamentals and practice using two hands until you’ve overcome the problem.


Want to know more about how to properly shoot using your “strong hand”? Watch this video from Tactical Rifleman for awesome pistol shooting tips!

There are factors forcing us to shoot using one hand, and in most cases, you won't be able to choose which hand you can use. Thus, it is only smart to learn how to manipulate our pistols with both hands and defend yourself whenever the situation calls for it.

It may take a good deal of strength and knowledge to do it, but it is crucial in surviving any deadly situation. I hope these pistol shooting tips gave you an idea on why and how to get started.

Do you have other one-handed pistol shooting tips? Tell us in the comments section below!

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***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer here.***

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 15, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

2 Responses to :
Pistol Shooting Tips: Introduction To One-Handed Pistol Shooting

  1. Scott Sasse says:

    I didn’t really “learn” to shoot a Pistol until I was in the Army.
    And I still ‘lapse’ into the Army stance of off-hand on the hip; and shooting hand side toward the target.

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