Shooting Mirror: Why it Matters

If you’ve spent time on social media or hanging around serious shooters, you’ve probably heard the term “shooting mirror.” And if, after hearing it, you’ve either outright dismissed it as applying to you or been curious about what it means, we’re here to help. Yes, shooting mirror is a skill worth honing, and yes, it applies to you. We’re going to explore what it is, why it matters, and how to do it. Interested in adding to your existing skillset? Read on.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens holding two guns
Two guns. Two hands. Shouldn’t you be capable of shooting on either side? (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

What is shooting mirror?

When you look in a mirror, your image is reversed. In much the same way, shooting mirror means you’ve reversed your normal grip. If you’re a right-handed shooter, you shoot left-handed to shoot mirror. If you’re a left-handed shooter, you shoot right-handed. Your strong hand becomes your support hand, and vice versa. This might sound simpler than it is because shooting mirror means you’ll feel as though you’re doing everything backward, and that can be extremely awkward.

Also, it’s important to note that shooting mirror is not only for handguns. Long guns can also be shot mirror, which brings cheek welds and shouldering into it. If you take a moment to stop and think about the complete breakdown of steps you take while shooting, from stance to grip to aiming, you might realize it isn’t just one aspect of your shooting being reversed, it’s countless parts. So, is it worth learning? Yes, and here’s why.

left handed shooter shooting right handed
This shooter is actually left-handed but shoots mirror as well, meaning he can shoot with his right hand as his strong hand. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

Why should you learn to shoot mirror?

The top reason to learn to shoot mirror may or may not be the most obvious: So you are capable of defending your life regardless of which hand you must use to run your gun.

There have been countless cases of self-defense where the person defending their life had no choice but to shoot their gun with what would be considered their weak hand. That is why, first and foremost, you should be capable of shooting with either hand. It’s because it could save your life one day.

Of course, there are other good reasons to learn to shoot mirror. For hunters, it can be extremely valuable to be capable of switching sides to get a better shot at an animal. This is especially true when hunting in blinds, where range of motion and space can be limited. If you can shoot your rifle with either hand as your strong hand, your opportunities to take a good shot can increase exponentially. Oh, and it also comes in handy when you’re glassing a field for targets using the scope on your rifle.

For handguns, it’s useful to be able to shoot with either hand while on the range, too. If you’re shooting around barriers you might find a more stable platform by switching hands. This is true in a number of situations that involve training or competing rather than defensive scenarios.

It’s worth mentioning that you might also discover your so-called strong side hand isn’t your best side after all. Many people who are cross-dominant, meaning they’re right-handed with a dominant left eye or vice versa, find they have an easier time shooting mirror. Then there are those who appear to be right-handed, but were actually simply forced to write with their right hand when they were kids, and it turns out shooting left-handed comes naturally. There are all sorts of reasons to work on your mirror skills.

left-handed shooter
Here we see the same shooter from the previous image, only now he’s shooting left-handed (and he is left-handed). (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

How To Shoot Mirror

The topic of how to shoot mirror really starts with when. Your foundation skills should be strong before even considering tackling mirror shooting. That’s not to say you must be perfect, only to suggest your strong-side skills are on point in every aspect prior to trying to learn to switch hands. This means you should be able to work from the holster and perform numerous drills not just well, but exceptionally well. When your strong-side skills become impressive, it’s a good time to consider working on shooting mirror.

To shoot mirror, you should start slow. It’s unrealistic to expect to simply switch strong and support hands and go on as before. Start small, and do it slowly. Sure, you were drawing from the holster and getting on target fast before, but now you’ve completely changed sides. It’s time for slow, methodical practice. Dry fire can be a good way to get started on these skills because you’re working with an unloaded gun in a safe location and simply focusing on the movements required rather than on live fire.

Kimber revolver
Whatever gun you choose to work on shooting mirror with, make sure it’s one you’re already skilled with when using your strong side hand. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

Regarding where to start, the aforementioned dry fire time can be useful in getting going with this specific skill. Just as when you were a brand new shooter, you should start at the beginning shooting mirror. That means learning to grip the gun and pull the trigger before you worry about holster work or drills. If it comes easily to you, that’s fantastic, but odds are there’s going to be a learning curve involved in switching hands. Once you’ve become accustomed to gripping and aiming the gun from a low ready, move on to trigger work, and so on.

Learning to shoot mirror means going back to the basics and taking the process step by step. When it comes to holster work, you’ll have to re-learn everything, from getting a full firing grip as you draw to automatically gripping your gun as you get on target. Things that come naturally on your strong side become a challenge on your offside.

As for long guns, something that can come up is the need to re-learn aligning your eyes with optics when you’ve switched sides. What worked well on one side might not work as well on the other. Shouldering, also, must be practiced. Don’t expect to become proficient shooting mirror in a matter of a few sessions. It’s going to take time, but that investment is well worth the end results.

Will you really ever need to shoot mirror?

Because shooting mirror has practical applications as well as defensive purposes, you’re likely to benefit from honing those skills. Also, if you take the time to sharpen your skillset shooting with either hand as the strong hand, your overall skills will improve. Whether you’re focused on self-defense, competition, or hunting, being a well-rounded shooter is important.

Not ready to learn shooting mirror quite yet? You’ll get there eventually, and it might give you the motivation you need to improve your current shooting abilities. A whole wide world of shooting skills is out there just waiting to be mastered. The only way to get there is with trigger time.

Do you shoot mirror? How did you learn? Share your experiences in the comments section.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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