Shooting One-Handed: Why It’s Important for Concealed Carry

Is it important to practice shooting one-handed? It is, and in many cases, this is overlooked during range training exercises. I like running drills on the range, and most of them are fun and beneficial to do. But it’s so easy to get caught up in the “perfect” stance, grip, or other tactic that we forget one simple thing: real life. A few years ago, I attended a law enforcement conference with a speaker who had been involved in a shooting.

Shooting with one hand.
Shooting with one hand is something everyone should practice on the range. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
He was off duty when it happened, and like any other person who carries a gun, he wasn’t expecting the incident that unfolded. As he walked into a gas station he glanced around the room and didn’t notice anything strange. But as he approached the counter, a man suddenly yelled at the worker and pulled out a gun. Without thinking, the off-duty cop reacted and reached for his own gun as he heard gunshots ring out.

The sound he heard was the man firing a weapon at him, which he didn’t even feel at the time. He fumbled some with his shirt, which covered the gun before he was able to draw it and return fire. The off-duty officer survived, but he took note of several things afterward. One of them was his constant training on the range with the use of both hands. Our body likes to repeat what it does the most through muscle memory, and using both hands when shooting is how he trained.

Focusing on the right type of accuracy

There are several reasons why people tend to shoot handguns with both hands, and one of them is accuracy. We like to hit the “bullseye,” and having that little one-inch grouping at 20+ yards is impressive. It’s easy to find YouTube sensations depicting the perfect stance and tactics. Working on your shooting stance and tactics is great and does improve your overall efficiency, but that’s not always how it works when the real thing goes down.

Target group using the Ruger Ready Dot.
Bullseye accuracy is great but may not always be needed for self-defense. The point is to hit the target quickly. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
While it’s fun to hit the bullseye on a paper shooting target, that’s not the most important thing in a self-defense incident. Your goal should always be to stop the threat, which requires “combat accuracy.” Combat accuracy is often defined as “any shot that significantly affects the target’s ability to present a lethal threat.” This is why many states require rounds to hit the inside of a body silhouette during CCW qualification. At close distances, the idea is to shoot fast and hit the target until there is no threat.

Shooting at a distance further away does require slower shooting and more attention to sight alignment, stance, and all the other stuff that goes along with better accuracy. When the threat is standing 10 feet in front of you, bullseye accuracy is not a priority. You may be wondering what combat and bullseye accuracy have to do with one-handed shooting. Both hands are needed for better accuracy and control of the weapon. Because of this, we tend to disregard shooting with one hand.

Why it’s important to shoot with one hand

Anytime you are using a handgun, two hands are better than one because we have better control of the weapon. But when was the last time you tried to draw your weapon and fire quickly when carrying concealed? Out of habit, my support hand always moves toward my shooting hand to form a two-handed grip after the draw. But I train mostly for on-duty purposes, and my gun is easy to reach.

Shooting the Glock 49
Shooting the Glock 49 with one hand. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
When I carry concealed, I have a shirt, hoodie, jacket, coat, or some other type of clothing covering it up. This requires me to pull my shirt out of the way so I can reach my firearm. During an imminent threat, I may not have time to form a shooting stance, bring my gun up to eye level, and add my support hand to the grip. It’s possible that I would need to pull my firearm and shoot as soon as it clears the holster.

Your support hand may be able to move up to the gun after you start shooting, but that’s the point. The shooting has already started. The police officer I spoke of in the beginning said he drew his firearm, and his body took over. He reached a full shooting stance before firing his gun back at the suspect, who was just a few feet in front of him. Firing as soon as he pulled his gun could have saved him from being shot in the process.

Training to shoot with one hand

Like anything else involving firearms, if you’re going to do it, you must first train for it. I recommend starting slow when practicing shooting one-handed. Make your gun safe and practice drawing your gun from a CCW holster. Pull the clothing out of the way and draw the firearm. When you’re ready for range training, dress the same way you do every other day you carry.

Repeat the process you have already been practicing and draw the gun. The idea isn’t that you can only use one hand. Instead, you should be able to start shooting one-handed if you need to. To train your body in how to do this, you need to train with one hand only. For safety reasons, I like to pull my hand up to my chest as I draw the gun. This ensures my hand is out of the way when I start shooting. I practice shooting from the hip, at mid stance (the gun is only halfway up to my eyes), and a full stance.

Appendix carry for CCW.
As you draw the firearm, use your support hand to move your clothing and then fire with one hand. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
This will help get your body used to hanging on to the gun with only one hand and improve your combat accuracy with one hand as well. I also want to get my body used to understanding when to move my left hand for support. For this, I run a simple drill. Pull your clothing out of the way and draw the gun. Shoot two rounds from the hip, then move the gun up several feet. As you do this, move your left hand in to join the grip and fire two more rounds. Then, extend your arms to a full shooting stance and fire again.

Simple but important

Shooting one-handed may not seem like a big deal, but during an incident, every little task is harder than it sounds. Just the process of drawing your gun while your brain is trying to evaluate what’s happening is difficult. It’s good to work on accuracy and everything else that goes with it. But don’t forget to train for those last-minute incidents when the ideal grip and stance may not be possible.

Train for the worst and hope for the best. When you carry a weapon for self-defense, you want to be ready for anything, including bullseye accuracy at further distances and combat accuracy at close distances. At times, this may include shooting with one hand.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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