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Switching Sides

Switching Sides

While it's seldom an ideal choice to clear rooms in your home alone when there are armed intruders inside who mean to do you harm, there are times when you have no other option. If you're forced to clear your house, you may run into a quandry: As you approach a turn in the hallway, you think about switching from your strong side to the opposite shoulder (and therefore eye and firing hand) in order to minimize your exposure as you clear around the corner. Is this the correct thing to do?

First, let's look at the weapon system—the gun and the shooter. Is it completely ambidextrous? If so, this means the speed and accuracy of any task will be about the same regardless of which side is being used, whether it's manipulating the safety, turning the weaponlight on or off, firing multiple shots on multiple or moving targets, reloading or performing an immediate-action malfunction clearance.

Now, let's look at the environment. Is the corner you are clearing providing cover or concealment? If your house is like mine, corners offer only concealment at best, except for maybe the fireplace or near the refrigerator (maybe). Therefore, I need to be able to shoot very fast and very accurately once I have identified a threat in my house, because I have almost nothing to get behind that will stop a bullet. Furthermore, any round I fire from my carbine could pass into another room if it exits the bad guy, which means I need to deliver a hit to the skull or sternum and also make sure none of my family members are behind the threat.

I believe sheetrock and wood are better than nothing, but most modern handgun rounds will pass through a lot of residential construction materials. If I switch to my weak side, that may just make it harder for me to accurately engage the bad guy. If he engages me, his bullets will only be slowed a little by a couple layers of sheetrock and maybe a 2x4. Unless you can perform equally well shooting from either side, I suggest staying with your strong side unless you have solid ballistic cover.

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