Skills Check: Training to Shoot a Handgun with Both Hands

Reinforce the basics by changing your training regime.

posted on October 25, 2021
a the range

Simply alternating your handgun from one hand to the other between rounds helps to develop your skills with both hands while conserving ammunition.

Readers of this column frequently remind me they can’t practice some of the drills laid out here because the ranges where they shoot prohibit drawing from the holster. Noting this, I usually mention the skills can be started from a low-ready, muzzle-depressed position as well. Also, some folks, especially beginning shooters, may be uncomfortable drawing a loaded pistol from the holster.

Another issue that pops up from time to time is folks who use five-shot revolvers for everyday carry (EDC) can’t easily run some of the drills involving six shots or longer strings of fire.

Then we have the ammunition situation. While it seems to be more available than in past months and prices are coming down, high-round-count drills are best put aside for the time being and our emphasis should be on making every shot count.

You can run this drill on an indoor or outdoor range; it doesn’t involve drawing from a holster and you will need only 10 rounds of ammunition. You’ll need a table or bench to set the gun on and there’s no need for a timer, as this drill is not timed. Being a variation of the 5x5x5 drill I’ve previously described, you can easily download a printable 5-inch circle target from a number of online sources or simply draw a 5-inch circle on an existing, clean target (or paper plate).

Here’s the drill:
Set your target at 5 yards. All shots are fired one-handed.

Stage 1: Place the loaded pistol on the bench or table with the muzzle pointed downrange. Start by picking it up with the right hand, fire one shot at the target, shift the pistol to the left hand and fire another shot, change hands again and continue back and forth between your hands until you have fired five rounds. The sequence is right, left, right,
left, right.

Stage 2: This is the same drill, starting with the left hand. The sequence is left, right, left, right, left.

There is no time limit, so the idea is to practice your one-handed shooting with each hand, emphasizing smooth transitions, use of the sights and trigger control. If all your shots are in the circle, you’ve done well. If not, more practice is in order.

This is an excellent dry-fire drill for five-shot revolvers, too, with the usual precautions of ensuring the revolver is unloaded, no live ammunition is present and you’re pointing at something that will safely stop a bullet.

Give this a try, and as always, your feedback is welcome.


Rifle with suppressor and scope facing right
Rifle with suppressor and scope facing right

First Look: New Magpul Hunter American Stock and Enhanced Ejection Port Cover

Magpul has been releasing a number of new products for 2022; we take a look at the new Hunter American stock and the enhanced ejection port cover now available.

First Look: Springfield Armory Hellion Bullpup Rifle

Springfield Armory recently announced the new Hellion series of rifles, a platform that offers superior ballistic performance in a short, modular and fully ambidextrous 5.56 NATO bullpup design. 

I Carry: American Tactical FXS-9 Pistol in a Kinetic Concealment Holster

In today's episode of "I Carry," we have the brand-new American Tactical FXS-9 pistol in a Kinetic Concealment holster along with a Nightstick handheld flashlight.

First Look: SIG Sauer MCX-Spear Rifle

SIG Sauer recently introduced the MCX-Spear Rifle, which is an expansion of the MCX series of rifles and is chambered in .277 Fury.

How Does a Thumb Safety on a Handgun Work?

Thumb safeties, such as those found on 1911s, are but one type of manual safety commonly found on many handguns selected for concealed carry and/or personal protection.

How to Use Automotive Products for Firearm Maintenance

I just turned 21 and I am in the process of buying my first handgun. Although I am just getting started with pistols and revolvers, I am pretty mechanically inclined, which I learned by working on automobiles and automotive machinery.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.