Over the past month or so, I’ve reprinted a few articles that were provided by Mark LeClair of Smart Tactics, a security consultation and instruction company. This is another such article, and it addresses the problem of having one’s dominant hand disabled during a self defense situation:
“What to do if your strong hand becomes disabled while in a lethal situation”
Recently I saw information regarding this subject and decided that I needed to approach this topic from a realistic approach and perspective. Ask yourself this: if you are in a threatening situation such as being shot at or confronted with a weapon and your strong hand is disabled, are you going to stand there, still? Would you want to be moving away from the immediate threat? Would you be calm enough to be able to control your firearm? Calm enough to conduct an adequate magazine change?
So, I am guessing that most would not be standing still. I am also guessing that most would have some level of anxiety and I am also guessing that some think they would freeze in place or hesitate for a short moment before acting upon the situation at hand. This is why we dirt dive (dirt dive: practice before having to apply it in real situations).
If you have a firearm, I would recommend practicing with it anyway. I would also recommend practicing with both hands: strong and weak. This may allow you to fine tune your accuracy with both hands but, at the very least, give you an idea where your competency stands with the weak hand. Adding stress while firing should only be accomplished when that person’s accuracy and proficiency increases. Safety is always number one!
If you had your strong side become disabled for whatever reason and you were going to have to draw your firearm, the approach would depend on where your firearm is located: hip, behind the back, pocket, etc. Let’s break it down:
Behind the back:
If the holster is behind the back and the strong side is disabled, the weak hand could reach back (while lifting up the shirt slightly if needed) and withdraw the firearm from the top/rear of the slide, tilting it slightly and lifting upward a little bit to unseat it from the holster. Then the firearm would be fully withdrawn from the holster.
Depending on the holster: there are some holsters that are right handed and left handed and I had someone tell me that I needed a right handed holster because I was right handed. I then told him that I would not be able to draw naturally from the holster with a right handed holster and a right handed draw. He then told me that I would end up sweeping someone if I withdrew it from the holster. He was very wrong.
This goes to show you that just because someone works at a gun shop or outdoor type shop, does not necessarily mean they know what they are talking about, especially when it comes to tactics. I bought both the left and right and use them both in my pistol safety classes to show why the left handed holster works more naturally for right hander’s than the right handed holster does.
With a left handed holster for a right handed person, the pistol could be drawn from either hand efficiently and with minimal effort.
With a side holster and a disabled strong side, the strong side hand/arm can still be used to assist in the drawing of the firearm. The disabled side could be used by placing it behind the holster and forcing the arm forward to cant the holster and firearm more towards the front hip of their body.
Once the holster is forced forward a little, the person would have easier access to the firearm to withdraw it fully. This draw can be accomplished while the firearm is upside down. IF needed, the firearm could also be fired, effectively, upside down as long as the weak side’s grip is forceful.
If there was a threatening situation, both of the above draws would be able to be accomplished because even if the person was really shaky they could maintain control of the firearm and the actions needed to save their life. Plus, this action could be accomplished if that person had to move quickly out of the area for cover and concealment while withdrawing their firearm. If you stand still, you become an easier target.
What about a magazine change?
If you are set up with a holster and have spare magazines, such as federal agents and other law enforcement individuals may have, the magazine pouch would be located on the weak side of the person (usually-it would not make much sense to have the magazine pouch on the same side as the strong side firing hand).
How would you be able to change magazines in a threatening situation? Would you stand still? No. You would be moving towards another area. So how would you accomplish your magazine change? How would you be able to move and conduct the change? Simply by putting the firearm underneath your arm, close to the armpit. This would expose the magazine while keeping the muzzle in a safe direction.
Once the firearm has been place into the armpit (and you would still be able to move while doing this) you could reach for a replacement magazine, withdraw it, feed it into the firearm and regain your grip. How about chambering a round? A quick kneeling position will expose the heel of the strong side foot. By putting the front post onto the sole of the shoe and forcing the rest of the firearm downwards, this would be enough force to fully depress the slide, thus chambering a round. This would also work using the rear sights as well.
If the slide does lock to the rear, the above action will take less effort.
The main point is: if you practice changing the magazine, using the weak hand and conducting draws while standing still, you will not be prepared in a real life situation such as someone actually shooting at you or coming at you with a knife. Realistically you would be running away or towards a safe-haven which would be cover and concealment. Add the anxiety while the events are happening and you may lose the grip on the firearm, stumble while paying attention to where your magazine pouch is or where the firearm is, etc.
Practice while standing still and once it becomes smooth then practice while side stepping, walking forward, walking backward and kneeling. As you get better and better you could increase the anxiety by giving yourself a time limit to conduct an adequate magazine change. This will give you a little anxiety and show you where your skills are. Always practice with an empty firearm and empty magazines and safety is always number one!