Sunday, December 15, 2013

One-handed work for guns and prepping...

A lot of folks who practice regularly with their firearms still forget about working with their off-hand, or weak-side and developing one-handed firearm manipulation skills. I have had the pleasure of instructing firearms for several folks over the years who have had challenges due to physical handicaps or conditions... some permanent and some temporary... that have required them to adapt and overcome to be effective with their firearms and other activities.

My wife has had a torn tendon in her off-hand arm for a couple of years... and cortisone shots were no longer effective... and she could barely use the arm and hand. So, back before Thanksgiving, my gal had surgery to repair a torn tendon in her fore-arm.  The surgeon installed a couple of metal studs in her elbow to suture the tendon to as it healed... and then put a massive cast on her arm from the upper arm to the fingers to keep her wrist and fingers from moving too much, but enough to do some manipulation to help the healing process. Aside from having to deal with a cast for several weeks, she'll be looking at several months of rehab after Christmas when the cast comes off.

This had provided a great opportunity for us to re-focus on what works and doesn't work when we lose the use of an arm or hand.  There are plenty of techniques that can be used and readily adapted to different tasks such as loading, cycling the slide, and operating your firearm.  There are many other daily tasks that a prepping-minded person should think through too.

Here are some thoughts to challenge you:

  1. Try taping up or putting a mitten on one of your hands.  Now try operating your firearm or doing other daily tasks that way.  How did you do?  What modifications will you need to undertake to make things work for you?
  2. Check your firearms and equipment for one-handed or limited strength operation. Can you make it work? Do you need modifications like sights on your handgun that are made to help you cycle the action by catching on a belt or boot? Do you need to carry or position your firearm or equipment differently? If you're right-handed and lose use of that hand or arm... do you have a left-side holster?
  3. Have you worked on ambidexterity lately? Try going through an entire day at home and/or work using just your off-hand, weak-side hand and arm... something I try to do on occasion. How do you draw your gun?  How do you shift your vehicle into drive or between gears? How do you write?

These are just some ideas to consider. I think that while there are standard procedures that work with many firearms, everyone needs to learn and adapt techniques to their own needs.  Just don't forget to think well beyond firearms... as there are many other daily, prepping, and self-defense considerations to think through.

You will find that no matter how good your physical condition is, no matter how good you think you are... that time, age, and circumstances may render you needing to adapt. I once had an elderly gal in my NRA Basic Pistol/Ohio CCW course that had terrible arthritis problems. She could do just about everything with a semi-auto handgun except cycle the action... she just couldn't get a strong enough grip on it. I suggested that she look at some tip-up barrel guns like Beretta's offerings so she could load with out having to pull the slide back... and she's now the proud owner of a Beretta 84 with a tip-up barrel which she shoots with very proficiently.

So what have you done to prepare for... One-handed work for guns and prepping...


  1. Great advice as to the shooting, but despite the obvious pain and injury, your gal rocks the healing fashion accessories! When I blew out my knee, I just got these three wimpy camo bandages from the orthoscopic knee surgery. No cool bandages, nothing was colorful. My limb now feels like one of those women in the old 80's Glamour magazine with the black box over their eyes so people can't recognize the "Fashion Don'ts."

    I hope she feels better soon, and thanks, as always for the good tips.

    1. My gal asked for purple with black stripes and her orthopedic surgeon obliged... the cast is huge... notice the large opening at the fingers... it's fixed and designed to allow certain movement for therapy, but not other movement...

      Dann in Ohio

  2. Back in the day, I broke an arm. My first order of business was to drive myself to the hospital in the closest vehicle--a military surplus 6x6 with manual transmission. It was rough going but I made it, and the hospital valet had a fit because he couldn't park it.

    Then while I was recuperating, I started Cowboy Action shooting with two single-action black powder revolvers that I'd bought. Think reloading one with two hands is slow? And it was my dominant arm that was broken, of course. I learned a lot during that period of enforced one-handedness. But most of all, I learned that you can still get done what you need to if you just take your time and think about what you're gonna do before you start. Never give up.