ReadyNutrition Readers, you are all well-aware of charity…where your left hand should not know what your right does. In survival, it is the opposite: you need to train yourself bilaterally…that is, to be ambidextrous to a certain degree. In the manner that you lift weights and exercise, should you train in survival skills. When you do bicep curls, do you perform them with only your dominant hand? No, of course not. You train with both hands and both arms and develop yourself symmetrically and equally.
How about things that require you to perform to survive? Firing a rifle or pistol, for one. If you’re right-handed and (God forbid) you are wounded in the hand, or suffer from a broken finger, then what? Then you must follow after Gunny Highway’s advice (Clint Eastwood’s Marine Gunnery Sergeant in the movie “Heartbreak Ridge”).
Training for Ambidextrous Shooting Abilities
We’re going to talk through it for a right-handed firer (since most people are right-handed). Lefties, just do the same thing as I’m instructing here with the opposite hand. Pistol first. You are going to fire your pistol with the left hand, as your right hand is badly broken. With a revolver, this is simpler, but with a semiautomatic handgun? Well, your spent brass ejects from the right. Therefore, your point of aim has to be the same…from your right eye…but you’re firing with your left hand.
This is going to take some practice for you. You’re going to be firing the semiautomatic pistol with your left hand, but “crossing over” to use your right eye…and fire from your right-hand side. Your sight picture is the same as it would be if you were firing with your right hand…but it will feel a bit different, as it is with your left, now, and your arm still needs to be outstretched and straight.
Aiming at Your Target
Your target needs to be in alignment with the muzzle of your weapon, and your arm needs to be straight out, and aligned with your firing eye (in this case, the right eye). This is going to take some practice on your part, and practice makes perfect. It has to be such that you can shift at a second’s notice and fire just as true with your left hand as your right.
Now to develop your other eye: use the revolver. Yes, you can practice a good sight picture and proper aim with your left eye with a revolver, as you don’t have to worry about a hot piece of brass in your face. You must train to be ambidextrous. With many years of practice, you should be able to take on a target with both eyes, and both hands.
The rifle is a bit different. Remember a long time ago how I said that all rifles should have a bipod? Well, you’ve just been injured with a broken right wrist, and you’re a right-handed firer. Now what? Well, with the bipod…you have support. Then it’s just a matter of positioning yourself behind the weapon. You can seat the weapon on your right shoulder and fire with the left hand. This, too, takes practice. Same thing as before. Semiautomatic rifles will kick brass in your face if you fire with the left shoulder. You can pick up a brass deflector for an AR-15 that will help in this department.
Bolt-actions and lever-actions are good-to-go in this regard. Practice firing with the left hand with these, so as not to distract your progress with brass flying in your face. Same thing here. Your point of aim must be developed on the left-hand side. This will take time, practice, and patience, with emphasis on that third factor. You aren’t going to master it overnight. You can start out with an air rifle. The air rifle fundamentals of marksmanship…Aiming, Breathing, and Trigger-Squeeze…are the same as with a firearm. It is less costly, however, and easier to manage in a home-indoor range. You can develop the skills with air rifle or air pistol to become an “ambidextrous” firer.
Practice this concept for all things…the use of hand tools, the use of cooking utensils and implements, and other weapons, such as the bow and arrow and the knife. It is a form of preparation that will improve you overall. Don’t be limited by an injury. Don’t allow an injury to keep you from defending yourself or performing a task necessary to stay alive or save life and limb. It is all part of your training, and let the training never stop! Stay in that fight! JJ out!
Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.
Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.
Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.
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