One-Handed Shooting

By John Farnam

Mike Hughes AK-103 one handed, unsupported shot
Mike Hughes AK-103 one handed, unsupported shot
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-( We just completed a Live-Fire Scenario Course in WV. We use the Echo Valley Range Complex.

It is a wonderful facility, and its owners are serious about hot ranges and genuine training, and, like me, have scant interest is sterile, quaint “competition” among “enthusiasts” who don’t even go armed as part of their normal routine, and probably never will.

Their Web Page is

Highly recommended!

My students do go armed and are not there to impress themselves, nor others. They are deadly serious about honest, relevant training.

We were shooting from moving vehicles, exiting and shooting, retrieving rifles from trunks and back seats, etc. We also had smoke, sound-effects, hostages-in-need-of-rescue, building mock-ups, and shots fired from behind cover.

We have a 360 degree range there, and threats and non-threats are always mixed-in with each other, and that is the dilemma with which students are consistently presented. Our targets and non-targets are foam mannequins, dressed, some wearing jewelry, all with faces.

Guns” and other “weapons” are toys or foam cut-outs.

I always notice this, but sometimes fail to mention it: It is amazing the number of bullets fired by students that actually hit the “weapon” itself being held by the threatening VCA! And, it doesn’t matter which hand is involved, nor where the “weapon” is situated with regard to the VCA’s body. Weapons seem to attract bullets!

In fact, we have to coach students to concentrate on hitting center of exposed mass, rather than inadvertently aiming at the VCA’s weapon.

The upshot of all this is, of course, that we have to include one-handed shooting, with both rifles and pistols, in our training curriculum. We don’t do it nearly enough. At least my experience, as noted above, is that being injured in the hand/arm holding your gun is very likely!

So, we always try to include transition from two-hands on the rifle or pistol, to only one, and we do it in the middle of the drill. It is inherently awkward and clumsy!

In our training, we spend entirely too much time doing what we’re already good at! We need to spend at least some time on other skills that are demonstrably important, but that we don’t always look good doing. One-handed shooting fits into that category!

Steven Segal is the only one I know of who always looks good while fighting! The rest of us, in real fights, don’t look nearly so smooth, nor glamorous!

Real training is neither “fun,” nor entertaining, nor enjoyable. It is hard, hot (or cold!), dangerous, uncomfortable work, usually requiring a great deal of effort for even a small amount of forward progress.

Yes, anything less is little more than self-deceptive masturbation!

“Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.” ~ Epictetus


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit:

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6 years ago

OK, I have no problem with occasionally tying the one-handed rifle shot, but really, John, “anything less is little more than self-deceptive masturbation!” Come on! Sure sounds like hyperbole to me. How often is this likely to be necessary? Even in the military, if you lose use of one hand/arm, you are typically trained to transition immediately to a one-handed weapon, ie, a pistol, rather than trying to carry on using your rifle one-handed. OK, it may be necessary in extraordinarily rare situations, but hardly often enough to justify extensive training at it. Next you’ll be saying that we need… Read more »