Feeling a little sinister

Not in the sense that I’m plotting evil mind you, but rather in the sense of left-handedness, which is originally what the word “sinister” meant.  Unfortunately for us southpaws, the relatively stupid tribal cultures from way back when decided that being a lefty (all 7% of the world’s population that are left handed) was a sign of being in league with satan (thanks, both Muslim and Roman Catholic churches!) so back in the day preferring the port side was one of those things that parents would try to make sure their children didn’t do.

An interesting factoid about left-handed people: most left handed people display some level of ambidexterity, and in general are much more naturally ambidextrous than right handed people. Whether or not that’s a function of living in a world which is largely right handed is open to debate, but it would make sense that left-handed people growing up would acquire a higher level of ambidexterity simply because everything is right handed.

Nowhere is this more true than in the shooting sports, where most guns are set up for right handed people. In fact, a good friend of mine is a lefty, although you wouldn’t know it from watching her shoot, as she runs right handed guns and gear. I actually do the same thing, I run right handed rifles, pistols, and wear my pistol on the right side of my body for a “strong side” draw. Part of that has to do with the fact that I’m cross-eye dominant, which means my right eye is the stronger of my two eyes. However, the primary reason that I shoot right handed is when I started shooting seriously at the Academy, it was easier to use all the piles of right handed gear and guns they had laying about. I mean honestly, have you ever tried to find a left-handed free pistol? Good luck.

What happens as a result of this is that a left handed shooter is faced with a choice when they decide to do more than just casually plink at stuff. They can either A) spend a disproportionate amount of time and money trying to find gear built for them, or B) just learn to run everything like you’re right handed. Myself, and a few other shooters I know simply opted for the latter, because it was less of a hassle to learn that way. On the bright side, when a course of fire calls for “weak hand only” I’m generally at less of a disadvantage than a right handed person, because I use my left hand a lot more than the average righty does.

So take heart, left handed shooters. You’re probably going to be better at weak hand shooting than a right handed person!


  1. Read an article by a professional shooting instructor (combat style) that STRONGLY recommended developing skills with both hands. I’m right handed, but left eyed (can’t line up the sights on a rifle with my right eye), so I shoot a handgun both – make that all four ways: left hand only, right hand only, left firing right supporting, and right firing left supporting. His reasoning was, “What if you take a hit in your right arm and can only shoot with your left?” I prefer “What if proper cover is available only if you can fire left (right) handed.”
    The only real left-handed weapon I own is a 20 Ga. semi-auto, so I have learned to ignore the ejected casings from my semi-auto rifles. The bolt actions are a bitch though. Aim, fire, change hands, work the bolt, change hands, aim, fire, change hands, etc. Slow. And clumsy. One good thing about it, though, you do learn to make that first shot count.
    Here’s an interesting “game” for you to try. Set up three targets. Have someone stand behind you and call position, order, and hand for a set of shots. Examples: “Standing, left, center, left, right, right, left hand only” or “Kneeling, right, left twice, change hands, center twice.” Shooter follows the instructions. To make it a competition, swap with your shot caller. You can also insert reloads into the series if you wish. (From that same article.)

  2. My problem is that I’m legally blind in my right eye. I’m left handed so that normally doesn’t bother me but it pretty much precludes just shooting right handed. Even when I have to shoot “weak side”, I have to use my left eye…no choice, I can’t see anything other than vague shapes and splotches of color out of the other one.

    And it gets VERY frustrating trying to find left handed gear that will work for me.

  3. Handedness in shooting is not as important as finding one’s dominant eye. If you grip left-handed and your dominant eye is right, you’ll have more trouble than if it was left-left side, and vice versa. Mnay shooters who discovered the correct dominant eye adjusted their shooting grips and improved their overall ability.

    How to find dominant eye: Hold your arms at length in front of you with your hands forming a circle of about two inches in diameter. With both eyes open, focus on a small spot or item in the distance. Then close one eye at a time. With the open eye if you can see the spot, that is your dominant eye.

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