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Support-Side – Do It Now!

Take it from an old partisan, learn to shoot left-handed!
– Russian survivor of the siege of Leningrad

I don’t know about all of you, but my support-side shooting sucks. I practice it, just not nearly enough. However, we run support-side drills regularly in our courses, and I encourage my students to spend a portion of every range session on improving those skills.


The common answer: Because there is no guarantee your strong-side hand will be working at the beginning, or through the duration, of your next fight.

Now, as true as that may be, I’d suggest there is a better (and more probable) reason not often considered – That is: What if I’m forced to daily carry, manipulate, and draw my gun with my support-side hand?

Fortress student stops by our recent open house to show the Staff Instructors his gratitude for prepping him for emergency support-side carry. He made the transition instantly after surgery, and goes about his day as armed and dangerous as he was before!

Fortress student stops by our recent open house to show the Staff Instructors his gratitude for prepping him for emergency support-side carry. He made the transition instantly after surgery, and goes about his day as armed and dangerous as he was before!

This past week I’ve had four people brought to my attention that suddenly lost use of their strong-side arms due to injury – people who carry daily, but are now having to rethink their entire routine. Two of them were our students, and made the transition with little fanfare – the other two…well, to paraphrase Lloyd Bridges, they picked the wrong week to stop shooting strong-side.

Today, your carry method may be going just as planned – tomorrow, you may be wishing you’d spent that extra training time shooting support-side…and ORDERED A SUPPORT-SIDE HOLSTER. Yes, you need to have the gear in hand, as well. Not only is draw stroke rehearsal imperative, waiting weeks after an injury for a holster to arrive is shortsighted.

We carry to defend our lives from violent felons. And the reason we do it is to make it home to the ones depending on us to be here. Criminals don’t take days off, and they don’t care if we just had shoulder surgery and need the next 6-months to recover. If we consider the daily carry of guns as a necessity, then adding the redundancy of support-side carry to our skill set should be a priority.

None of us will probably ever be 100% ambidextrous shooters, but with some effort we can build our skills to a level that fulfills our responsibilities as armed citizens in public and our responsibilities to our loved ones.

Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.
– Robert H. Schuller

9 Responses to Support-Side – Do It Now!

  1. Jager March 18, 2015 at 10:13 am #

    I have shot a pistol some with my left hand but never thought about having to. I learned to shoot right handed but am left eye dominant. Perhaps with practice I might become a better shot left handed. I will practise this weekend. Thanks

  2. Chuck S March 19, 2015 at 1:44 am #

    Great article. I actually had to learn how to run support side 2 years ago out of necessity (an injury) and successfully completed several training courses that year. It was a challenging and very rewarding experience.

    • Frank Sharpe March 21, 2015 at 10:45 am #

      Sounds familiar…

      There’s another Chuck S who had the exact same thing happen, and I watched him clear the FBI Instructor course of fire at 100% (to my 98%) with his support-side hand.

      You’re a bastard, by-the-way. 😉

  3. William Fagan March 19, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    Mr. Sharpe….thanks for the information and suggestion. I have never and I mean never fired using my left hand. I will start tonight and practice. Thanks again.

    • Frank Sharpe March 19, 2015 at 10:25 am #



      Remember, our strong-side trigger fingers are dumb. We have to train them to stay off the trigger and stay in register.

      …and if you think your strong-side trigger finger was dumb when you first learned to shoot, just wait until you meet it’s short-bus riding brother known as support-side trigger finger.

      My point is: Go slow and be deliberate. Practice your grip with a prop/dummy gun, then move on to your live gun (unloaded), pointed in a safe direction. Dry fire a bunch before going live. It’s very common to see ND’s the first time someone attempts support-side shooting since their grip is often not as solid and the trigger finger is weaker, causing a “bump fire” after the first shot.

      It won’t take long for you to adjust, just be careful.

      • William Fagan March 19, 2015 at 10:31 am #

        Mr. Sharpe
        This is embarrassing but I’ve never given a seconds thought to your points above. Thank you …I have a prop…..and will go from there. I need to take a refresher course at our range.

        • Frank Sharpe March 19, 2015 at 10:43 am #


          Nothing to be embarrassed about – not in the least!

          We are all students, and true learning only happens through failure. We all have to step up, admit there are things we don’t know, and walk directly into failure.

          And when we fail, we fail MAGNIFICANTLY!

          We smile, we laugh, we shrug it off – we take notes, learn, get back on the horse, and go again. And we keep doing it! That’s how we grow and progress.

          “If you’re willing to fail interestingly, you tend to succeed interestingly.” – Edward Albee

  4. william grumbley March 20, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    I work in a retail business that is very dangerous , precious metals dealer and I carry twin Ruger LCRs every day . Just in case someone grabs my strong side arm or vise versa . My wife also carrys two Mdl 26 Glocks . We shoot at least once a week . Old saying one is none two is one . Semper Fi and Peace Out

    • Frank Sharpe March 21, 2015 at 10:39 am #