Have you 'left' this out of your training? thumbnail image

Have you 'left' this out of your training?

80 Percent Arms   |   Mar 16th 2022

Sometimes in shooting, we don't really think about how we have left-handed shooters in the sport, rather, we might wonder if they shoot as well as their right-handed counterparts. Personally, I've always assume that left hand dominant individuals, or even ambidextrous, are more creative or just smarter. That stems from their ability to perform the same hand motor skills well as us, if not, even better. In this topic today, we discuss the use of ambidextrous products in firearms, the challenges some left-handed shooters may face and how they adapt into the world of shooting and the gun industry which is primarily right-hand dominated. This is our guide to shooting left-handed and some tips for leveling the playing field.

Need-to-Knows for a Left Handed-Shooter

For a left-handed shooter, we, as a right-hand majority, would think that they would have to do a bunch of weird stuff just to adapt to shooting. It's actually not that drastic of a difference though. It's basically whatever we do as right-hand shooters, left-hand shooters do the opposite, such as how we stand in our shooting stance (right leg forward, left leg back), it's the reverse for a left-handed shooter's stance. Their gear setup does change as well to accommodate their dominant hand, ranging from gun belts to shooting vests and plate carriers. 

Everyone's gear and the way they have it setup is different and certainly not equal since we all have different budgets to work with. For left-handed shooters, it's actually very achievable to tailor all gear per your needs and purposes. Given that most shooters who train now have a focus in training to be ambidextrous and shooting with their weak side, if you're a left handed person, you're actually ahead of the curve. 

Challenges Left-Handed Shooters Face

These are some common challenges that left-handed shooter may face:

  • Adapting to a right-hand weapon system and learning how to reload as quickly and efficiently.
  • Manipulating the bolt release would require some shooters to break their dominant hand that grips the weapon.
  • Hot casings and gas ejection from rifles going into their faces, especially if running with a suppressor.
  • Being able to manipulate the charging handle (easily fixed with an ambi charging handle).

Cross-Eye Dominance

cross eye dominance

(Photo Source: Ballistic Magazine.)

One thing we sometimes see in new shooters is that they may be cross-eye dominant. For example, this is when a right-handed person happens to be more visually dominant on the left eye (or vice versa) rather than having the dominant hand and eye be on the same side like most individuals. If you're not sure which you are and want to find out if you are cross-eye dominant, here is a simple test you can try:

  1. Extend your arms in front of you with your palms facing away.
  2. Bring your hands together, forming a small hole by crossing the thumbs and forefingers.
  3. Choose a small object about 15-20 feet away from you. With both eyes open, focus on the object as you look through the small hole.
  4. Close one eye and then the other. When you close one eye, the object will be stationary. When you close the other eye, the object should disappear from the hole or jump to one side.
  5. If the object does not move when you cover one eye, then that eye is dominant. The eye that sees the object and does not move is the dominant eye.

In that case, what new cross-dominant shooters should be advised would be the following:

  • Continue using their dominant hand and shift the gun’s iron sights or optic to the person’s dominant eye. This works with pistols but long guns are extremely different.
  • Use your dominant eye to aim, BUT learn how to shoot with your non-dominant hand. 
  • Try to train your strong side-eye to be dominant for aiming, only if the cross-dominance is not a big issue.
  • Teaching yourself to be ambidextrous not only with your hands but in using either eye to aim will only work to help you become that much more of an effective shooter. Something right handed shooters easily struggle with as we've never really had to adapt with our non-dominant eye or hand unlike left handed people who are likely forced to unknowingly adapt since childhood. 

It’s a tricky nuance for shooters, both new and seasoned, but at the end of the day if they can shoot well as a right-handed and right-eye dominant shooter (if not better) then there is no need further discussion. 

Can you shoot left hand in the military?

Left handed shooters in the military

(Photo Source: Military.com)

Left-hand shooters in the military do exist and they are not forced to learn how to shoot right-handed when using their service rifles. Unlike in the civilian realm where you have the option of adding parts that suit the shooter, especially per hand-dominance, the military doesn’t always give left-handed shooters available options for parts and accessories such as ambidextrous parts to use on their service rifles. 

Some example of useful ambidextrous parts would be the bolt catch, charging handles, safety switches and products like the B.A.D. Lever from Magpul. Military doctrine doesn't really care dominant hand their soldiers are. What the government cares about is if their service members can shoot effectively achieve their weapons qualifications per their roles to achieve national security objectives.

Can you shoot with your left hand overall?

Shooting with left hand

(Photo Source: Twitter @specialwarfareairman)

Even when you’re not left-hand dominant in life, it is a great skill set to know how to use your firearm if your right dominant hand goes down in a gunfight. Who's to say you're not carrying something or SOMEONE with your dominant hand? It would be extremely helpful if you were well versed in performing reloads with either hand to make you more adaptable to any situation and keep yourself in the fight (if in a violent confrontation).

Ambidextrous productsRadian Raptor Ambi Charging Handle

(Photo Source: 80 Percent Arms)

There are many aftermarket products out there that can cater to everyone’s want and need to modify their weapon, whether it is for a functional reason or to look cool. Here at 80% Arms, we carry ambidextrous parts to cater to our lefty shooters such as Radian’s Talon Safety Switch or the Raptor charging handle.

Charging handles are key to getting your rifle initially into battery, and while settling with the mil-spec charging handle may be okay, the Radian Raptor charging handle can provide more surface area for your hands to rack the charging handle, no matter what hand dominance you are.

Radian Talon on 80 Percent Arms AR9

(Photo Source: 80 Percent Arms)

One popular modification seen in rifles would be ambidextrous safety switches, which are an extra safety switch set for the other side of the rifle’s lower receiver. Normal safety selector switches are fitted on the left side of the receiver, where your thumb can easily flip the switch without breaking grip as a right-hand shooter.

For a leftie, it requires the shooter to either do a slight hand sweep over the safety or to keep their thumb on the side on the same side of the safety switch to manipulate. To try to remedy that problem, we also carry Radian Talon ambidextrous safety switches as well, to provide all of our shooters the best way to make sure your rifle is on safe or when you’re ready to rock and roll on the range.

Build Your Ambi AR15 With 80 Percent Arms!

80% Arms AR15 Ambi Lower Receiver

(Photo Source: 80 Percent Arms)

With the rise of ambidextrous aftermarket parts in the modifications market, we come to see ambidextrous lower receivers as well, especially for the AR15 platform. We have developed a new ambidextrous lower receiver, ready for you to mill and be part of your rifle build. At the end of the day, whether you're a lefty or righty, shooting is a sport to be appreciated by all. This can be maximized with the right tools and modifications for each user. Come check out our online store today for your ambidextrous parts and lower receiver today!