Running Injury Drills

I don’t believe in swapping the weapon from one hand to another, for example when clearing corners or working cover, however, I do think knowing how to operate your firearm with only one hand in case of an injury is an essential skill. Once you know how to safely operate/manipulate the weapon with either hand it’s time to practice, performing the repetitions necessary to actually learn these skills.

There are a variety of ways to practice one-hand operations of the weapon. For example, you can fire a couple of rounds with both hands, then decide to drop one hand or the other off the weapon to continue the drill. But what we’re looking for is something more realistic, practice that better reflects the realities of fighting. You take an injury, which is unexpected, forcing you to use only one hand.

One technique I use for practice is the “Shooter/Coach” method. The shooter responds to the threat.  At some injurypoint, the coach uses their fist to tap one of the shooter’s shoulders a couple of times. Notice I said, “tap,” not punch. Tap the shoulder, as opposed to other parts of the arm, so the firearm isn’t pushed off target, which depending on your range could be an issue. The taps represent hits and an injury, which come at unexpected times. That arm is no longer working. The shooter continues the drill with the uninjured hand.

Just because you’ve taken a hit doesn’t necessarily mean that hand or arm is useless. For example, the left hand is injured; it isn’t the same as before but can still be used to a certain degree. To practice this type of situation we have shooters don a thick, heavy glove on one hand. This simulates a loss of dexterity and feeling. After running a few drills we tape some of the fingers together. We run a few drills with this “injury” then change the tape, maybe tying the thumb down with the first and second finger. There are a lot of variations. The shooter learns the hand may be injured, but can still be used to help stabilize or manipulate the weapon.

As the injury occurs you may lose control of the firearm and drop it. Use a “blue” or dummy gun to practice retrieving your weapon off the ground. Drop the dummy weapon. Using your “good” hand position the weapon properly, rotating or flipping it around so you can obtain a proper grip before picking it up. A little extra time here pays off in safety and efficiency.

Being injured doesn’t mean you’re out of the fight. For a perfect example of this check out Ed Mireles’ actions during the Miami FBI gunfight. These skills, and the accompanying mental attitude, apply to your pistol, carbine or rifle, and shotgun. With some imagination, you can make this practice fun, while at the same time preparing for what may come. ~ Tiger

Tiger McKee
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama.  He is the author of “The Book of Two Guns” - writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk’s DVD, “Fighting With The 1911 -  McKee’s new book, AR-15 Skills and Drills, is available off Shootrite’s website: