How much do words matter?

One of my favorite blogs ( posted an article titled “Off Hand Shooting: Priority or Passing Trend?” and I got excited because I expected to read about unsupported shooting with a rifle and maybe I would learn something about using a sling, a body indexing technique or something… I was wrong.

The post was about using your non-dominate hand to shoot around non-dominate hand cover.

I have written about this idea in the past, I don’t know of any reputable instructors that teach this technique, if you want to read about it click here…

This is the 1st time I have heard the term “Off-hand” used this way, but now I understand why.

off-hand also offhand, 1690s, “at once, straightway,” from off + hand. Probably originally in ref. to shooting without a rest or support.Hence, of speech or action, “unpremeditated” (1719).

Let’s look at other potential terms…

weak 1. not strong; liable to yield, break, or collapse under pressure or strain; fragile; frail: a weak fortress; a weak spot in armor.

support 12. something that serves as a foundation, prop, brace, or stay.

When I am speaking with a shooter and know their hand dominance, I use right and left as appropriate to describe the desired technique, when speaking in general I tend to default to “weak-hand” but in either case I am always describing “weak hand ONLY” shooting.

This author argued against using weak hand because of how it might be construed by a non-shooter (but was talking about what I would call “mirror image” shooting). The Magpul Dynamics guys argue that the warrior is not weak and therefore it should be called “support” (but support is an adjective and I use it to describe the hand not operating the trigger).

I am a firm believer that mindset is important, but I am also fairly pragmatic and believe that the communication of the idea is more important than anything else.

What do you think?

Off-hand, Weak-hand, Support-hand or Mirror Image? Do you need to explain that is one-handed or do you assume that both hands are use?

Is it important because of public perception, the mindset of the shooter or does it matter as long as the idea is communicated?

Post a comment below, Tweet me @BalloonGoesUp or message me on Facebook and let me know what you think!

Final Note… Richard, the Site Admin (the guy in the pictures), used to have a podcast and post frequently on both resources are worth checking out.


  1. says

    How precise we are in our language is very important for a number of reasons. I too was a little mislead by the use of “offhand”, quite frankly “offhand” doesn’t communicate the point effectively.

    As to weak-hand vs support-hand, I find myself favoring the use of the weak-hand phraseology. Support hand’s meaning very quickly changes in some instances (say shooting a carbine from the weak-side). Weak-hand on the other hand effectively communicates despite the potentially negative connotation.

    Rather than become obsessed with the mental game and letting the use of the ‘weak-hand’ term distract us from good performance, use it as an excuse to work harder in training. If a better term exists I’ll use it, but until I find one it remains weak-hand for me.

  2. Kevin Highland says

    As an USPSA Shooter, I’m used to the term Weak Hand Unsupported for those strings of fire when talking to an nonUSPSA shooter I tend to refer to this as non-dominate hand shooting. If necessary I can specify “only” meaning there is no use of a support hand.

    I try to do some non-dominate hand shooting on every trip to the range regardless of whether it was a pistol, rifle, or shotgun trip to the range. I find it is a good focus on the basics of shooting.

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