By Sammy Reese, American Handgunner
One split second of inattention and I ended up in the emergency room. Luckily I was able to bypass the packed waiting room and enter through the Fire/PD entrance. The charge nurse saw me with one of the local cops and gave him a strange look since I wasn’t in cuffs. When he said, “He’s one of us and he cut himself” her expression changed from “Okay, not a crook,” to “I’m sure this baby just has a scratch.” When I pulled back the bandage she jumped up from her seat and called for the trauma doc to meet us in Room One. Luck was on my side again when the doc said I missed the tendons by millimeters, and I would need a bunch of stitches —12. He also said my hand would be pretty much useless for a few weeks — maybe longer — depending on how it heals up.
At this point most of you are saying “So what, Sammy cut himself and what does it have to do with Carry Options?” My brain fart injured my dominant hand and there was no way I was going to be shooting with it or doing much of anything else with it for a while. For a guy who carries a gun every single day this was going to be problem — or was it? I’m one of the fortunate ones — I’m partially ambidextrous. With practice, I can do just about everything with either hand or foot. I’ve been practicing shooting both handguns and rifles from both sides for years. I’m not as good going southpaw, but it’s very doable for me. My problem was I’m comfortable carrying my back up for a left-hand-draw — I had never carried my primary gun left-handed, and I didn’t have a lefty holster.
Ouch! A moment of inattention brought Sammy 12 stitches in his dominant hand. Suddenly he had to learn to shoot lefty. What if the injury had occurred during a fight for his life?
Righty Becomes Lefty
Iborrowed a lefty IWB rig from a southpaw friend to see if I could make it work. Like anything new it felt weird, and with only having the use of one hand it was even stranger. I was able to work out 1-handed draws to the point my muscle memory started to take over and it became natural.
Since I was going to be out of right-hand action for some time, Trent at CrossBreed sent me a lefty Super Tuck Deluxe. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do a reload in a timely manner, so my plan was to transition to my backup J-frame if my Glock 19 ran out of ammo or if I had a malfunction. Rather than rest on my dry practice, I went to the range and put in some live-fire training. I had to work out the cover garment issues with a 1-handed draw, and my shooting felt slow and less accurate. The more I practiced the smoother I became and accuracy picked up. This isn’t the ideal situation, but I had a truckload of lemons so lemonade it was.
Healed up and back at 100 percent. But Sammy’s transition training has left him more adept and experienced at shooting left-handed now. The trick is to get up to speed — before you need it.
Other than the most obvious lesson — not to damage my dominant hand — my injury has changed the way I practice and train for real life. My right hand could’ve been damaged in the middle of a fight, and if I couldn’t run the gun with my left hand, someone else would be writing this column talking about training for worst-case scenarios. The notion we will rise to the occasion has been proven to be bunk. We rise to the level of our training. I’m thankful the trainers I’ve had reinforced being able to shoot with both hands.
I’m back to full duty with my right hand, I’ve got an ugly scar and a cool war story, which is total BS. I’m telling people who ask: I got in a knife fight with a honey badger. If you want to know the real story it’ll cost you a cheeseburger and a coke.
Thanks to the team at American Handgunner for this contribution. Take a moment to visit their site by clicking here. You can subscribe to American Handgunner and get it delivered to your door for only $9.95 a year – click here to check it out.