If you’re left handed and planning on taking up shooting, like the rest of things in life, it’s not going to be quite as simple for the southpaws of the world. If you think you’re going to be able to pick-up and shoot and simply as the rest of the right-handed population, you’re unfortunately mistaken. However, with some guidance, we’ll make sure you know what you’re looking for and how to be an effective shooter.
Using right handed Firearms
Brand new shooters may not know this, so more experienced shooters can excuse us covering the basics. Most firearms are right-handed and are not easy for a left-handed shooter to shoot with. This comes with several downsides and drawbacks, which you need to be aware of.
Whilst it’s possible for a left-handed shooter to use a right-handed fire-arm, there are a few aspects of the experience that make it less than optimal.
The first, most annoying, part of using a right-handed firearm, is the weapon controls. For the most part, weapon controls are on the left-hand side of the gun and operated by the shooter’s thumb. When a left-handed shooter uses a right-handed firearm, their thumb falls on the right-hand side of the gun, where the controls aren’t. This makes the weapon quite difficult to use, from simply changing the fire mode to safe, through to removing the magazine and releasing the bolt. The shooter needs to drop their shooting stance and use the alternate hand.
Most commonly (and off-putting) is that the ejection port is on the same side of the rifle as the shooter’s face. This means that hot, spent casings are leaving the weapon just a few centimetres from your face. For the most part, you’ll be unaffected by this, but on the odd occasion, a hot piece of metal may find its way to impacting your face, or worse, down the front of your jacket.
Most specifically with old rifles and shotguns, the weapon may be shaped for a right-handed shoulder. This is where the stock may bend slightly to accommodate the shooters head for a more comfortable shooting position. If a left handed shooter were to use a rifle like this, they would find it highly uncomfortable and difficult to shoot with.
However, there’s good news. There are plenty of left-handed firearms or guns with ambidextrous controls to choose from. These are firearms where the controls, such as mag release, charging handle and safety are available on both sides of the weapon and some even come with the ability to swap which side the casings are ejected from.
Alternatively, you may be able to find a left-handed firearm, especially in cases of shotguns, where the key consideration is gun-fit (how the gun fits to the shooter’s body).
Shooting with others
Shooting with others will be the same experience for both left and right handed shooters. However, there are a couple of instances where you simply won’t be compatible with other shooters.
For instance, for the reasons stated above, there’s not going to be any gun swapping going around. You won’t be able to just “try” a friend’s rifle or shotgun and they won’t be able to try yours very easily during a shoot. In addition, for right-handed shooters, shooting from left-to-right is a more comfortable and easier movement, the opposite is true for left-handed shooters. This may mean than when shooting clay-pigeon or game, you have a harder time on certain targets.
Buying & Selling Left-handed Equipment
Buying equipment is where you will encounter the majority of your problems as a left handed shooter. It’s not that there are things simply not available to left-handed shooters. It’s that there’s simply not as much variety in the smaller marketplace of lefties.
Left handed weapons, as spoken about, are available but not quite as common. There are weapons available that will accommodate you. What you’ll find it harder to get a hold of is the accessories. Shooting jackets etc will be necessary for field shooting, and you may find it harder than normal to get a jacket to your taste which is also left-handed.
Similarly, if you happen to want to shift some of your older left-handed gear or part-ex with a local shop, you’ll find it harder to get rid of your left-handed gear. However, this is naturally market dependent. Some items may go for a higher price than a right-handed equivalent, because they’re hard to find. Some pieces may go for much less because the marketing isn’t there for it.