By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts
I remember back in 2002 when I made the decision to work to become ambidextrous. At first, I felt “inept!” I was slow, clumsy, weak, and inconsistent. I refused to accept that feeling as my reality!
Right off of the bat, I knew that I was going to have to get squared away on my own, through dry practice. The reason for this was not just about getting over my ineptitude but to get past the significant safety concerns. I had an ignorant left-handed trigger finger and an ignorant right-handed thumb. In comparison to my educated right hand trigger finger and my left hand thumb, the differences were astronomical.
I did not want to show up to a live fire course feeling inept and having major safety concerns. I did not want to be “that guy!” When I did show up to the live fire course, the instructors watched me like a hawk to make sure that I was ready…..and I was.
The time that I spent on my left-handed dry practice may have been the most valuable dry practice that I had ever put in. My right-handed skill set were never “inept,” They were just ignorant. But my left-handed skill sets did start off at “inept.”
The Stupid Trigger Finger
Make no mistake about it, until you have educated your secondary hand trigger finger……it is stupid……and stupidity can get you killed! You need to bring the level of “educated trigger finger” to the point that it is ingrained at a purely automatic level. This is an absolute “must have down cold” portion of your dry practice.
The Stupid Thumb
This is not so much a “life and death issue as it is a “don’t hurt yourself” issue. The thumb of your primary hand must learn its place when it becomes the support hand during your two-handed shooting. It must learn its “thumbs forward grip” position to keep you safe from the slide coming back and smacking the stupid appendage. That thumb is used to “wrapping” around the back strap and that is what it is going to want to do unless you train it to do something else.
Why Am I So Inept?!
This is temporary and can be moved past very quickly with dedication. “This too will pass” is the mindset that you must have. Once you get past this period of ineptitude…..it will never come back. I went away from my “mirrored set up” for a good six years. When I came back to it, it was as if I had never left it. Right now I am at about 90% of completely ambidextrous. If I did not have significant problems with my left wrist. I would be at 98%. This was not a hard level to reach. But, it had to be reached initially, through dry practice.
The Learning Progression
Dry practice until you are past being inept and unsafe.
Dry practice to the point that you acquire the skill level that will facilitate not making a mistake that could be painful or deadly.
Step back down to the fundamental courses and run them secondary hand only.
Acquire the confidence in your well-earned ambidextrous skill sets through live fire.
Step back into dry practice and practice your intermediate skill level skill sets.
Begin to work past the fundamentals and start working fluid, well-rounded, and versatile skill sets.
Take these skill sets into the intermediate live fire courses.
Step back into dry practice and work your advanced skill sets.
Take those skill sets into the advanced live fire courses.
This is the progression that I took and it is the progression that I would recommend to all of my students. Do not be “that guy!” You know what I say about “that guy”…….he can get somebody dead real quick!