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Old May 9, 2002, 08:09 PM   #1
Ironbarr
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"Point & Shoot" - What's the good word?

I just did a search on "point and shooting" and "point". Too many returns to peruse. So I'm asking for some tried and true facts and actions re point and shoot technique(s).

Seems to me that most CQ encounters requiring a firearm discharge will be a point and shoot scenario - hard to imagine in a fast response situation there'd be time for a text book "sight picture", so I'm looking for experienced and learned input for "Who, What, When, Where, and How". I believe the "Why" is pretty much the need for immediate reactive response, and probably dim/no light.

Anyway, I'd appreciate some authoritive discussion re "point and shoot".

Thanks IA

-IB
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Old May 10, 2002, 04:51 PM   #2
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Thirty-nine readers have eyeballed this thread and passed without a reply.

Is the subject taboo? Boring?? Worn out??

Something else?

I need an attention getter - anyone teaching headline (subject) construction - (for gunnies - a special breed of reader)??

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Old May 10, 2002, 05:03 PM   #3
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I am hesitant to get into this subject, particularly after reading your comment of, "...hard to imagine in a fast response situation there'd be time for a text book "sight picture"..." There seems to be a reoccuring idea that if you can't acquire a "text book" sight picture then don't bother with the sights at all.

In most of the modern/current training methodologies the concept of the "flash sight picture" is widely taught and well understood. Seeing the front sight on the target is all that's required, not a "text book" sight picture.

As to learning or practicing "point shooting", I will pass on this observation. The best "point shooters" I have seen and known were those individuals who looked at their sights for every round fired in practice. They were acquiring a muscle memory, hard wiring, conditioned response, or what ever term you want to use. In short, they were teaching their hands, arms, and shoulders where to be to hit where the eye was looking. More importantly, looking at the sights teaches you TRIGGER CONTROL, without which you won't hit anything consistantly, no matter what other technique you employ.
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Old May 11, 2002, 01:34 AM   #4
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I'll take a poke...

After reading a thread here about point shooting I gave it a go, with a .22 revolver. With a little practice I was able to keep'em in a 6x6 square at close range (10 feet).

I didn't use the flash sight picture method. I used the style demonstarted by Kirk Douglas in Man Without a Star. Clear leather, point it like your finger - from the hip- and drop the hammer, keeping the pistol near the hip 1) for speed and 2) for weapon retention. IIRC, Dempsy Rae recommended "get it out quick and put it away slow".

Aside from that the key seems to be Practice, Practice and Practice. It's like Dave T said you have to train your hand to shoot to hit where you are looking. It seems sand would be the best background for practice as it would be easy to see where you shots went and correct from there.

YMMV and this advice is worth exactly what you paid for it.
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Old May 11, 2002, 10:46 PM   #5
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Ironbarr

It's a good post. I read all the gun magazines that are available, and everything I've always read stresses the need to get the front site on target. They offer the proof of statistics of police shootings, and the low percentage of shots that are on target when an officer is under fire.

Obviously these officers are very good shots. The various articles also explain how instinctively a person crouches when they are under attack. I've never been in a situation where I had to fire at another person. I do know that if it ever occured, I would be so scared and pumped up, I know that all my firing range practice of using my sites would go out the window.

Every single time that I go to the range, I spend some time firing from a quick crouch, without using the sites. Just pure relex and fire away. I certainly don't do that well which is obvious when examing my targets. However, every single time that I go to the range I practice this. I know that the experts insist that you use the sites, and all statistics on accuracy back them up on this. I also know that if I'm ever fired upon, I know that I'm going to be so scared and acting so quickly, that I will end up crouching and just getting some shots out there as fast as possible.

So hopefully the time I spend at the range will come in to assist me if the situation ever comes up.
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Old May 12, 2002, 12:43 AM   #6
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We Make Too Much of This Stuff....

.... but I reckon it's still worth studying. This is going to be a long post, but if even one person gets something out of it then I figure it's worth the bandwidth.

You asked for real examples, so here are mine. They are against dogs, never did have to fire. I will note my reactions and everything else I noticed.

Instance 1)

My ex-gf was in the yard talking to someone who had a pitbull on a leash. The pitbull seemed friendly enough toward my ex, and I had NEVER had any trouble with pits before. As I started to appoach them to join in the conversation the pitbull rushed me. I would put the distance at 25yds, max. I instinctively raised my weak hand toward the dog (fending off reflex) while my strong hand cleared my cover garment out of the way and gripped the gun. I instinctively started to backpedal and mentally calculate trajectories which would keep my ex and the friend from being hit. I can't tell you how much time had passed; all I can say is that the pit had run about half the distance, full sprint, and the gun had cleared about half the leather. During this time I had worked up a firing solution, I was aware that my gun would be coming up to meet my weak hand for a two-handed grip, and I was already mentally seeing my sights, indexing them, and knowing where each bullet would go. My mind had done all this but my body couldn't keep up. I felt slooooow. I believe they call this tachypsychia or something along those lines.

Thankfully, that long leash pulled taught, almost pulling the guy over as he held fast. I remember hearing, as if from a long way off, him shouting "It's okay! It's okay! I got him!". Prior to that I don't remember hearing anything; I don't know if I was experiencing auditory exclusion. I suppose I was, seein's how I barely heard the guy when he was was telling me he had the dog under control.

Through the whole time I felt completely relaxed except for the initial realization. I still don't understand that.

The point of this experience when relating to sights: I'm sure I would have at least indexed the sights if the draw had gone through. Everything else I had thought to do followed (albeit slooowly) so I don't see how this would have been any different unless the dog had reached me.

Instance 2)

Fast foward a year, year and a half. Add in several hundred rounds live fire experience plus 100 practice draws per night (spurred by the slooowness of instance 1 which still haunts me to this day, though I know I was probably drawing pretty fast).

Same girl and I were taking a late night walk. Good lights, decent neighborhood. Dog comes running up, baring teeth and growling. Gun is in my strong hand- just appeared there as far as I remember- weak hand is occupied by an empty Gatorade bottle which I was going to dispose of later. Sights are indexed on the dog. We end up at a standoff. I tell the ex to slowly back away until she reached the street crossing then turn and walk. During this time I adjust my gun to get a 'classic' sight picture on the dog's head. Again, I don't know how much time passed, but the gun started getting heavy. I threw the Gatorade bottle over toward a building, to the front and right of me, to get my two-handed grip. The dog takes off after the bottle and runs off with it, looking over its shoulder. After it is safely out of sight I reholster.

Sights used- yes. Both indexed and classic.

Two things bother me about instance 2. First, this took place directly across the street of a Dominoes Pizza which as open. Obviously no one thought a man holding a gun on a dog was sufficient reason to call the police to my aid. Though I don't know how long this took, I'm sure the police could have gotten there given that my strong arm was wearing out. Second, when I turned around my ex-gf was still standing there. We had been through drills along the lines of "If I have to pull my gun in your presence..." before, and I had TOLD her exactly where to go and how to go to get to safety. All she did by standing there was endanger herself and me further. Lack of common sense and inability to take deliberate action are two reasons she became my ex, but that's another discussion altogether and not at all appropriate for this board.

(For those wondering, I did call the police when I got home and made a report. I don't know if they ever did anything but I never did see the dog again).

Instance 3)

Occured the same night as instance 2. Nothing really special, same thoughts and feelings as instance 2. Only difference was that, being raised around dogs, I knew this one was only protecting its turf and kept the gun trained on it, using the indexing method, until we were off its ground.

(Note on these dogs: I learned that, in that town, it was common practice for owners to feed the dogs a mixture of hot peppers and gunpowder. I've heard two theories as to what this does: Theory one holds that it eats the dog's stomach, putting it in pain and making it mean. Theory two holds that it eats the dog's brain and makes it crazy. To me, theory one sounds more logical. Whatever, it this practice supposedly makes them better guard/attack dogs. And I did get out of that town, largely in part due to the dogs roaming the streets freely, sometimes in packs, most times nice but sometimes mean).

One final note on the subject, this one not from my personal experience. These are supposedly direct quotes by Wyatt Earp himself, taken from Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshall by Stuart N. Lake. Since Mr. Lake was a dime novelist it is to be taken with a grain of salt, but the book was written in collaboration with Earp before his death (though it was finished post-mortem), and it does sound like advice an experienced gunfighter would give:

"'The most important lesson I learned from those proficient gunfighters was that the winner of a gunplay usually was the man who took his time. The second was that, if I hoped to live long on the frontier, I would shun trick shooting- grandstand play- as I would poison.'"

Another:

"'In all my life as a frontier peace officer, I did not know a really proficient gunfighter who had anything but contempt for the gun-fanner, or the man who literally shot from the hip.'"

And one more:

"'That was shooting. I am not belittling Wild Bill when I bear witness that while he was shooting at the O, he held his gun as almost every man skilled in such matters preferred to hold one when in action, with a half-bent elbow that brought the gun slightly in front of his body at about, or slightly above, the level of the waist.'"

EC says: Please note that in that period the "waist" was understood to mean about navel height or slightly above as opposed to our measurement which measures right above the hip bones. If anyone wishes to dispute this I can furnish proof.

At any rate, using the period height of the waist to define Wyatt Earp's description of Mr. Hickok's grip and stance we come up with a picture which looks much like someone indexing his sights, in almost the same stance a modern bullseye shooter would use when shooting one handed, albeit with the gun held a bit lower.

Anyway, I hope this helps, even though it's longer than even I expected it would be when I first started.

Good shootin',

EC
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Old May 12, 2002, 09:45 AM   #7
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I'm more heartened now...

for opening the subject. And I realize that there is much yet to learn - not only "technique", but the language too.

Thanks for your offerings - much appreciated.

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Old May 12, 2002, 12:55 PM   #8
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Courier, you said,

"Obviously these officers are very good shots."

I hate to burst your bubble but most cops are not good shots. Most are poor to mediocre. I am not cop bashing but stating facts based on my experience as a LEO and Chief Firearms Instructor for a department of 400 armed personnel. The vast majority of LE firearms training is barely adequate.

You also said,

"...I know that all my firing range practice of using my sites would go out the window."

Again you are making an incorrect assumption. You will "play" the way you "practice". The reason most cops react the way they do in street shootings is they were poorly trained to start with, they seldom practice, and what they do practice is tactically unsound.

I went shooting last Monday with a local police officer who just retired after 22 years. He made the comment that it was the first time he had fired his gun in 2 years (he retired on 29 April 2002).
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Old May 12, 2002, 01:02 PM   #9
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I have always practiced with sights, but this post is making me think I need to practice without 'em. I had heard that most defensive shootings follow the "rule of 3's"--within 3 feet, lasts only 3 seconds and only 3 shots fired. (Or did I just mangle that?)

In those cases, point shooting is what you'd be doing.

Once, I shared a range with a guy who was practicing without sights. Or rather, he was using the entire slide of his mini Glock as the sight. He would raise and fire 3 remarkably quickly, and all would hit paper at 7 yards. That might be a good technique to practice.

And I suppose that it would be worthwhile practicing shooting from the hip, as Seeker describes.
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Old May 12, 2002, 02:03 PM   #10
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I've never done point and shoot shooting in any serious way, but will make it my business to do so in the foreseeable future.

El Chivato: thank you for your post. I'm going to read it again and see what I can learn from it. I have a hunch my traditional off-hand target shooter's stance isn't going to be entirely adequate once I move from the People's Republic of California and reestablish myself in a shall issue state.

Dave T: I was on a target shooting team many years ago. We were sportsmen. We did reasonably well most of the time. We could always count on beating the local P.D. and S.D., as well as the federal marshalls if they showed up. We were about as good a bunch of shooters as the sporting club guys from the next down down the road, so they won some, and we won some--unless, of course, the local prison guard team showed up. Those were some serious target shooters! What's that tell you?
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Old May 12, 2002, 04:10 PM   #11
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I was thinking of the "along the slide sighting" when opening this thread as it appeared (and appears) to me the closest facsimile to using sights.

In the privacy of my rooms, I seem to be reasonably adept at snapping to (aligning on) various "targets". The indoor ranges here are "booth-like", leaving little room for anything but down range firing. "Technique flexibility" is somewhat limited. I am able to practice now and again on private property and will try "point" (as I call it) next time it's available.

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Old May 12, 2002, 09:47 PM   #12
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You fight the way you train, which has already been touched upon.

The quality, quantity, tone, and regular occurance (or lack thereof) of your training has something to do with it as well.

I advocate using the flash sight picture technique whenever possible. The only times I've found that it is not possible is during close retention drills and in very dark conditions without the aid of night sights. One of those circumstances, the close retention drill, may be unavoidable. The other is not. If your handgun is lacking night sights, make the appropriate upgrade.
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Old May 13, 2002, 02:52 PM   #13
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I recently took a class in basic point shooting from PlusP here in Minneapolis. The basic technique is very simple and highly effective for very close in and no light situations. After some practice I can put 10 rounds in a 6x6 circle in no light as fast as i can pull the trigger. Check the website www.plusp.com also follow the links there to spwenger's Defensive use of firearms page for some good info on point shooting.


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Old June 22, 2002, 08:06 PM   #14
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Sorry for joining late, but I took a class from an LAPD instructor who runs a company called Gunfighters Inc.

He had some very persuasive reasons for learning to shoot focused on the target... the number one being that if you are surprised and your heart rate goes through the roof with adrenelan your body will have a very difficult time focusing on the sights.

I think everyone's training should do alittle of this at least. The majority of gunfights are at extreme close range and odds are you won't be the initial aggressor, so you may just be drawing and shooting while trying to fend off a baseball bat etc..

It doesn't fit every fight, but it's definitely got its uses. After all you don't focus on your fist when you throw a punch... a fight is a fight...
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Old June 23, 2002, 06:12 PM   #15
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That's the guy. His skills were very impressive and I was impressed at how well our class did with tape stuck over our sights.

He did not say that this is the method to use with every fight, but I was impressed by how tight a group we could get while focused on the target. I would hate to be an LA bad guy on the other side of a fight from Lou.

I now always shoot a few rounds focused on the target at the end of every range session. It's different and it can be sobering to see that sight alignment vrs. point shooting does not improve groups that mucht for me out to about 5 yards. Trigger control is far bigger piece at such close ranges - really all ranges.

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Old June 23, 2002, 07:39 PM   #16
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I'm happy to see current interest in this older thread... thanks for bringing it back alive.

(I'm not up on the learning curve with the language) - I'd like to read some details about these "procedures" that I might work with. For instance - rov - you practice inside the 7yd/21ft? What exactly do you do? Any experience with other distances?

All input appreciated.

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Old June 23, 2002, 10:52 PM   #17
rov
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The game of it is taping your sights - front and rear, so you can't cheat when trying this.

The idea is to focus on one point on the target then when you are ready to fire, raise the gun up to intersect your line of sight. It's really pointing with the firearm- not body position. It is not hard at all to keep all your shots very tight if you have a consistent grip.

From my own experience I do not think using point shooting beyond 10 yards makes alot of sense. At longer ranges, use your sights or better yet, run away.

Anyway there is enough behind this method to make it worth experimenting with. Something like 85% of police shooting fatalities happen within 5 yards. Training all the time for 25 yards is not necessarilly going to make you better at close range: Gunfights last an average of 2.5 seconds from what I've heard and are usually at very very close range. To me, that means that if I'm going to train for self defense, I want to be able to very quickly hit the target at close range. If I can shave a 1/4 or a 1/2 second off my draw and fire and still hit the A zone, why not?

later,

rov
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Old June 23, 2002, 11:51 PM   #18
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One of the nice things about sights is that they don't rely on muscle memory, or other esoteric stuff, to ensure that your rounds are going to hit where you want them to. In other words, sighted fire puts your rounds where you want them, no matter what your body position/trauma/mental overload.

By way of illustration, sometime ago we wound up playing straight men to a Sensitive New Age Gunfighter -- you know the type: "Cooper is a dinosaur/Weaver stance is obsolete/sighted shooting is a waste of time/real men only use DAO-Safe Action-plastic pistols/yackety-schmackety" -- generally what I like to refer to as an Ice Cream Commando.

Anyhoo, after about three days of his point-shooting mantra, a certain short-tempered friend of mine walked up to the Vanilla Kid, smiles, sticks out a paw and asks to see the Austrian Forty in the kids holster.

Kid hands over the Plastic Fantastic, whereupon Buddy O'Mine hooks a vicious right into the kids breadbasket, slams him onto his back on the ground, slaps the forty into his paw and screams: "Threat to the front! Shootshootshoot!"

The Vanilla Kid point shot as trained and the Vanilla Kid not only missed the seven-yard target, but most of his shots missed the berm as well.

Buddy hands the still-breathless-still-on-his-back Kid a new magazine, sits on the Kids left paw and intones, "Front sight, squeeze, front sight, squeeze, front sight, squeeze..."

It wasn't a pretty group, but all ten rounds hit the seven-yard target.

Anybody who carries has the duty and the obligation to guarantee that the bullets that leave the muzzle go where they're supposed to go no matter what.

Does point shooting work for you when you're flat on your back and the wind knocked out of you? Sighted shooting will.

Does point shooting work for you when you've got a bullet in your gunarm and you're shooting weak-handed? Sighted shooting will.

Does point shooting work for you when you're laying on your side shooting from under your car or cafe table? Sighted shooting will.

If point shooting woeks for you no matter what, I'm happy for you -- go forth and conquer.

As for me, I know that if that front sight is on the threat when I squeeze the trigger, the bullet is going to hit him no matter what, where, and/or how I am.

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Old June 24, 2002, 09:23 AM   #19
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LawDog...

I'll have to admit - you pose one strong position for sight shooting.

And you are certainly right about the responsibility of loosing small but dangerous missiles into "people" space.

That is one concern of mine: A Cul de Sac of townhomes, a 45 foot street, a walkway of exactly 20 feet, 4 inches to the doorway, and a 90 degree vision area left side to straight ahead from door. The whole setting is so close-cobbled that any firing HAS to be really controlled. I timed that walkway, and yes, even this old man can hobble it in about 3 seconds - grandson in less.

Essentially it works out that, (maybe), I can get out of the rocker, draw, present, and fire at the same time BG's mouth arrives at muzzle. I think about that a lot since I do enjoy the porch... but, I know it's hazardous. At this point, though, the area is not "testy" so there's the rub... wear myself out waiting for BGs, or retire to the house or back yard... which puts me in a different can't-see-a-thing arrangement.

I've come to believe that life is full of forks in the road; each one with it's effect on one's experiences. Living life "well" is like navigating a mine field... sometimes the mines do win.

Thanks for your powerful words.

(Back to the drawing board.)
-IB
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Old June 24, 2002, 11:49 AM   #20
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I do not disagree. But, there are stats showing police hits with sighted fire are in the 20% range. The CA highway patrol using a combination of sighted fire and target focused fire have a record of something like 90% hits on target. The reality is that people don't all use sighted fire. Watch a bunch of police shooting tapes... Maybe you say they weren't trained enough, but if panic forces people to a point shooting of one kind or another, isn't it fair to say train with it enough to know what will happen. What about the person with bifocals.

It's enough to make you think. Sure, you need to be prepared for anything, but what about prepared for blurred vision from point blank gunfire or stone chips. You make out your opponent but don't have the ability to make out your sights. The debate is silly. There are situations where both options are valuable. If you are confronted by somebody at 2 feet and by habit raise the gun looking for sights, you are asking to get your gun taken away. That's just the extreme, now the question is where does the line get drawn. I personally don't think it is at arms reach but, everyone has to make the call for themselves.
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Old June 24, 2002, 04:24 PM   #21
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Yesyerday I shot my first cowboy action match - it was the most stressful shooting I've done yet. Granted, it's not "OMG, I'm gonna die!" stress, and the targets are big & close. So take this as you will...

With my pistols (1860 Army cap and ball clones), I shot some stages with sights and some just by instinctive point-shooting. For example, one stage had two moving paper plates at about 15 feet. I wasn't confident in my sights (they're 8 or 10 inches low by 50 feet), so I simply shot "by feel" as fast as I could cock the hammer and pull the gun down from recoil. I successfully got all ten shots on target (actually, I got 11 hits with 10 shots...we think one of my wads hit the target, as well as the 10 balls ).

Still, from watching some of the really good shooters, it seems like with enough practice, you can use the sights just as fast as you could point-n-shoot (though unless you have night-sights, non-point-shooters will be at a disadvantage in the dark).
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Old June 25, 2002, 02:16 PM   #22
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"...hits with sighted fire in the 20% range..."

AIN'T SIGHTED FIRE!

Maybe they're "started out with a sight picture and jerked the trigger" fire, but they're not talking about proper use of the sights plus trigger control, and one without the other isn't useful.

LawDog makes excellent points in his post.

Point shooting, that is, shooting with no visual index, whether you call it shooting "reflexively", or with "muscle memory", or "instinctively", or any of several other names, MAY work sometimes for some people.

Some talented folks believe that their own positive experience with point shooting is generalizable to everybody, and they advocate point shooting as a replacement for sighted fire.

Others believe point shooting has a limited place, mostly for close-in, gun-protected fire at "reach out and touch" distances, and even then only when the downrange risk to innocents either doesn't exist or is minimal.

If I could always hit my target every time with adequate precision at all conceivable distances using point shooting, I'd use it.
But I can't.
If you can, great.
I'll stick with using the sights.
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Old June 25, 2002, 04:39 PM   #23
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When people make the pronouncement that it is impossible to teach someone to use the sights, or that it is impossible to teach someone to break out of the 'instinctive reaction to threats', a couple of cases tend to come to mind.

I believe it was in the 1970's when a couple of similar instances came up regarding rookies getting killed.

Seems these rookies were found shot to death with empty cartridge hulls stuffed in their pockets. Witnesses who were interviewed stated that the rookies checked out of the firefight in order to pick up their empty cases.

Further research found that that during the training period, the new cops were being taught to pick up their empties before checking their targets.

This led to many, many academies forbidding their cadets to pick up empty hulls during training.

Seems to me if we can teach rookies to take their eyes off the threats, look down at the ground and start locating/picking up/depositing empty shells in their pockets with critters shooting at them-- and train these kids to do this by accident -- then it should be fairly obvious that you can be taught to glance at some front sights located in line with the threat.

But that's just me.

LawDog
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Old June 25, 2002, 05:01 PM   #24
Erik
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Point shooting owes its popularity to Fairbane of WWII combatives fame.

It is a effective answer to the following scenario:

Officers will receive a minimum amount of basic instruction in the use of their sidearm, a dozen or so cartridges to practice with, and nothing else but grim advice before being thrust into what was at the time the world's most violent and crime ridden city, Shanghai.

Something, arguably anything, would be better than that.

Point shooting was Fairbanes's answer. His course was simple to teach, simple to learn, and ultimately found to be effective in the crowded, violent streets his men worked.

Skip forward to WWII.

Fairbane ends up tasked with training Britain's commandos. They are taught, among other things, point shooting. Reports from the field indicate that it works.

The USA enters the war, cross trains our special forces with their commandos, and our best learns piont shooting, among other things. Reports from the field indicatge that you don't have to be British in order for it to work.

As the war goes on, the UK and the USA train their spies in point shooting. Decoded reports (bbep, beep-beep, beep...) indicate that it works. Even better, it is discovered/proven that it works years after training, with no practice or requalification in the interum.

The war ends, everyone goes home, and before you know it people "discover" what our best where taught. And as everyone knows, commando/special forces/spy training must be the best, right?

And that's an arguably long winded account (sorry) of where point shooting came from and why its so popular.
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Old June 25, 2002, 05:08 PM   #25
Erik
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All of that said, re-read LawDog's posts, dwell on the concept of "bullet ownership," recognize that quality training abounds, that you are not restricted to a dozen cartridges a year to practice with, install night sights, and the reasoning against point shooting has a way of standing out.

Enough blah, blah from me, though.

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