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Old January 18, 2012, 06:51 PM   #1
MLeake
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Playing around with point fire as opposed to aimed fire, and thoughts on CCW training

We had a discussion a couple weeks back about range type practice vs an apparent tendency for many SD incidents to actually happen as point-and-shoot, and whether range practice would help with point-and-shoot.

I have played around every so often with point-and-shoot, but it's not something I do on a regular basis. So, I thought I'd try a side by side comparison today while I was at the range.

We recently moved to Missouri, and I took the Missouri CCW class last week. Qualification used a B-27 target at 7 yards; Missouri requires 20 shots fired from a revolver, and a semi-auto, each. 15 of the 20 shots must be in the white portion of the silhouette.

It's not a hard standard, and everybody passed. I brought along my 3" 13-3, and my PX4 .40 full-size. Kept all shots in the X and 10 without difficulty, using aimed fire and a Chapman.

So I thought today I'd test a couple things.

First, I wanted to see how my point fire would look, at the same target, at 7 yards.

After shooting at the target at the back wall, and then doing some drills at the 10 yard line, I had one box left. So I put up a new target at 7 yards, and shot 42 rounds at the target using point and shoot. Since I don't own the facility, I didn't hip shoot, but instead punched the pistol out in front of me and fired without referencing the sights. Figured I was guaranteed not to hit floor or ceiling that way, and unlikely to hit the target carrier.

Weapon was my Les Baer UTC, so for each shot, I thumbed the safety off as I punched the weapon forward, and fired when I reached about 85% extention (about the same position as extension when I shadow-box). To make it more interesting, I wore driving gloves, and only used my shooting hand, unsupported.

After firing 42 shots in that method, one at a time, from weapon on the shelf, I then fired the last full magazine (8 rds) at the head of the target, using a Chapman hold, about one round per second.



Conclusions:

1) If I had to point shoot at 7 yards, I could probably do so pretty effectively.

2) All 42 snap-shots were in the white of the target. Aside from the high left flyer above the collarbone, the rest were actually decent hits. Point fire would work, for putting rounds on target fast and trying to preempt return fire, at least at short ranges.

3) The 8 aimed shots formed one ragged hole; the first 3 went into virtually one .45 hole. Aimed is definitely better for a tight shot.

4) I could have passed the Missouri course with 20/20 without aiming... Makes one wonder why some of the state training requirements even exist, and whether there is any value added in required, as opposed to available but voluntary, training.
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Old January 18, 2012, 07:01 PM   #2
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Since so many CCW applicants have little or no experience with firearms, there isn't much skill to evaluate. What can be evaluated is the shooters ability to safely handle, and operate the firearm. The course may be the shooters first experience, or close to it.


Some CCW classes are better than others at instructing students in that regard. Some expect the shooter to be skilled, to some extent, when they get there.

Further instruction, beyond what is required, is important.

Even so, the unskilled shooter with a permit has some training in safety and the law and is better off than the gun owner who keeps a gun handy with little or no experience in it's use.

While point shooting can be effective up close, it can be argued that the closer your assailant is, the more critical becomes precise shot placement.

That menas aimed shots, in my book. FASTER incapacitation is required at close range. Easy to say that, since any lethal encounter at any range can be a chaotic, unorganized mess---from what I hear. Haven't been there and done that, myself.

Last edited by Nnobby45; January 18, 2012 at 07:08 PM.
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Old January 18, 2012, 07:07 PM   #3
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Nnobby45, I am all for training. I am not in favor of mandatory training. Personally, I favor constitutional carry as the ideal, while believing that each shooter should get as much training as is reasonably affordable.

My problem with mandatory training is that I can think of several people, off the top of my head, who could barely afford the weapon, holster, and permit fee, let alone another $75-150 for training, plus two nights of classroom and range time. (Edit: and 140 rounds of ammo, probably in two different calibers.)

IE, the training requirement could be onerous for poorer people, or for working single parents.

I could see a written exam requirement, with brochures and website support, such as is commonly done for driver licensing, if only to verify the person is aware of applicable deadly force laws and prohibited locations.

Again, I think training is great. I get my fair share, plus, and I get a lot of range time. But it really seems that in many cases, the training requirements are simply obstacles rather than benefits for applicants.
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Old January 18, 2012, 07:10 PM   #4
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I agree, but I think any CCW class has the obligation to have competent instruction on the basic safety principles, and operation of the gun--on the range, not just the classroom.


I consider that preliminary before real training starts, and that's the responsibility of the shooter.

Last edited by Nnobby45; January 18, 2012 at 07:16 PM.
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Old January 18, 2012, 07:13 PM   #5
MLeake
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We are only disagreeing on the semantics, I think. We seem to generally agree on the following:

Focus for CCW class should be on law, then safety.

Whether the class should be required is up for debate.

Training in general is good, but making it mandatory can have negative effects on working class or tight-budgeted people.

Meanwhile, I think practice at aimed fire does help with general indexing for point fire. I think I'll commit more rounds and practice time to point fire. We'll see what happens.
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Old January 19, 2012, 07:02 AM   #6
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Interesting subject. First off, I have read that some places have a rather high standard for passing the test to get your carry permit, a standard that includes shooting at a distance that one would be highly unlikely to ever be shooting at as a private citizen. Something to think about. You could always have a test that is hard to pass.

Point shooting is and has always been controversial. In fact, I'd say that not everyone means the same thing when they use the expression. I'm probably repeating the same thing I've said in other threads, too, by the way. Serious proponents of point shooting have generally been experienced law enforcement and military people, too, by the way, not professional competitors or trainers. That's also something to think about. Obviously they seemed to have lived in a different world but they also did not believe in point shooting to the exclusion of any other technique or for that matter, use of the handgun over other weapons.

Point shooting is not exactly unaimed shooting for one thing and it was expected that the sights would be used beyond a certain range, although it might be more correct to say "uncertain" range, since not everything got recorded in books. For a private citizen, however, it can be a little easier to understand if you take a tape measure and go around your house and measure distances. The measurements inside your house are likely to be short; the same distances outside your house are nothing. Now, I will admit that it's hard to take those facts you've just created with your tape measure and apply them to your training. But you may wonder why you're doing any shooting at 25 yards. That's the distance from my sliding glass basement door to where the path goes into the woods. There are still good reasons to practice at 25 yards, just the same and I will go on record as claiming that you can do tolerably well point shooting at 25 yards, rapid fire. At least with one revolver I had you could. But that isn't how you'd shoot if you were trying to hit those little sihoulettes of animals on a paper target, meaning the ones you were aiming at. That calls for steadier shooting.

Confusing, isn't it? But keep in mind that those who used to advocate (their version of) point shooting were working with men and a few women who were not firearms enthusiasts or even at all previously familiar with guns and only had a limited time for training before they hit the streets or the battlefield. It was a real world solution. For them, what they did was "good enough."

I also agree that safety has to be of the highest priority. It is pointless to risk shooting yourself or your buddy to avoid being shot yourself.
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Old January 19, 2012, 07:19 AM   #7
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I wonder what the actual statistics would be if you polled civilians who were involved in discharging their weapon in self defense. If they even remember if their gun had sights . If we are talking real world, I would venture to say even those who were experienced didn't acquire sight alignment or sight picture.
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Old January 19, 2012, 09:30 AM   #8
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1)The more I read about things that can actually happen in typical "close encounters" the more I believe that significant point and shoot practice is needed--particularly one-handed. For example, the HD scenarios involving holding a flashlight in one hand and the weapon in the other suggests to me ambidextrous proficiency had better be good. My LCP allows me to practice just about anything--but then the old caliber/weapon size issue comes to play. I'm guessing in static situation stance/sighting is more likely--but if an attack involves split-second, close movement, then I'm guessing point-and-shoot becomes an essential skill.

2)MLeake--I get where you're coming from on the permit thing--but when I think about the right--and responsibility--of being a licensed carrier it strikes me as an incredible thing we can do this. I went through a lot of philosophical soul-searching before I decided to do so (I am a liberal Democrat scumbag ) and I came to the conclusion that, in a way, we are an extension of law-enforcement but lacking, in general, professional training. I went through 2 day training with professional law-enforcement officers for my CCW, and I have to say coming out of the class that I knew just enough to be dangerous to myself and others without follow-up training and teaching. For the average citizen all the myriad aspects of the law--not to mention the proper use of all the varieties of weapons--simply cannot be covered comprehensively in a one or two day class--and some areas require no classes at all for CCW permits.
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Old January 19, 2012, 09:37 AM   #9
Bartholomew Roberts
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I think point shooting can be effective in hitting a target. In terms of training, the whole point of training is to substitute a more effective reaction than the instinctive reaction your body would normally execute. If I do not practice looking for the sights in training, I am sure not going to pick up the habit when someone is shooting at me.

At its core, you must align the pistol with the target to hit the target. This can be done by body index/muscle memory, or by using the sights on the pistol. However, every time I practice using the sights to align the pistol with the target, I am also teaching my body the muscle memory it needs to make hits without the sights. Accordingly, the amount of time I spend practicing using any type of non-visual method to index the pistol with the target is extremely minimal and generally related to retention-type positions where seeing the sights is physically impossible.

And there are other issues, such as the Fairbairn-Applegate point shooting method, which works well enough and can be picked up quick; but has you presenting your pistol in basically the exact same pose that martial arts guys use to practice disarms.
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Old January 19, 2012, 10:06 AM   #10
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Nifty testing, MLeake.

Quote:
I wonder what the actual statistics would be if you polled civilians who were involved in discharging their weapon in self defense. If they even remember if their gun had sights . If we are talking real world, I would venture to say even those who were experienced didn't acquire sight alignment or sight picture.
By and large, I find the information on the use of point shooting in self defense cases to be anything but reliable. People have often claimed to have not seen their sights or not used their sights and such incidents are chalked up to be point shooting. The problem is that during high stress events, people often do not retain memories of specific tasks performed though such tasks are witnessed by others or caught on video. Ken Hackatorn talks about the SWAT officer in the North Hollywood robbery gun battle with the bandit who was attempting to change vehicles. Their police car rolled up and the officers bailed out to use the car for cover. One of the officers behind the trunk can be seen to lean out to fire, have a problem, lean back and fix the problem, then lean out and start firing. While reviewing the incident footage, he was asked what problem he had and he stated that he didn't have any problems. His actions were pointed out to him and he had no recollection of clearing the malfunction. Apparently his training kicked in and he cleared the problem without any real conscious thought.

People often have no idea how manyt rounds they fired from their guns, claiming to have fired just once or twice and discovering they shot to empty or lockback. They have no recollection of firing that many times.

So when there are reports of people not using their sights because they have no recollection of the event, I have my doubts as to the accuracy of the statements.

The other issue is that there appears to be two types of point shooting that people may use, but may not distinguish separately. There is point shooting where the gun is fired without looking at the gun in any fashion and then their in indexed shooting which many folks consider to be point shooting because the shooter does not directly use his sights, yet still orients the gun visually, indexing it. While the sights may not be used, it is still a form of visually aimed fire.
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Old January 19, 2012, 10:16 AM   #11
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We are in the process of acquiring some horse property. In a couple months, I should have a high enough berm, on my own place, that I should be able to play a little with hip shooting.

I am not sure how much I will be able to tighten up unsighted fire. A previous experiment showed pretty good results with Massad Ayoob's flash sight technique, so I think I may play some more with that, too.
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Old January 19, 2012, 10:18 AM   #12
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While I definitely agree with training providing muscle memory, defensive shooting scenarios have you, the respondent, reacting quickly to an action that you have deemed requires deadly force. Most of these encounters in a real time, real world environment, have you drawing your weapon, presenting, and firing in a non static way. Clearing your dwelling for example (what you think about this is probably subjective) to me is not defensive. Yes you may be responding with an investigation to a sound that indicates an intruder, but your weapon is normally drawn, ready. If you encounter the intruder across the room, you are sighted in. If you are attacked while walking down the street, it is usually a surprise attack and no matter your training, when and if you draw and engage, sights are are not practical and you are probably moving. If your muscle memory has you bringing up the sights and acquiring SA/SP, you lose valuable time. I do train both ways, sighted and unsighted with an emphasis on unsighted because in my mind, that is how, if I ever need to draw my weapon in the civilian world, it will be best utilized.


Great shooting by the way MLeake
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Old January 19, 2012, 10:31 AM   #13
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Agree with visual indexing nomenclature--it's what I do. point and shoot I guess would be more like "from the hip?"
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Old January 19, 2012, 10:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icedog88
If your muscle memory has you bringing up the sights and acquiring SA/SP, you lose valuable time.
You know, I've seen that assertion made often enough that I timed myself last time I was out in the tactical bay and the time difference was between 0.08 seconds (best to best) and 0.18 seconds (worst to worst), with sighted fire being faster for me. So I am having a difficult time buying the "not enough time" argument because I am not seeing that in my own shooting.

In my past experience in various shoooting schools and Force-on-Force, it seems that mindset and situational awareness are usually some of the biggest "time-sinks" in terms of where people waste time. In my limited experience, the biggest mistake I see people make is they spend way too much time observing, orienting, and deciding and then they try to make up all that wasted time in the "action" part of the OODA loop. Inevitably, they try to "save time" by making a hasty, fumbled draw and not use their sights and they go down in a really ugly and spectacular fashion. The less time you have, the less you can afford big time-costers... like missing.
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Old January 19, 2012, 10:59 AM   #15
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A friend of mine has a P229 in .40S&W, its the only handgun he had fired. One day I brought some of my guns to the range, and he fired 5 shots out of my SP101, at about 7 yards, and did not hit an 8x11" piece of paper once. 5 clean misses at 7 yards.

Neither of us knows what happened, after a reload he hit it but had a huge grouping. He's not great with the Sig but can hit paper reliably.

Having some kind of baseline for everyone before they're allowed to carry is a good idea to get the "outliers" up to a safe standard.
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Old January 19, 2012, 11:19 AM   #16
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Quote:
Having some kind of baseline for everyone before they're allowed to carry is a good idea to get the "outliers" up to a safe standard
What baseline? Who's baseline?

One's baseline would be 6 inches at 6 feet in 6 seconds. Someone else might be 6 inches at 25 yards in 10 seconds.

Do you want someone like Blomberg setting the baseline?

I'll be willing to bet if you ask ten people what they think should be the baseline, you'll get 10 different answers.

You can bet a pro-gun person will set a different baseline then an anti-gun person.

I'm all for training, I'm against mandatory training which could too easily lead to back door gun control.
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Old January 19, 2012, 11:34 AM   #17
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No need here to detour into "required training debate" territory.
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Old January 19, 2012, 11:36 AM   #18
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^ 5 to Kraigwy,,,

Quote:
I'm all for training, I'm against mandatory training which could too easily lead to back door gun control.
Just look at the insane hoops D.C. implemented after they lost the law suit,,,
Mandatory training and arbitrary standards are more difficult to defeat than bad laws.

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Old January 19, 2012, 11:55 AM   #19
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Never been to any "school" other than while stationed at Quantico in the early 90s. Back then it was aimed fire using SP/SA vs point shooting. Nothing in between and it wasn't shooting from the hip. The idea was to present from the flap holster, bringing the weapon up your side til about chest level, start to push out from your chest and lining up your arm to the target,firing as you extend towards it. Granted it has probably evolved a lot since then, but this is the technique that I continue to use and has served me well.

Quote:
People have often claimed to have not seen their sights or not used their sights and such incidents are chalked up to be point shooting.
But who is to say it wasn't?
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Old January 19, 2012, 12:13 PM   #20
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I agree that any kind of mandatory training and testing is highly suspect in the same way that having to take a test on the constitution to be able to vote would be suspect. That has been done, you know.

I think point shooting as I'm using the term does involve visually indexing the handgun (an expression I could not possibly have come up with on my own). It just doesn't involve careful alignment of the sights. Flash sight picture? Maybe. It might be worth pointing out that at the time Fairbairn and his student Applegate were working out their methods of training, handgun sights were poor compared with what is typically found on a handgun today. To an extent, rifle sights have also come a long ways and no one would think of using a rifle without using the sights, although there is still something called snap shooting with a rifle. And how do you imagine shotgunners ever hit those moving targets?

I'd have to say that literally shooting from the hip is a bad thing to attempt unless your target is within an arm's length. One frequently sees references to the distances at which police officers engage, successfullly or not. I wonder what the distances involved might be when a non-policeman is in a gunfight? And by the way, I do not see an armed citizen as being an extension of law enforcement.
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Old January 19, 2012, 12:18 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartholomew Roberts
In my limited experience, the biggest mistake I see people make is they spend way too much time observing, orienting, and deciding and then they try to make up all that wasted time in the "action" part of the OODA loop. Inevitably, they try to "save time" by making a hasty, fumbled draw and not use their sights and they go down in a really ugly and spectacular fashion.
This is a terrific point. In competition this kind of thing can cost seconds and mean the difference between first and tenth place. In defensive shooting it can mean something much worse.


I think most people that are say point shooting is faster than aimed fire have simply not practiced obtaining a sight picture as part of the draw stroke enough.

This is not to say that I don't think there is a time and place for point shooting. In fact I have a 22/45 that I bought specifically to practice point shooting (hip shooting). I have spoken with local sheriff's deputies that did the exact same thing, even going to the lengths of removing the sights so they had to point shoot with it... I didn't remove the sights from mine. That's silly, what if I want practice aimed fire too?
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Old January 19, 2012, 12:30 PM   #22
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In several previous posts,,,

I have extolled the virtues of being able to point shoot,,,
The discussion almost always devolves to the question of "why".

My response to that is always the same,,,

Why not?

It uses up very little ammunition to practice this technique,,,
You are quickly hitting center mass at established self-defense distances.

So again I say,,,
Why not learn to point shoot.

Aarond
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Old January 19, 2012, 12:36 PM   #23
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Quote:
People have often claimed to have not seen their sights or not used their sights and such incidents are chalked up to be point shooting.
I always question ideal that if the shooter doesn't specif icily remember using their sights, its chalked up to point shooting.

I do believe the shooter may not remember. It goes back to training and muscle memory. If you train using your sights, develop muscle memory using your sights, then chances are you used your sights and just don't remember or realize it.

I'll give one example, I shot a moose one time that was attacking my patrol car. I don't even remember drawing my gun, I just remember lowering it and seeing the bull slide to a stop.

I talked to another officer who was there (the one who took the picture I've posted a time or two). I thought I drew and shoot from the hip, he told me No, I drew through the gun up to a classic on handed shooting stance and fired. To hit the moose where I did, I'm convinced now I had to use my sights.

Same thing about rifle shooting. Often when someone ask me how I do this or that, I can't answer, I've done so much rifle shooting I often have to pick up the rifle and dry fire before I can say how I did what.

Not saying people don't point shoot, not saying they do, I'm saying you can't go by what he says afterwords, he just may not remember.

Nor am I saying which one is best, I think you need both. I think if I'm really close, one handed I point shoot, I'm pretty sure every time I use two hands I use my sights. If you have time to grip the gun with two hands you have time to use your sights. But that's not saying every time I use one hand, I point shoot, I don't. I do both, weak or strong hand.

Often I have to slow down to see how I shoot, I just don't remember.

Muscle memory and training. Training creates muscle memory. If developed, under stress you're going to revert to training whether you know it or not.
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Old January 19, 2012, 12:43 PM   #24
Bartholomew Roberts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aarongraham
Why not learn to point shoot.
I think one valid concern is that by training yourself not to use your sights, you may end up not using your sights in a situation where you should be using them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kraigwy
I'll give one example, I shot a moose one time that was attacking my patrol car. I don't even remember drawing my gun, I just remember lowering it and seeing the bull slide to a stop.
Another example, I've had three front sights shear off on me. Even though I don't always recall consciously using the front sight, in every single case I remember tracking the front sight as it flew through the air and I can remember my mind sending that "Something is not right" message before I caught on to what had happened. If you had asked me if I was focusing on the front sight, I would have probably said no; but as soon as it went missing, I noticed it.
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Old January 19, 2012, 01:24 PM   #25
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@Bluetrain--I probably needed to elaborate on that comment. What I meant was is that in our society we typically expect the police to provide the function of protection, and if necessary, engagement with deadly force (notwithstanding whatever interpretation we might have on the effectiveness--or even constitutionality of that).

Most of the time, when a police officer is involved in a shooting a review of it is fairly automatic and they are generally held to a very high standard of the "justified use" in the process (again, no comment on how well that works out all the time). We as "regular citizens" must be expected to be held to the same legal standards that most police officers have, at least to my way of thinking--we become "dealers of justifiable force" individually when we decide to bear--and possibly use, firearms. I DO NOT mean literally we become citizen vigilantes that dispense law enforcement.
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