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Old January 28, 2014, 09:42 AM   #1
Rifleman1776
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handgun sights in a stress situation

I would like to hear from people who have actual experience using their handguns in a high stress situation. I carry a Ruger LCP and get, and have read, a lot of criticizm for it's near non-existant sights. I consider those an advantage as they cannot hang up on clothes when drawing under stress. From reading I have determined (learned?) that aiming is far less important that keeping the mind focused and pointing the front of the gun at the target. Having never shot in a high stress situation that is what I am trying to mentally train myself to do. I believe sights, in that case, are pointless.
For those who have had to use their handguns in an actual fight, I ask, do/did you really use your sights to aim carefully?
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Old January 28, 2014, 10:35 AM   #2
g.willikers
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Since there's a high probability of focusing more on the threat than the sights, using point shooting drills might be more revealing than testimonies.

Set up 2 or 3 targets at fairly close range, say less than 5 yards.
Human type targets are best, for some realism.
Use a timer to provide a time stress, set at about 3 sec max, preferably less - ~1/2 sec per target.
Engage the targets as fast as possible to beat the timer buzzer.
Can you use the sights?
Can you get good hits without them?
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Old January 28, 2014, 10:36 AM   #3
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Yes I have.
PM me and we'll chat.
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Old January 28, 2014, 11:38 AM   #4
Garycw
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If you have time to use your sights , I would think its not that high of stress. Luckily I haven't had the unfortunate situation of finding out. I would imagine it would be point & shoot though.
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Old January 28, 2014, 01:07 PM   #5
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I've been there and was able to focus on the sights and the target. I think, I would have been OK point-shooting too because I'm picky enough to by guns that point well.
I almost convinced myself the other day that the G42 is the best I've pointed with to date. It's critical to get a good pointer.
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Old January 28, 2014, 01:25 PM   #6
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Some experiences to relate:

- mine: came up with target focus, looking over the sights. Didn't have to shoot, but the circumstance was such that I had to be prepared to do so. It took very little time to realize that I was looking over the sights at his gun, and I quickly got on the sights at CoM until the situation was resolved.

- an officer I know was in a gunfight in open space (no available cover or concealment) and fired 3 misses looking at the threat, collected himself, and got 4 hits with his sights. This was a very fast exchange, so the adjustment didn't take long.

- some mil friends of mine who had to use their handguns while deployed have said that they absolutely used their sights. They had each been in firefights with rifles or carbines previously, which very likely helped get over the first time shock and threat focus.

- a DEA field agent I know has only related Rem 870 experiences, and said that he ran on instinct until he put a red dot on his shotgun. He pointed through his support hand thumb to target, which is actually how I used to practice draw presentation, and is how I reflexively came on target in my situation.


In sim work, under stress, I have repeatedly gotten on my sights immediately. I think that first situation did a lot for my internal wiring. I hope I never find out for sure.
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Old January 28, 2014, 01:48 PM   #7
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Different people react differently to stressful situations. Heck, I have reacted different ways in stressful situations so it's not a given that just because you did well under stress the first time, that you'll react the same way next time.

I've never had to shoot. I've never even had to draw. But I do know that what I have said above applies. Don't think that because you did well the first time, that it will always be the same for you.

For some people, the first time has an impact on the next time.
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Old January 28, 2014, 02:49 PM   #8
Frank Ettin
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It shouldn't be a matter of one or the other. Using the sights and point shooting techniques each have their uses. With training and practice, and sights you can see, it's amazing how quickly you can shoot accurately with a flash sight picture. But if you use a gun with sights that are difficult to see, you've hamstrung yourself and removed a potentially useful tool from your toolbox.

Here's how Greg Morrison describes the flash sight picture (Morrison, Gregory, The Modern Technique of the Pistol, Gunsite Press, 1991, pp 87 - 88, emphasis added):
Quote:
...The flash sight-picture involves a glimpse of the sight-picture sufficient to confirm alignment....The target shooter’s gaze at the front sight has proven inappropriate for the bulk of pistolfighting. However, the practical shooter must start at this level and work up to the flash, which becomes reflexive as motor skills are refined. With practice, a consistent firing platform and firing stroke align the sights effortlessly. This index to the target eventually becomes an instantaneous confirmation of the sight-picture.

...Using the flash sight-picture programs the reflex of aligning the weapon’s sights with the target instantly....There is good reason for sights: one needs them to align the barrel with the target reliably....
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Old January 28, 2014, 05:57 PM   #9
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Jim Cirello....

The late Jim Cirello was considered a top firearms expert & trainer.
He retired from the NYPD where he was involved in multiple use of force shootings. Cirello had a lethal force event 15 minutes after he started a anti-robbery detail.
He went on to be a instructor for the US Customs Service(now ICE), www.fletc.gov . Cirello once stated he kept a close eye on his revolver's front sight picture during a lethal force event. He always taught students/trainees to watch the revolver sights.
James Cirello wrote several non fiction books & articles. He would be a great source of details.
He pasted on a few years ago after a bad car accident.

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Old January 28, 2014, 06:42 PM   #10
jason_iowa
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irrelevant. Sights at self defense ranges are of no use. Its all about practice and muscle memory. At that range you should be able to close your eyes and still hit a man sized target. If you cant you probably need to practice more.

Lasers and night sights on self defense guns are just away to sell tacticool crap to people with more money then experience.
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Old January 28, 2014, 06:50 PM   #11
dawg23
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Quote:
irrelevant. Sights at self defense ranges are of no use. Its all about practice and muscle memory. At that range you should be able to close your eyes and still hit a man sized target. If you cant you probably need to practice more.
Maybe you could share with us what you consider "self defense ranges" to be.
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Old January 28, 2014, 10:41 PM   #12
RBid
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_iowa View Post
Lasers and night sights on self defense guns are just away to sell tacticool crap to people with more money then experience.

...which is why the world's elite remove the sights from their handguns, and only practice instinctive shooting.

Thank you for your time. I'm going to call my friends to tell them to forget everything they ever learned and used in combat. You have shown us all the true path.
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Old January 28, 2014, 10:52 PM   #13
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Post #10.....

I disagree 100% with post 10.
Look at the "recent high profile trial in central Florida".
If you took the forum member's advice or used those methods, how would that look in open court? Or a criminal investigation/civil action?
I could just picture the FBI agents or detectives going on the stand, one after another saying(honestly) how you used firearms without the sights. Or how you preached not using any sights or "shooting with your muscle memory".

The prosecutors, media & litigators will roll in a bus load of LE & military "experts" to explain to the jury/panel how wrong you were.

Firearm sights are there for a good reason.
Can point or CQB shooting save you? Yes. Is that the only way to use a sidearm? No.
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Old January 28, 2014, 11:28 PM   #14
Sharkbite
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Post # 10 is the most asinine thing ive ever read

Having been involved in a number of lethal force encounters both in the US and abroad i have used sights when needed and have point shot up close fast and furious

In fact in one shooting i transitioned to the sights when a 2nd tgt presented further away then the point blank first tgt

Both handgun and longgun in mltp encounters has tought me the need to practice and build proficiency in both sighted and unsighted shooting

Stop armchair commando ninja training from your couch. The OP asked for "real world" experience
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Old January 30, 2014, 09:04 PM   #15
jason_iowa
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Self defense ranges are generally considered 10 yards or less. Anything more then that and its tough to prove that you felt that you had no choice but to shoot back. There are plenty of studies you can look at that show the average range of self defense shootings. This should not be news to anyone here.

I know no le officers that have lasers on their side arms. I work and live in the Midwest so maybe in more metropolitan areas this is more common but i doubt it. On rifles this would be much more common but. I know of no military personnel who have lasers on their side arms. I spent 10 years in the Navy 4 of which were special ops. Carbines and rifles yes we had lasers and lights/IR etc etc. These were not defensive tools in any way shape or form. SWAT officers generally have more of the sighting tools on their weapons but again they are not using them defensively in most cases.

My whole premiss is based on shootings outside of your home by the way. You are under way less scrutiny if the shooting takes place inside your home.

On a defensive gun I would never use a laser sight. If you practice so little that you need a laser sight then you should probably rethink carrying a weapon at all. Great training tool while dry firing, useless dangerous junk on a carry weapon. Just my opinion based on years of experience in military and law enforcement. With actual combat not mall ninja bs
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Old January 30, 2014, 09:08 PM   #16
jason_iowa
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Quote:
Post # 10 is the most asinine thing ive ever read

Having been involved in a number of lethal force encounters both in the US and abroad i have used sights when needed and have point shot up close fast and furious

In fact in one shooting i transitioned to the sights when a 2nd tgt presented further away then the point blank first tgt

Both handgun and longgun in mltp encounters has tought me the need to practice and build proficiency in both sighted and unsighted shooting

Stop armchair commando ninja training from your couch. The OP asked for "real world" experience
Military and Law enforcement are completely different applications and rarely defensive. You are sanctioned by the government. You are under much less scrutiny. You are not confined to fear for your life to use lethal force. Its apples and oranges.

I agree that you should build proficiency in both sighted and unsighted shooting. What i'm saying is that in close combat situations which as close as I have been to defensive shooting I never consciously looked at the sights its point and shoot. Fractions of seconds count when someone is trying to do you harm.
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Old January 30, 2014, 09:28 PM   #17
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Government sanctions?....

I'm a bit confused, .
Are you saying that no sworn LE officers or military service members have fear? Or never get into lethal force events & need to worry about risk mgmt or mitigating risk(s)?


Real LE officers & service members constantly need to be concerned with lethal force issues, ROEs(rules of engagement), the UCMJ, laws/statues, SOPs, etc.
Many cops get sued for wrongful death or excessive force even after they are cleared by the LE agency or DA/State's Atty.
A group of deputies in my urban area who shot at a violent subject a reported 140 times in a drug bust settled the civil lawsuit(s) out of court. They were cleared of any misconduct & still had to pay out.
The late Chris Kyle, the SEAL who wrote American Sniper stated several times in the book how he needed to comply with the US Navy & USSOCOM regulations/orders re; EKIAs(enemy kills). Kyle was required to note all the details & be aware of anything that might prevent him from having a clear shot.
Do you seriously think Kyle & other service members in SW Asia weren't scared? Or were not concerned with being brought up on false/bogus charges due to a lethal force event?
Do you think that would be easy or simple to deal with?
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Old January 30, 2014, 09:43 PM   #18
DoubleDeuce 1
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Sights? Use them!
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Old January 30, 2014, 09:51 PM   #19
jason_iowa
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That is not what i said at all. They are not required to fear for their life to use lethal force.

Sure they have to follow rules of engagement but if you were involved in combat as you say you were you know darn well that fearing for your life was not required to use lethal force.

Police and police departments should be sued for wrongful death when they are in the wrong. We all have seen plenty of bad shoots from irresponsible LE officers.

An LE officer can use lethal force on a fleeing felon that is considered a danger to the community with out fear for his own life. A civilian may not. No one can honestly argue that lethal force used in combat or law enforcement is the same as a self defense shooting. Its an absurd argument to say that because they were afraid that some how becomes a legal requirement and anyone not afraid is guilty of a war crime.

Getting shot at is scary no argument here. I wake up plenty screaming dreaming about it 15 years later.

Some people are of the opinion that sights are useful at defensive ranges. I am not of that opinion and like i have said in my close combat experience sights were not useful. If you don't care for that opinion that's fine. You are free to have your opinion as well. I'm of the opinion that lasers on a defensive weapon are a crutch for the ill-prepared and a liability. You do not have to share in that opinion.
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Old January 30, 2014, 10:10 PM   #20
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If your 'special ops' unit taught you not to use your handgun sights, they might have been the wrong kind of 'special', IMHO.

Did you guys deploy via bus? Was it, shall we say, truncated?


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Old January 30, 2014, 10:15 PM   #21
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Sights have a place. Having someone rush you from 12 feet away isn't one of them. That's close enough for point shooting. If you can get to full extension you should probably use the sights. There are plenty of instances where full extension would either not be advisable or not possible.
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Old January 30, 2014, 10:52 PM   #22
RBid
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Jason Iowa,

The role of the shooter is dramatically different between private citizen carriers and those carrying in service roles. No question or disagreement there. Having said that, all of the guys I referenced above used their handguns inside realistic defensive ranges. One friend said his longest range using a handgun was about 40 feet. Most described situations ranging from 5-30 feet. Among those was a friend going Sig P220 vs AK inside of a room.

When they referenced using sights, it was always in a flash context, except the one LEO describing relatively deliberate aiming after instinctively firing the first three rounds. The sights were useful for them at defensive distances.

There is an asterisk. None of them used sights at contact distances. That makes sense, of course. They weren't at extension in 5 foot gunfights.

You may not have used your sights at close ranges. I believe you when you say that they weren't useful for you. I also believe these friends when they relate their experiences. These are no BS, upstanding guys, who have earned my trust.

After having spoken with them, experienced my own situation, and done a lot of sim work, I wouldn't want to go without sights. Beyond 7 feet or so, I prefer having them for flash reference. Inside that distance, I would almost assuredly not use them. The time it takes to be aware of them at realistic defensive distances is near zero, and hits are worth the investment.
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Old January 30, 2014, 11:25 PM   #23
MT 73
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Use the sights--that is why they are there. Case closed.
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Old January 31, 2014, 12:53 AM   #24
Marty Hayes
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My close friend, the late Jim Cirillo was in over a dozen gunfights as a member of the NYPD stakeout unit. He used his sights, from his first gunfight to his last.
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Old January 31, 2014, 08:11 AM   #25
Garycw
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handgun sights in a stress situation

Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_iowa View Post
. Carbines and rifles yes we had lasers and lights/IR etc etc. These were not defensive tools in any way shape or form. SWAT officers generally have more of the sighting tools on their weapons but again they are not using them defensively in most cases.
( I would still consider a carbine a defensive weapon as you said in most cases)

My whole premiss is based on shootings outside of your home by the way. You are under way less scrutiny if the shooting takes place inside your home.

( a defensive shooting is going to be stressful in or out the home)

On a defensive gun I would never use a laser sight. If you practice so little that you need a laser sight then you should probably rethink carrying a weapon at all. Great training tool while dry firing, useless dangerous junk on a carry weapon. Just my opinion based on years of experience in military and law enforcement. With actual combat not mall ninja bs
(Everyone has an opinion. At the range or target shooting at home, the laser grips are turned off. When gun is doing nightstand duty, the laser is on. I also appreciate the night sights glowing in the dark. My gun lays in the same orientation & distance, but it helps when waking from a dead sleep in a pitch dark room to see exactly where it's at.)

Last edited by Frank Ettin; January 31, 2014 at 12:07 PM. Reason: vularity
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