View Full Version : Aiming vs Pointing...

Dave McC
June 21, 2000, 09:27 AM
Maybe it's time to get away from the hardware just a little and talk about techniques.

If one watches a good quail shot,grouse shot, etc, one sees the shooter firing as soon as the gun is in position. Few pay attention to the bead or the bbls except peripherally, one watches the bird and the gun is incidental to the sight picture.

The other end of the spectrum is in HD, or deer hunting with slugs,one uses sights,and aims as with a rifle. This can still be fast, like the flash sight picture taught in those high priced shooting schools, but it's still aimed fire.

Of course, one can go the Hollywood route here, shoot from the hip, but we're talking real world. If John Wayne was ever in a fire fight, he'd have been toast PDQ.

So when does one aim, or point? Small moving targets at ranges where one has a pattern calls for pointing. Long range pass shooting on birds is kinda in between, a sustained lead means aiming way in front of the critter firing and keeping the weapon moving as you do. FYI, I find that kind of shooting very difficult, just like hitting those bouncing rabbit clays on a course.

For HD(which is a major concern for many of us) one aims, oft very fast. This is not as difficult,in theory,as the above. The target is closer, slower,and much larger. However, adrenaline and danger will make everything harder,and one does in combat what one does in training.

Try this inside dry fire exercise...

Make sure your shotgun is unloaded, leave the room with the ammo,and take no ammo with you. When this is done, CHECK YOUR WEAPON AGAIN.

Now, pick s spot on the wall, a picture, any good small reference point. Mount the weapon while focussing on the target point. Is the front sight where it needs to be? Or does the weapon need adjusting to bring everything together?

This is where good fit becomes apparent. If your form is good and the weapon fits, you should be on the money.Otherwise, work on technique and adjust the fit until this happens. A stock that's a little short is easier to use than one that's a bit long.

Now, pack up your shotgun and head for the range. Set up your target of choice at distances from contact range to 25 yards. Starting from a ready position, fire one round at each target. Start each time from zero, with the weapon in the condition it's usually kept. If that's cruiser ready(my choice), start it from that EACH time.Now, burn up some ammo.

You'll note that as the distance increases, more care must be taken to ensure hits. After a few sessions, start timing the relays,not to be competitive, but to know if it's falling into place for you.

NOTE: Since my HD 870 has a hooded front sight, I can use that for extreme close range sight picture by kinda figure 8-ing that and the aperture sight, and aiming a little low. This works for me and is not guaranteed to work for others, but there may be some thing else that does. Experiment a bit.

June 21, 2000, 01:08 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Excellent use of bandwidth.

For the past month, I have been getting used to shooting a shotgun, not a pistol. I have consistently gotten better results from pointing than aiming, on the trap range and at targets less than 15 yards away.

Dave McC
June 21, 2000, 02:13 PM
Amen, Erick. There's no sight in the world faster to acquire than a Ghost Ring setup. The variant I described is a close range technique only,of course.

Ledbetter, thanks.Maybe we'll see a few more discussions on stuff like this and less on PGs and lazers(G)...

June 22, 2000, 03:52 PM
Good topic. Dave, I can't shoot sustained lead or point for some reason. I need to swing through the bird and shoot when the muzzle passes the beak. Anyone know who first said that the little bead on the end of the barrel is to keep the gun from falling over when you prop it against a tree? I've wondered about that quote for ages. John

Dave McC
June 22, 2000, 05:49 PM
Damfino, John. Sounds like Gene Hill, could be Babcock or Steve Smith. True, whomsoever the author....

And thanks.

Art Eatman
June 22, 2000, 07:42 PM
I was never very good with a shotgun. Didn't have any really good places for dove hunting, and wasn't really interested in skeet.

I shot IPSC in 1981-1983. Moved out here to Terlingua. The next dove season, I amazed myself! I was hitting almost every bird I shot at!

I've always believed the "Front sight, bang!" of the IPSC style got me into the same sort of procedure on doves. Worked on quail, too.

In 1982 at the Steel Challenge, I visited with John Satterwhite. He told me that the butt stock functions as the rear sight. If it fits you properly, the gun mounts into place properly.

After some practice on moving targets, particularly crossing targets, you'll already be moving for "lead" as you bring the gun up to your shoulder. So, with this lead sorta built in to what you're doing, and the gun mounted correctly, "Front sight, Bang!" and bird to game bag...

I guess.

:), Art

Dave McC
June 22, 2000, 08:16 PM
Art, I'm no local legend in the dove fields either, but...
The shots that really don't work for me are the ones where I can see a bird coming for quite a while, but the ones that just show up in range are in more danger. Might be something to your theory...

Al Thompson
June 23, 2000, 06:12 AM
Having shot rifled arms most of my life, the problem I have with shotguns (I do shoot skeet) is that I stop my swing and look at the front sight when it's time to shoot. Usually after the first round of skeet I can adjust my hair covered computer to look at the target and my hits rise accordingly.

I have played around with the old "Quick Kill/Lucky McDaniels" shoulder point system enough to accept it's viability in a combat environment.

For HD though, I want pin-point shot placement.


Dave McC
June 23, 2000, 01:01 PM
Giz, try a very close range scenario some time with that HD shotgun, say 5 feet. You may pleasantly surprise yourself.Do mount the weapon rather than Hollywooding from the hip, tho.

Patrick Graham
June 24, 2000, 09:46 AM
Excellent dissertation.. and, for once, I agree with you.

I was born and raised on pheasant hunting. The only shots I always missed were the ones where I "aimed". Keeping your eyes on the target and lot's of practice works wonders. Shooting skeet is the best practice I know of.

Dave McC
June 24, 2000, 10:16 AM
Skeet's great,Clays are great, on realistic courses. Hand thrown trap works also. The big thing is working on form as you shoot.

And it can be difficult. Pop was about the best wing shot I ever saw, but he didn't know why he was so good. I didn't do my best work until my 30s, when I got some lessons.

Al Thompson
June 24, 2000, 03:04 PM
Dave I've done a fair amount of CQB stuff with the shotgun. I have noticed that if the target is cardboard and close, you can set'em on fire. :D

As a clarification - the only time I can see hip shooting is when the muzzle is making contact with the target.


Dave McC
June 25, 2000, 06:37 AM
Agreed on hip shooting,Giz. My old qualifier had some in it,and after firing hundreds of rounds that way, contact distance is it.

Set them on fire, huh? Whatever works(G)....

June 25, 2000, 12:53 PM
Always nice to remember the fundamentals! I agree 100% here! (that's something that is becoming more and more rare...) For me, in trap, I do use the bead. Yes, I use the bead! In fact, I couldn't shoot without the bead. I use the bead for mounting consistently, not aiming though. That's what the bead is there for! In trap, I have my gun set to shoot high. Generally, when the bird is covered by the end of the bbl, I shoot. I do not wait for it to be covered though, that'd be aiming. It just works out that way, to be covered when I fire. If you aim, then you are doing way to many mental processes, and that slows you down. The longer the bird is in the air, the more causation yoru pattern is subject to. Point to shoot fast -- period.


June 25, 2000, 01:24 PM
The great debate.

The argument that point shooters have that is valid is that tunnel vision is a major factor when Billy the ax murderer is upon you.pointers will tell you that you will never see the sight and only the ax.i believe there is some truth to that.

In the same respect I feel that point shooting is nothing more than your muscle memory of thousands of repetitive draw stokes from the holster and pushing the gun up to eye level.

If this is true then why not train with your sights.?if the pointers are right and you will never see your sights then what is wrong with training with them?the worst thing that can happen in a fight is that you bring the gun up to eye level and you see your sights!wow wouldn't that be bad.lol.

Seriously I believe in sighted fire and practice it at all times.are there times that I practice unaimed fire .?yes.why? just to reaffirm in my mind how important it is to use the sights.

i think there is a third tech that is valid.it is taught by Jim cirrilo.he has been in more gun fights than some people have changed their underware.he uses the rear outline of the slide as a sight and gets good results.about a year ago Duane Thomas did a report on him in swat magazine and used both the frontsight approach and the cirrilo method.he found that accuracy was not affected all that much and that the times were about even.
the cirillo tech works great in very low light when it is still possible to identify the threat but you are unable to see the sights. i used this tech once at a night shoot with only abiant light and no night sights and got great hits.try it you might like it.

ps this tech can also be used with the shotgun .just shoulder the shotgun and get a good positive cheekweld with the shotgun and use the outline of the front of the barrel for a front sight.you will get good hits up to about 10 yards.

[This message has been edited by gunmart (edited June 25, 2000).]