View Full Version : Transitioning from Point shoot to Front sight

June 6, 2006, 11:51 AM
This is my 2nd year of going to IPSC and it is a lot of fun. However in my quest for improvement, I have seen the following observations:

Point shooting is great for 10-12 feet distances - I usually get 90% of my shots in the Alpha zone. My time is not bad either too. 5.21 seconds for 5 shots per target with a reload in between (2 targets).

Sight alingment for long shots 30-60 feet, I am pretty decent. About 50% in the Charlie, Delta zones, 25% in Alpha, and 25% Mikes.

Engaging targets of varying distances however, I have some issues when transitioning from a short range target / point shooting to traditional front sight alingment shots. Either I take too much time to transition and it slows me down too much, or I go PS the whole match and my accuracy does to the toilet.

Any tips on how to successfully transition between these 2 disparate techniques? Or is there a third technique that combines the best of both worlds? :cool:

June 6, 2006, 11:58 AM
How about just use your sights all the time and forget about transitioning?

June 6, 2006, 12:17 PM
Slows you down in the close range shooting. You can never come close to the time put in by the GM's and M's.

June 6, 2006, 12:51 PM
I thought the GMs and Ms used their sights. The top ones in the field (like Latham) frequently teach their techniques to top tier military units. They definitely don't teach them not to use their sights.

June 6, 2006, 01:29 PM
I've often heard from GM's & M's to only shoot as 'fast as you can see' and that to be consistent across the course of a match, or course of fire, one needs to be able to call the shots (which means reading the sights the instant that the shot is released, so that you 'know' where the shot hit on the target).

However, what one 'needs to see' to call each shot varies at different distances.

At 10-12 feet, one doesn't need that perfect bulls-eye sight alignment to hit two A's. Just seeing the front sight in the rear notch as it passes into the A-zone at this distance will usually suffice.

At 30-60 feet, one will need to see the front sight in the notch, level with the rear sight, aligned in the A-zone, and light on each side of the front sight as the shot is released.

With practice and awareness, the time it takes to release shots at this distance shrinks.

Here's a drill that I've used to help me with transitions from near to far.
3 paper targets @ 10y, 2 steel targets @ 18y. Engage left to right or right to left. Two on each paper, 1 on each steel. (P1, S1, P2, S2, P3)




(This is from Saul Kirsch's book Perfect Practice and he has several other great drills addressing transitions of all types).

Hope this helps.

Zak Smith
June 6, 2006, 02:02 PM
There are a number of inputs available to perceive where the pistol is aimed, from a rough kinesthetic awareness, through index, to seeing the slide outline on the target, to a clear front sight focus.

To develop the ability to switch between them, you can set up simple drills like the one you mentioned in the top post. For example, set up 3 IPSC targets at 7 yards, 1-3 yards apart. From the draw, shoot the first two twice using one of the more "pointy" methods, but on the last target concentrate on getting that clear FS focus. You can obviously mix this up to practice all the different transitions from slow/fast/slow.

In match stages, decide which targets you're going to use what aiming methods in your stage plan, and shoot to the plan.


June 6, 2006, 02:57 PM
In Brian Enos' book, I think he talks about a number of different focusing techniques. I haven't read all of his book, and what I did read wasn't recent, but I think you have to adopt enough focus to get the hits, which is the equivalent of seeing what you need to see. I don't think I have a hard focus on my front sight on targets within ten yards, unless it's head shots or steel plates. You can use a mid-focus, with neither the sights nor the target(s) sharp, that allows you to engage at a lot of distances without having to shift. That might account for most targets in the 7-15 yard range, depending on skill. Closer, I see the gun between my eye and the target, but I'm focused, literally and figuratively, on the target. I'm usually hard on the front sight at anything that's smaller than a full target that's beyond ten yards. At fifteen, it's usually all front sight, for me.
I've been shooting IPSC for eight years, and a lot of my shooting awareness developed only in the last two years, or so. I'm sure the learning curve can be accelerated via practice and good instruction.

June 6, 2006, 04:12 PM
Great suggestions guys. Quick question -

Does anyone close their non-dominant eye when shooting targets at extreme pistol range - 30-60 feet or more?

Zak Smith
June 6, 2006, 04:14 PM
I always shoot pistol and carbine both eyes open.

June 8, 2006, 01:02 PM
Does anyone close their non-dominant eye on long, fine shots? Yeah, Rob Leatham does. I think Brian Enos admits to having done it on occasion, as well. While there is evidence that there is an overall benefit to shooting with both eyes open, there are specific situations where it may be beneficial to close, or at least diminish the contribution of, the weak eye. My dominant eye is not especially dominant, and on shots requiring a lot of precision (say, a partial target or US popper at fifteen yards or more), I close my off eye a bit, to clear up my view the front sight and the specific point at which I'm aiming.

June 29, 2006, 01:42 PM
You should always use your sights. When I was competing regularly, I could get 1st shot "A" hits in .72 and call each shot. Part of the problem is shooters tend to think that you need to be concious of seeing your sight to have seen it. You don't, that is confirming your sight. Also, it is different with iron sights and optics. Optics are much easier because you focus on where you want the shot to hit and when the red dot is there, press the trigger. With iron sights, you need to focus on the front sight. The difference is in how "fine" the sight picture is. If you are shooting up close, as soon as the dot enters the "A" zone, press the trigger - with iron sights the front post just needs to be visible in the rear notch. As the distance increases, the finer your sight picture must be. For a 50 yard shot, your sight alignment needs to be perfect. Work on these two things: 1. Being aware of your sight - you don't have to conciously acknowledge it (again, that is confirming), just see it. It's fleeting, the best analogy I can think of is when you see a falling star from the corner of your eye - you saw it, clearly, but you didn't savor the image. You do that by removing your concious mind from the equation.
2. Learn to call your shots - all of them! Practice at the speed where you can reliably call your shots. Then increase your speed.

As far as the non-dominant eye goes, if you are having trouble, try this:
Take a piece of scotch transparent tape and put it on the lens of your non-dominant eye horizontally from about the center of the lens up. The tape should block the view of everything from the wrist forward with your arms in the shooting position. Brian and Rob both use this technique and got me using it back in the 80's. It removes the double sight picture/target problem yet allows you more peripheral vision and greater depth of field than using one eye. Use it only with iron sights, if you are having trouble with optics I would venture a guess that you are trying to focus on the dot and not the target.

June 30, 2006, 01:17 PM

That is really good stuff. I will print it out and probably incorporate these techniques into my shooting.

However I am using IPSC competitive shooting as training for real world scenarios, and one of the training books I am reading now - Basic Gunfighting 101, is taking about how target shooting is different from real world shooting - you wont be able to use your sights under extreme stress.

So I plan to train using point shooting and see how accurate I can get. So far early results for close range shooting (under 30 feet) are pretty good.

June 30, 2006, 02:13 PM
However I am using IPSC competitive shooting as training for real world scenarios, and one of the training books I am reading now - Basic Gunfighting 101, is taking about how target shooting is different from real world shooting - you wont be able to use your sights under extreme stress.

That's a highly questionable assumption. More than a few individuals involved in a gunfights have indicated seeing their front sights rather distinctly. And the argument that you won't use your sights is completely unprovable, since a person who trains to use their sights may do so and simply not recall it, much like a person who trains to speed load might not realize they've done it until they see the empty at their feet.

June 30, 2006, 02:24 PM
I've done a bit of point shooting and had some training in it at Sigarms Academy.

What I found is that when the target is close, stationary, and I'm squared up to the target and not moving, that I'm faster point shooting. As soon as I'm moving or the target is moving, I have to use the sights or my accuracy goes all to heck.


June 30, 2006, 02:32 PM
A very wise platoon sargeant once told me "you fight the way you train". Just because someone does not consciously recall seeing/using their sights does not mean that they didn't. To assume that one cannot/will not use them under stress is folly. While some will argue that you can point shoot quickly, I would argue that you can use sighted fire just as fast. When I was competing regularly, I could shoot .72 "A" hits all day long and splits of .11 and call my shots. That indicates that I used the sights. So, my question would be if I can do that using the sights, why would I consider not using them? The purpose of practice is to refine one's skill until it becomes "automatic" (I don't like the term "second nature"). When you have achieved that level, you will use the skill without thought. You fight the way you train, train to use your sights.

June 30, 2006, 02:43 PM
Why not ?
And who says you won't ?

I have never been in a gunfight, but I tend to disagree with this assumption. I think the problem is that using the sights (or whatever) hasn't become part of your muscle memory or something that you do without even thinking about it. I can't tell you the number of things in my life that have become totally automatic through repitition. Some of them were hard when I first started doing them, but after doing them over and over and over again, I now do them without giving it any thought. Typing is a good example. At one time, I couldn't type and could hardly believe that it was possible to hit the right key without finding it first by looking for it on the keyboard. Eventually, in high school, I took a typing class and learned how to type but I still made a lot of mistakes. If you awakened me in the middle of the night with something that scared the crap out of me I probably couldn't have put my finger right on the "Z" key without looking for it. But, after typing for years, it is now something that I do without giving it any thought at all. Again, this is just one example. I firmly believe that this is why people don't look at their sights when under stress or why people don't react with the correct martial arts technique when under stress or whatever.
I think the top shooters train a hell of a lot more than most of us. I was recently reading a book written by an IPSC pro and he advocated spending the same amount of time in dry practice as you do on the range. He mentioned that he had a range behind his home. So, he probably goes out there every day or most days. BUT, he then spends an equal amount of time in the house dry practicing. With that kind of practice regimen I am sure that a lot of things that seem hard to you and I would simply become second nature. Time would seem to slow down: You would be doing things far faster than you ever thought possible because it would all be automatic which means it wouldn't require any conscious thought which means it would be smooth.

July 6, 2006, 04:09 PM
Lurper had a great discussion with the moderator on another board where point-style shooting is advocated at modest distances. Lurp starts at post # 10.


July 6, 2006, 05:11 PM

For starters, I'm a point-shooting kind-of-guy. This is NOT to be confused with the "point-and-shoot" method espoused by some.
Threat-Focused shooting is not so much about ignoring your sights as it is about focusing on the threat rather than your sights....which, in my own experience, is what is most likely to happen under stress.

The misconception that point-shooting is better than sighted shooting needs to be laid to rest. You won't find any serious threat-focused shooters who will say that one is consistently better than the other, all things being equal. The Threat-Focused community readily argues that both sighted-fire and point-shooting skills are simply valuable tools that should fit together - no one wants to replace sights, and nobody is telling people that you don't need to "sight" your weapon.

One of the most common misconceptions is that - in the Threat-Focused sense - "unsighted" means "un-AIMED"; this is not true. As someone above pointed out, there are many different visual inputs one may use to acquire a "sighted picture" - from the outline of the slide in relation to the target, to true front-sight focus, to body indexing. One of the things that frustrates me most in these "Point Shooting vs. Sighted Fire" debates is that people refuse to grasp this concept - or maybe it is never explained correctly.

Whatever visual stimuli a person uses to bring their weapon accurately on target can be logically considered "sighting"...it's just that some people don't ALWAYS use the traditional "sights" that are mounted on the weapon.

If any of you bow-hunt or have great-great grandfathers who carried SA Six-shooters in the old days, you should know what I'm talking about.

The transition from point-shooting to sights is not difficult - you just have to get your mind wrapped around what feels natural and what doesn't. Many people think that it's too confusing to think about when to use threat-focus and when to use sights. Well, they're partially right....it IS too confusing to think about it when the stress is on. That's why it's important to quit thinking and start shooting... your body and mind will tell you when a target is too far. Now, I'm not a competition shooter, so keep that in mind. Everything I've said may not help you at all when training for "competition".

As for who says you won't find your sights in a real gunfight? I know that from my own experience you are very VERY likely to focus on the THREAT when you are in fear for your life. While there are certainly cases where people don't remember seeing their sights but did in fact - probably - use them, there are still many cases of gunfights where the bullet wounds are in the arms and hands. This indicates that the person shooting was most likely focused on the gun/knife that the other person was holding.
Your body, under life-threatening stress, WANTS to focus on the THREAT.

Anyone ever have another vehicle pull out in front of you while you were driving down the road? Think about what you looked at....did your mind immediately seek an escape route and simply keep the "threat" in your peripheral vision? No - I am fairly positive that nearly everyone who has not received a decent amount of training found that their eyes were glued to the car you believed was about to hit you. What makes you think that an actual gunfight would be any different? Life-threatening stress. Admit it or not, the cases where people consciously use their sights in a gunfight spend a lot more time on their guns than 99% of the civilian population is willing or able to spend. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that "regular people just don't have the time or money to spend on extensive training"...

I put in a year of non-stop combat operations in Iraq - most of it moving house-to-house. If I am qualified to have an opinion on anything, it is what is likely to happen to you under life-threatening stress. I will promise you that the majority of people will NOT look for their sights when a gun is pointed at their heads.

So to argue that if people like Leatham use THEIR sights under stress then everyone else should be able to is outright madness, especially when/if you're not willing to put in the time behind the gun that he is.

The problem with comparing real-world situations to competition shooting is where you will exist within the reactionary curve. To say that competition is parallel to real-world is somewhat of a misnomer, if for no other reason than that you go to a competition PREPARED. You KNOW you will recieve a certain number of engagements within a certain window of time. Competition shooting places you either AHEAD or EVEN with the rectionary curve. Real-world is not that way and you will most often find yourself BEHIND the reactionary curve, or, at best, EVEN with it. Additionally, the only "real" stress that competition puts on you is that of "time"...not fear of death. I do not agree in drawing parallels between competition shooting and real-world situations.

You won't find any of us in the Threat-Focused world condemning sighted-fire. In fact, we use it ourselves. We don't advocate point-shooting as a replacement, or as something better, or as something to fill the void that sighted-fire leaves. No, point-shooting is simply another piece of the puzzle - it's up to the individual to decide how/if/where it fits in their personal philosophy. We're just trying to get people to understand that they don't need to be afraid of something that they don't understand.

When I was competing regularly, I could shoot .72 "A" hits all day long and splits of .11 and call my shots. That indicates that I used the sights.
Maybe, maybe not. What it DOES indicate is that you had enough visual input to know where your shots were going to go. Threat-Focused shooting is the same thing.

Look, it's a medical fact that you can't focus on more than one thing at a time, so even those of you who are outraged that people would advocate shooting without looking through the sights need to understand that you are - at some point - doing the very same thing you're upset about. There is no way you can focus on the front sight, rear sight, and target all at once...we can't even focus on the front sight and the target at the same time. So what happens is that you are "aware" of the relationship between the front sight and the rear sight, and your focus is on the target. OR, you are aware of the relationship between the target and the rear sight, and your focus is on the front sight. Either way, at SOME point during the cycle you're NOT focused purely on your sights - you are simply "aware" of them because they are your visual inputs to verify indexing.
Point shooting simply uses different visual indicators.

July 6, 2006, 08:24 PM
Look, it's a medical fact that you can't focus on more than one thing at a time, so even those of you who are outraged that people would advocate shooting without looking through the sights need to understand that you are - at some point - doing the very same thing you're upset about.

You can't focus on more than one thing, but you can see things you aren't focused on. We sort of can't function unless we were able to do so. Focus on your front sight and you can still see your target.

July 7, 2006, 01:53 PM
In response to your comments/questions, check out the link River posted above. I don't think I can be that eloquent today!

In this context if I understood the question, I don't think it is the same old debate.
The best skill to learn is the ability to see your sights and track your sights to the degree that you can call your shots. See my comments about "Fineness" above. What I wanted to illustrate to Dux is that you can see your sights that fast and that there is no reason to try to combine different techniques. I stll stand by my original question posted in the other forum: If I can shoot that fast using my sights, why would I consider not using them?
The difference is that now I have an answer to that question and a better understanding of the other view.

Some random thoughts for Dux:
Dux, concentrate on your sight. Every shot you fire will fall into one of 4 categories:
A draw and fire
A follow-up shot
A transition shot
A reload shot

Master each category individually and you have mastered the entire process. However, there is a lot that goes into the "perfect shot". Remember:
Speed = economy of motion
For example:
When firing a follow-up shot, you should see your sight the entire time. Because of the rifling, most guns recoil up and right, follow the sight as it tracks that path. While tracking, release the trigger and begin to pull it again. Pull the trigger until there is no more slack left in it (this is called "prepping" the trigger"). If you are relaxed and not introducing any tension into the gun, it will return to its starting point. When the sights reach the desired point of impact, press the trigger. The main thing is don't let the recoil cycle be dead time - prep the trigger, track the sight.

Don Gwinn
July 7, 2006, 02:01 PM
Oh, good! Another point-shooting debate.

Have fun, guys, and play nice.

July 7, 2006, 04:12 PM
You can't focus on more than one thing, but you can see things you aren't focused on. We sort of can't function unless we were able to do so. Focus on your front sight and you can still see your target.

You're right. However, it works from the other direction as well. If you can "be aware" of the target while looking through your sights, why can't you "be aware" of your sights while looking at the target?
It really comes down to defining "sights" as either the little things on top of your slide with the white dots OR defining "sights" as whatever visual input you use to get rounds where you want them.

Lurper -
I watched that thread develop on TFF and I must say that I agree with you on several points. One is that if you're fast enough looking through the sights then there isn't much of an argument for learning another technique that doesn't buy you a significant advantage. However, I tend to acknowledge that while certain shooters can do this the majority cannot...at least unless they are willing to train as extensively as you have.
Additionally, a common complaint among MOST people is that they just don't have the time or money to put into that kind of training. The middle ground lives in the gray area of point-shooting. All things being equal, solid point-shooting skills allow 90% of the people out there to get hits much much quicker - it's the 80/20 rule.

Now, since this is a competition thread - I have to admit that I (personally) don't think I would suggest that a hard-core competition shooter should do anything other than train the way they're going to shoot. There are others who are far more advanced in skill in the Threat-Focused arena that could probably help explain point-shooting's role in competition, but that person is not me. My vote is to train to use your sights for this specific type of thing.
That said, I'm not a competition shooter...so I have zero experience in that kind of thing. I hang out in here sometimes so I can get a better understanding

The only reason I made the comment about it being the same old debate is because I saw a couple of common misconceptions about point-shooting being voiced, and I like to try to clear the table when I can just so we're all speaking the same language.

Good advice for Dux, by the way. I second that.

July 8, 2006, 11:37 AM
Lurper and team -

I went through an IPSC competition last Sunday at Fredricksburg VA, and there were 7 stages. The first 4 stages I went point shooting, and my scores went to the toilet. My times were blazingly fast but the accuracy was terrible especially after 9 feet.

Upon remembering this thread, I decided to returned to sighted shooting on the last 3 stages. My scores immediately improved, and in one of the stages, I experienced this weird tunnel vision on where I "knew" where the target was, but my focus was on the sight - it was really being in some sort of zone. Anyway - needless to say, it was a good practical learning experience.

Thanks for the help! Keep it coming.