The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Tactics and Training

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old January 11, 2012, 11:49 AM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: September 26, 2005
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 6,141
Point shooting

The recent threads about whether or not to defend yourself and about whether or not you can outdraw someone else has got me to thinking about point shooting. If there was ever a controversial topic, this is it.

I did bring up the subject in one of those threads and at least one person responded that, probably, he would be point shooting. So does anyone practice that? Do you think you should? Or is it a bad idea that we picked up from television and the movies.

One thing is that "point shooting" is an elastic term that can be used pretty much as we see fit. It doesn't have to be hip shooting and I doubt if it matters which way we are facing when we are shooting. I'm not even sure if it even has to be one handed or not. But I have noticed a few things from watching other people.

When people shooting handguns are using a two-handed grip and an isosceles stance, I have noticed that frequently they adjust the grip of the supporting hand, sometimes after each shot. I don't know if that means the grip of the other hand is weak or poorly placed or what. But it slows down the shooting. But perhaps more practiced handgunners do not do that and maybe they even use a different stance. I am referring here to just ordinary people, too, not national champions. Either way, the isosceles stance has been around for a long time.

I find the Weaver stance a little more natural, though that doesn't mean it will give a better result and I suspect I might have been continually adjusting the grip of the supporting hand, too. With a powerful revolver, depending on precisely how you are holding on with your support hand, you may lose contact anyway. I won't go so far as to say it makes a difference but with a heavy recoiling revolver, the shooting will not be fast anyway. But what a "heavy recoiling revolver" is, is another matter. Automatics, on the other hand, have a different dynamic, at least some do, and repeat shots can be quicker.

But if you are close to a human target or anything else with hands, sticking the gun out in front of you is risky. So it would seem that for very close in "work," one hand point shooting is called for.

I think maybe writers old and new may come across in their books and articles as a little more dogmatic than they may actually be. A great deal of flexibility is called for in shooting because in real life, there are no lines on the ground, no timers, no fixed distances, and no neat circles to shoot at. One could even say the distance is always too close (for comfort), the target is hard to see (it may not be broad daylight), and the target refuses to hold still. I don't know if it is relevant to discuss in this thread what distances from the threat is "safe" and what isn't. Chances are, if you can see the threat, it isn't safe. Thoughts on the subject?
Shoot low, sheriff. They're riding Shetlands!
Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag,
and return us to our own beloved homes!
Buy War Bonds.
BlueTrain is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 12:10 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: December 1, 2009
Location: Stillwater, OKlahoma
Posts: 8,213
I practice point shooting a lot,,,

One reason is because it's sorta fun.

The other is because I believe it to be a necessary skill,,,
If not necessary I consider it a desirable skill.

I mostly carry mouse-guns or a J-frame snub-nose .38,,,
The sights on them are terrible to say the least,,,
So I practice shooting quickly without aiming.

It doesn't take long to build up a good amount of proficiency,,,
And I do firmly believe it's a worthwhile endeavor.

And let's not forget we may also practice our James Bond pose as well.

Caje: The coward dies a thousand times, the brave only once.
Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
aarondhgraham is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 12:12 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: October 14, 2009
Location: Sunshine and Keystone States
Posts: 4,448
Very worthwhile, and quite fun, and also quite difficult when combined with rapid fire (emptying your gun as quickly as possible).
spacecoast is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 12:22 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: May 25, 2011
Posts: 1,755
I do practice point shooting. To me IMHO, point shooting is shooting without aid of the sights. I would say this applies to both 1 and 2 handed shooting and in any direction in relation to the body.

For me at least with pistols that point naturally in my hands, at a range of 10 yards or less, that in practice I will hit a human sized target without taking the time to line up my sights etc. Granted that's all in the comfort of an indoor range and not in the real world, but I figure better to have at least practiced a skill if the time come that it needs to be utilized than have not.

Also practicing point shooting seems to have helped with some of the basics. I've found my support hand gets in the right place more easily now, and I do much less of the readjusting you've seen on the range. I definitely used to do that a lot, now not as much. Also being cross eye dominant I think it has helped me be more comfortable bring a pistol to bear and knowing it will be on target before I turn my head to line up my eyes with the sights.
sigcurious is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 12:34 PM   #5
Frank Ettin
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 8,814
The ability to place shots with reasonable accuracy at close distances without sights, the ability to fire at a close in target from the retention position (gun held up near the pectoral muscle and close into the body), and the ability to fire quickly using sights with a flash sight picture are all skills that should be learned and practiced. They can all be useful tools to have in your tool box.
Frank Ettin is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 12:39 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: June 16, 2008
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 10,843
You need both, point shooting and sighted shooting.

If you are going to practice point shooting, do it with one hand, if you have time to get your support hand on the pistol, you have time to get to the sights.

You don't need a gun to practice point shooting, use your index finger. A little trick to help in practicing point shooting is to extend your thumb along your index finger while you do it. After all that's where the thumb normally goes with a pistol/revolver, extended to the side of the gun.

Point shooting is faster for short ranges, so is finger pointing. Just stab your target with your finger. Stab where you want to shoot. Back up a bit and keep doing it. As you back up to where you have difficultly, then use the split second to use your sights.

I'm still a big proponent of most of one's practice should be with one hand, each hand. Not very often in real life you have both hands free.
Kraig Stuart
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
kraigwy is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 12:48 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: October 30, 2010
Location: Missouri
Posts: 619
Last Sunday was point shooting day for me. I did 100 rounds (arms extended), mostly doing 2 to the chest one to the head. I practiced some with both hands, some with right hand, some with left hand. Distance for all was 10 feet.

As for arm's length distance, I was taught in a close quarter class to draw (while bringing my off hand up to guard my head), bring the wrist up against my ribs with the gun just ahead of my body (so the slide won't catch on my clothing), and fire. I'd want to get clearance to practice this at the range though.

Try it at 10 feet. As stated it's fun. And you'll probably be surprised at how accurate you are. Accurate enough anyway.
motorhead0922 is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 12:56 PM   #8
Willie Lowman
Senior Member
Join Date: March 5, 2009
Location: Uh-Hi-O
Posts: 2,590
If you don't have a .22 to practice point shooting with, it's a great excuse to buy one!
"9mm has a very long history of being a pointy little bullet moving quickly" --Sevens
Willie Lowman is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 01:04 PM   #9
Brian Pfleuger
Moderator Emeritus
Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: Western Colorado, finally.
Posts: 19,118
I strongly suspect that most defensive shootings are "point shooting" by unpracticed people, which is why hit rates are practically measured in single digit percentages.

I don't think there's any real doubt that point shooting can be faster and better than "aimed" shooting, for the well-practiced shooter, in a variety of scenarios.

Most people aren't very well-practiced.
Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
-The Architect
He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.
Brian Pfleuger is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 01:13 PM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: April 16, 2011
Location: norwich ct
Posts: 737
They taught this skill in Marine Security Force School back in the 90's. Also in Quantico CQB. I still practice it, though not as much as I used to. Most indoor ranges I've been to tend to frown upon it. That may be more due to drawing from the holster though .
"The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps"-LtGen. Holland M "Howlin' Mad" Smith, USMC,1949
Have you forgotten yet? Look down and swear by the slain of the War that you'll NEVER forget. [Siegfried Sassoon,"Aftermath,"1919]
icedog88 is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 01:29 PM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: June 20, 2011
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,179
I practice point shooting at the range when I can and I practice pointing but not shooting at home with an empty gun. It seems to me that if I have to shoot someone point shooting is the more likely probability than having the time to take a stance and aim. If I have that much time there is a good chance I don't really need to shoot anyway, but not necessaily. Almost all my practice at point shooting is done one-handed.
KMAX is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 01:38 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: November 24, 2010
Location: Spring, TX
Posts: 1,541
If you are talking about one handed close quarters shooting I don't think I would evne consider that point shooting. You are just shooting. To me point shooting is getting the gun out in front of you and shooting, while not using the sights.

Drawing and shooting without stretched arms is...I guess I'd consider it hip shooting.
ripnbst is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 01:52 PM   #13
Bartholomew Roberts
Senior Member
Join Date: June 12, 2000
Location: Texas and Oklahoma area
Posts: 6,897
Recently, I tried various methods of point shooting (Applegate/FBI-style vs. indexing on pectoral muscle) and compared them to my normal draw at 5m.

At the end of the day, the score was best sighted fire run 1.29 sec for 2 shots (actually at 5m) with the slowest run at 2.06 sec. For retention/unsighted fire, the best run was 1.37 sec (Applegate). and the worst 2.24 sec.

Not suprisingly, accuracy was better with sighted fire, though unsighted fire did better than I expected. The group size was good; but it tended to be low of where I was looking and would have been under the thoracic cavity of a person.

So I don't necessarily know if I buy the idea that point shooting is appreciably faster than sighted shooting. Maybe those numbers just reflect my slavish devotion to practicing sighted fire.

Ultimately, you have to align the pistol with your target to make hits. Using the sights allows you to visually verify that you are aligned with your targets, and with lots of practice using the sights, you'll soon find you can align with your target whether the sights are there or not.
Bartholomew Roberts is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 02:01 PM   #14
Senior Member
Join Date: January 19, 2007
Posts: 2,633
I'd say the "speed" advantage of unsighted fire just isn't enough to bank on. Also, we're responsible for each bullet that leaves the gun.

My experience from shooting Action Shooting matches is that a failure to find the sights usually resulted in peripheral hits or outright misses. Front sight focus made sure those bullets ended up in the A zone. I've seen some people miss under *match pressure* (to say nothing about the pressure of a life and death situation) from very close. I'd vote for using the sights whenever possible. In my case using the bead, I suppose.
Slopemeno is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 03:12 PM   #15
Join Date: December 20, 2011
Posts: 73

Before anyone pooh-poohs "point shooting", I suggest they read up about William Fairbairn.

William E. Fairbairn served with the Royal Marine Light Infantry starting in 1901, and joined the Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP) in 1907. During his service with the International Police in Shanghai, Fairbairn reportedly engaged in hundreds of street fights in the course of his duties over a twenty-year career, where he organised and headed a special anti-riot squad. Much of his body, arms, legs, torso, even the palms of his hands, was covered with scars from knife wounds from those fights.[1]:191 Fairbairn later created, organised and trained a special anti-riot squad for the Shanghai police force, as well as developing numerous firearms training courses and items of police equipment, including a special metal-lined bulletproof vest designed to stop high-velocity bullets from the 7.63x25mm Mauser pistol.

During World War II, he was recruited by the British Secret Service as an Army officer, where he was given the nickname "Dangerous Dan". Together with fellow close-combat instructor Eric Sykes, Fairbairn was commissioned on the General List in 1941. He trained British, American and Canadian Commando forces, along with Ranger candidates in close-combat, pistol-shooting and knife-fighting techniques. Fairbairn emphasised the necessity of forgetting any idea of gentlemanly conduct or fighting fair: "Get tough, get down in the gutter, win at all costs... I teach what is called ‘Gutter Fighting.’ There’s no fair play, no rules except one: kill or be killed,” he declared.

I have have read his book “Kill or be killed” and I suggest all of you who are interested in this topic, Point Shooting, read it too.

I think Mr. Fairbairn had enough experience to know what he was talking about.
G1R2 is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 03:27 PM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: June 20, 2011
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,179

Maybe I am not understanding what is meant by point shooting. I am talking about just pointing the gun and shooting without the sights no matter what stance is used. If I am off on this please correct me. Thanks.
KMAX is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 03:53 PM   #17
Senior Member
Join Date: September 26, 2005
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 6,141
Shoot low, sheriff. They're riding Shetlands!
Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag,
and return us to our own beloved homes!
Buy War Bonds.
BlueTrain is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 04:45 PM   #18
Bartholomew Roberts
Senior Member
Join Date: June 12, 2000
Location: Texas and Oklahoma area
Posts: 6,897
I think Mr. Fairbairn had enough experience to know what he was talking about.
I don't think anybody doubts Fairbairn's experience; but rather the application of it to personal training. This is something I see a lot on firearms boards - a certain respectable person or unit adopts X piece of gear or training tactic and everybody automatically assumes that is the hottest thing going and adopts the same tactic or gear without asking themselves:

1) Why did they adopt that technique or gear?
2) Do I have substantially the same needs so that this technique or gear will work as well for my personal circumstances?

If my goal is to train a bunch of Shanghai policeman with minimal prior firearm experience how to hit a man-sized target in a fight and I've got minimal ammo and training time to do it with, then I can see where point shooting would be a great advantage.

However, I'm presuming that we are discussing personal advancement with a pistol here and most of us have more time and money to devote to training than the type of programs Fairbairn administered. To give just one more example, Paul Howe has some different thoughts on use of sights in pistol shooting; but then again he comes from a background where he had considerable time and money available to develop his skills.

And finally, let's look at some classic Fairbairn/Applegate/Sykes demonstration of point shooting from that era:

OK, so our opponent is close enough that speed is more important than accuracy. Hundredths of a second matter. Now, tell me, what position offers you a better chance of maintaining control of your pistol in a close fight? The positions shown above or an index on the pectoral muscle?

Apparently, even Fairbairn recognized the problem with his approach.
Bartholomew Roberts is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 05:06 PM   #19
Senior Member
Join Date: September 28, 2008
Posts: 10,447
Airsoft and pellet guns are excellent tools for practicing point shooting.
Most ranges kind of frown on using multiple targets, spread out over the range, and fast draw.
But these both are essential for effective practice and easily done with airguns, in the privacy of your own home.
Anyone who is serious about acquiring this skill should look into the realistic, blowback airguns now on the market.
Walt Kelly, alias Pogo, sez:
“Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent.”
g.willikers is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 05:15 PM   #20
Senior Member
Join Date: October 27, 2005
Location: Crescent Iowa
Posts: 2,971
When I was a lad of 8 I read a book called shane, he described to the young boy how to point shoot a gun. It works, try it. It is the same as pointing your finger at an object.
markj is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 05:27 PM   #21
Senior Member
Join Date: July 15, 2007
Location: Illinois
Posts: 3,746
Someone posted the video link below in a thread about how to grip a pistol. It also demonstrates point shooting the 1911 pistol. Notice how they say the closer to eye level you bring the pistol, the more accurate you will be. Hip firing, in my opinion, should only be done closer in.

Combat Firing with Hand Guns (1944)

At ranges of 3-7 yards I can usually score center mass hits focusing on the target, if I bring my pistol close to eye level. The lower the pistol is in my plane of vision the larger my grouping becomes. With a 1911 type pistol I use my regular two, or one handed hold and I have found focusing on the head, puts my shots in the torso.

For pocket pistols I really like the technique called The Zipper. Which is where you begin firing as soon as the pistol comes parallel to the target and you continue to fire as you bring the pistol up to eye level. All the while your focus is on the target.
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."- Thomas Jefferson
nate45 is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 07:08 PM   #22
Senior Member
Join Date: May 27, 2006
Location: Ozarks
Posts: 1,834
One of the very best things you can do in regard to any point shooting no matter the technique, is to find a place to shoot backed up by a good bare dirt berm. Get up to point shoot range and put up your target. A grapefruit or some other smallish thing unlikely to be of any danger when hit. You will have instant feedback regarding shot placement. Slow at first and proceed as necessary. The dry dirt gives instant visual confirmation of the hit. Getting hits into a torso sized area, and quite a bit smaller, comes faster than you would think.
"A Liberal is someone who doesn't care what you do, as long as it's mandatory". - Charles Krauthammer
jhenry is offline  
Old January 12, 2012, 11:06 AM   #23
Senior Member
Join Date: September 26, 2005
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 6,141
Well, I have been working under the limitation that I don't have the time or money to do much practice at all. In fact, I'm having less and less of both as time goes by and that is a problem. It's just coincidental that Fairbairn and Applegate were working under largely the same limitations, although other circumstances differed.
Shoot low, sheriff. They're riding Shetlands!
Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag,
and return us to our own beloved homes!
Buy War Bonds.
BlueTrain is offline  
Old January 12, 2012, 05:07 PM   #24
Join Date: September 11, 2009
Location: Richmond, Va.
Posts: 77
We teach some point shooting in our Defensive Handgun I class here in Richmond. Students seem to enjoy it. I think that it is a critical skill.
NRA Certified Firearms Instructor
Utah Concealed Firearms Certified Instructor
SABRE Pepper Spray CSAP Instructor
ProShooter is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:31 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2017 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.10274 seconds with 9 queries