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Old June 17, 2018, 06:40 PM   #26
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You could spend a week going over the nuances.
And thats why shooting schools exist. To teach the GUNFIGHTING skills to survive deadly force encounters.

This is not something to try to figure out on your own. Avail yourself of the professional trainers experience and expertise.
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Old June 17, 2018, 07:24 PM   #27
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A gunfight? If someone runs up to you threatening you with a weapon you won't use your sights, you will point and shoot. If you have time to line up your sights you have time to avoid the gunfight. Gun sights are for target practice which allows you to engage your muscle memory. That's what is needed in an immediate defensive situation.
A gun which would be used for a "bump in the night" situation should have a laser sight.
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Old June 17, 2018, 07:32 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by MoArk Willy View Post
A gunfight? If someone runs up to you threatening you with a weapon you won't use your sights, you will point and shoot. If you have time to line up your sights you have time to avoid the gunfight. Gun sights are for target practice which allows you to engage your muscle memory. That's what is needed in an immediate defensive situation.
A gun which would be used for a "bump in the night" situation should have a laser sight.
You must be incredibly fast if you can run completely away from an encounter in the tenths of a second more that it takes to go from a pistol at a position to shoot reflexively to up to your eyes completely.

To me it doesn't make sense to say using sights in target practice is for muscle memory to shoot reflexively. To use the sights as you mention you have to bring them up to your eyes. If you're doing that in an actual engagement then you might as well use the sights. If you want to shoot reflexively well then practice that specifically. Also practice using those sights too as the engagement distance isn't a given.

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Old June 17, 2018, 08:25 PM   #29
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If someone runs up to you threatening you with a weapon you won't use your sights, you will point and shoot.
LOTS of gunfight survivors that say otherwise.

A study of actual shootings, shows the fallacy of that statement. The issue is TRAINING. Those that have trained extensively in dynamic pistol use and then been forced to use those skill show an overwhelming tendency towards sighted fire

The challenge is always balancing the need for sights with the speed of a close range encounter. Training at speed up close using a gross body index AND using sights for more precision shooting needs to balanced.
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Old June 17, 2018, 08:35 PM   #30
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Sights are useless - until they're not.

There is no universal answer to the question. How far is the target? How quickly is it closing the distance to you? Has the target already drawn a weapon? How many targets are there? The answer to these questions - and maybe a hundred more unique to the particular scenario you are in - will determine whether aimed fire is even practical.

If you are awakened in the middle of the night by an armed intruder in a 12 foot wide bedroom, whether you are even going to be able to see well enough to acquire a sight picture, let alone aim, is problematic. And it is clearly a different scenario from three thugs coming onto your farm to menace you in broad daylight.
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Old June 17, 2018, 08:51 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by MoArkWilly
f you have time to line up your sights you have time to avoid the gunfight
How long do you perceive it takes you to line up your sights? Have you measured that with a shot timer?
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Old June 17, 2018, 09:13 PM   #32
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Nobody uses sights in a gunfight."

"You won't have time to see your sights; looking at them could get you killed."

"If he's far enough away that you need sights, then it'll never hold up in court."

These are things I've either read or been told over the last few months when discussions about "the best sights" have come up.

The "law" of "3 shots, 3 seconds, 3 yards" is often cited. So the usual conclusion given is that sights don't matter, night sights are a waste of money, and lasers or red dots are just gimmicky party tricks.

Of course not everyone feels that way. What do you guys think? If you have done anything at all to improve your sights, from painting the front orange to running an RMR, what led you to that decision?

ps: What often comes up too are figures about the hit/miss rates of police in gunfights, and these are usually dismissed as irrelevant to CCW because we aren't kicking in doors, and we won't likely be robbed from 15 yards away.
I consider this post to substantially unrealistic in the way it is currently presented. I would recommend that the OP at least qualify each of these "proclamations" with some conceptual commentary and perhaps explain how he managed to develop these rather naïve sounding opinions.
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Old June 17, 2018, 09:56 PM   #33
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Greg Morrison on 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 pistol fighting. 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....
The Modern Technique wasn't just "plucked from thin air." It evolved from competitions held in in Big Bear Lake, California by the Southwest Combat Pistol League. The competitions were based on courses of fire which attempted to represent real life situations and thus test methods of effectively using a pistol for self defense. Leaders in the competitions included Jeff Cooper, Jack Weaver, Ray Chapman, Elden Carl, Thell Reed, John Plähn, Bruce Nelson (designer of the "Summer Special" holster) and Michael Harries (who developed the the Harries Technique of using a flashlight with a gun).

While Thell Reed was noted for point shooting "fast draw" exhibitions, he was thoroughly grounded in the Modern Technique as well. He did a lot of gun coaching for the movies. Here he's training actor Michael Rooker with a 1911. Note that he tell Rooker (at about 0.13), "Focus on the front sight...."
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Old June 18, 2018, 12:39 AM   #34
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Using a laser/light combo is a huge must for a nightstand gun as said already. Trying to hold a light and gun limits your extra hand and shooting at what you can't see is a terrible idea.
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Old June 18, 2018, 04:37 AM   #35
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IIRC, Jim Cirillo, I met at an IALEFI annual conference. He had set up a short course of fire, his targets had features, weapons on them (not real weapons)
but illustrated ones. Bad guy with a knife, handgun, a man in coveralls gripping a large spanner (Wrench) he asked me if I wanted to shoot it, his course of fire. (I was on the Board and doing safety checks) it was lunchtime.

Borrowed safety glasses, ear muffs, and off I went.

He said I was the only person to shoot the mechanic? Two rounds centre chest.

I saw the wrench as a weapon! Not right, not wrong, just perception.

I had used hand-held weapons in fights and had them used against me.
Been stabbed twice also. A big wrench looked dangerous to me.
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Old June 18, 2018, 05:38 AM   #36
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Using a laser/light combo is a huge must for a nightstand gun as said already. Trying to hold a light and gun limits your extra hand and shooting at what you can't see is a terrible idea.
This very much depends upon your living situation. Using a gun light to clear a home means that you are pointing a gun everywhere you are looking. This has the potential to get tragic quickly in a high stress situation if you get startled. There are better options out there.
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Old June 18, 2018, 07:31 AM   #37
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Using a gun light to clear a home means that you are pointing a gun everywhere you are looking.
Wrong, get some low light training from a reputable instructor.
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Old June 18, 2018, 08:29 AM   #38
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Wrong, get some low light training from a reputable instructor.
Awww, you care. That is so nice. I have had a bit of training and I actually clear buildings at night several times a week. Haven't shot anyone yet by accident over the years despite finding people on occasion unexpectedly. But I have seen a bit of tragedy from other people shooting people that they did not mean too.
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Old June 18, 2018, 09:03 AM   #39
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I have had a bit of training and I actually clear buildings at night several times a week.
And yet you continue to spout that old myth?

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But I have seen a bit of tragedy from other people shooting people that they did not mean too.
In most of those cases it involved someone shooting at a shape without a light.
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Old June 18, 2018, 09:15 AM   #40
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If you're using a weapon mounted light to search you need to use the spill of the beam, not the beam directly. With weapon mounted lights putting out close to 1000 lumens now the spill can illuminate a lot. That said if you do want to have a handheld to minimize that risk there's nothing wrong with having both. Use the handheld as your primary search light and use the weapon mounted if you actually end up in a fight. There is something to be said for having a hand free and for being able to use two hands while shooting.

We should be careful of thread drift though.

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Old June 18, 2018, 09:37 AM   #41
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I agree a weapon mounted light can be used to effectively illuminate a potential attacker without pointing the weapon directly at that person. I also know that I am more comfortable with a handheld light. Either way a little training and a lot practice is needed for any low light situation.

I know there some who can achieve amazing accuracy without the use of sights. I also know some very well trained and skilled defensive handgun shooters who always use the front sight to verify alignment unless at hand to hand distance. Even on my second generation LCP, I use a brightly colored front sight to verify alignment. My answer is emphatically yes! Sights are necessary on a defensive handgun.
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Old June 18, 2018, 10:47 AM   #42
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... I also know some very well trained and skilled defensive handgun shooters who always use the front sight to verify alignment unless at hand to hand distance. Even on my second generation LCP, I use a brightly colored front sight to verify alignment. My answer is emphatically yes! Sights are necessary on a defensive handgun.
I also dab some brightly colored nail polish on the front sight of my LCP's, as well as my assorted J-frames (except the pair of M&P 340's, which have the standard XS plastic ring/dot night sight). I tend to think that bit of bright color (under "normal" light conditions) tend to help align the little guns when it pops up in the lower edge of my vision, even when the guns are far below my sight plane.

Here's an informal experiment we once tried, on our range, which helped give us some small bit of insight into the potential value of such things.

Many years ago the former head instructor and I tried an experiment with the rest of the range instructor staff. We were wondering about the importance of peripheral vision and being able to visually index/align the handgun when it was held anywhere from just forward of the hip. The distance decided upon for the experiment was approx 3-4yds.

To start, we had each shooter stand and fire several rounds from the holster on a silhouette, 1-handed. Any grip technique with the gun held below chest level, and forward of their hip/holster, was fine for our test. Use what they thought was practical, but also gave them the most confidence to get solid hits at that close distance. As you might expect for some seasoned instructors, they did pretty well. Nicely clustered and contained hits.

Here's the important part, though. When questioned, all of the instructors said they'd been able to roughly see their guns in the lower edge of their peripheral vision, but none of them thought it had particularly aided them in getting their accurate hits.

Then, we added something to obstruct their peripheral vision. We used a large cardboard target backboard, held horizontal (flat) to the ground, positioned about chest height, in front of the shooters. It blocked their vision looking straight down, and for almost the whole way to the targets, but didn't obstruct seeing the whole target.

We repeated the test, allowing them to stand positioned to the threat target before we added the cardboard. Then we signaled each of them to shoot. (And they were all watching as each individual shooter did this, too.)

The first string resulted in some larger clusters of hits, and the presence of the obstruction bothered most of them, even though it didn't physically hinder their draw, presentation or firing. They admitted they were surprised that the presence of the obstruction (of the cardboard) prevented them from seeing their guns in the lower field of their vision. In other words, they didn't feel as comfortable when they couldn't see the outline of their pistol slides above their hands.

We tried it one more time, and this time we changed how we let them "prepare" to face the threat target. We had them stand facing off at an angle from the target, and then positioned the cardboard in front of them, and then we allowed them to turn and face the target. Then we signaled them to draw and shoot.

That next string showed some even looser clusters of his, including some surprising misses. After some discussion it was generally agreed that if they had to turn and face a threat, and then couldn't "see" their drawn guns in the edge of their vision, it was surprisingly harder to orient their guns on the targets and get solid hits.

They were all pretty surprised that when it came to shooting at threat targets out past "arm's reach", that they were apparently "visually indexing" their guns while orienting on the targets. More than they'd thought, at the beginning of the informal experiment, at any rate.

I've sometimes wondered how such an experiment might go if repeated nowadays, with some of the younger instructors who have installed some of the larger, brightly colored painted front sights or the brightly colored plastic tubes on their front sights. I wonder how much they're unconsciously relying on being able to pick up and "see" those things on their slides, when shooting from low positions where they don't think that they're "aiming", or "aligning" their guns in their peripheral vision on a threat.

Naturally, it's very difficult to induce the sort of "tunnel vision" sensory deficit that can occur in serious stress, outside the static/square range, so there's still the question of how much of their gun any particular person might actually see in a dynamic life threatening situation. Dunno.

In the meantime, though, I'll continue to add some dab of bright color to the front sights of some of my stubby revolvers and the LCP's, though. Can't hurt, might help.
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Old June 18, 2018, 11:05 AM   #43
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Good discussion! How about this summary?

Well this has turned into a pretty solid discussion! I especially appreciate the feedback from personal experience, as well as the research that people are familiar with. The "right" answer seems to fall between the extremes of overgeneralizing, whether "sights don't matter, you'll never see 'em in a gunfight" or "always take time to focus on the front sight and nothing else!"

Would anyone take issue with the following generalizations about the use of sights in rapid self defense scenarios?

0. Practice situational awareness, don't be stupid, and avoid the problem to begin with. Like Mr. Miyagi said, "Best way to not get hit, is don't be there!"

1. Within a relatively close distance, maybe 0-15' where margins for error are much greater, speed rules and the best defensive tactic is to either point-shoot or use some other unsighted technique to get hits on target as quickly as possible.

2. Within a midrange, maybe 15'-45' (greatly depending upon the shooter's eyesight, level of skill, etc.) a sight picture is required, but a "flash" sight picture may be good enough to land hits for the sake of speed.

3. Beyond that distance, careful sight alignment and aiming are necessary.

4. Optical sighting systems, including red dots or lasers, *can* present an advantage at all distances by placing the visual cue on the same plane as the target itself.

5. In all cases, trigger control is key -- no amount of aiming or technological wizardry will compensate for sloppy trigger slapping.

6. In all cases, regular training must include these scenarios. Any shooters hoping to defend themselves must be well-practiced in rapid point shooting, mid-range shooting and longer range precision shooting.

Is that a fair summary?
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Old June 18, 2018, 11:07 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by K_Mac View Post
I agree a weapon mounted light can be used to effectively illuminate a potential attacker without pointing the weapon directly at that person. I also know that I am more comfortable with a handheld light. Either way a little training and a lot practice is needed for any low light situation.

I know there some who can achieve amazing accuracy without the use of sights. I also know some very well trained and skilled defensive handgun shooters who always use the front sight to verify alignment unless at hand to hand distance. Even on my second generation LCP, I use a brightly colored front sight to verify alignment. My answer is emphatically yes! Sights are necessary on a defensive handgun.
Someone told me that his home defense setup includes a pair of electronic earmuffs (not just for hearing protection, but so he can better hear whether anyone is approaching) and a head lamp, so his hands are free, the light shines where he looks and he never has to illuminate anything with his gun.

Certainly not fashionable, but it did seem to be tactically well thought-out
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Old June 18, 2018, 11:18 AM   #45
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I consider this post to substantially unrealistic in the way it is currently presented. I would recommend that the OP at least qualify each of these "proclamations" with some conceptual commentary and perhaps explain how he managed to develop these rather naïve sounding opinions.
First of all, these were not my statements. They're near-verbatim quotes I've heard from other shooters at ranges, including two people who were (or claimed to be) NRA certified instructors. I never said whether I did or didn't agree with the statements, I was just presenting them for consideration. Idle chatter at gun stores and public ranges may not count for much, but they probably reflect the thinking and therefore practice of a huge number of shooters who believe they're prepared to defend themselves. Especially newbies who may tend to follow whatever the experienced-sounding guy told them.

My commentary on the rationale behind these people's statements, as best I can theorize:

Quote:
Nobody uses sights in a gunfight."
Probably a loose over-generalization along the lines of "these things happen so fast, and usually at such close ranges, that you probably won't have time to get your gun to a position in which you can align your sights...so just point and shoot the bastard."

Quote:
"You won't have time to see your sights; looking at them could get you killed."
Same as above -- going to full extension and indexing your sights could cost the split second you have before the other guy lands a lucky shot on you, or stabs, clubs or tackles you.

Quote:
"If he's far enough away that you need sights, then it'll never hold up in court."
This one really threw me, but as the source was not someone I'd generally consider naive or stupid, I think its more like this: (1) most defensive encounters, at which someone is a real and imminent threat, are at distances where sight alignment isn't necessary to land the hits needed to stop the attack and/or escape. (2) If this person was assuming that sights only become necessary beyond a certain distance, say 10-15 yards, then someone's lawyer might make the case that the threat was far enough away that you could have run or otherwise escaped. That's my best guess as to what he was getting at.

He'd also once commented separately that if someone is aiming a gun at you from a distance, the worst thing you can do is remain stationary while you line up your sights. "Get the hell out of there" was the recommended solution, and I'd presume that sight alignment at a full sprint isn't going to happen.

So I think there was some rationale behind these otherwise naive sounding statements.

Quote:
The "law" of "3 shots, 3 seconds, 3 yards" is often cited. So the usual conclusion given is that sights don't matter, night sights are a waste of money, and lasers or red dots are just gimmicky party tricks.
One thing held in common was this: everyone who made these comments did seem to think that the most likely -- if not ONLY -- scenario that a civilian would ever encounter in CCW would be contact-distance, Your-Wallet-Or-Your-Life robberies or muggings. That premise may very well be flawed, but that seemed to be an overarching premise anyway.
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Old June 18, 2018, 11:21 AM   #46
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I have seen videos where people involved in real life self defense shootings have no recollection of using their sights, yet it is obvious that they are using their sights, bringing the sights up to eye level before firing.

Most of what I see when people are instinctively or reflexively shooting is indexing their guns. They are still very much using visual clues to orient the gun properly.

Quote:
"Nobody uses sights in a gunfight."

"You won't have time to see your sights; looking at them could get you killed."
In terms of the things that you have heard, OhioGuy about what will or will not happen in a fight, don't believe any such predictions, or demand to know what the outcome will be because obviously these folks are psychic and if they are psychic, they can tell you the whole story, right? Nobody knows what is going to happen in your fight. Maybe you don't have time to use your sights. Maybe you don't even have time to extend your arms into firing position before shooting. Maybe you have time to put on a ballistic vest, shooting glasses, and muffs. Maybe you have time to call 911, maybe you don't.

Quote:
"If he's far enough away that you need sights, then it'll never hold up in court."
Did you notice that nobody ever cites a law that stipulates this or anything relating to distance for self defense? That is because distance is not a legal standard for self defense. Vic Stacy engaged in 'self defense' (defense of another, then of himself) at a distance of 150+ feet with a revolver. You can bet he used his sights. You bet is was 100% justified self defense.

Self defense is more determined by whether or not the person has intent, opportunity, and ability to cause harm to you or somebody else more so than by some arbitrary distance from you.

The "law" of "3 shots, 3 seconds, 3 yards" is often cited. So the usual conclusion given is that sights don't matter, night sights are a waste of money, and lasers or red dots are just gimmicky party tricks.

Quote:
ps: What often comes up too are figures about the hit/miss rates of police in gunfights, and these are usually dismissed as irrelevant to CCW because we aren't kicking in doors, and we won't likely be robbed from 15 yards away.
No, you aren't likely to be robbed (or raped) from 15 yards away. That is very true. But you may get shot from 15 yards away, 50 yards (Vic Stacy), 50-100 yards (DC Sniper), 300 yards (Las Vegas), or over 500 (UT shooter) yards away by a person trying to kill you. Why would you not have a right to defend yourself just because the person is far away?
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Old June 18, 2018, 12:01 PM   #47
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Someone told me that his home defense setup includes a pair of electronic earmuffs (not just for hearing protection, but so he can better hear whether anyone is approaching) and a head lamp, so his hands are free, the light shines where he looks and he never has to illuminate anything with his gun.
Headlamps are not always a great choice either. Something with a momentary on switch is more desirable.
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Old June 18, 2018, 12:03 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by Ohio Guy
1. Within a relatively close distance, maybe 0-15' where margins for error are much greater, speed rules and the best defensive tactic is to either point-shoot or use some other unsighted technique to get hits on target as quickly as possible.
I somewhat disagree with this. As you get closer, less skill is necessary for someone to shoot you as well. Handguns are not great fight stoppers. Unless you hit someone in the brain or upper central nervous system, making the first hit does little to stop them from still shooting you. I think too many of us think of gunfights as being like Westerns where whoever is slower loses; but that’s not the case. I’ve watched more than a few real gunfights now where the winner wasn’t the first to shoot or even the first to get a hit.

At close ranges, if you are facing someone who is willing to fight, you need better than A-zone accuracy or you are likely to be shot also. Look at the FBI shootout, the very first hit on Platt was fatal. Platt murdered the man who fired it and his partner despite this. At 15 feet, someone has the rest of their life to kill you.
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Old June 18, 2018, 12:26 PM   #49
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At 0-2' (contact distance) sights won't matter at all because you won't be able to use your sights and hit probability is very high.

From 2-4' you could use your sights but probably not a great idea since your attacker could grab your weapon or knock it away with your arms extended. Hit ratio drops tremendously, likely for these reasons.

Where is the old time/distance reaction zone chart?
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Old June 18, 2018, 12:35 PM   #50
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At close ranges, if you are facing someone who is willing to fight, you need better than A-zone accuracy or you are likely to be shot also.
As I said above, from my limited experience I can't say there is a guaranteed distance at which reflexive is always better. I do know that at 3 yds shooting reflexively I can cut ~3" groups on the upper thoracic cavity shooting at full speed. Certainly well within the A zone. The farther I move out the more this obviously changes. Now at that same distance I do one hole drills with sighted slow fire and don't have any issue. How tight do the groups need to be? Given the limited effectiveness of handgun rounds getting that critical hit isn't a given. I think even if you do plan to start shooting reflexively you should be evaluating your effectiveness as the fight progresses. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, but I've seen people even in force on force freeze up and keep doing the same thing. Having the clarity of thought to change your tactics in a fight also isn't a given.
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