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Old September 12, 2009, 10:12 AM   #1
Latex Ducky
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Shooting Without Sights

Obviously in every situation you won't have time to line up your sights and find the baddie, even if you have practiced a lot. How do you shoot a gun without using the sights (assuming you don't have a laser)? I'm sure you would shoot a rifle different from a pistol but probably at really close distances either way.
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Old September 12, 2009, 10:22 AM   #2
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It's called POINT SHOOTING. This is an instictive technique used at close range where you rely on the bodies natural insticts to form a shooting position where you hunch over slightly (fearful reaction to attack) either square off or bring weak side foot back, point your pistol towards the threat (strong hand only) while focusing your eyes on the threat with the pistol kept below the line of sight and out of focus yet parallel to the ground ensuring center mass hits.
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Old September 12, 2009, 10:32 AM   #3
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Thanks, I didn't know what it was called
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Old September 12, 2009, 11:19 AM   #4
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As Clint Smith wrote in theJanuary/February 2008 American Handgunner:

"It's alway argued that in a fight shooters will not look at their sights. I strongly agree -- if no one has ever taught them otherwise. To say that people don't, or won't, look at their sights is wrong. People have, they will in the future, and they'll hit too. The correct alignment of the sights is a learnable skill. Is a textbook perfect sight picture available in every fight? Of course not....In fairness, the sights are only part of the issue -- the jerked on trigger doesn't improve anything."

Even when one has been taught to look at the sights, how much has he actually practiced quickly seeing the adequate sight picture and acting reflexively, without conscious thought, on the rough sight picture? As another trainer, Bennie Cooley, once told me, "It's not that I shoot quicker than you do. It's that I see quicker."

With the proper training and practice, it's amazing how fast one can acquire a flash sight picture and hit accurately. Learning those techniques and developing proficiency in the use of those techniques also gives you the flexibility to deal with targets at pretty much any distance. What would you do if you had to engage an armed threat 10 to 12 yards away and partially behind cover?

The idea behind the flash sight picture is to focus on the front sight quickly and align the sights only as precisely as warranted under the circumstances. At distances on the order of 5 to 7 yards, when the target is the center of mass, a rough alignment will be sufficient to assure good hits (as long as you have good trigger control). As distances increase or the target shrinks, the alignment needs to be more precise.

And whether you use the sights or point shooting techniques to direct the muzzle of the gun in line with the particular part of the target you want to hit, if you don't have trigger control, your muzzle will not be in line with the part of the target you want to hit when the bullet leaves the barrel of your gun -- and you will miss. But if you have controlled the trigger properly, you will hit.
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Old September 12, 2009, 11:41 AM   #5
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Point shooting is an effective tactic, but only if you are already very good at weapon handling and the mechanics of shooting properly. It should also be a last resort. You should always be working to find that front sight. Regardless of the situation, and even if the first couple rounds are point shooting, you should be trying to get the front sight.

There was a technique to practice point shooting and get your body to work for you instinctively. The theory was that when you point your index finger at an object, most of the time you are usually right on with pointing at what you wanted. So the practice was to run your index finger along the frame of the gun and pull the trigger with your middle finger. By doing this, you were training your body to be more accurate when point shooting.

Now, I dont advocate this as a shooting technique under stress situations, and I've only tried it a couple times to see if it worked. It seemed to work ok and wasnt as awkward as I thought it would be. I dont know who came up with this, but I still think that mastering the basics is a better option and I believe that by mastering the basics, you will revert back to them under stress.
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Old September 12, 2009, 12:05 PM   #6
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fiddletown: Do people that are "in a fight" close one eye when lining up their sights if they still use them?
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Old September 12, 2009, 12:11 PM   #7
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I have practiced "point" shooting for a long time. I have become rather adept at it to 15 yards on a full silhouette. I have been instinct shooting a bow since I was 10 so this has helped I think. Practice, practice, practice I find it fun to do. While doing dry fire exercises I also pick a target with the pistol down then close my eyes...with my eyes closed I point the weapon at the chosen target. Then I check to see where my POA is.

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Old September 12, 2009, 12:13 PM   #8
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I had a gun that had sights so tiny, they were basically non-existent; it was literally just about pointless to try use them. I was really surprised how accurately I was able to shoot that thing at defensive distances though just by pointing. Too bad the gun was a jam-o-matic, or I'd still have it, and use it as a backup.
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Old September 12, 2009, 12:33 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Latex Ducky
fiddletown: Do people that are "in a fight" close one eye when lining up their sights if they still use them?
I shoot everything, pistols, rifles and shotguns, with both eyes open. Pretty much everyone I've shot with, in the various classes I've taken and in competition, shoot with both eyes open.
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Old September 12, 2009, 01:19 PM   #10
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As something to consider, look at it this way;

When you need to engage a target at 2-5 M, you should train to shoot by pointing, if you ever have to shoot at this range, you may not have time to do more than extend your arm.

When you need to hit a target at ranges from 5 to 10M, you want to learn how to shoot by yor front sight, this is a continuation of the point-shooting, but you ensure that you see your front sight on your target, with practice you will find exactly where you need to have your front sight ( most people find that they put the front sight just a tad lower from the point they want to hit)

Last, when shooting at ranges of 10 meters and above, you want to see a full sight-picture before shooting. ( and yes, as Fiddletown has said, learn to do all this with both eyes open)

I do recommend that you practice this first with an experience shooter, even better if he (she?) is a qualified instructor, they will help you correct errors and develop good habits.


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Old September 13, 2009, 10:53 AM   #11
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"So the practice was to run your index finger along the frame of the gun and pull the trigger with your middle finger. By doing this, you were training your body to be more accurate when point shooting."

I would disagree with that idea. The best way to get your body trained to shoot well is to hold the gun properly and get used to it, not do something different that you wont be doing in real life. Point shooting can be fairly well done, but it takes a LOT of shooting constantly to do it well and maintain it. When I was a foolish kid, I shot point shooting a lot, and got the the point where I could regulalry hit empty shotgun shells with an SA .22 out to 20 feet or so. A well rounded shooter should be familiar with a variety of methods and techniques. A variation of point shooting is getting the gun close to line of sight. You are aware of the sights, looking just over them but not "down on them". More like shotgun shooting, you point them, not aim them. Sights are there, but you are not focused on them as in aiming. This may be what was mentioned above, with finding the front sight, but not all the way on the rear sight. Hitting running rabbits with pistol and rifle can be done quite consistantly like this. Arial targets can be hit well this way also, with enough practice. Think thousands of rounds practice doing just that, not a couple times to the range. A brick or two of .22 rounds once or twice a week will get you started. Like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

If you are so close you can't get the gun up to eye level without someone grabbing it or contacting them, point is fine. If you can get it up close to eye level, I would do so.
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Old September 13, 2009, 02:18 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Latex Ducky
How do you shoot a gun without using the sights?
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Old September 13, 2009, 11:21 PM   #13
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I'd rather shoot less poorly than the next guy if I am ever in this type of situation!
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Old September 13, 2009, 11:52 PM   #14
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My LE agency pretty much trains this way. We do all our shooting while drawing from the holster. The shortest distance where we shoot from is 1 1/2yards, and the next is 3 yds. These are the only distances where I don't look at the sights when qualifying. As a matter of fact, the 1 1/2 distance, you don't even extend your arms the whole way, but rather we shoot with the pistol close to our bodies.

At first glance, people will say our course of fire is very easy because of the distances and what is involved, but I actually think it's difficult when you think about the fact that you have to draw, get a decent sight picture and fire within seconds. Some guys I talk to don't look at the sights, in essence point shooting from 7 to 15 yds. I never claim to be a great shot, but I am one that advocates using your sights when you can. If you can consistently get COM hits by point shooting from the holster at those distances, that is great, but that has to be the exception rather than the norm and I don't think any serious trainers would suggest not to use your sights at any distance, when possible.

This goes back to what people actually do in stress situations. If my colleagues who are supposed to be trained professionals let the timer get to them and don't use their sights in a low/mid level stress situation such as qualifying, then perhaps they won't use their sights in a high stress situation ie. someone shooting back. In essence, they could be shooting fast, but they are missing faster.

PS: I agree with the both eyes open crowd as well. However, I am guilty of closing my weaker eye in administrative settings such as qualifying because for a guy who's young, my eyes are terrible (have to get Lasik soon). And yes, I know this is bad doing this during training because it will transfer over to when I least want it to.
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Old September 13, 2009, 11:58 PM   #15
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This is one of those things you need to practice. I've been doing the following for a few days.

1) Verify it's unloaded....and keep the freaking magazine OUT.
2) leave the safety on, and the finger off the trigger.
3) bring the pistol up quickly pointing it at an object (I aim at a bullseye I made on a post-it note that's 10 feet away)...just point it in the general direction.
4) verify using sights, note variance.
5) repeat until I'm consistently on target.

Once this gets better, I'm going to work on it with multiple targets and see how much better I can get.
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Old September 14, 2009, 05:33 AM   #16
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i was taught that you can point shoot at ideally about 3 yards and less, but even up to seven yards if you have too.

ideally you wont be point shooting because you will A, hopefully not find yourself in that situation and B, you will have practiced sighting and shooting enough that finding an accurate sight picture will be quick enough that it will be worth doing almost every time.

at 21 feet (7 yards) i can draw my weapon from holstered and hit center mass within an 8 inch circle in less than 1.5 seconds. consistently. I promise you i am not point shooting i am sighting then firing. the closer i am the less accurately i sight my gun. i even did an exercise once where my instructor purposely had us aim wrong (just once to demonstrate a point, not consistently) so that the front sight would be to far up or down or left or right. at five yards, guess what, if the front sight is somewhere remotely lined up with the back sights, you will hit within an 8 - 12 inch circle.

what this tells me is that rather then "either/or" point shoot or sight perfectly, its more of shades of gray depending upon the distance. the farther you are the more you perfectly sight. the closer you are the more instinctively you shoot. i personally always incorporate some amount of sighting into a shot. with enough practice it is just as fast and really more accurate.
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Old September 14, 2009, 08:20 AM   #17
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How do you shoot a gun without using the sights
Same way as you shoot with sights, that's how! Use the exact same technique. The more you practice using the sights the more the technique is ingrained to use the body to position and the sights to just 'verify'. Yes verify, not adjust.

You can draw and fire an aimed shot that way just as fast as not using the sights as in 'point shooting' FROM THE EYE LEVEL. Just as fast.

And if you cannot see the sights, use the same technique AS IF YOU CAN SEE THEM.

The basic is to use a form of retention shooting and a form of eye level sighted fire. Once you have mastered that and you want to explore alternative ways of shooting, like point shooting, then sure, go ahead. Sky’s the limit. But you don't really need it.
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Old September 14, 2009, 10:36 AM   #18
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Here is a point shooting home study course that I wrote a few years back.
Try it and see what you think
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Old September 14, 2009, 10:38 AM   #19
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I've practiced point-shooting to about 20 feet. I'm pie-plate accurate with it out to there, but I find it to be a very perishable skill, and one that is definitely frowned upon if you practice at a public firing range.

I tend to do my point-shooting practice out in the desert with a safe sandy backstop as a result.

I actually want to get a couple of S&W M10 or similar lightweight inexpensive .38's to practice point-shooting with both hands, just for fun. My weak hand can't handle a heavy Redhawk even with .44 special loads yet.
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Old September 14, 2009, 10:38 AM   #20
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You can find some point and shoot videos on youtube. Not saying they are good and not saying they are bad. Just saying they exist.
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Old September 14, 2009, 10:41 AM   #21
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I was able to hit our 8" steel plates at 21' with my Seecamp (no sights on a Seecamp) by drawing and point shooting....takes lots of practice but it can be done.
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Old September 14, 2009, 11:19 AM   #22
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The debate has ranged on for years and will continue to do so. I think everyone will simply have to come to their own conclusion based on study, practice, scenario based training, and in some cases, a real world bloody experience. Some people see the sights in a fight, some don't. Others don't remember if they did or not. Even ones who trained a lot to use the sights, don't always see them. Ask yourself, how do I know I will see them or not see them at close quarters Will I actually take my focus off of the threat to find the sight? The answers are: it could go either way.

I do believe the answer is somewhere in the middle and there are no absolutes. My personal take on it as that even though you should train to quickly locate the sights most of the time, you should also conduct some point shooting training from distances of five yards and less. I definitely would not dismiss it all together. Try it and see what you think. At close quarter distances, I believe extreme speed with suitable accuracy should be the goal. With practicing the right way, I believe you can achieve accuracy while at the same time speeding up your shots (you can do this with use of sights also but can you do it as fast?). At distances past about five yards,the flash sight is probably the way to go. Again, just one person's opinion.
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Old September 14, 2009, 11:57 AM   #23
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In paintball I was able to hit a 6" square basically every time from 20m rather quickly - Shouldered the gun and shot. No sights just eyes along the barrel however my eyes were probably 5" above the barrel I was terrible at hip shooting.

From close distances as long as you can see down the barrel/slide and put the tip on the target you'll get a hit. If the target is only a foot/hand/elbow sticking out from behind cover you'll obviously have to aim a little more....

Anyhow whatever method you choose, all work, you just have to practice to become proficient at them...
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Old September 14, 2009, 12:16 PM   #24
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I was taught by a guy that did some work with Blackwater and other security/private military organizations and he showed me how when I extend the weapon to shoot, your thumbs will naturally aim towards your target as long as you always kept good form in your training. I would have my pistol close to my chest and as a target revealed itself I could punch my arms out in that direction and my thumbs would naturally go to the target. Instead of wheeling with arms extended, I withdraw the weapon to my chest and when the next BG presents itself, I punch out to him. I also notice I find myself in a good isosceles shooting position
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Old September 14, 2009, 10:30 PM   #25
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Demaiter: you reminded me of a time I was playing paintball and I actually did point shoot. In paint ball there is a rule that if you catch someone real close (e.g. walk up behind them) you have to say surrender or die and if the captured player does not surrender then you can shoot. I was walking along a trail and I heard, "Surrender or die" so I instinctively turned towards whereI heard the noise and pulled the trigger. Turns out I had a bulls-eye at about 10-15 feet. The guy had hidden inside a cedar tree so you couldn't see him!

I guess you could say I used the underarm assault position according to the essay Mr. Temkin wrote.
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