HOW TO GET A FAST, AUTOMATIC & CORRECT FLASH SIGHT PICTURE, PLUS A FAST, AUTOMATIC & CORRECT SIGHT PICTURE
The US Army's FM 23-35 - Combat Training With Pistols M9 And M11 (2003), states that: "The soldier should use his sights when engaging the enemy unless this would place the weapon within arm's reach of the enemy."
THE FLASH SIGHT PICTURE
The field manual also states that: "Usually, when engaging an enemy at pistol range, the firer has little time to ensure a correct sight picture...."
"As the soldier raises the weapon to eye level, his point of focus switches from the enemy to the front sight, ensuring that the front and rear sights are in proper alignment left and right, but not necessarily up and down.
"Pressure is applied to the trigger as the front sight is being acquired, and the hammer falls as the "Flash Sight Picture" is confirmed.
"... this method should be practiced slowly, with speed gained as proficiency increases."
BUT IS IT DOABLE?
Obtaining and utilizing a correct Flash Sight Picture sounds doable and plausible.
But, assuming that you will be able to obtain and utilize a Flash Sight Picture in a real life threat situation, is open to serious question.
That is because:
1. it depends upon achieving and maintaining the Basic Marksmanship fundamentals such as: the proscribed grip with the thumb resting alongside the weapon without pressure, and with the trigger finger placed on the trigger between the tip and second joint so that it can be squeezed to the rear independently of the remaining fingers; and
2. it depends upon meeting the specific requirements of the Flash Sight Picture technique (the bolded text above); and
3. it depends on being able to both see and coordinate the physical alignment of the sights and their correct placement: under lighting conditions that are likely to be poor, or when the sights are superimposed on a mottled or dark target that makes the target and sights indistinguishable from each other, or when the target and shooter may be moving, and
4. it depends on an operator not being affected by tunnel vision, loss of near vision (the ability to focus on the sights), loss of fine motor skills, and focusing only on the threat. Those are just some of the results of our instinctive Fight or Flight response, which is automatically triggered in Close Quarters life threat situations, and which is virtually uncontrollable.
As a result, your ability to use a Flash Sight Picture will be moot if you can't focus on the sights or see them, or if you lose your fine motor skills, or if you are focusing only on the threat.
And that could be fatal for you.
AIMING BASICS AND A CORRECT SIGHT PICTURE
Aiming involves Sight Alignment and Sight Placement.
Sight Alignment is the centering of the front blade in the rear sight notch, and the raising or lowering the top of the front sight so it is level with the top of the rear sight.
Sight Placement is the positioning of the weapon's sights in relation to the target.
A Correct Sight Picture consists of correct Sight Alignment, with the front sight placed center mass of the target.
Sight Alignment is the more important of the two, because if the Sight Alignment is correct, then even if the sight picture is partly off center, the target will be hit.
Here is that same picture showing the sights without highlighting.
And here is that same picture indicating the likely combat condition of bad light, or where the sights and target are black, or hard to distinguish from one another.
Here is a photo from the US Marine Corps Pistol Manual of 2003. It shows a real pistol with real sights, rather than a drawing like the one above which misrepresents reality to make it easier for the student to see what one is supposed to do.
The picture raises questions about being able to achieve a Flash Sight Picture in a Close Quarters life threat situation: given the size and color of the sights and the poor lighting conditions that can be expected, plus the affects of our natural Fight or Flight response that also can be expected, and while the threat who also may be shooting at you from just steps away, or fast approaching with your murder on his/her mind.
HOW TO GET A FAST, AUTOMATIC AND CORRECT FLASH SIGHT PICTURE
There is a natural and accurate shooting method that can be used to get a fast, automatic and correct Flash Sight Picture for each shot, and regardless of whether or not you can see the sights.
The method has been in use since the early 1800's. I call it AIMED Point Shooting or P&S.
Details on it, and rationales for its use are in the 1835 book: Helps And Hints - How To - Protect Life And Property, by: Lt. Col. Baron De Berenger. (The book was recently digitalized as part of Google's book project.) See chapter 21 for more info it.
The author states that the method is best used in self defense situations against highway robbers, housebreakers, and etc., who will not allow you to take the time to deliberately aim with the sights.
Basically, the method calls for placing your index finger along the side of the gun, pointing it at a target, and pulling the trigger with your middle finger.
When the index finger is extended along the side of a gun, the barrel will be in parallel with it, and the sights will be in alignment. And as long as the index finger stays in place along the side of the gun, they will stay in alignment for each shot.
There will be no need to take the time to find and focus on the sights, and then check and adjust as needed for a correct Flash Sight Picture, and then shoot, because you will already have a correct Flash Sight Picture.
And if by some happy chance, you can see and focus on the sights, you can still use them if you wish to, and you have the time to do that.
Extending the index finger along the side of the gun, also helps to naturally "lock up" the wrist, strengthen the grip, and improve recoil control.
GETTING AN AUTOMATIC AND CORRECT SIGHT PICTURE
The Army's combat pistol manual also states that "everyone has the ability to point at an object. Since pointing the forefinger at an object and extending the weapon toward a target are much the same, the combination of the two is natural."
"Making the soldier aware of this ability and teaching him how to apply it results in success when engaging enemy targets in combat."
"When a soldier points, he instinctively points at the feature on the object on which his eyes are focused. An impulse from the brain causes the arm and hand to stop when the finger reaches the proper position."
"When the eyes are shifted to a new object or feature, the finger, hand, and arm also shift to this point. It is this inherent trait that can be used by the soldier to engage targets rapidly and accurately."
With P&S, your index finger will be extended along the side of a gun, the barrel and sights will be in parallel with it, and the sights will be in proper alignment. And when you point at a target, you will have both an automatic and Correct Flash Sight Picture plus an automatic and Correct Sight Picture.
Just point-n-pull, point-n-pull, point-n-pull. No more, no less.
Your gun will be held in the natural and strong shooting platform made up of your thumb, the web of your hand, and your index finger. Your ring and little fingers also help in gripping the gun, and they also add tenacity to the grip.
And the thumb and index finger DO NOT have to be held aloof from the gun.
You can squeeze the begeebers out of the gun if you wish. And all the increased pressure will do, is strengthen your grip on the gun.
P&S is the simplest of shooting methods. And it can be learned with little or no training, and maintained with minimal practice.
But, it won't happen by magic. It's like riding a bike or tying your shoes. Both are seemingly impossible tasks until tried and done. And once done, they become almost automatic.
Of course, safe gun handling and the use of common sense is required. For example if the slide will hit your index finger, or if your index finger rests over the ejection port, or if it will be hit by hot gases, then don't use it with that gun.
Now, after reading what is in the Army's Combat Pistol Manual, I think it is reasonable to ask: Why hasn't the US Army recommend the use of P&S?
That's a good question, and one for which I don't have a clear answer.
A plausible explanation has to do with a design flaw of the slide stop of the 1911. The 1911 was adopted by the US Military in 1911, and was the standard-issue side arm from 1911 to 1985.
The slide stop pin extends out from the side of the receiver, and if pressed when the gun is fired, the gun can jam. This flaw excludes using the index finger along the side of the 1911 for aiming. Cautionary language against doing that, is in military manuals published around the time of its adoption, as well as manuals published at least until 1941.
Here is text from the 1912 military publication - Description Of The Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, Model Of 1911:
..."(3) The trigger should be pulled with the forefinger. If the trigger is pulled with the second finger, the forefinger extending along the side of the receiver is apt to press against the projecting pin of the slide stop and cause a jam when the slide recoils."
That same cautionary language, or language that is very similar to it, is repeated in other military manuals published in later years. Those that I have found are dated: 1912, 1915, 1917, 1918, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, and 1941.
It is logical and reasonable that the mantra like repetition of the caution/prohibition against using P&S:
1. effectively squelched the use of P&S from 1912 to 1941, and on up thru 1985, as the 1911 was the standard issue sidearm of the US Military during those years, and
2. gave rise to the dogmatic belief in the gun world of today that the only way to shoot a pistol is to use the index finger on the trigger.
Now, according to the stats, if you are going to be shot and killed in a gunfight, there is a 80% chance that that will happen at less than 21 feet. So using a method to aim and shoot that is natural, fast, and accurate makes life over death sense to me.
And to suppress or prohibit the use of an effective shooting method, to accommodate a weapon, rather than making a minor modification to that weapon to accommodate those who go in harms way, makes no sense at all.
Click here for more on this design flaw and the simple fix used by the Soviets in producing over 1.5 million pistols with features similar to the Browning.
Finally, the US Army's 2003 combat pistol manual recommends the use of Quick-Fire Point Shooting ..."for engaging an enemy at less than 5 yards...and for night firing."
"Using a two-handed grip, the firer brings the weapon up close to the body until it reaches chin level. He then thrusts it forward until both arms are straight...The trigger is smoothly squeezed to the rear as the elbows straighten."
And Quick-Fire Sighting is recommended ..."for engaging an enemy at 5 to 10 yards away and only when there is no time to get a full picture. The firing position is the same as for quick-fire point shooting. The sights are aligned left and right to save time, but not up and down."
Again as stated above, with P&S, you get a fast, automatic and correct Flash Sight Picture + an automatic and correct Sight Picture -- even if you can't see the sights, -- even if you are using only one hand, and -- even when moving. I also have used it to shoot aerials (pop cans tossed into the air),with an airsoft pistol.
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