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 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."


Obtaining and utilizing a correct Flash Sight Picture sounds plausible and doable.

But, assuming that you will be able to obtain and utilize a Flash Sight Picture in a real life threat situation by following the simple prescription above, is open to serious question.

That is because it depends upon:

1. meeting basic Marksmanship requirements such as: using a specific stance, a specific grip with the thumb resting along the side of the weapon without pressing against it, and with the index finger placed on the trigger, but kept aloof from the pistol, so it can be used to squeeze the trigger smoothly to the rear until a shot breaks, and

2. being able to both see and coordinate the alignment of the sights and placing them correctly on the target: under lighting conditions that are likely to be poor, or when the target is dark or mottled, which can make the target and sights indistinguishable from each other, and/or when the target and/or the shooter may be moving, and

4. the operator not being affected by tunnel vision, loss of near vision (the ability to focus on the sights), and/or the loss of fine motor skills, which 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; and

5. while a threat who also may be shooting at you from just steps away, is also fast approaching to kill you.

Here is a photo from the US Marine Corps Pistol Manual of 2003. It shows a real pistol with real sights.

marine picture

The picture highlights the concern about being able to achieve a Flash Sight Picture given the size and color of the sights, and poor lighting conditions that can be expected, and the affects of our Fight or Flight response.

The long established hit rate in close quarters encounters of less than 20%, which means that more than 4 out of every 5 shots fired miss the target and go somewhere else, is verification that it is a bridge to far.

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