I write about and/or post information that mainly comes from studies, stats, and writings by GUN EXPERTS and GUN PROFESSIONALS, plus my stuff that comes from my experience and testing. The information in this article is fact based.
What is, is what is. And getting upset over it, won't change it.
Hopefully, this article will spur introspection, investigation, and discussion, which will lead to improved self defense survival methods for use by police and home defenders.
Click here to read the companion article: Unsafe At Any Distance - The Failure Of Police Handgun Training.
According to modern science, the study of thousands of police combat studies, and real time gunfight videos, Sight Shooting is not used in most all close quarters life threat self defense situations.
As such, it follows that IF YOU HAVE A HANDGUN FOR SELF DEFENSE, and if you have been taught only Sight Shooting, or if the main part of your training was on Sight Shooting with minimal emphasis on Point Shooting, then you have been set up to be killed.
Scientifically speaking, unless you know of, and how to use an alternate shooting method such as Point Shooting, you will have no effective shooting method available for use in a real close quarters life threat situation. And it is in those situations, where your chance of being shot or killed is the greatest
And who set you up?
Some who immediately come to mind are: the US Gov., Gun Makers, trainers, and organizations who support gun ownership and gun safety, but who have abdicated their Constitutional and moral responsibilities to provide science based information and training on the realities of, and the use of firearms in self defense situations.
As to Point Shooting, some folks consider it to be an advanced technique that is to be taught only after the fundamentals of shooting (Sight Shooting), are mastered. And others say that countless hours of training, and the sending of thousands of rounds down range, are required to become proficient in Point Shooting and to maintain proficiency. To my thinking, those are just "polite" ways of rejecting it and maintaining the status quo.
Sight Shooting zealots dismiss it out of hand as being the devil's work or close to it. Or they ridicule and heap scorn on those like me, who advocate for its use, and in particular for the use of P&S in close quarters self defense situations. It is as though they believe that if you squelch, suppress, or ridicule Point Shooting, it will go away, and then all will be OK in the world of the gun.
What the true believer types don't do, is bring forward scientific studies, stats, plus videos of close quarters gun fights which show/prove that Sight Shooting can be used effectively in close quarters life threat situations.
And since Sight Shooting has been taught for over 100 years, there should be many if not thousands of studies, stats, and films/videos that prove the case for the use of Sight Shooting.
But where are they? If by some chance, they exist, how come they have not been made freely available to the millions of home defenders who have a gun at home for self defense use?
Perhaps they are being kept under raps at some undisclosed location in or near Area 51?
This is not to make light of the traditional ways of the gun world, or the long standing dogma found in training manuals as represented in the specifications for courses of fire, and as qualification requirements for this or that position or license.
In hierarchical organizations, they are powerful tools which can be used as barriers against, and to suppress innovation and change.
For example, the US Army's FM 3-23.35 - Combat Training With Pistols M9 And M11 - of 2003, is both tradition driven and dogma laden. Point Shooting is given mention in it, but only with a few sentences, and only after pages and pages are first spent on describing in great detail, and with both words and pictures, the proper stance, grip, sighting, breathing, and trigger squeezing that make up the must-be-met-requirements-for-successful-Sight-Shooting.
Point Shooting information is found in the manual's section on combat marksmanship. But, before you get to it, you first have to wade through a lead and cautionary paragraph of marksmanship dogma.
"After a soldier becomes proficient in the fundamentals of marksmanship, he progresses to advanced techniques of combat marksmanship. The main use of the pistol is to engage the enemy at close range with quick, accurate fire. In shooting encounters, it is not the first round fired that wins the engagement, but the first accurately fired round. The soldier should use his sights when engaging the enemy unless this would place the weapon within arm's reach of the enemy.
"Quick-Fire Point Shooting. This is for engaging an enemy at less than 5 yards and is also useful for night firing. Using a two-hand 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 arms and body form a triangle, which can be aimed as a unit. In thrusting the weapon forward, the firer can imagine that there is a box between him and the enemy, and he is thrusting the weapon into the box. The trigger is smoothly squeezed to the rear as the elbows straighten."
To me, Quick-Fire Point Shooting is practical and much easier than trying to meet the must-be-met-requirements-for-successful-Sight-Shooting. And it is generally in line with the results of modern investigative science, combat studies, and the literature.
Modern science says that the loss of near vision (the ability to focus on the sights), and the loss of fine motor skills, both of which are necessary to Sight Shooting, can be expected with the activation of our Flight or Fight response, which occurs automatically in close quarters life threat situations and which is virtually uncontrollable.
Also, per combat studies and the literature, most all gunfights occur at close quarters, in poor light where the sights will be difficult to see and use, and where there will be no time to use them even if one could focus on them. As such, learning and knowing how to use Point Shooting of some kind, makes life over death sense.
The following is from Col. Rex Applegate's book Kill or get Killed. It is what he says about the combat use of Sight Shooting by a skilled target shooter in a life threat situation.
"... It is dark, he is in an alley, a poorly lighted street, or a room in a building. He can hardly see his gun at arm's length, to say nothing of the sights. His muscles are tense, his nerves keyed up to a fighting pitch.
"Suddenly the enemy starts shooting at him from an unexpected quarter.
"Even if he could see the sights, would he take the time to line them up and fire at the enemy's gun flash? Does he take up the trigger slack and squeeze off the shot as he has been taught to do in target shooting?
"Will he make sure that his feet are properly positioned and that he is breathing correctly? He certainly will not! He will grip his gun convulsively, raise it, point or shove it in the general direction of the enemy, and pull (not squeeze) the trigger.
"...In daylight he will do exactly the same thing....
"It is a matter of record that the average hand gun shooting affray takes place at a distance not exceeding 20 feet...Any distance not exceeding 40 feet can be considered as close quarters in the combat use of the pistol or revolver. Beyond that distance the capabilities of the average individual and of the weapon show a marked decline.
"...By proper training at combat ranges, man-killing accuracy, without the use of sights and with extreme speed, can be acquired by the average soldier or police officer. This can be done in less time, and with less expenditure of ammunition, than is required to become even a fair target shot."
A real time gunfight.
The following text plus pictures from a 2/9/09 New Smyrna Beach, Fl. robbery video, describe and show what happened in a real time life threat situation in which Point Shooting was employed.
The "stop action" pictures show portions of the action that can be missed easily when watching the video at "normal speed."
At the start of the video, the robber is seen quickly entering the store. As he moves into the store, he tosses his back pack over the counter, and he also brandishes his gun at a female employee who is moving quickly from the right to the left behind the counter, and who then disappears into one of the aisles between the shelves of pills.
The video time line is now showing 22 seconds.
In the first picture below, the druggist is threatened, and in the second, the robber brandishes his gun in the direction of the guard (a retired Officer). That takes 2 seconds.
It is obvious that the guard is hidden from the view of the robber by the "privacy shield" that divides the counter, as the robber's attention returns to and stays on the druggist.
In the next two pics, the druggist starts to move to get some pills, and the guard's gun is seen in his hand for just a part of a second. 2 more seconds have elapsed.
In the next two pics, the druggist goes into an aisle to get some pills and then returns with some pills in hand. That takes 6 more seconds.
The following 6 pics show what happens during the next 2 seconds.
The druggist has returned with pills in hand, and the guard is out of the camera's field of view. The guard has started his move to confront the robber, and he continues to move throughout this sequence of pictures.
The robber notices the guard, and then brings his gun around towards the guard. The guard's pistol is in a two handed Isosceles type grip which puts the gun close to his centerline and also points it towards the robber.
The robber points his gun at the guard. The robber is shot.
I was surprised that the guard was not shot when I first saw the picture showing the robber's gun pointed at him. It clearly shows that the guard is a hairbreadth away from being shot. And that certainly would have happened, had the guard not shot the robber.
As to why the robber did not shoot, it could have been that he made the decision to shoot, and was physically in the process of doing that when he was shot.
I also wondered why the guard had not shot the robber, when the robber was bringing his gun around towards the guard. It may have been, as just mentioned about the robber, that the guard made the decision to shoot, and was in the physical process of doing that. That takes a fraction of a second, and during the lag-time, the robber pointed his gun directly at the guard.
Pictures freeze the actions being taken. So, it may look like things happened slower than they actually did. In real time, it took less than two seconds for the guard to move out from behind the counter, confront the threat, and then shoot.
These pictures show/prove that Point Shooting does work, and that it is deadly effective.
If the guard had attempted to use the sights, he probably would have missed seeing the gun being pointed at him, as per the basic marksmanship section of the Army's combat pistol manual: "The eye can focus on only one object at a time at different distances. Therefore, the last focus of the eye is always on the front sight. When the front sight is seen clearly, the rear sight and target will appear hazy."
The first picture below is an illustration from the Army's pistol manual. The front sight is the solid black square, and the back sight and target appear as the hatched areas. The other picture shows sights imposed on a blurred and dark target like the robber's hooded jacket.
In the robbery situation, it would have been folly to attempt to line up the sights, and focus on the front sight with the target appearing hazy, whilst squeezing the trigger smoothly until the shot broke.
Had the guard taken the time to try to Sight Shoot, he in all probability would be the one who ended up dying on the floor.
And what your average home defender? What is he/she to do when someone is close approaching with murder on their mind? Would he/she have the time and the presence of mind to meet the must-be-met-requirements-for-successful-Sight-Shooting?
I think not.
To add emphasis to this, below is a picture from the Marine Corps pistol manual that 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.
It also has been past practice in the world of the gun, to blame police officers for being shot or killed in life and death encounters, rather than the method used and those who taught it, and those who sanctioned and approved it for teaching.
"If only they had the commitment to shooting and to practice...." goes the CYA lament. And that attitude is still alive and well, and can be found directly stated or implied in threads that knock Police for a lack of commitment to guns and to shooting practice.
If you find my opinion objectionable, I will be the first to apologize, when those who teach and those who sanction and approve of what is taught, present scientific evidence that reasonably establishes that what is taught, actually works in close quarters life threat situations were Officers and your average civilian are most likely to be shot and/or killed.
Take a look at the Marine Corps picture below, and ask yourself if you could really expect to focus clearly on the little dot that is the front sight (which you are supposed to), when a real life threat is fast approaching with a gun or knife in hand and your murder on his (her), mind.
It is in those situations where your likelihood of being shot/killed will be the greatest.
And the lighting conditions most likely will be poor, and the threat will not be standing still and waiting for you to dispatch him/her to some better place.
The picture is from the US Marine Corps Pistol Manual of 2003.
Now, there are those who say they have been there and done that, and they say that they saw and used their sights, except when shooting at contact distance.
Here is a comment from a recent warriortalk.com thread. It is very similar to others that one comes across from time to time on the web.
"I fired 18 rounds in three separate shootings. I hit with every round. This is why: I used my sights for all but 3 rounds and those were contact wounds (muzzle in contact with BG's body). I am an ordinary man with ordinary physical traits, and if I can be taught to do this, any man who can generate the fighting spirit and can control his fear can do the same....
After some responses which included my request for specifics of the encounters (AAR details), and which where not furnished, the poster concluded with:
".... No need to pay me deference, if I could have avoided it, I would have!
"Remember though that lots of folks with lots of good ideas have never had to do it for real, and my experience is not typical when you look at published numbers. This is why I distrust published numbers at times....I'm not sure where they get the numbers."
Now, I don't doubt the honesty and sincerity of the poster and others like him. There are a lot of good and honest folks who obviously believe that Sight Shooting can be used in real close quarters life threat shootings.
There is a well known trainer back in the Southeast, who considers P&S to be BS, and says that his students have prevailed in a number of shootings over the years, and they used their sights.
Unfortunately for him and the web thread poster, unless they have data that has been gathered in a scientifically sound manner, and which is readily available for review, what they say is open to serious question as to its soundness and applicability to the millions of home defenders in the US.
As to AIMED Point Shooting or P&S, which has been used as far back as 1835, here is a picture of Jack Ruby using it to shoot and kill Oswald.
Note that Ruby is back from, and off to the left of one of the officers holding Oswald. The target area is not large because of the position of Oswald's arms and the policeman's arm. And all of them are moving. So, there is no time to do anything but point-n-shoot.
Ruby is using P&S - that is his index finger is along side the gun, and his middle finger pulls the trigger. It can be seen sticking through the trigger guard in the picture. P&S may be BS to some, but it was terminal for Oswald.
Now, we know that there can be exceptions to most any rule or finding. And if a person is a SEAL or SWAT operator, he/she may have the skills and training to be able to function extraordinarily regardless of the situation at hand.
But if you are just a run of the mill mortal, chances are that unless you know how to Point Shoot effectively, you will do as thousands of police have done in combat.
I have seen lots of shooting videos. And in them, the participants do not aim. They just point their guns towards the other and blast away.
It is obvious that any Sight Shooting training that they may have had, goes out the window. What is defaulted to is Spray and Pray shooting (pointing the gun in the direction of the threat and blasting away). And as such, it is no wonder that the hit rate in armed encounters, is less than 20%.
Point Shooting is not Spray and Pray. And it is easy to learn and can be easily maintained. But, it won't happen by magic. You have to know about it, and learn how to do it.
Some thoughts on: whose looking out for home defenders?
As far as I know, there is no Government agency which has taken on the task of providing the millions and millions of consumer gun owners (police and civilians), with the facts on what works in life threat situations and what may get you killed.
I also don't know of any National level gun rights organization or Gun Manufacture that has taken on that obligation and responsibility in an open and public way, which would include mentioning its support for the use of Point Shooting for personal protection on its web site, in its publications, and in its advertisements.
(The NRA does support the use of Point Shooting in its: NRA Guide To The Basics Of Personal Protection In The Home was published in 2000.)
The ATF and the Federal Trade Commission do not deal with the issue of consumer safety and guns. The Consumer Products Safety Commission, by its charter, is exempted from dealing with firearms. And the Occupational Safety And Health Administration does not deal with consumer issues, only worker concerns. OSHA has some standards for Personal Protection Equipment like armor vests, but none dealing with handguns that I am aware of.
Why are millions and millions of gun owing citizen consumers being selectively excluded and denied consumer protection in regard to their self defense, since the exclusion and denial, may result in their death?
I think their should be a "proof house" of sorts that looks into the question of what works, and what doesn't.
To those who say, "NO!" to any government involvement, I say that would be OK if traditional shooting methods - Sight Shooting - worked as advertised, but it/they do not.
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