By John V.
The 2011 NYPD Annual Firearms Discharge Report drives a stake through the sacred mantra that self defense handgun shots must be aimed using the sights. The NYPD gauges officers’ success in close quarters battle (CQB) by the simple measure of whether he or she ultimately hits and stops the subject. That’s determined regardless of the number of shots fired at the subject . . .
NYPD Success Rate
There were 36 incidents in 2011 in which officers hit at least one subject per incident 28 times, for a success rate of 78%. When officers were being fired upon, they struck subjects two thirds of the time for a success rate of 66.6% (six out of nine such incidents).
311 shots were fired by officers in the 36 incidents. The hit rate was 12% (36/311). That means that nine out of ten shots fired missed and went somewhere else. In two of the incidents a high volume of shots were fired. Excluding those, the hit rate was 19% (36/193). Looked at the other way around, eight out of ten shots fired missed and went astray. And in 2011, 1 bystander was killed.
Non-Use of Sights
The hit rate validates the reality that sight shooting just can not be used or is not used in CQB situations. That’s supported by the officers themselves. Thirty-four officers (44%) reported that they had used their sights, or 56 percent of the officers shot without them.
Per the NYPD, “utilizing a two-handed grip, standing, and lining up a target using the firearm’s sights is the preferred method of discharging a firearm, but it is not always practical during an adversarial conflict.” Basically, achieving marksmanship mechanics in close quarters combat, is just “a bridge to far.”
The use of the new gauge for success supports the thought that teaching the use of the sights for aiming in real life threat close quarters defensive situations is just a game played on citizens who bought a gun for self defense with the thought that they would be able to use it effectively in their self defense. And the same is true in regard to teaching distance shooting to citizens for self defense use, or the inclusion of combat reloading in drills and training courses.
Now, there are alternative methods of shooting at close quarters distances that don’t rely on the use of the sights. They are simple, effective, and easier and quicker to learn than sight shooting.
And they don’t rely on the mechanics of pistol shooting in a controlled environment which include a “proper grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, and breath control. All of these require a degree of concentration and fine motor skills. Unfortunately, in a combat situation, concentration and fine motor skills are sometimes among the first casualties.”
The 20% or less hit rate in CQB situations is nothing new. Though it has highlighted the need for training in alternative shooting methods, institutionalized dogma and established training programs have squelched and stomped out such heretical thoughts and measures.
Hopefully, the official recognition by the NYPD of the reality of adversarial conflicts will result in adjustments or modifications to existing firearms training programs.
That would be good, as one has the greatest chance of being shot and/or killed in CQB instances. Continuing to train only in sight shooting — and sending 8 out of 10 shots somewhere other than the target — is a recipe for disaster.