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By Jeff Lehman via

“Always use your sights.”  “There is a reason there are sights on your gun.” “Focus on your front sight.” 

We hear these things all the time in various classes or on the range, and there’s no denying it is important to use the sights on your gun. But are there times when not using your sights is acceptable? Should you ever just point your gun at the target and pull the trigger?

Point Shooting
Known by various terms like indexing, target-focused shooting or instinctive shooting, point shooting is a technique where a shooter will quickly point the gun at the target and with both eyes open, line up the muzzle and fire. This technique was and still is taught to members of the military for use when there is no time for sighted fire, like in close quarter combat.

The technique has trickled down to law enforcement, and also to competition shooters and defensive shooters. The technique can be practiced using drills like the Mozambiqueor Bill Wilson’s 5×5 Drill.

There are many things that can factor into deciding to point shoot or use your sights. If there isn’t time, or there is a high probability that you will be shot if you take the time to line up your shot, this would be a good time to point shoot.

While still not considered mainstream, point shooting is something that all defensive shooters can learn and use. It is a more advanced technique, so it should only be attempted after you have a good basis of sighted shooting.


In most cases, using your sights is the best technique. This will of course properly align the gun for accurate shots. When first learning to shoot, everyone is taught proper sight alignment. This is necessary for making distant shots and is the most accurate way of shooting. As a general rule, you should be using your sights whenever you can.

Pointing the way
However there are times when just indexing, or pointing, the gun at your target and firing is a better way to go. For example, when you are right on top of your target or within arm’s reach, lining up your sights is probably not going to be able to happen. You won’t have the time to do so.

As soon as you draw, you will be bringing the gun up and firing as soon as you have it lined up with your vision. Using this technique, you will typically be shooting for center mass, so you have a better chance at hitting your target.

The best example of having to use both techniques happened to me in competition. In a recent IDPA match, there was a stage where both long distance and short range targets were presented. When the stage started, I had to use my sights to shoot the farther targets from the start position. As I moved through the stage, the targets were presented closer and closer. As the targets got closer, I started to transition to using the point shooting technique. At one point, I came around a corner and the targets were right in front of me. I stuck my gun out and just pulled the trigger, as the muzzle was almost touching the cardboard. To save precious seconds, I didn’t even bother looking at my sights.

Whether point shooting or sight shooting, our ultimate goal is to get lead on target. This is a technique that should be practiced and used when needed. It is a viable and great solution to close quarter combat situations.

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  1. My transition point is between 7-10 yards. At 7-8 yards I can definitely drop rounds on a man sized target with rapid fire and no sights. At 10 yards I’m looking at a fast sight picture or I start missing. This is with a G27, G23, or Smith 4006. A Sig 227, 1911, or G35 definitely helps at distance with the longer sight radius.

    I’m fully aware that more accomplished shooters can point shoot to greater distances, but until I have more practice those are my limitations.

    • absolutely depends on the level of practice of the shooter. Guys who practice/compete a lot don’t have to look at their sights on closer (<12-15 yds) as they can look to the point and they will bring their gun up with a "good enough" sight alignment married with solid trigger control netting acceptable hits. I dont' fall in that boat, yet.

    • And by practice, I don’t mean square range practice. Practicing draws and transitions especially.

    • I think this is definitely spot on. As you describe, out to around 7 yards or so it’s not even necessary to have the gun at eye level–just get it up to your chest. However, beyond that, you do have to use your sights. Some years ago I experimented pretty systematically and came up with these same conclusions.

      That said, there’s something to be said for just pumping out rounds to suppress fire.

    • I would say 7-10 yards is the transition for me as well. It seems like I hit smaller targets point shooting at under 7 yards, than I can carefully aiming. The gun used matters too. Heck, with the “sights” on my TCP, it’s almost point shoot or nothing…

    • +1.

      Interestingly, I recently went to a qualification course and one of the scenarios was 6 rounds from the hip at 3 yards in 3 seconds.

  2. I have to use point shooting for my police requalification as it is the approved even if outdated method. Otherwise I use iron sights or my mini reflex depending on which weapon.

    • So do I. I’m not a police officer but I work as an armed guard and am required by the state to shoot the police qualification every year. This involves firing from retention at 0 yards and point shooting at 3 yards. Personally, when I practice on my own I always use sights (the only exception being firing from retention at contact distance).

  3. Depends on range and time, up close 7-8 yards and under a few seconds? All point shooting with very good trigger control. Past that, I have time to pick up sights and use them.

  4. Shades of Jim Greg…..who signs all his books BTW….

    I practice point shooting with about 10% of my rounds..

    Look up ‘Brownie’ on the tube for a lesson or three…

  5. Very Good post. Of course, you always want to aim –> if you can. But my guess is that in many (if not most?) legit self defense situations, you won’t have time (or the inclination) to aim up your sights – and will default to ‘point shooting’, so it makes sense to practice your form, etc. I’ve personally evolved my style over the years. I used to shoot with one eye squinted like I was in an Olympics competition or something lol. Now I’m all both eyes open, have greatly improved my form, and really now just ‘index’ anything 7 yards and in – keeping my eyes on the target (and not the sights) – as from what I understand, when your life is threatened and adrenaline flowing, you will NOT take your eyes off the person trying to kill you to look at your sights.

    • Isn’t that really the glory of the EOTech sights (and the larger Aimpoints) in carbine-based combat? Speed, both eyes on the target, the dot projected out toward the target? It is liberating, isn’t it? And fast.

  6. Totally depends. I think you always use your sights as a reference, generally, but how hard you see the sights is dependent on what you’re shooting at, even if it’s just framing your gun on the outline of the target. Of course, that’s spoken as a gamer and not a face shooter.

    • This^^^

      It’s not a matter of using your sights vs not using your sights. Ben Stoeger calls it “seeing what you need to see.” On an 8 inch plate at 25 yards, you might need to your front sight crystal clear in the center of the target, on a 10 yard A-Zone you might can target focus but see your fuzzy, slightly misaligned sights and be ok, and on a 5 foot A-zone you might just need to see the outline of your gun pointed somewhere near the target.

      All of this must be figured out in live practice and supported by dry fire. Competition shooters have known this for a long time, but some trainers still keep spewing this “must focus on the front sight at all times” garbage. I don’t get it.

      • What you “don’t get” (along with most other experienced shooters), is that if new shooters don’t use the sights, they will miss. Regularly. Repeatedly. Horribly.

        Missing is bad, m’kay? As Col Cooper used to tell us, the purpose of shooting is hitting.

        As indicated in the article, the vast majority of shooters (and ALL new shooters) should use their sights (at least a rough sight index) at any distance where the potential shootee can’t grab your pistol with a single lunge (let’s say, 3 yards and beyond). Yes, I know you have practiced and got good hits while point-shooting at 5, 7, 10, 15 yards, or maybe even further at the range. Under calm conditions, with ample mental/physical preparation (you know you’re going to be doing it soon), in decent light, on a flat surface with good footing and (of course) near-perfect form. None of which may be applicable in real-world conditions.

        I have shown many folks how unreliable point shooting results can be with several simple exercises such as forcing them to stand on uneven ground (one foot placed on a sturdy box 6-10 inches tall), twisting the torso (leaving the feet in place and turning the body 90 degrees to engage the target), shooting off a set of steps/stairs (either facing, or 90 degrees to the target), or engaging a close target around a corner (no need to expose yourself at all, but point-shooting advocates regularly step around the corner to engage vs. minimizing exposure by pieing or leaning-out to shoot). Either they shoot poorly (miss), or expose far more of their body than necessary to preserve their shooting form (which they “need” to get the hits). In any of these exercises, if you are bringing the pistol up to eye-level, or near eye-level, you are saving no time at all over sighted fire, and so you should be using the sights anyway. If you’re truly shooting “too fast to use the sights”, then you will often be missing in these scenarios. As the competition shooters say, you can’t miss fast enough to win, and that applies equally in the real world. And that’s before you consider where your “misses” are going to stop (a tour group of kids down the street, perhaps?).

        Point/index shooting has its place, but that place is up-close, and only after a shooter has mastered high-speed sighted firing. It’s worth repeating: Missing is bad, and the purpose of shooting is hitting.

        • Yeah but not every piece of advice is practical for every shooter, period. There are few hard and fast rules in the shooting world that are applicable to everyone outside of safety rules.

          You are kind of setting up straw men. Point shooting does typically require being square to the target. in your concocted scenarios, it’s not ideal, obviously. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a place in the defensive world I can concoct a scenario where it is more practical than sighted shooting.

          Point shooting presupposes a solid fundamental base, and sighted shooting is fundamental, for certain.

        • And it is important to realize that even in point shooting there is always some reference, it’s just how much you focus on the reference depends on what you’re doing. Some framing the gun on the target is good enough, others you’ll have equal height equal light, depending on what you’re shooting at.

          The other side of the “what if” coin is what if you do over-aim and it leads to grave personal injury? Over aiming is a big problem in new shooters as much as under-aiming. Especially when seconds count.

        • DJ9, I’ll post my reply to you at the bottom of the current comments, because it’s long. M’kay?

        • Hell yeah. What this guy said. Whenever you’re talking about training which might benefit an experienced shooter but seriously impede an inexperienced shooter, that fact has to be made clear at the beginning, middle, kinda toward the end and the end of the article. Based on my skill level I am going to aim, every shot I possibly can. I have looked “over the sights” on multiple occasions in defensive pistol courses. I got too excited in a pistol course. Imagine a scenario where you use your weapon in self defense. Unless you are really, really good, you should aim.

  7. Both. Primarily sighted but I’m lucky enough to have a local range that allows drawing from the holster, so I also practice drawing and shooting from the hip.

    I realize that if I need to shoot there’s a good chance I may not have time to use the sights, so I practice shooting from the hip.

    I also realize that even if I do have time to use the sights I may not see them, because of adrenalin I may be unable to look at anything except the threat. At that point my body is partially on auto-pilot, and my aimed shooting practice reinforces body-memory and the sights should still be aligned with my target.

  8. Did a drill at the Sheriff’s range once, involved shooting a target low and to the left, maybe 7-9 feet away, then to the right, then one in the center at eye level. When you hit the first target it activated a timer, after so many second the target in the center turned edge-on and ended the drill. The object was to try and get more than one shot into the center target before it turned. I actually shot the low targets more or less “from the hip”, using both hands at waist level, and point-shot the center, I actually managed to get two shots in, had time to fire a third I believe but I hesitated after the second. People who tried to sight in didn’t make the center target at all. I’d say there’s definitely a place for point shooting, for me probably anything within “immediate danger” range of a knife-or club-armed assailant.

  9. Check the white crosshairs on the back of the “Curve’s” slide. Point and shoot, rinse repeat as necessary.

  10. I’m trying to transition as we speak, because my old eyes don’t like the sights anymore, but included in the transition is a laser sight. One way or another, for a man sized target inside 7 yards it would be point and shoot, always (even when my eyes worked). But by 10 yards the laser would be prevalent.

    • Level ground, good light, perfect form, and SLOW AS SH!T. Also notice he brought the weapon completely up to eye level, and the tape was carefully “formed” around the front sight, so he still had a bump to work with.

      A poor, but typical example of supposed “point shooting.”

      Remove the sights, force him to speed-up (shoot at nearly the speed he’d be shooting if his life depended on it), and he’d probably be off the entire target.

  11. I used to be a sights only guy but then I took a class that focused on point shooting inside 7 yards. I was surprised at how I grouped without bothering to use the sights, A nice ragged 6″ hole. I then took the class again after the rear sight popped off my new Glock (when are they going to use better sights?) with similar results. Plenty good enough for when fractions of a second count. I think how much you practice and muscle memory plays a part. Also having a pistol that points naturally for you, but that can be changed with practice.

  12. Seems like in order to get good at point shooting, you would need to practice with one gun, and only one gun.

    • I find with I can adapt to different grip angles on the guns that I currently own pretty quickly just because I train with them all often enough. Of course I have a primary EDC and that one is the one I’m most familiar with, but when I switch to another firearm it very quickly falls into place and points right where I want it to.

    • Not really. At the distances point shooting is primarily used for, any pistol you put in your hand should net the same results.

    • Of course there is natural truth in that, but it is also true that using the same sight design and pistol is necessary to optimize sighted shooting accuracy at speed, no? Competitors tend to be loath to significantly change their gun (its form and especially balance and recoil amount/velocity. Natural. Still, what you say is true.

  13. Doesnt everyone shoot using some combination of the two methods? In my experience there’s sort of a continuum with point shooting all the way to one end and sights aligned shooting all the way to the other.
    Depending on circumstances, purpose of drawing and relative time behind the gun every shooter will land somewhere different on that continuum.

    Trying to nail a plate at 50 yards = sighted
    Running a close in IDPA course where experience tells me I’ll be down zero no matter what it’s point and squeeze for speed.
    DGU = whatever you get as fast as you can get it however you can get it.

  14. Depends on the distance. However, I dont get why people even train with a pistol to shoot it like they do a rifle, they carefully, slowly aim, get in a proper stance, breathe and slowly squeeze the trigger. Unless your hunting, none of those things are going to happen if you have to use your gun for real.

    • This^^ X infinity.

      You better learn to point shoot, because that is what you’re going to be doing in most confrontations. If you want to really get good at it, I would suggest adding some time on a skeet range to your training.

      • Excellent point, skeet shooting taught me a whole lot about speed, moving targets, and accuracy.

        • Same here, except I learned it shooting sporting clays and 5 stand. First shot, at least, I can point shoot as accurately with a single hand as two (harder to accurately double-tap single handedly, as we all know), and can point shoot with lead and hit a moving target as easily as I can hit a stationary one.

          The only bad thing about clays shooting versus tactical or defensive shooting is that you concentrate on only the desired point of impact in clays, ignoring anything and everything else, while you need to maintain situational awareness in most defensive situations.

    • Wholeheartedly agree with what you say, but sometimes it’s nice to slow down and see what both you and the gun are really capable of. I equally enjoy working against a shot timer, or just grouping as tight as possible on a piece of paper. It’s all fun for me!

    • I sure second that perception. I’ve felt defensive pistol shooting is much more of a piece with skeet shooting. I wouldn’t want a student to first learn to aim at the clay, then later learn to swing through it (though there is a school that teaches the former). Much better he or she swings through and misses, shooting only the easiest stations, and slow “gets the thing,” slowly know his gun, the load. Then progress comes quickly. I’m glad you and your commenters mentioned this. It is so relevant. (And am I alone in seeing dangerous game medium bore rifles shooting at speed as on the shotgun side of this divide, as well. Plains game shooting at distance…otherwise?)

  15. I use point shooting exclusively for adult human size targets within 15 to 18 feet or so. After extensive practice moving and shooting this way I do NOT miss.

    I will admit that this is only possible after a LOT of practice. I have probably put over 2,000 rounds through semi-auto pistols. Now, point shooting is second nature and I don’t even have to think about it. I can draw and shoot on target.

    If I were engaging someone beyond 18 feet or had to put a precise shot on someone closer, I would rapidly transition to using the sights.

  16. I used both methods of shooting. I use sighted shooting when I’m shooting rifles and for the majority of handguns. Though I DO USE point shooting with my carry handgun. Though it has taken me years of daily practice to be able to use the point shoot method. I still practice daily. I use the laserlyte system/systems for maybe 5-10mins a day during my exercise routine. It takes a long time to gain the appropriate muscle memory to not even think. I’m at the point now where I close my eyes and move my position, then open them for a split second and close them again and then pull from holster and shot.

  17. I’ve been point shooting for over 50 years. It’s not a big deal if your gun points well. And if you shoot a Airweight snubby or a wartime M1911, you’re point shooting too, because their poor-excuse-for-sights are just there to fool you into believing that the sights are actually doing something.

    • Absolutely. And the key value of point shooting isn’t games. It’s living through the first two seconds of a gun fight.

  18. Judging from the lack of marksmanship at close distances (say 10 feet or less) in the local range, there must be a lot of people practicing point shooting.

    As another counter point, remember you are responsible for every bullet that leaves your gun. If it misses the target in a defensive shooting, it is going to end up somewhere. If a lawyer finds out you didn’t use the sights you are going to be in deep trouble (unless the barrel is in contact with the target).

    You can shoot fast while using the sights. They teach it at Gunsite, along with other places.

    • To say a glued-to-the-front-sight shooter intently focuses on the front sight, can’t keep the rear sight in focus, and lets the perp himself stay out of focus…isnt much better. Tell the jury that: “I couldn’t see the attacker clearly. He was fuzzy and out of focus, as I stared at the front sight, intent on shooting…something.” Point shooting isn’t abandonment of any practiced aiming system. It is implementation of a different aiming system, a time honored and proven one.

      Incidentally, the FBI released it’s big “9mm is wonderful” report last summer, pointing out in the documents that approximately 30% of police shots hit their intended target. “The jury needs to know!” When you hit with 70% the jury will realize you’re better than a trained and sworn law man. –taking out bystanders seem, in reality, a problem for cops and gang bangers. I haven’t seen it a common element of DGU events by citizens. Have you? And most of the cops and gang bangers seem to get away with it, at least in my neighboring big city.

  19. Competition is a great time to practice point-shooting. So often targets are within 15 feet and one must only look at the Alpha (or down-zero) and squeeze. Magically, holes appear where you are looking.

    This is one reason why competing with the same platform you carry is extremely helpful, if not imperative. Compete with a Glock 34/35? Carry a G26/19.

  20. I grew up shooting sporting clays, so I always focus on the target and keep both eyes open. I line up my sight picture with my peripheral vision, which is exceptionally easy using three dot sights. Focusing directly on the front sight causes the target to be fuzzy and out of focus, and usually makes me see two of them, which slows my target acquisition. Focusing on the target also transitions naturally to using reflex optics.

  21. Since I wear progressives, I can’t shoot with the sights in focus without tilting my head back. If I wear my computer glasses, then the target is more out of of focus. Sights are in focus enough still to get a decent sight picture. My eyes aren’t as bad as my wife’s. Yet.
    I also shoot with both eyes open; the same way I shoot my bow.

  22. If you can point shoot be it with a carbine or handgun your miles ahead. If you can point shoot and use iron sights to hit a man sized target @ 200 meters your well prepared for any problems long term or short term. My father was taught point shooting while in the 101st Airborne Rangers. Be it .45, M3 or BAR. I have no idea if they still teach this or not. This was well before the video game dot scopes. I’ve also heard it called “snap shooting”. Practice,practice,practice.

  23. I practice point shooting with a CO2 BB handgun in the garage due to cost and time. I go through different drills for turning, drawing, moving, one hand, two hands, etc, all based on point shooting. I apply this to my EDC at the range and it holds pretty well, minute of bad-guy at 5-7 yds. Typical DGU distance is 5 yds or less.

  24. I’m gonna listen to massad Ayoobs advice here. People who win gunfights are people who use the front sight. Unless I become taran butler or bob Vogel I’m sticking to my sights. I’ve been in too many paintball fights and seen people completely miss at 5 feet to believe that I don’t have time for my sights.

  25. Practice makes perfect as with anything else. We like to train “snap shots” @7yrds(avg DGU range). Where you pull from the holster, a target is called out, and you fire 3 rounds on that target in under 3 seconds. With that you really don’t have time to try and focus on the sights. But with repetitive practice you can easily get all 3 in a 2-3″ group in the ringer. The wonderful thing about your mind is it will pick up on the sights subconsciously, and it is just second nature. Anything much further sure take your time and line up the sights. Another way to do this is to holster draws and pick and object in the room and draw on it(with an empty gun of course), when you do focus your eyes you’ll begin to see you’re already lined up on it.

  26. I have a Jimenez 22 pistol I use to practice point shooting. The Jimenez is the same size as my Ruger LCP and it handles the same way. Even at today’s prices 22 ammo is still far less expensive than 380 acp ammo. I have no idea how long I have been practicing with the Jimenez pistol. I do know I had the Jimenez before the Ruger LCP came out. I had a Kel Tec at the time I bought the JA22 NIB for $75 out the door. The JA22 is the best $75 I have ever spent.

    The biggest fault I see is many people use a target stand that is to low or high to simulate putting a round in a person of average size.

  27. If you train to point shoot and can hit your target doing so at appropriate engagement ranges then I have no problem with it.
    However just because LEO or competitive shooters do something doesn’t mean it’s a sound practice. If a shooter in competition misses the shot it’s just points and maybe a loss.
    If a LEO has a justified shoot but misses it’s just more paperwork unless they happen to hit a bystander and even then I don’t think the LEO would prosecuted for manslaughter as a normal citizen could be.
    For a defensive gun use as normal citizen every round fired has a lawyer attached to it.

  28. Both. I went down to the creek yesterday do do some shooting. The banks are vertical and 6′ high so it makes a good backstop. I set up a couple Pigeon Perches clay pigeon holders and shot at them from 20 yards using sights. I had nine rounds left in my pocket so I decided to finish up by doing three-three round burst from drawing at 7 yards. I drew and fired three shoots as fast as possible like doing a triple tap. The third shot hit the clay pigeon. I did another string of three and did not hit it but the misses were within combat accuracy. On the third string I can’t remember which shot hit it but I did score another hit. Rather than wait for the sights to get all lined up with my eye before shooting, I draw and fire immediately but the whole time I am looking for the sight alignment and picture. I have always been a target focus shooter even at 20+ yards with both eyes open and letting my right eye find the front sight independently. In this drill, each time the gun returns from recoil, I am constantly adjusting so that it comes to rest with the sights aligned. At the end, all 9 shots were within a 6″ area and two shots actually hit the 3″ clay. I didn’t have a timer but I estimate that from holster to 3rd shot was under 1.5 seconds. To do that you have to point shoot at least the first one.

  29. I discovered point shooting by accident. When you find a gun that points well, it’s hard not to become an advocate… I never even considered it until I pulled my RFB from slung… I wish I could get the rifle consistently feeding because no gun has ever fit me so well. I still find it shocking that every time I go to look through the glass I’m already on… Sighting/aiming is just a waste of time. Already there. Every time. Aluminum cans at 25yds have no hope. Torsos at 100yds are totally screwed. It’s like the gun aims itself and I’m just there to work the trigger. Every time I shoot it I get that Sweeny Todd moment; Finally, my arm is complete again! I have a giant piece of glass and 45 degree backup sights on it, don’t use either of them…

  30. It would depend on the grand jury if a miss with subsequent death or injury if a LEO or citizen would be charged. No matter what you still have to live with taking a persons life. When I first started my partner fired and hit the shooter but the fmj round nose they issued us went right through his head & hit a kid he was holding hostage. Justified shoot no doubt, only good thing that came out of it was hollow points became issue ammo & .45’s got throated & polished for reliability. He quit a year later at half pension became a history teacher.

    • What remarkable bad luck. During the FBI new-round selection process their staff went on record stating that the FBI did not have a single case on record of their bullets going through a perp and hitting an innocent. They only argued the “what about overpenetration?” bit to try and sell issuance of hollow-points. And they admitted it.

      • 230gr at about 10-12 ft head shot, not much left of side of head 1 shot was fired from a 1911 the kid he was holding caught the pass thru. As I was around 20ft away I know what I saw & autopsy found. In the 70’s & 80’s hot loads were common going back up in still country. If you think a. .45 round will not penetrate a skull I will find a cadaver for you and we can test it. This is the same FBI that ended up with 9mm silvertips that did not penetrate leading them to declare the 9mm was no good thus needed 10mm then the .40 S&W when they could not shoot the 10mm The 9 would have worked if they had used aimed head shot rather than spray & pray. Marshals service fugitive teams are involved in more defensive uses with firearms than the F.B.I. They have better press people. In 1990 the 9mm was garbage, 25 years later they are ordering 9mm as it’s better now or is it the agents are shooting better. Point shooting at 7 yrds is choice distance neeeds aim. i used to trust the government until I worked for them now, I would not trust the government if they told me water was wet

        • Yes. Yes and yes. What’s interesting about the 10mm choice bit is that not only did the director say “yes,” while the key professional staff said “and if he chose .45ACP we would have been fine with that,” but the professional staff running the research ruled out 9mm as “at the end of a 90 year road, with no room for innovation.”

          I would never say .45ACP won’t go through a scull! On the other hand any round hitting the outer curve can deflect. Sure. And “still country”…anything can happen and does.

          Curious that the FBI still lets SA’s purchase and carry the G21 if they wish, and keeps the HRT standardized on .45ACP via the Springfield. I like .45ACP because it works and its muzzle blast is …mellower. I like 10mm, too, because it leaves LOTS of room to vary the bullet weight and length, increasing or decreasing (to some extent) the powder volume used.

  31. DJ9: What you don’t get is that new shooters don’t miss “Regularly. Repeatedly. Horribly….” if they start out on targets at three yards and slowly work up, adding in sighted fire. They generally aren’t given opportunity to learn their gun from realistic ranges, slowly working out to “the instructor will make you look incompetent” ranges. Point shooting is a key skill. It is the first thing that happens in gunfights. Ask Robert O’Neill. Rule one, according to the FBI Journal, is “get your hand on your gun before the other guy.”

    As for Colonel Cooper, why do you think he was an expert at gunfighting? He was doubtless a great guy, and projected an attitude that people who sought him out wanted to share. He was never in a gun fight or combat that any one can document, and I inquired, decades ago, expecting (frankly hoping for) a different reply. I was surprised. His votaries started referring vaguely to “irregular warfare” as a synonym for “not on the frontlines in Korea.” How? Where? When? I’m interested. It should be simple to tell me. I’ve asked. Tell me I’m wrong, with facts.

    Ask the FBI about the vital need for all the gun games, the Mozambique Drill, and, of all things, the Wilson 5 x 5 Drill. A CCW person needs to do it, but not an FBI SA? Hornady and Wilson need people to do it. FBI Special Agents don’t apparently need to do it. The drills raise the spend on ammo, ranges, and guns, while pushing aside those folks without the money or desire to shoot more than FBI SA’s do. As the author of the post notes in another of his articles, the FBI requires pretty minimal but sensible qualification. They also require only 2,000 rounds a year of continuing pistol practice. They run into more criminals that the most people, no? CQB with a pistol? Most soldiers on the front line don’t even get issued or authorized a pistol! There aren’t any big pistol battles in Mosul or Kirkuk. CQB with pistols is mostly marketting talk.

    The idea that pistol fighting at ranges that actually occur should have you seeing your sights by the first shot…hasn’t been good teaching for more than seventy years, in brief since Fairbairn published “Shooting to Live with the One-Handed Gun,” in which also teaches the two handed gun. In real gunfights with a surprise start initiated by the aggressor it is critical to get your first shot off as your pistol comes up. You don’t see a piece of cardboard appear. You see a muzzle flash and hear a very loud bang. Oops. Here comes another one. Looking for your sights? Right. If you think “only hits count,” you just haven’t thought about it or experienced it. If your first shot misses but you do not slow down as you raise your gun to eye level (proper training) you do throw the perp off, jack his fear, and with the very quick fuzzy front-sight second shot, the sighted third shot, you may even win, survive.

    Why do cops, when actually faced with someone shooting at them, not merely holding a weapon, shoot on the way up before seeing their sights? Because you don’t, despite the post’s speculation, get to decide how much time you have, whether you can get on your sights, do a “balance of the factors.” Only the aggressor gets to decide how much time you have. That’s why he’s called “the aggressor.” You only get to beat the aggressor’s first hit, and you don’t get time to think about it. I believe anyone whose been assaulted by someone with a gun or a group with guns knows this. Sure, get on your sights first, just as long as the perp hasn’t actually started shooting at you. Simple.

    • I have been in two knife fights. Both times I had both a gun and a knife. I didn’t get a chance to draw a weapon in either fight. Both times the guy just came out of no where and started slashing. I was very fortunate that neither attacker was trained to use a knife. I was able to escape both attackers. If someone is close to you with a knife you will not get a chance to aim. You will be lucky to draw your gun. In fact, trying to make some space to draw a weapon or just running is the best option. You will be close enough to point shoot if you have practiced point shooting at all, Not all deadly encounters involve a gun.

      • “Only the aggressor gets to decide how much time you have. That’s why he’s called “the aggressor.” You only get to beat the aggressor’s first hit OR SLASH, and you don’t get time to think about it. I believe anyone whose been assaulted by someone with a gun OR KNIFE, or a group with guns, KNIVES OR CLUBS… knows this. Sure, get on your sights first, just as long as the perp hasn’t actually started shooting, SLASHING, OR CLUBIING you ALREADY. Simple.”

        Yep. Agree. You might get to loose a shot or two at contact distance, or on the rise, point shooting. But precious few are going to be given the time by the aggressor to keep distance and line up their sights during a mugging or surprise gun-up burglary, car-jacking, or home invasion. Running like hell is very often the key skill if your weapon isn’t in hand in time to clear leather and start a string.

        Yet the post above, and the most arrogant effort by a commentor to put down critiques of the sights-über-alles lline…”don’t get it” because they haven’t “been there, done that.” They also haven’t read the seminal texts of handgun use in crime fighting written as instruction manuals by people who actively engaged in the activity for decades. No. They went to some academy to learn the doctrines created and promulgated by men who had precious little experience using a handgun (or knife) to counter an actual surprise shooting/slashing attack on the mean streets. So it seems to me.

  32. I have taken a number of courses teaching almost every variant of these two techniques. It didn’t sink in at first for me. After several years of training at about 500 rounds a week, I now use both techniques and I transition between the two without thinking about it. There is no conscious thought as to distance, immediacy of the threat, or whatever. I am not sure if I can explain how my brain determines when to transition. I can say that it works extremely well. Perhaps it is time to try USPSA. 🙂

    • It strikes me that you describe what should happen, the brain’s integration of potential technique and the context. Point shooting being produced when experience tells your brain it is necessary to speed for survival or speed for scoring efficiency, and using the benefit of the sights when you intuit it will not slow you too much to survive or to win (games). Brian Enos does a great job of describing it, going ‘full zen,’ in one of his books. To me they are two ‘worlds of the gun.’ Enos probably brain washed me, after Fairbairn made clear the absolutely critical need for speed, repeatability, and accuracy, in context-forced various mixes. I actually think hunting with rifles is very similar: Compare the hunter of dangerous game: He has technique for instinctive super-fast (dare I call it point shooting) response to a cape buffalo lunging out of the bush…but also fine highly-skilled accuracy technique using sight, trigger, and breath control. The two techniques, the instinctive fast-swinging point shooting taking over automatically. The brain seems to know when to push aside refinement in favor of survival, and when that is unnecessary and even costly. The human brain is stunningly capable if left to its devices.

  33. I practice both, as well as shooting from retention. When there is a threat, you need to get lead on target as quickly as possible.

  34. I think point shooting often falls into the poor-definition-of-terms argument category. People argument back and forth, using the same word, but meaning different things.

    DJ9 seems to be arguing against the “stand square, 2 hands on gun, slow-firing/hammer-pairs with the gun pressed firmly against the point of the hip”. (Based on his “square” & “level ground” type comments.) I believe that type of shooting is useless as anything but a novelty, and that most would agree with me.

    When I reference point shooting I think of a timed course of fire that required 2 to the heart at 3yds while moving to cover, a 10yd shot at a small silhouette (representing ~35-40yd shot), finished with a headshot at 4 yards after “pie-ing” further around the cover. Small silhouette absolutely required a pause, hard front sight, & clean trigger manipulation. All the other shots HAD to be made from a gun up, looking “through” the sights while focussing on the target quickly if your time was to remain competitive.

    The moving “point shooting” on the chest and head shots were 100% for me, I missed (slightly) the long shot almost every time, until I learned that I had to really change how my brain was working and transition to a hard front sight focus. But the you basically had to “snap” back to the stop shot on the head A-zone or waste time finding a precise sight picture.

  35. Normally i dont waste my time chiming in on topics but let me explain it to you this way. Do you concentrate on the line in the center of the road when driving? No you see it subconsciously. Actually you focus straight ahead and see everything in your perifial vision or you see everything as one sight picture same as when you watch TV. I was fortunate enough to have one of the greatest shotgun instructors who ever lived back in my wingshooting and clay days. The first thing he made me do (after teaching me about proper eye dominace was buy a red rider bb gun and take the sights off. I had to shoot ping pong balls in the grass at various distances for 2 weeks before we moved over to the .22 (with no sights) and then to the shotgun. You will be suprised how fast your natural ability and instincts kick in by focusing on ur target. Its just like when you point with ur arm and finger at an object to show it to someone, are you using sights? No! Instinctive or point shooting is not about practice as much as it is proper instruction. 99.9% of pistol speed shooters shoot their close and even lot of medium targets same as shotgun shooters, instinctively. Now, before you start screaming not possible, let me prove it to you. Get ur pistol, focus your eyes on center of the target and start pointing at it repeatedly with end of ur barrel. What you will notice is that after enough times you brain will subconsciously tell ur hand to point at center. You will also notice you will see everything as one picture (including the sights). Once you do this a few times try shooting at it. You wont necessarily be hitting the X in the 10 ring consistantly, but you will be staying center mass as long as you have good/proper grip technique that points your barrel in same direction that your eyes are looking. How do the gangsters run up and actually hit someone with the bullet when they are holding pistol with the “cool horizontal hold” without aiming? Its just natural instincts and they dont even know how to describe it themselves. Instincts are program in our brain for a reason people, so we need to embrace it as great gift. Sure you will hit more precise with focusing on front sight at distances over 12 yards. But most gun battles are well within this and shooting instinctively is much faster and might give you that extra second to hit the assailant first while he is trying to line you up in his sights…….if he is a good natural point shooter, then hope and pray his gun misfires……

  36. Just about all my shooting is point shooting. A lot of times I will be looking a couple inches above my sights directly at my “target within the target”. With my body square to the main target I quickly spot some detail on the bigger target. With both eyes open, body square I unholster and with stiff locked arms I swing the squared up pistol until the tip of the barrell is a ” few inches” below where I want to hit. As soon as I swing the tip of the pistols barrel below where i mean to hit I touch off 3 rounds. Following thru with my upward swing I now have my pistol leveled up in front of my face. Looking a couple inches above the somewhat level pistol and simultaneously having both eyes focused where I want to hit I let fly with a few rounds. With me its a quick double tap followed by an immediate triple. I always get a few hits on target long before someone gets into some kind of bladed position and takes a few seconds lining up their sights. These shooters usually end up pulling their barrel down and off to the side when they send one shot downrange. Night sights are useful to square up the gun and getting body alignment squarely on target. I learned this after brief instruction and the natural way people point with their finger.

  37. Ive read all the comments on here and some I agree with and some I don’t. I have worked for private security company as a patrol supervisor. One night I got a call to an apt complex for a fight. When I arrived on scene, 2 rival gang members were fighting. In Sacramento it takes law enforcement about 20 minutes to respond unless someone is being killed or attacked in another way. I managed to break the fight up and started back to my car when a lady screamed for me to watch out. I turned around just in time to see a hispanic male walking fast toward me with a gun. It was a situation where I did not have time to use my sights. I had to point and shoot to protect myself. Yes, I killed him but when law enforcement arrived, 3 residents came forward to say he was going to shoot me. In a self defense situation you don’t usually have time to sight your target so you like me, are only able to point and shoot.

  38. With my eyes, I can’t focus on the front sight unless I get my glasses out. Point shooting is my only practical option.

  39. I use both aim and point and shoot methods. I only aim when target shooting for fun at the gun range. I also practice point and shoot with P.D. ammo at human 23’x35″ silhouettes. I feel that in real self defense situations with your adrenaline rush and not getting cooperation from the perp. with giving you time to aim, you are in a serious situation if you don’t have the ability to point and shoot, you are in a world of **it.

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