By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
There are three primary sighting techniques for shooting with handguns – traditional aimed fire, front sight press/flash sight picture and point shooting. Each has their place, but the one that a lot of people tend to ignore is point shooting.
You should actually be practicing it.
Each sighting technique has a place and a purpose, as each has benefits and drawbacks. Aimed fire, for instance, is great for punching targets. It’s also good for iron sight rifle shooting or hunting. However, for defensive shooting it isn’t the best technique as it takes time to align sights and time is not a luxury a person may have.
Front sight shooting, however, is a much more viable defensive technique and is able to deliver accurate fire quickly. It’s widely considered the gold standard for defensive shooting and is certainly good for people who do or are going to concealed carry to practice. After all, if you’re going to put on a concealed carry holster and carry a gun, you should know how to use it. This is the technique popularized by Jeff Cooper and is taught today by many instructors directly as a result of Cooper’s “modern technique” curriculum.
Front sight shooting, of course, has decades of efficacy on record, so a person should definitely learn it.
Point shooting differs in that the shooter doesn’t use the sights, firing instead by “point of aim.” In other words, you shoot either from the hip or by bringing the firearm up roughly to eye level, point and shoot without using the sights. Aiming is done by “feel,” which is why some shooters in previous eras (Bill Jordan for instance) preferred a bull-barrel revolver, as the weight allows the shooter to feel where the barrel is pointed.
While not as accurate as front sight shooting at distance, point shooting confers certain advantages at short range, which is where most shootings occur.
Most people have heard of the Rule of Threes regarding defensive shootings, or that most shootings (officer-involved or involving civilians) have a duration of 3 seconds, involve 3 shots fired and occur at a range of 3 or fewer yards. Not all, of course, but many, and this is where point shooting becomes a valuable skill. That’s also why it was taught to British service personnel by Fairbairn and Sykes and to American service personnel by Rex Applegate.
Fairbairn and Sykes, in particular, had noted the efficacy of point shooting during their service with the Shanghai police. The close-up nature of most police shootings left little time for aimed fire and thus an officer who could shoot without taking the time to use the sights was more likely to survive an encounter with an armed suspect. Hence, they taught the technique as well.
Point shooting, as all parties observed out, was usable in combat conditions as not all gunfights take place with sufficient space between the combatants, with sufficient light and sufficient time to fire an aimed shot. You also might not have time to assume an Isosceles, Weaver or modified shooting stance.
In other words, when you have to shoot someone up close and personal and in a hurry, point shooting is surely the indicated technique.
However, point shooting has limitations. At moderate distances – say beyond about 3 yards – accuracy tends to decline and the extra speed in acquiring the target loses any advantage, which is why the front sight technique is much more commonly taught. It gets results and shouldn’t be discounted. Ideally, a person should actually practice both as it is certainly good to have multiple tools in the toolbox, so to speak.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.