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I've been running a red dot on several of my carry guns for awhile. I have gone through the various contortions on trying to be the most effective with them that I can be. We hear a lot about the "learning curve" with them, which I have certainly found to be the case. For me, at least, effectiveness required a complete transition away from the traditional front sight press methods of sighting and shooting. I spent a lot of frustrating time "picking up the dot" and other time-and-effort-wasting distractions.

In order to get the most out of my dots, I have to throw absolutely everything I have ever learned and practiced with front sight press out with the bathwater. I believe that bit of reality explains why even in specialized red classes taught by accomplished and talented FPS instructors, I have found myself staying somewhere behind the curve. I believe this to be because even those guys approach the problem based on their expertise, skill and talents as FSP practitioners. Those techniques simply don't work for me, no matter how hard and how long I practice them. I simply am not a front sight focused handgun shooter. The red dot techniques I have developed, while certainly not unique, work for me to the exclusion of all else. They have for years. As time, practice and experience go on, red dots become more and more effective in improving and enhancing my handgun accuracy. As a threat-focused handgun shooter, my red dot results continue to improve as I keep that in mind and practice.

I recently attended a couple classes at the school where I received nearly all of my early advanced shooting training, Tactical Defense Institute in southern Ohio. It's a great school with great instructors, with the qualification that it is strictly front sight press. Strictly. While for the past five or six years, FSP has had no place in my handgun marksmanship skills, everything I did at TDI revolved around it. Consequently, I was always somewhere in the middle of the pack when it came to accuracy among my fellow students. Only after learning and acquiring my threat-focus skills was I able to move to the front of that pack, where I remain.

My last trip to TDI was for a three-day armed school staff course. It was hot, the training was fairly demanding and intense, and by the afternoon, I was feeling the effects. Adrenaline, fatigue, generally stressed. Hanging in with the rest of the class no problem, but feeling it.

One afternoon, I came out of the live fire house after running a very complex, stressful scenario, and moved to the plate rack for some partner tactics training. I was running my DeltaPoint-equipped Glock 17. Without all the details, we were shooting plates at fifteen yards. Simple enough, but I was missing. I was doing what I believed to be exactly what I always do, and I was missing. A lot. Lead instructor Forrest Sonewald was right there to diagnose my problems, and he told me I was slapping the trigger. Hard. A sixty-second coaching session later, and I was back to hit-making. He was, of course, correct, but there was something else going on that I realized only in hindsight and after an AAR of the incident with Brownie, my threat-focused shooting guru. He didn't tell me what I was doing wrong so much as my conversation with him allowed me to sort it out myself. By way of confirmation, I checked it out this morning with my Trijicon-equipped Glock 21. Repeating my mistake at TDI, I was scoring misses with the one gun that least tolerant of errors in aiming. Eliminate that mistake, and the hits return. Go back to the error, miss some more. Simple stuff, unless I get stuck on lapsing back into not knowing what I don't know. There at TDI, where FSP skills were a major part of my upbringing, it is easy to fall back on old habits as the training wears on.

So here is where I mess up when I miss with the red dot. I am a strictly-threat-focused handgun shooter. When I become something else, even just a little bit, I miss. Coming out of the holster, extending out from the ready positions, whatever, if I am utilizing my red dot, I must, and I repeat must maintain the target as the point of focus. I cannot "start to pick up the dot" as I would the front sight on FSP targeting. I absolutely cannot move my focus from the target to anywhere else. If I do, I become dot-focused instead, and miss my shot. If I stay on the target, the dot will present itself, every time. My adjustment will become instinctive, the dot will come into view and cover the target, and the shot will go where I want it to.

"Stay target-focused!!!" has not received the exclamation marks in any of the several red dot classes I have taken. I'm thinking that may be because those instructors are so accomplished as FSP guys that they cannot move off that bubble.

"Stay target-focused!!!" is my best, and only advice to red-dot shooters who have become proficient with the other fundamentals of grip, trigger pull, and follow-up. Forget FSP, focus on the target.
I see customers and people on the range using a red dot on their pistol like a scope. Closing one eye and looking through the "tube/window". Constantly demonstrating how to use one correctly at the shop when customers bring it to eye level and look through it like a scope.

How they are supposed to be used is threat focused and put the dot superimposed on the threat/target. Had to actually show my ranger buddy how they were designed to be used, so it's not just novices who don't understand how they should be using one correctly.
 

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Actually; I think a couple of things may be commingled here, as I’ve experienced the zipper being taught a couple of (minor) different ways, which may be somewhat confusing.

I learned the point shoulder position as being arm extened straight out from the shoulder, at shoulder height, which is below the shooter’s line of sight; sights not able to be aligned for any sight picture. I‘ve always shot point shoulder that way.

Now; the difference. At one of the later classes (which Mike attended); “the zipper‘ was presented as; one shot from 1/2 hip to the abdomen, a shot from from 3/4 hip COM, a shot from point shoulder COM, and the fourth shot to the head, using the sights.
Prior to that; I’d always fired the head shot from point shoulder. It does make sense to use the sights that are so close at that point anyway; I suppose. But; shooting from the point shoulder position is below line of sight, not using the sights.
If I’m not remembering this correctly; hopefully Brownie or EBL will set things straight, and correct me.
Re: 4th shot/head shot using sights. I didn't mention it that I can remember, and as you suggest, at that distance with the gun coming up from the last 3 anyway, sure bring the guns sights on threat as in a type 2 Enos focus, looking through the gun but at the threat. That last shot may also be with pistol QK as soon as the reference point is obtained. So I think I didn't mention using the sights specifically for the head shot, but if it works, it works. It was rare any of the students missed the head shot.

Yup, point shoulder is nose indexed gun at shoulder height and fully extrended, looking out over the gun at the threat
 

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I’m on the fence about a red dot on my carry pistol for distance shooting if ever needed. So, I’m trying to figure out what is being said here.

Are you saying that with the dot you can see the dot and the target clearly? That doesn’t seem possible to me as your eyes can only focus on one thing at a time at two different distances (at least mine do). Or are you saying you prefer to see the target focused and the dot blurry? Wouldn’t that be the same with irons?

Also, are your new irons co-witnessing with the dot?


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You will see the red dot superimposed over the target when used correctly Caleb. They are actually fairly easy to learn to use correctly for most without some form of eye issues.

In my own case, the astigmatism puts the dot a little less defined on the edges [ like it's frayed around the edge ]. That doesn't affect how accurate I can be with a dot. My issue with using a dot on a pistol is, it hinders my speed on threat with that first shot [ which may be the only shot that matters ].

How do I know that? 22 pistol steel plates [ of all sizes ] matches. 2nd or 3rd place with iron's using pistol QK [ unless ultra precision shots need be taken which they use quite often ] to 13th-15th place with the dot. The difference is the time to make that first shot [ bringing the gun to eye level, finding the dot, firing ].

I'm speaking to those little dots people put on pistols, not the old huge tubes we used back in the 80's in matches. Those tubes were large enough I could find the dot very quickly. How quickly? 5 head shots at 33 feet in 4.0 seconds from surrender position.
 

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Thanks for the clarification. I have experience with dots only on carbines. I have shot pistols with a dot but, only a handful of times.

No co-witness, copy that. I can see how it would get “cluttered” in your sight picture if it was co-witnessed.



I as well have astigmatism and see the dots the same as you. Looks like a wool dryer ball after the load is done.

You mentioned the dot will slow your speed to first shot on the target. Would that matter if the target is at 10yds or 50yds? Would you be taking a fraction longer of the time at the further distances for that first shot? If so, would it matter if that is with irons or a dot?


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At 10 yrds, the dot slows me down [ as in the matches ]. At 50 yrds, the dot may be a little faster to acquire than taking the time to align the sights perfectly.

I think at 50 yrds, if I'm taking incoming, Quick Kill pistol will get me on threat at least as fast as the dot would as long as the threat was out in the open. I'm going to be more accurate overall with the dot at 50 yrds from my experience with them, but the majority of my training defensively isn't 50 yrd distances.

If 95+% of the time, SD will be under 10 yrds and most of that will be under 5 yrds, I don't find the need to put a dot on my carry guns which will hinder that first shot on threat time wise.

Remember, I've been using threat focused skills for 41 years. I don't have time left nor the ambition to throw tens of thousands of rounds downrange to master a dot. LOL
 

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A slight detour back into the weeds, bearing in mind that the class I attended was over six years ago, and one of many that you have taught. With that said, you aren't going to remember the exact conversation, and I may be remembering it wrong. As demonstrated in the video, the front sight post is within the shooter's field of vision. Again, as I recall from the two or three minute course of instruction, you advised that aligning the front post to the base of the target in the periphery, maintaining focus on the target will serve as an additional reference, and that the hit will be slightly higher on the target.

That sounds like QK pistol which is raised slightly higher to the level of your nose and as low as your mouth.,

If I'm wrong, or misunderstood, apologies for my mischaracterization of the material presented.

Back to how point shoulder was briefly mentioned in my original post--when I fired my first round after that bit of instruction, I brought the front sight to the base of the target, over the top of the DeltaPoint sight aperture. That put such an elevation on my muzzle the round went entirely over the berm.

Yup, can't use a dot as a reference point with QK pistol

Maybe you said what I thought you said, maybe I simply misunderstood. Either way, the point shoulder thing was so far removed from the intention of my post that I'm very sorry for having ever brought it up, and for the rhetorical and grammatical trip to the weeds to see who could urinate the most impressively that resulted. However it came about, I apologize for dragging you into a conversation that I never intended to make you a part of.

Anytime there's discussion that brings more clarification on something, it's a positive Mike
 

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Brownie and the helmet cam. Lol.
The early days, but I still like the point of view hits from the camera as demonstrated. I have taken a lot of crap from shooters over the helmet cam over the years. Taking crap from internet posers is part and parcel to being an instructor. Hell, I'd not slept in over 24 hours when I arrived and headed straight to the range where the boys were waiting on our rented privater range that day. Detractors pointed out in one, I nearly tripped over my own two feet, but failed to mention with no sleep I was still making the hits all day. ;)
 

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Right there is the bottom line.

I appreciate your clarification. There is a good possibility that I co-mingled the skills you were imparting in that particular instance. That is far from the only example of me taking what I learned from you and expanding it or modifying it to fit my own needs and attributes. My threat-focused handgun shooting at all distance is the most glaring example that comes to mind, but there are others. Your feedback, encouragement and guidance in our discussions, since the classes have been every bit as valuable to me as a shooter as anything we covered in the class. Heck, the only reason I checked out the .45 Shield in the first place was because of your praise for the platform. Now I own three and carry one almost exclusively.
More than welcome Mike
 
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