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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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.
Keeping both of my eyes wide open is a critical part of my target equation. I should have mentioned that in my OP. As soon as I close one eye, I have lapsed back into old FSP habits, and the results emphasize it. "Both eyes open!!!" are right up there with grip and trigger control for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I would contend that technique when defensive shooting is a mathematical equation of time and distance.
I will use my terminology instead of yours. There are 3 types of aiming. One is indexed shooting (some call it threat focused, target focused, point shooting) and then aimed fire. The second is called flash sight picture. Where the minute to sight or dot hits the target you squeeze. And the third is aimed fire. Where you line up the sights or the dot and squeeze the trigger.
Time and distance is the equation. Closer 10-15’ index shooting makes more sense. 15-40’ flash sight picture makes more sense. Over that aimed fire would take precedence. Now keep in mind some are more skilled and can extend those ranges drastically.
But and here is the key. The tool does not dictate it, time and distance does.
An example Brownie who is skilled in threat focused shooting has no problem putting shots on target at 25’. Not many can. And even Brownie would admit, from concealment and at 45 yrds he is going pure sights.
Gunfights are a mathematical equation of time and distance. The problem is you don’t know the digits until after the fight.
Once I come up to point shoulder (which isn't doable for me, as the aperture is in the way), my sight picture remains the same, whether at seven yards, or one hundred, terminology notwithstanding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
And terminology matters when we talk about sighting systems. You say point shoulder you can’t see sights. Well you aren’t suppose to in point shoulder. You should be focused on the target.
Right, the front sight post is obscured by the aperture, so it is straight to the dot, or more accurately, pasting the dot on the target I'm focused on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Sight picture is not a term used in index shooting. It is only used in flash sight or aimed fire.
The problem with index shooting and you are correct, once the gun comes up to the eye you revert to aimed fire directly, your eyes automatically go to sights. In index shooting point shoulder the gun has to be below the chin. You cannot attain sight picture.
Sight picture is the term I use when discussing the placement of the dot on the target.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Yea actually you did. When you stated point shoulder and not seeing your red dot.
Point shoulder utilizes the front sight post, at least as it was taught to me. The red dot aperture makes that extremely difficult, as I found out the first time I tried it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
That is not true. Point shoulder is an index shooting technique. Your sight, regardless of if it’s aimed fire or flash sight picture, has zero to do with index shooting.
The front sight post has zero to do with point shoulder shooting?
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
The 3 or 4 classes we all took with Brownie, EBL and others point shoulder shooting was still low enough to not see the front sight.
1/2 hip, 3/4 hip and point shoulder were all TFS. We never saw our sights in any of the drills or classes I don’t think. It was focus on target, shoot gun. Instinctual in nature. No sights
Interesting. That's not how I recall Brownie teaching point shoulder at the class I attended. Perhaps he could weigh in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
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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Thanks for the return from the weeds to the point of my original post.

Yes, both the dot and target appear clearly. My focus remains on the target, while the dot is clear. Noteworthy, perhaps, that with my 20/150 vision uncorrected, the dot becomes a bright blur, regardless of focal point.

My irons are back-ups only, in the event of dot failure. There is no co-witness. Trying to co-witness will result only in lesser accuracy and frustration. Also, the aligned irons produce a different point of aim than the dot, at least at closer ranges. I ignore the irons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
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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In my experience, out past about fifteen yards, the lag time to getting the dot on target gets less and less. At fifty yards, I am about twenty-five percent more likely to get the hit on a 2/3 silhouette with the dot than with the irons.

For me, at least, sight pictures are much different with a long gun than with a handgun simply by virtue of the distance from my eye to the front sight post. On a handgun, the front post remains a blur. With a long gun, I can draw a crisp, sharp focus on that front sight and utilize the traditional front sight press method of shooting. I've never felt the need to put dots on my long guns.
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
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
The only reason I ever went to the dot on my handguns was my inability to get good hits at distance with conventional sights. In my world, the potential need for handgun hits at distance is a genuine possibility. The dots became a part of my world well before threat-focused shooting became part of my repertoire. That threat-focused adaptation across the board improved my hits at distance exponentially with conventional sights. The dots, however provide me with a bit more precision.

Unless I'm doing some fine precision stuff, the dots don't help inside fifteen yards or so. My last FASTER class involved a fair amount of that closer precision. I started out with my M&P9c equipped with conventional sights, and the differences over the course of the first morning were obvious. I switched over to my DeltaPoint-equipped Glock 17 that afternoon, and the results were again immediately apparent. For precision, the dot is the best I've found for myself. Inside fifteen yards doing speed stuff, it does slow me down a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
Just curious what you do or what your world is where you would need hits at distance with a pistol?
In my synagogue. I am the armed response there.

If it ever does come down to that, my ability to thread that needle that Brownie ran us through at the alumni class might be very relevant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
I see. Good on you for being willing to protect others.
Yup. Every person there is either a close friend or family member, so it runs a bit more personal than that whole sheepdog thing we hear about from time to time. Besides, I am somewhere on that target list. There is no run or hide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #55 ·
I know the pic doesn’t do it justice but, it looks like the irons will be just barely over the bottom of the optic. But like you have said, they are a backup to the dot.


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With my Shield RMSc red dot utilizing stock height front and rear sights, my dot is about at the base of the outer front sight ring of CDW4ME's photo when I conventionally align the front and rear sight. I'm not sure why, and don't really care. That is why I don't try to "co-witness".
 

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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
Point shoulder
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.
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.

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.
 
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