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That was a good read. Thanks for the article and I'm taking the liberty of copying and pasting it here for others. Let me know if that is a problem and I will remove it.
Thanks again,

An article by: John Veit

Use Of Sight Shooting In Close Quarters Gunfights -- Myth Or Fact?

Sight Shooting has been taught for use in combat for the past 100+ years. So, to question whether or not it is used in close quarters gunfights at this late date, seems to be ridiculous.

Many say that they have used Sight Shooting, or that they know of others that have used Sight Shooting in armed encounters, and that they got hits.

And an NYPD study of over 6000 combat cases found that aiming was employed in 20% of the cases. As the distance between the officer and opponent increased beyond close proximity, the aiming or sighting ran from using the barrel as an aiming reference to picking up the front sight and utilizing fine sight alignment.

However, in 70% of the cases reviewed, officers reported that they used instinctive or point shooting. It was used for a variety of reasons: the close proximity of their adversary, rapid escalation of the incident, poor lighting, or the need for the swiftest possible reaction. No sight alignment was employed.

And in 10% of the cases, officers could not remember whether they had aimed or pointed and fired the weapon instinctively. NYPD officers were taught Sight Shooting. Also, officers, with an occasional exception, fired with the strong hand.

The study, which was published back in 1981, has been labeled old but relevant.

There is little hard evidence that Sight Shooting has been used successfully in gunfights. There should be hundreds to thousands of pictures and videos of it being used over the years, but they are as prevalent as hens' teeth.

In a 2009 SureSight.com web article, this is what is said about the use of the sights in gunfights.

"It is an acknowledged fact that very few gunfight survivors ever remember seeing their sights at all during a life-threatening encounter. In other words, regardless of the amount of practice using the sights at the target range, the vast majority of shootout survivors are unable to see their sights when faced with life-threatening stress. One study found that when faced with stress, '93% of officers focused on the threat, not the weapon, and 88% of the officers resorted to binocular vision.'”

And this is what the science says about our ability to see the sights.

In a close quarters life threat situation, our Fight or Flight response will kick in automatically to help us survive. And when it does, a number of involuntary and immediate physiological changes will occur. One is that the muscle that maintains the convex shape of the lens, which enables us to focus on near objects, relaxes and the lens changes to a flattened state. That allows us to focus at a distance, and things up close will be blurry.

Also, a deadly force threat drives the heart rate well above 200 BPM. So fine motor skills, which are necessary for precision shooting, and which deteriorate around 115 BMP, are lost to use and then some.

Point Shooting Used In Force Science Test.

In 2007, the Force Science Research Center published the results of a test designed to determine the shooting ability of 103 volunteers who were "new" to guns. Only a few had more than a passing exposure to sidearms, and over 1/3 had never fired a handgun.

After a brief safety review with red guns, they were given functional weapons with live ammunition. Those with no experience were allowed to fire half a dozen familiarization rounds to get the feel of sound and recoil but were not told how to hold the gun, except to grip it firmly and to avoid touching the trigger until the muzzle was safely down range.

Point Shooting Defaulted To.

An overwhelming majority of the test subjects used Point Shooting at all distances when firing rapidly, and almost all used 1-handed techniques at close ranges. At 5-7 yards and beyond, many shifted spontaneously to 2-hand stances, with an increase in hit probability.

Head Shots Made.

At close distances (1-3 yards), more than half shot at the head without being told to and had a very high hit probability with at least 1 of their shots. At 5 to 7 yards, many of the shooters “directed fire at a bigger part of the body” than the head. But still, a lot of shots hit in the head, neck, and upper chest.

Point Shooting = Speed.

A strong majority of the shooters fired all 3 rounds within 1.5 seconds. And an actual assailant could be expected to get a first round off even faster than the volunteers.

Point Shooting Is Quick To Learn.

Within a very short time, at least half the volunteers had a very good grasp on the basic mechanics of shooting. Some people just have a natural ability to pick up a gun and be able to control it. It was amazing how well many of these people could shoot with no training at all.

A Life And Death Matter.

Some say that Point Shooting is an advanced shooting method that can be learned only after extensive shooting practice. However, the test results refute that.

Point Shooting is quick to learn. But waiting to learn it until one is in an armed encounter, could be terminal.

The NYPD statistics say that 75% of gunfights occur at less than 20 feet, and that if you are going to be shot and killed, there is an 81% chance that it will be at less than 6 feet, and a 90% chance that it will be at less than 15 feet.

The only savings grace is that the mis rate in armed encounters is more than 80%. That means that for every five bullets fired at a target, four+ go somewhere else. So, unless you are having a very unlucky day, chances are you will not be in a gunfight, and if you are, you will survive.

But, regardless of the statistics, to not train students to Point Shoot at close quarters, is to set them up for failure in situations where there is the greatest chance of them being shot and/or killed.

And Point Shooting is not a bar to using the sights. If you can see and focus on them, and your hand eye coordination skills have not been lost to use, and there is time to use them, Sight Shooting can still be used.

There are various types of Point Shooting: CAR, FAS, QK, Quick-Fire, P&S, and others. Each is contingent upon a variety of things such as: stance, body index, gun grip, positioning the gun on your centerline, canting the gun, using a stiff arm and sighting along it, placing the muzzle on an aim point, placing the index finger along the side of the gun to aim it by pointing, etc..

Bill Burroughs, in his paper: Components and Considerations for Combat Shooting, says that "combat shooting is actually quite simple and anyone can learn it. In a span of less than two hours and fewer than 100 rounds of ammunition an officer can be taught this method and can reproduce it during periods of stress. Marksmanship levels are high inside the distances where the method was designed to be used - close quarters."


The US Army in its Combat Pistol Manual (2003), says to use Quick-Fire Point Shooting for engaging an enemy at less than 5 yards and for night firing.

"Using a two-hand grip, the firer brings the weapon up close to the body until it reaches chin level. He then thrusts it forward until both arms are straight. The arms and body form a triangle, which can be aimed as a unit. In thrusting the weapon forward, the firer can imagine that there is a box between him and the enemy, and he is thrusting the weapon into the box. The trigger is smoothly squeezed to the rear as the elbows straighten."


More information on self defense, point shooting, and closely related subjects can be found on the author's web site: www.pointshooting.com.

· Registered
2,391 Posts
hmmmm......interesting. Article:

One thing that is not mentioned here is the fact that in fight or flight mode, it is questionable what information an individual actually remembers. When one says "I just pointed the gun and shot the guy" that might actually be true, or it might simply be that the sighted shot was not retained as a primary memory of that high stress situation.

If survivors of gunfights can not remember how many shots they fired, what was said before the fight, how you got the gun into action etc....in other words the other basics information of the fight; then how can we trust that they remember if they saw the front site on the BG before the shot was fired or not?

One thought is IF the shooter can fall back on his reflex as a result of repetition training (we tend to fall back on our repetitive training NOT rise to the occasion) then in theory, there is a good chance the front sight was seen even if were as a "subconscious" sight acquisition"

· Banned
11,156 Posts
While nothing in 5shot's article is incorrect, the information has to be placed into proper perspective.

The Force Science Institute test is useless for anything other than establishing a baseline of how totally untrained, and largely untaught, people shoot pistols. After all, how many of us would have guessed that people who were not taught, and certainly not trained, to properly use weapons sights would, in practice, not use them?

Next up is the NYPD shooting data. This is more instructive. In general, law enforcement officers are only slightly better trained than the average civilian in handgun techniques. The average time spent on actual hands-on firearms training in police academies is only about six hours per recruit with less than 500 rounds expended. Yearly training is usually limited to less than one hour actual shooting time and less than 500 rounds, including weapons qualification. Do to the low training time, it would be more accurate to say that most LEOs have been taught weapons handling rather than being trained to handle weapons. It is no wonder, that in a surprise response situation, they react very similarly to the untrained shooter, with one exception. Even at the low level of training they receive, a portion of them [at least 20%] used sights as the distance increased to increase their hit potential. That was in 1981 and it has changed significantly since then. That is because most modern law enforcement agencies teach their officers to utilize a three zone sighting system. Usually, instinctive point shooting is taught for use against threats inside 10 feet. For threats from 10 feet to 50 feet, use of the flash sight picture is usually taught. Beyond 50 feet, the use of sights is generally mandated.

Standby covered the third point. The 2009 SureSight.com article said that few of the participants interviewed ever remember seeing their sights. That is, that in a reaction situation, people very often have unclear memories of exactly what occurred. They react, they don't think. That is why intensive, repetitive training is so desirable. It installs effective combat reflexes that the individual falls back on in times of extreme stress. To remain at peak effectiveness, these reflexes must be constantly exercised through on-going training.

Oh, just one last thing. The Army's Combat Pistol Manual is written for troops who have received very little training in proper deployment of a defensive handgun and who will utilize the weapon for last ditch defense. I, for one, would hesitate to cite it as any kind of authoritative training guide for the use of the defensive handgun. The US Army's Quick Fire handgun technique is nothing more than the old isosceles stance. A stance that most law enforcement and defensive pistol instructors, worldwide, had abandoned by the late 1980's.

Simply put, no single system, either point shooting or sight shooting, is adequate for all defensive shooting situations. A person has to be trained to reflexively assess the situation and utilize the appropriate skill set with little thought.

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Simply put, no single system, either point shooting or sight shooting, is adequate for all defensive shooting situations. A person has to be trained to reflexively assess the situation and utilize the appropriate skill set with little thought.
Well put, +1:thumsup

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58,568 Posts
Well elucidated Mac :thumsup

It doesn't address the proactive vs reactive thought process based on time and distance in an encounter as well as how far you are behind the curve when it is initiated either by the perp or yourself. The proactive vs reactive thought process needs to be taken into account to come to an understanding of not only what skills can be utilized more effectively and proficiently but what skill or skills should be used in certain situations due to their efficiency at solving the time and distance problems faced in each encounter.

Once we can establish the skills that can be physically used more effectively/efficiently in any given time and distance problem, we need to develop those skills to a level of proficiency that allows the average person the best chance to survive the meat grinder and come out alive.

The pendulum swung very wide to the proactive skills training almost to exclusion back in the 70's by the LE community for several reasons which I won't cover here as it's not so important to know the "why" but to understand the results that training had on the streets for those so trained.

People who exclusively use the proactive skills [ some form of sight picture ] in every situation are disadvantaged in their responses when reactive instinctive eye/hand coordination skills could have been used with better effect to solve the time/distance problems they run up against on the streets.

The most efficient solution to any given time/distance problem using a firearm requires an individual have the knowledge of what skills they can physically use [ personal limitations for them based on training or lack thereof at any given time ], what skills could have been used if they had the training, and then seeking to own those skills through further training.

The amount of physical skills you can call upon from training and practice will determine, in part, how successful you are likely to be at solving the time/distance problems faced on the streets. Limitations can be expanded through the training and practice, but it takes dedication and effort that far too many won't make for many reasons.

· Banned
300 Posts
Nuthin but opinion here, but . . .

do you remember using your turn signal? I mean consciously.

You know you do, but we, well, I, seldom remember doing it.

I'm sure the vast majority of people reading this - and carrying weapons day to day - do not get professional training even when it is readily available. Based on that I find it easy to believe most defensive shooting are made using point shooting techniques regardless of the distance/lighting/yada yada yada.

On the other hand, the vast majority of the minority, the people who have sought out professional training - and then practiced what they learned, most likely use the most appropriate situation specific technique.

. . this is just one of many reasons I virtually never put much weight in statistics. As for my own personal decision in a defensive gun fight . . . at least daily, sometimes hourly, this saying makes its way through my mind whether I want it to or not . . .

"No matter what you can not miss fast enough to win a gun fight".

I have had the unfortunate experience of having to use a weapon to defend my life, and even in panic mode my mind still saw the truth in that. I can only hope yours will too. :)

· Banned
300 Posts
I think alot of it has to do with reaction speed. Many of us have never been professionally trained to avoid accidents but most of us do a nice job. Hell, I split a telephone poll and electrical unit with a Jeep cherokee going 45 once. I had maybe 6-8 inches on each side. This was while hopping a curb, it was that or hit the dumb : censored who tried to pull out but stalled. My point being, training is really good but your brain has to be able to react under pressure. Some are naturally better than others. Sports is similar in some ways, I've made moves that have awed people and said "I did what"? Ever have a buddy throw something at you by surprise? What happened?
I shot him. :rolf

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I was going to start a new thread with the following, but this seems to be a good place for it.

I'm looking for pics - films - videos of Sight Shooting + other shooting methods being used effectively in real close quarters gunfights.

I have added a page to my site which will have links to them. Here's the URL: http//:www.pointshooting.com/sslinks.htm

You should be able to see hundreds to thousands of pics and videos of Sight Shooting, since Sight Shooting has been taught for 100+ years; and film and videos have been around for at least 50 of those years.

And as there are million and millions of handgun owners in the U.S. of A., there is a giant pool of possibilities to draw from, plus there are thousands of handgun trainers.

Even the NRA can participate as they offer handgun training via NRA certified handgun instructors, and as I understand the situation, Sight Shooting is the main shooting method taught.

Now realistically, I don't except much if any response as I have been involved in the area of close quarters self defense for 10+ years, I have yet to run across even one pic or video of Sight Shooting used effectively in a real close quarters gunfight. I have a patent for a handgun aiming aid that was patented back in 2000, so you can count me as more than just an interested bystander in regards to handgun self defense use.

My only aim :) is to determine/use the method/s that provides the best chance of aiming and shooting accurately at close quarters in a real life threat close quarters situation, becasue it is in CQ situations where the likely hood of your being shot and/or killed is the greatest.


Per NYPD statistics, 75% of gunfights occur at less than 20 feet, and if you are going to be shot and killed, there is an 81% chance that it will be at less than 6 feet, and a 90% chance that it will be at less than 15 feet.

The only savings grace is that the mis rate in armed encounters is more than 80%. That means that for every five bullets fired at a target, four+ go somewhere else. So, unless you are having a very unlucky day, chances are you will not be in a gunfight, and if you are, you will survive.


So, I would appreciate it if you or anyone could provide me with URL's to place on mynew page of Sight Shooting and/or other shooting methods, being used effectively in real close quarters gunfights.

I will check them out, and if they appear to be factual and fair as to their presentation, I will add them to the top portion of the page.

Rejects will be added at the bottom of the page if appropriate for viewing by the general public.

Please send them to ps (at) pointshooting.com

I also would appreciate being sent URL's to Pics - Videos - Films that show alternate shooting methods, such as FAS, QK, CAR, P&S, ..., that also show them to be effective in close quarters gunfight situations.

I will add them as links below those showing Sight Shooting being used effectively.

The method being used does not have to finely defined. For example, there are two pics on the new page of alternate methods being used.

In one, Jack Ruby is using P&S to shoot and kill Oswald. A close examination of the photos discloses the he truly is using P&S. In the second photo, it is obvious that a drugstore guard is using a modified two handed isso grip to dispatch a robber.

Would be nice to know that the shooting method you plan to use to defend your life and your loved ones, has actually been used in close quarters combat. Trust but verify does make sense to me.

Just saying something is so, don't make it so, now-a-days in the age of the electron.
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