Here are other Point Shooting vs. Sight Shooting articles worth checking out as well:

Colonel Rex Applegate on Point Shooting

The Connection Between Combat and Range Results

Point Shooting vs. Sight Shooting (counterpoint to the article below)

Jeff Cooper on Point Shooting

LEO Pistol Qualification

Point Shooting vs. Sight Shooting – Handgun Training Effectiveness

The following guest article was written and submitted by John Veit. We welcome a variety of points of view on the subjects of shooting and marksmanship. Test them objectively on the range and let the results fall where they may.

Point Shooting vs. Sight Shooting: Self Defense at Close Quarters

by John Veit


If you can focus on the sights when you shoot, you’re not in a self defense close quarters life threat situation.

Why That’s The Case – The Short Answer

In a real self defense close quarters situation (CQB), you will lose your near vision focus, which is needed to align the sights correctly, and place them on a target.

So, unless you know and use an effective alternative to Sight Shooting, you will have no effective shooting method to use in CQB where there is the greatest chance of you’re being shot and/or killed.

The Longer Answer

Your ability to focus on objects depends on the lens of your eye which is adjustable from thin to thick. Thin for focusing on objects that are not up close to you, and thick for focusing on objects that are up close like gun sights.

The Ciliary muscle of the eye controls the thickness of the lens.

When the Ciliary muscle contracts, the lens gets thicker for focusing on up close objects like gun sights.

And when the muscle relaxes, the lens will be thin for focusing on objects that are not up close.

And, up close objects will be out of focus when the lens is thin.

[The above 3 diagrams, were developed based on web images of eye accommodation, and highlight the difference in the thickness of the lens.]

CQB And The Ciliary Muscle

In a real close quarters life threat situation, our instinctive Fight or Flight response is triggered automatically, and a variety of things happen which are meant to insure survival. They are “hard wired” responses in that they can not be stopped or wished away.

One is a dump of adrenaline into the blood stream, which causes the Ciliary muscle to relax to enhance focusing on the threat. And with that, near vision focus on up close objects like gun sights will be lost.

So unless you know and use an effective alternative to Sight Shooting, you will have no effective shooting method to use in CQB where there is the greatest chance of you’re being shot and/or killed.


Below are several reference snippets and links to articles and info on this subject area. [Any added comments are in brackets].


Reference from St Luke’s Cataract & Laser Institute.


…The ciliary body lies just behind the iris. Attached to the ciliary body are tiny fiber “guy wires” called zonules. The [eye lens] crystalline lens is suspended inside the eye by the zonular fibers.

…the ciliary body controls accommodation by changing the shape of the crystalline lens. When the ciliary body contracts, the zonules relax. This allows the lens to thicken, increasing the eye’s ability to focus up close.

…When looking at a distant object, the ciliary body relaxes, causing the zonules to contract. The lens becomes thinner…


Reference from an article: Fight Or Flight: Understanding The Adrenaline Dump And How It Affects The Body

…The fight or flight response is an ancient protective mechanism designed to enhance survivability by physically priming humans to either fight or run. [And when triggered, an adrenaline dump will occur.]

…Body Systems Negatively Affected By Adrenaline


– Loss of near vision

– 70% reduction in peripheral vision

– disrupted depth of perception


Reference from an article: Fight or Flight – The Three Stages, by Warren Breckenridge.

…Three specific metal states that a person goes through when facing a threat are: Threat Anxiety, Survival Stress, and Combat Stress. Threat anxiety occurs when one is anticipating danger. Maybe it is the fear of the unknown, maybe injury or death. Once this has been triggered, the body goes into the fight or flight decision, which is to fight for self preservation or flee for self preservation. The Autonomic Nervous System at this point engages the flight or flight option. This occurs when the Sympathetic Nervous System releases Epinephrine and Nor Epinephrine hormones into the system.

…effects that maybe encountered are: loss of near vision, loss of night vision, loss of depth perception, inability to focus, inability to process information, loss of memory and the inability to make rational decisions.


Reference from an article on the Sure Sight site.


…If sights are necessary for precisely placed hits, and police officers receive special training in the use of sighted fire, why can’t they see them in the heat of battle? There are a number of factors, but the most likely explanation lies in basic human physiology. When a human being is suddenly scared, shocked, or surprised (as is the norm in a life-threatening situation) the body experiences the “fight or flight” reflex, and a number of involuntary physiological changes can occur. “Fight or flight” reflex is simply the activation and domination of the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) over the Para-Sympathetic Nervous System.

…The Para-Sympathetic Nervous System is in primary control of your body when it is not in a state of crisis. It is responsible for functions such as the constriction of the pupil, the slowing of the heart, and dilation of blood vessels.

…The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is in primary control of your body when it is in a state of crisis, such as when facing a lethal force situation. It releases adrenaline, which cause involuntary and automatic increases in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood flow to the extremities. SNS activation can heavily affect mental processes, motor skills, sensory perception, and, particularly, vision. Three important visual aspects that are affected are reduced peripheral vision, distance-only eyesight and forced binocular vision.

….Reduced peripheral vision, commonly referred to as “tunnel vision”, often occurs in gunfight conditions. Up to a 70% decrease in peripheral vision is normal. Occurring with this is a highly reduced ability to detect subtle motions, such as that of the handgun’s relatively small front sight bobbing in and out of alignment in relation to both the rear sight and the target.

…Distance-only eyesight occurs as we instinctively focus on our threat. Human instinct will cause us to focus on our threat during combat—this means our eyes need to be focused for distance. It is theorized that this reaction is a result of SNS activation simultaneously dilating the pupils in the eye and relaxing the ciliary muscle (the eye muscle responsible for close focus). Even if distance-only eyesight does not occur, according to Guyton’s Medical Textbook (and others), it takes about one full second for the human eye to switch from near focus to far, (as in shifting focus from the front sight to the target). In contrast, a shooter of average ability, armed with a long-trigger-pull, double-action revolver, can fire three rounds toward a target in .75 seconds. This is an unacceptably long delay in the rapidly changing, dynamic situations like gunfights or competitive shooting events.

…generally speaking, when a person is in the grips of SNS activation, that person is facing the threat squarely, intently focused on it and with a reduced ability to detect small movements and near objects, regardless of how he or she has been trained. Under these circumstances, traditional sights become difficult, if not impossible, to see.


Reference from a question on Accommodation.

…Accommodation is to change the focal length of the lens by changing the curvature of the eye lens.

…Normally, when our ciliary muscles are relaxed, parallel rays form distant objects will converge onto the retina.

…If our eye is maintained at the above state, and a near object is put before it, light rays will converge behind the retina. As the sharp image is behind the retina, our brain can only detect a blurry image.


Reference on the Body Alarm Reaction (BAR), and vision – EDWARD C. GODNIG, O.D.

…Autonomic Nervous System Involvements

…The autonomic nervous system has two major branches; the parasympathetic and sympathetic. Generally speaking, the sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for direct action and confrontation by increasing heart pulse rate and bringing increased blood supply to large muscle groups. Also, ocular pupil diameter increases, and the ciliary muscle relaxes, forcing a person to focus the eyes at far distance, perhaps to be behaviorally better prepared for a perceived on-coming threat. Looking towards infinity has the tendency of allowing the observer to process a relatively greater volume of peripheral space.

…The parasympathetic nervous system allows one to maintain a more relaxed, balanced state of readiness by slowing an accelerated heart rate, decreasing pupil size, and allowing the eye’s accommodative system to focus at closer distances. The parasympathetic nervous system aims to bring neural physiology back to a state of balance or relative homeostasis….

[This paper also states that with training the affects of the BAR of Flight or Fight response can be controlled to a degree.]

…with the appropriate degree of attention, skill and practice, an athlete can visually “see” images within the limits of his peripheral visual awareness while simultaneously viewing a clear, central straight-ahead visual image….

[But it also states that]

…Current physiological eye research seems to indicate that once sympathetic nervous system dominance is activated during the BAR, there is not a way to control or instantly recover from the loss of near point (positive accommodation) focusing ability….


Ciliary Muscle: Reference from:

…According to Hermann von Helmholtz’s theory, the circular ciliary muscle fibers affect zonular fibers in the eye (fibers that suspend the lens in position during accommodation), enabling changes in lens shape for light focusing.

…When the ciliary muscle contracts, it pulls itself forward and moves the frontal region toward the axis of the eye. This releases the tension on the lens caused by the zonular fibers (fibers that hold or flatten the lens).

…This release of tension of the zonular fibers [it] causes the lens to become more spherical, adapting to short range focus.

…The other way around, relaxation of the ciliary muscle causes the zonular fibers to become taut, flattening the lens, increasing the focal distance,[9] increasing long range focus.

…Although Helmholtz’s theory has been widely accepted since 1855, its mechanism still remains controversial….


What we do know, is that adrenaline is released into the blood stream in a real CQB situation. The adrenaline relaxes the Ciliary muscle. And the shape of the eye lens will be thin for focusing on objects that are not up close.

I have spent many hours making web inquiries about adrenaline and its affects on vision, and have not found material that says it does not affect vision. I also don’t know of any science based evidence presented by Sight Shooting advocates which says that the ability to focus on the sights is not affected negatively when adrenaline is in the blood stream.

You are expected to accept the unsupported supposition that you will be able to focus on the sights in a real close quarters life threat situation, and regardless of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. That can be a comfort and reassuring to the flocks, but it is little more than wishful thinking, and does not square with reality.

The acknowledged hit rate in armed encounters is less than 20%, which means that more than four of every five bullets fired, miss the target and go somewhere else. And millions and millions have been taught Sight Shooting in the last 100 years, yet there are no pics or videos to date, of it being used effectively in CQB.

The bottom line, as stated above at the start of this article, is that unless you know and use an effective alternative to Sight Shooting like AIMED Point Shooting or P&S, you will have no effective shooting method to use in CQB where there is the greatest chance of you’re being shot and/or killed.