Dave Spaulding was the 2010 Law Officer Trainer of the Year and author of Handgun Combatives

Here are his thoughts on Point Shooting vs. Sight Shooting.

I spent a few minutes reading another point shooting article last night. It was nothing new. It was based on officer KILLED summaries and the NYPD SOP 9 report that says the majority of officers are killed within five feet. As usual, the answer is to focus the majority of police firearms training on distances inside ten feet and to forget the use of sights. After all, Bruce Siddle’s research has proven that the SNS and it’s response to stress precludes the ability of the eye to close focus. I have read it all before. Cops shootings will always be close as that is where cop work is done. This is not new.


In a recent issue of HANDGUNS magazine, I have an article on combative pistol sights and it is my conclusion that sights can be used in armed conflict. Now, when you are engaged in “The Hole” (double arms length) you might not be able to bring the gun up to eye level, but then why would you try to draw a gun within the reach of your opponent? The only reason that I can think of is that you have no hand to hand skills or lack the desire to face smash or poke the eyes of your opponent. The truth is, there are situations in which the gun IS NOT the solution, even if deadly force is justified.


While close quarter shooting courses are taking the country by storm, I have never found this situation to be that big a problem or all that fascinating. Again, being a victim of my own experience, I decided a long timke ago that a certain distance between my adversary and I was required in order to deploy the firearm and I did what was necessay to make this distance happen. I was never convinced thet the speed rock would really work in a fight. No, I never shot anyone at close quarters, but I sure have fought more than my share at bad breath distance and drawn my gun. It was at this point that THEY decided to stop. I just helped them arrive at that decision…


The fact is, ALL training is artificial as there is not expectation of injury or death. I have had a number of people tell me that a well scripted force on force scenario can create the same “emotions” as a fight and I am sure that this is true, but in the back of the students mind, they KNOW that they will not be seriuosly injured or harmed. This does not mean that we stop doing this type of training…far from it! It just means that we cannot prepare for every potential situation that may arrise and that we may need to “improvise, adapt and overcome” as the situation at hand unfolds in front of us!


Training is a reference guide. In the case of firearms training, I view it as a pyramid with the base being the Fundamentals like grip, body position, holster skills, malfunctions, etc…those things that are needed to run the gun. The next level is the Combative aspects of shooting such as movement, alternate positions, close quartyer shooting and then finally Interactive Skills which is where the airsoft or simunitions comes into play. While some have called for going right to interactive training, I see that as trying to go straight to defensive driving without doing basic driver’s ed. first…you just can’t get there from here.


Where is all of this going? In reality it is the ranting of an aging man who has seen his share of adversity and is tiring of reading research by those who have never had a gun pointed at them, sat with someone who has just killed someone, seen someone killed with their own eyes or just plain hasn’t done anything beyond reading a few books and articles. The answer is not always in a laboratory. In the case of personal defense, it is in the mind of each and everyone of us. We must all develop a combative mindset which will allow us to adapt based on our training. For example, if you have never shot from the ground and suddenly find yourself there, don’t panic! Just apply the fundamentals of shooting from the refrence guide I mentioned above to the position you are in whether it is laying on your back or sitting on your butt. No one needs to train you in how to do this, you just need to sort it out and that comes from a the mind. So much of this “advanced high speed, low drag” stuff you can figure out on your own if you just put your mind to it.


Mindset is something that we all can train in everyday. Visualize potential scenarios that are relevant to YOUR world and always see your self winning! At the range, shoot close up, seated and laying down. You might have to place the target at ground level to keep from going over the back stop, but so what?


Somewhere out there in computer land are two posts that I wrote and then lost due to my lack of computer skills. I don’t have the heart to do this a third time, so I will be brief…


If you want to point shoot, great! It’s certainly up to you but I can’t help but ask; when your life is on the line, do you want to ASSURE your gun is on your opponent or just HOPE/THINK it is?


In addition, how well does your point shooting technique hold up when your opponent is moving erratically like a human would? The one thing that I can assure you will happen is that when the guns come out, people will scatter like rats when the lights are turned on! This is based on my personal experience, not on time playing airsoft while doing “research”.


Actually, I’m sorry that I brought it up. Its like the 9mm v. .45…few minds will be changed regardless of what is said. In my defense, I have taken several point shooting courses and practiced it on the range. I just like the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from knowing that my gun is on target. Don’t tell me that it is “impossible” to see my sights in a fight. I KNOW this is not the case…I’ve seen them with my own eyes…and no, I didn’t just “think” I saw them…


The TV program 20/20 featured an entire two hour program looking at things that our society fears and how most all of them are not near the problem that we think. The constant theme throughout was that someone was making a HUGE profit off our fears whether they be breast implants, flying in airplanes or home security systems. As I watched, I could not help but think how much of the firearms training industry is just the same. When was the last time you saw a big name trainer do a 180 on a product because he is now being paid by the manufacturer to tout the product’s virtues? How about a big name competition shooter who has gone from one type of gun to another so is now pushing “slapping” the trigger because said gun has a long trigger stroke. Does anyone here think that an instructor might push point shooting (or sighted fire, for that matter) because it will sell tickets to their school? Nah…can’t be…


I have backed away from conducting training courses because I am not happy with how all of this is going. The fact is, there are only so many ways to shoot a gun and they have all been invented. With all of the wars, police gun fights and armed citizen confrontations that have occurred over the last century, we have a pretty good idea how to do this now. I do not make my living conducting firearms training and I am glad as it is a tough business. Watch for the instructor or school that has followed the same general path for many years and you have probably found a good one. This does not mean that they will not change or update their lesson plans as things do change, but if they are constantly coming up with the latest and greatest, it probably isn’t.


Point shooting? Yes, I think it has a place, though it is a limited one. As a matter of fact, the truth is that WE ALL POINT SHOOT! What I mean by this is that the front sight does not come into play until the gun makes it to the eye/target line. To get there, the gun must be directed by the upper torso, arms and hands. At this point, the front sight is used to re-confirm what the upper body needed to do. If this body action is not point shooting, I don’t know what is.


The felt aspects of shooting are grossly under-rated. The gun must be delivered to the target CONSISTENTLY regardless of body position which requires practice. By using this consistent body motion, accurate unsighted shots can be achieved, but why wouldn’t you want to KNOW for sure. For this, I like high visibility front sights like I talk about in the recent HANDGUNS article.


Check 360 often,

Dave Spaulding