Pox on Point Shooting
by Robert Kolesar
Two of the most experienced gunfighters of the last century, Bill Allard and Charles Askins, were both champion bullseye shooters. Allard has been in more shootings than any other cop in the history of the NYPD. Askins, 1937 US pistol champion, was in two dozen shootings, probably more. Both attributed their success and survival to front sight focus under stress, derived from years of competitive shooting. Something to think about.
And while sight alignment probably isn’t necessary at 3-5 feet, excellent trigger control is. Good trigger control is vital at 5 feet or 50 yards. Point shooting doesn’t develop trigger control.
The LAPD, back in the 70’s, taught “point shooting”. Hit ratios were abysmal. It was learned, through much experimentation with both instructors and recruits, that a certain level of proficiency could be attained. The problem was maintaining that proficiency, which degraded rather rapidly. And any kind of accuracy was destroyed at longer distances, due to the emphasis on pointing and slapping the trigger.
Something I’ve learned from my time as a shooter, cop and Soldier is that marksmanship proficiency and tactics aren’t usually the same thing. A good marksman can learn tactics easily; it comes from applying basic rules of engagement, experience and common sense. Once a certain level of proficiency is gained, that marksmanship proficiency can be applied to tactical scenarios. A poor marksman exercising good tactics can still lose a gunfight.
My point, which has been made numerous times over the last hundred years or more, is to learn to shoot first…constant practice of the basic, boring drills of sight alignment and trigger control on a standard target, over and over again. Developing absolute muscle memory between the brain and trigger finger is the key. This is boring and monotonous, though. No speed rocks, drawing on sinister-looking color targets, no rapid-fire failure drills, no jumping left or right while doing a road-house spin.
A target won’t lie; it’ll tell you where you need improvement. Kind of like the wife of 20 years that knows you and tells you, whether you want to hear it or not. I was always happy to get a new recruit (when I was a training officer) who could shoot, and had the LAPD Distinguished Expert badge to prove it. I could teach him tactics; he already had the confidence regarding weapons handling and marksmanship.
Master Sergeant Robert Kolesar has been policeman and Soldier as well as a top-ranked competitive shooter. Enlisting in the 82nd ABN DIV at 17, Kolesar learned to shoot and went on to win with both rifle and pistol in Army and National-level competition.
Upon completing active duty, Kolesar transferred to the US Army Reserves and joined the Los Angeles Police Department. Within his 24 year career with LAPD, Bob has been a Street Patrolman, Narcotics Detective and Academy Instructor, receiving more than 140 commendations for outstanding police work, including the LAPD Police Medal for valor 1992. Bob was one of the original LAPD Instructors instrumental in establishing Department training when the LAPD transitioned from revolvers to semi-auto pistols in 1986. A member of the Department’s National Championship Shooting Team, Bob is also one of less than 30 LAPD Officers since the 1930’s to shoot a perfect score on the LAPD Bonus Shoot.
After volunteering for an Iraq combat tour, Kolesar remained on active duty, serving as an instructor while still competing with the USAR Shooting Team. He has earned the prestigious President’s Hundred 18 times, holds Distinguished Rifleman, Distinguished Pistol Shot and Distinguished Police Revolver ratings, is a member of the NRA 2650 and 1490 clubs, and is a High Master in both NRA Pistol and Police Revolver.