Below is an article written as a long comment on a Point Shooting vs. Sight Shooting article published by PoliceOne in 2012. A newly published PoliceOne article by Dr. Bill Lewinski on the use of sights in a gunfight, had a link to the 2012 article, which is why I came to know about it. I am getting to old (almost 80) to continue my advocacy for Point Shooting. But the SS VS PS articles keep coming up like zombies.
– John Veit

by John Veit

It may come as a surprise to some, that even though Sight Shooting has been taught to the military and Police for over 100 years, there is no hard evidence (pics or videos), of it ever being used effectively in a CQB situation.

Also, and directly related to that, is the recognized PO hit rate of less than 20% in CQB situations, which asks the question: who continues to send and pay for attendees at shooting schools whose graduates hit their target less than 20% of the time in CQB situations?

This state of affairs is reminiscent of the tale about the emperor’s new clothes. And it would be humerous, except it is not a fairy tale. It is reality. And a consequence is the PO death and wounded rate, which has not changed much in over 20 years.

Another related stat per the FBI, is that if you are going to be shot or killed, there is an 80% chance that it will happen at less than 21 feet. That also is the distance at which most all gun fights occur.

Here are some more stats that deal with shooting distances and Officer survival. They are from the NYPD’s old but still good SOP 9 study

From Sept 1854 to Dec 1979, 254 Officers died from wounds received in an armed encounter. The shooting distance in 90% of those cases was less than 15 feet.

Contact to 3 feet … 34%
3 feet to 6 feet …… 47%
6 feet to 15 feet …… 9%

The shooting distances where Officers survived, remained almost the same during the SOP years (1970-1979), and for a random sampling of cases going back as far as 1929. 4,000 cases were reviewed. The shooting distance in 75% of those cases was less than 20 feet.

Contact to 10 feet … 51%
10 feet to 20 feet ….. 24%


In 70% of the cases reviewed, sight alignment was not used. Officers reported that they used instinctive or Point Shooting.

As the distance between the Officer and his opponent increased, some type of aiming was reported in 20% of the cases. This aiming or sighting ran from using the barrel as an aiming reference to picking up the front sight and utilizing fine sight alignment.

The remaining 10% could not remember whether they had aimed or pointed and fired the weapon instinctively.

Now, if PO survivability is a firearms training goal, these stats bring into question the practicality of devoting range time to shooting at or beyond 20 feet, which is SOP for many trainers and academies.

Also and statistically speaking, CQB situations are rare occurrences. So again, if PO survivability is a firearms training goal, training PO’s to shoot at extended ranges to meet institutionalized qualification standards, wastes training resources. Those resources would be better spent on teaching Point Shooting, which is the default shooting method used in most all gunfights. And given the abysmal gunfight hit rate, there is a great need for such training.

It is said that extensive practice is needed to become proficient in Point Shooting. But that is not the case. Point Shooting can be learned and maintained with little if any instruction or practice. And that will become apparent to anyone who takes the time, and makes the modest effort needed to learn Point Shooting.

I am an advocate for AIMED Point Shooting or P&S, which is the simplest of shooting methods. Basically, you just grab your gun with the index finger placed along the side, point at a target, and pull the trigger with your middle finger.

With P&S, you get automatic and correct sight alignment, and automatic and correct sight placement, both of which are critical to accuracy.

Placing the index finger along the side of the pistol, brings the sights and the barrel in parallel with it. Then pointing the index finger at a target will result in correct sight placement due to our natural ability of being able to point fast and accurately at objects.

As to accuracy with Point Shooting, this is a link to a picture of one of my targets. 4 of the hits can be covered with a dollar bill. If anyone thinks that Point Shooting doesn’t work, they should put a dollar bill over their heart, and think about someone punching four 9mm holes in it.

There are other simple to learn, simple to use, and simple to maintain Point Shooting methods. Threat focus shooting is used by the CHP and it is based on the work of Applegate, Fairbairn and Sykes. Lou Chiodo, a former CHP Officer, developed the CHP program and continues to teach via his company Center Axis Relock is another method that was developed by Paul Castle, who is now deceased. And Robin Brown introduced the public to the simple and effective Pistol Quick Kill shooting method.

And, airsoft guns can be used to hone Point Shooting skills while moving, standing still, and in scenario training.

The Point Shooting methods mentioned are not dependant on the use of fine motor skills, which are needed to properly align the sights with sighted fire, and which scientists say can be lost to use when the heart rate increases beyond 125 BPM.

Per scientists, when someone believes that they are in a real life threat situation at CQ, our instinctive FOF response will kick in automatically. And one of its effects, is a dump of adrenaline into the blood stream, which will cause the heart rate to immediately jump up to 160 BPM or more. Also, tunnel vision and/or the loss of near vision focus can occur, which makes the use of the sights problematic.

Those effects answer the question of why ad hoc Point Shooting is defaulted to in CQ gunfights.

One noted instructor has stated that fighter pilots are able to use fine motor skills effectively in high stress hair-on-fire combat situations, which counters the BPM data above.

Well to my way of thinking, being able to repeat a much practiced skill in a multi-million-dollar fighter aircraft in a high stress situation, is not the same as trying to see the sights and using fine motor skills to align them, and also achieving a proper sight picture in bad light, while someone at FI card distance is shooting at you, or fast approaching with your murder on his/her mind.

When I used to run a lot, my pulse rate was down to under 40. And only when I was running hard for a mile or more, did it go up to 120 or 130. So, training can make a difference, but at what cost in time and money for your run of the mill PO or civilian.

Here is what Dr. Bill Lewinski of the Force Science institute said about sight use in his article in Force Science News # 276 that is titled: Can you really use your sights in a gunfight? Should you if you can?

It’s important to understand that using your sights in a gunfight is not always necessary or even desirable for effectively placing rounds. If you don’t get a sight picture at 20 ft. and beyond, your ability to shoot accurately is likely to be seriously impaired. That’s actually not very far, in real world settings–down a hallway or across some rooms.

Closer than that, at distances where most gunfights occur, trying to use your sights may take too long; by the time you’re sighted in, your target may have moved. At less than 20 ft., you’re probably best to fix your gaze on your target and quickly drive your gun up to align with that line of view, firing unsighted.

Obviously, to do this successfully requires a great deal of consistent practice, responding to force-on-force scenarios at various distances that develop realistically in terms of action, movement, and speed. This will help you learn to identify the telltale patterns of an evolving threat so you can get ahead of the reactionary curve.

Here’s what Peyton Quinn of states about the scenario based, adrenal stress training they have been conducting for three decades:

“In that time we have had many competent marksman, IPSC competitors, police officers and others who were very familiar with firearms and ‘grew up’ with them take our course….in all these years and without exception, the people who have taken our course, tell us they ‘could not’ and ‘did not’ use the sights of the pistol in their scenario.’

Finally, until PO injury and death rates, which have stayed just about the same for 20+ years, go way down, efforts should be made to scientifically investigate various Point Shooting methods. And those that prove to be practical and effective should be incorporated into current training programs.

The dead and wounded PO’s deserve that as a minimum tribute to them for their sacrifice for us.


This article was written as an extended comment on a Point Shooting VS Sight Shooting article that was published by PoliceOne in 2012, but linked to a newly published PoliceOne article by Dr. Bill Lewinski on the use of sights in a gunfight.

Three police trainers were asked for, and provided inputs. Their inputs included standard Sight Shooting versus Point Shooting arguments with a bent towards sight and distance shooting. That of course, is logical given that PO’s are trained in Sighted fire which is needed to meet institutionalized qualification standards that include shooting at distances beyond real gunfight distances, rather than being trained to shoot effectively using Point Shooting at gunfight distances where there is the greatest chance of being shot and/or killed, and where studies have established that sighted fire is not or can not be used.

One trainer recommended Point Shooting for use in up close and personal situations at FI card distance Field Interview distance). He advocated sighted fire for shooting beyond that distance. He also questioned how Point Shooters could know where there shots would go without calling their shots. The second instructor said that “most trainers believe in a flash sight picture up close, and more precise sighted fire at 45 feet and beyond”. He also mentioned front sight focus and stress inoculation. The third trainer encouraged Point Shooting for deadly encounters inside 36-45 feet, and said that using a thumbs forward grip with proper indexing is much like pointing with the index finger and aiming the gun in a similar manner.

PoliceOne article:

Force Science Newsletter web site and articles: