Sightless Shooting

Leave a comment

Point shooters are a foolish lot… Good shooters are already good at point shooting. The reverse is rarely true.

Wanted to push the limits and see how well I could shoot a gun with absolutely no sights. Surprisingly it wasn’t as hard as you would think. Just really had to focus on trigger control. The times I missed were due to me trying to speed up my trigger pull.

The first drill is at 15yards with a plate 7yards to the side.

The second is at 10 yards.

The third is at 25 yards.

Give it a try and see if you can beat my times.

You Can’t Use Your Sights in a Gunfight


When I was still in uniformed patrol, I happened to be about a block away when another officer pulled into a restaurant parking lot just as two men were pulling masks over their face and getting ready to enter the restaurant. One had already drawn a handgun. When the suspects saw the marked car, they ran and immediately split up. The other officer chased the one who went east, and I saw the one who went north jump a fence into an apartment complex.

I gave chase and the suspect ran down into a creek, tripped in the mud on the opposite bank, and then flipped over on his back. It was night time, but the moon and a street light on a nearby bridge provided sufficient light for us to see each other clearly. The world slowed down for me as he reached into his waistband. I was approximately 30 yards behind him as I drew my pistol, brought it to eye level, and transitioned from focusing on him to focusing on the front sight. As I was pulling the trigger my subconscious screamed out to me that something wasn’t right. I focused back on the suspect and realized what he pulled out of his waistband was a cell phone. I believe you could classify being in a foot chase with an armed robbery suspect, alone, in the dark, and having to decide whether to shoot or not shoot qualifies as a stressful event. Yet, I was able to transition from target to sight to target for the simplest of reasons. I was trained to, and I had been through realistic force on force training that had made focusing on my sights instinctive.

I’ve spoken to a multitude of officers and armed citizens who have fired their weapons under stress. In one particularly relevant story, a rookie officer, still in his first few months on the street, was confronted by an armed suspect firing from behind a car door. The rookie had cover and was returning fire. In his own words, “I fired 5 to 6 shots very quickly, realized I was not being effective, and then slowed down and really concentrated on the front sight.” After the initial shock of being fired on dissipated, he was able to realize why he was being ineffective, fall back on his training, and use his sight to get good hits and survive the encounter.

Massad Ayoob relates similar conversations in this 2014 article in which he says, “I’ve lost count of how many gunfights I’ve studied where the survivor said something like, ‘I was pointing the gun and firing as best I could and nothing was happening. Then I remembered to aim with my sights, and the other guy went down and it was over.’”

John McPhee, the owner of SOB Tactical, confirms that it is not only possible to use your sights in actual gunfights, but it is key to your success. John, a retired special operations soldier with extensive combat experience from Bosnia and Iraq, has related to me that he was able to use his sights during stressful situations. In addition, when witnessing other soldiers shoot, they were obviously using their sights even if they had no conscious awareness of doing so. In his words, “Gun comes to the eye, shots are taken and gun is lowered. How does a guy bring the sight to his eye and not see it and… shoot perfect shots?” John also makes no bones that training to use your sights is imperative for success in combat shooting. “You have to train to see the sights every shot. When the time comes, you will do it so fast that the brain’s subconscious will do all this quicker than the conscious can even remember it.”

Read more:

In a Fight, Front Sight! – Street Smarts


In a Fight, Front Sight!
by Brent T. Wheat

Core to instinctive shooting theory holds that during high-stress events, you throw everything out the window that your higher intellect has learned, and respond using only the more primitive “limbic” or “old mammalian” part of your brain. Far more accurate scientific explanations of the concept exist, but that summary will do for the moment.

Thus, unable to process or complete complex movements such as sight alignment, the theory holds that you won’t (or can’t) use the sights on your gun. I might add that you would probably also scream, run willy-nilly, cower, cry, freeze, throw your firearm away, or do many of the other unproductive things ill-trained and unprepared people commonly do when confronted by imminent death.

In other words, this argument isn’t really about the inadvisability of using sights, but rather a backhanded admission of failing to properly prepare for that eventuality.

If you look closely at real-world examples starting from the time modern firearms were invented, shooters have acquitted themselves quite nicely using their weapon sights even in horrific circumstances against overwhelming odds.

People who trained and maintained their cool under the circumstances were able to use their weapon sights effectively instead of the sadly too- common “spray and pray” method of return fire.

So we must ask: How is a lack of “grace under pressure” an indictment of sights on a firearm? If we can be painfully honest, the whole thing is simply a matter of operator error rather than failure of equipment or concept.

The second argument often presented is that during extreme close-range conflicts, it takes too much time to develop a proper sight picture before firing. This concern is also valid to a point but is often and wildly misconstrued when touted by instinctive shooters and trainers.

As the recent Force Sciences newsletter #279 notes, “At less than 20 feet, 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.” That makes sense and even the most doctrinally crusty instructor would probably agree.

But the article goes on to note, “to do this successfully requires a great deal of consistent practice (by) responding to force-on-force scenarios at various distances that develop realistically in terms of action, movement, and speed.”

In other words, even thrusting your pistol out in short-distance, extremely short-duration scenarios requires “a great deal of consistent practice.” This explains why poorly trained “instinctive shooters” have sometimes fired a dozen rounds at a target located within bad-breath distance and never caused more than short-term hearing loss to their adversary.

Force Science Institute supposition about point shooting needs validation


Point Shooting and Police Firearms Training


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


Point Shooting by Charles Askins


Bullseye Champion and Border Patrol gunfight vet Charles Askins gave his take on point shooting in this 1955 article.

Throwback Thursday: Point Shooting

Thanks to John Tate for passing this along!

Phil Wong provides some important insight.

Actually, if you read to the end of the article for what Col. Askins considered “an acceptable balance of speed and precision” for fast, accurate point-shooting, there’s a fair number of shooters at IDPA Expert level or USPSA “B” class and higher, who can readily match or beat those times and groups while using their sights.

Truth. In his article, Askins says, “This shooting style bears little relation to the well-known and accepted firings, and for that reason has a rule book all its own. The time-space to get off a burst of three, four, or six shots is so short that neither stance, breathing, nor the other bugaboos of the targeteer have too much application.

The thought process of shooting in Askin’s era was firmly entrenched in Conventional forms as practical/action disciplines had not yet been invented. This is the primary reason why knowledgable shooters prior to the 1960s sometimes recommended point shooting. It was an early attempt to handle shooting quickly at distances closer than 25 yards.

What can be done by point-shooting? Six shots can be kept on a playing card at 20 feet and all in the space of two to three seconds.

From the hip, in intervals of two-three seconds, the Army [E-type] silhouette can be plastered at distances up to 25 feet with all six shots and the group can be covered with your hand.

A further angle is to line six silhouettes in a row and, commencing on the left, run the row with a slug for each. Time, not more than three seconds and probably less.

As Mr. Wong correctly observes, these feats can readily be duplicated or exceeded by casual competitive shooters at a mid-level of skill (Level 3/4, “Expert”, B class, etc.) at any club hosting organized practical/action competitions. More telling, many point shooting advocates can NOT perform to this level. I’d call out people like John Veit to demonstrate shooting this well at the stated speeds.

Point Shooting

by Col. Charles Askins, USA
January 1955

I sometimes think we overdid the refinements we have added to the one-hand gun. For instance, the hardware lays ’em in faster when the sights are disregarded. If you are really bent on speed, a one-hand shooting iron has got to be pointed and not aimed. It is that kind of a tool. Sights on a handgun are just like gyro-stabilizers on a wheelbarrow—nice but not necessary. The handgun was designed for defense, and even though that salient fact is oft-times disregarded, it is still true.

For speed, no sights

Sights, when you are actually in a hurry with a six-gun, just complicate an otherwise simple item. Too, these appurtenances confuse the picture, tend to give rise to false hopes, and by inference promise a performance that inherently cannot be. A six-shooter for speed work needs neither a front post nor a notched rear. When you are really in a hurry, the sights add nothing: by the same token they do not get much in the way either. You simply do not see them.

The handgun can be made to hit by pointing. Not by pointing in the sense that you look through the sights but rather by directing the weapon just as you point your finger. Thus manhandled, the six-gun is effective. Of course, you do not hit at 50 yards but you do connect at practical distances. The art of shooting by pointing is so little explored that no one knows just what the ultimate possibilities may be.

What are the possibilities?

What can be done by simply extending the weapon, either at eye level or hip level, and then triggering off a half-dozen quick salvos? Among other things, the slugs can be fitted very neatly inside a head-size target at 20 feet and all in a limit of two or three seconds for the six-shot burst. Or if you like to vary the fun, you can pour three bullets into the head and three into the chest of a silhouette target and the time is extended only some tenths of a second.

The somewhat quaint notion persists that any kind of gun fire not tied to a careful alignment of the sights simply cannot be accurate. Hits are luck, and of a kind that won’t repeat itself. This reasoning stems from only a half-knowledge of the capabilities of the one-hand gun.
The revolver or automatic never really comes into its own until the piece is fired by pointing, at moderate to short ranges, and in a time-space that rolls the three-, four-, or six-shot burst into one sweet ripple of gun fire.

The six-gun really comes into its own when the trigger is set afire in this manner. True, you cannot hit bullseyes, but why evaluate a good weapon in terms of what it does on a geometric figure?

What makes it so?

The successful control of the gun depends largely on sensing. The gunner slams it into alignment and, like the wingshot, fires the instant the muzzle comes to bear. There is no hesitation, no correction, and no time to pre-quarterback the burst. Target shooters take deliberate aim, but this isn’t for the point-shooter, he lines up his muzzle with the target during the first quarter-second and burns powder!

To my way of thinking, the best-pointing of our miscellany of hand-cannon are the guns of High Standard. Almost as good is the Colt Woodsman; a real natural was the old Remington Model 51 automatic, now disappeared from the scene. The old Frontier Model revolver points sweetly from the hip, but just so-so when brought to eye level.

Autos are better

None of the revolvers points as well as the .22 automatics. Basic principle of point-shooting is that the gun is directed as you point your finger. The weapon does not want to be too lengthy for that reason. A barrel of four inches is very close to perfection; barrels of six inches are not nearly so good. The gun wants to have some weight about it, else it will bounce so painfully as to produce bloated groups and many over-the-fence misses.
Cut a common playing card and slip it over the front sight and along the barrel. This bit of pasteboard neatly writes finish to the conventional use of the sights. It is now a gun to be pointed and not aimed.

Have a go at it

Try a clip of cartridges at a handy target. Select a mark at practicable range—say an ordinary gallon oil can at 20 feet. Do not shoot once. Trigger off two, three or four shots. Do not look at the gun; watch the target. Move the hardware into the line-of-sight without consciously looking at the gun. Do not permit your attention to wander from the oil can. If the first or second quickly triggered slugs do not plop home, whip the gun in that direction aimed at ‘ringing the bell.’ This movement, infinitesimal though it is, develops subconsciously and it is amazing how precisely it may be controlled. Do not count scores or any such tommyrot. There will always be shots outside the primary group if you do not finally become so skilled as to pour all your lead into one ragged hole. Bogey of the targetman is his misses. It isn’t the tens that loom up so large–it is the occasional wide six. In your new game of point-and-shoot, the hit is the thing!

It requires ammo

Hombres who are limited as to hull supply had better shy around point-shooting. It is a game that might well have been dreamed up by the cartridge makers themselves. It isn’t a pastime learned by snapping practice nor yet through the expenditure of a box of cartridges every second week. Powder has got to be burned, and by the keg!

The gunner has finally got to reach that point where he subconsciously points at the target—just like reaching your mouth with a succulent forkful, in the dark. You must finally point the gun as you do your finger. While it may sound as though nothing could be more simple, it requires a good many thousands of shots to get to that rewarding degree of proficiency.

The grip on the gun should be extremely hard. This grasp is maintained for only a few seconds. The arm should be rigid from shoulder to wrist. As to whether it is straightened or bent, the shooting interval is so brief it does not matter. The application of plenty of ‘English’ dampens recoil, holds the piece dead on, and is essential to successful gunning. Do not roll the weapon into a vertical position such as target marksmen do. That is an unnatural and uncomfortable position for the hand. Give the shooting iron a decided list it will handle more easily.

Stance is immaterial

Your shooting stance or body position is of no importance. It is better, possibly, to stand on both feet but really not too necessary. You will find, after practice, that you are firing while falling, wheeling, squatting, leaping, or essaying other gymnastics. It is contributory to better accuracy if you see the target with both eyes open, though not absolutely necessary, however. This shooting style bears little relation to the well-known and accepted firings, and for that reason has a rule book all its own. The time-space to get off a burst of three, four, or six shots is so short that neither stance, breathing, nor the other bugaboos of the targeteer have too much application.

What can be done by point-shooting? Six shots can be kept on a playing card at 20 feet and all in the space of two to three seconds. I repeatedly kill bullfrogs, snakes, and turtles along a nearby creek and take them, all at distances up to 20-25 feet with this new, dynamic-shooting style. A recent morning I jumped two rabbits—cottontails—at my feet, and killed both of them before they had gone ten long steps.

From the hip, in intervals of two-three seconds, the Army silhouette can be plastered at distances up to 25 feet with all six shots and the group can be covered with your hand.

A further angle is to line six silhouettes in a row and, commencing on the left, run the row with a slug for each. Time, not more than three seconds and probably less.

No one knows the ultimate possibilities of this fascinating shooting-by-pointing game. It is a golden road a-beckoning.

Point Shoot Training


Some notes on point shooting training.

From John Veit

This is not on topic, but I checked out the NRA target mentioned and noticed that the target circle is centered on the target with extra space at the top and bottom.

IMHO it would be helpful to have the circle lower down so the distances from the bottom and the sides would be the same. The extra space at the top would allow for clipping the target in target holding clips, while also helping to keep errant rounds away from the clips.

This thought also applies to many of the targets on the NRA targets page.

These targets are to be mounted to a stiff backing material (often cardboard) because centers will be stapled up for each ten round string. The stiff board allows the use of a plug gauge if needed.

The backing mounting material can be any length needed to work in the carrier.

This part is concerning: The extra space at the top would allow for clipping the target in target holding clips, while also helping to keep errant rounds away from the clips.

If there are errant shots going that wild, there are bigger problems to worry about than saving target holding clips… The outer most ring (five ring) on standard distance competition pistol targets is 18 inches in diameter, the same width as a humanoid silhouette.

Review the full AIMED Point & Shoot training course.

I was advised to contact Lou Chiodo, who allegedly has trained members of the California Highway Patrol.

Here’s his assessment of his own results:

Statistical data is generally not a valid way of determining “success” since there are so many factors involved in the data that is used for evaluation. I have a graduate school level education that dealt with using statistics to determine various results of one thing or another and the one thing I learned is that there are so many ways that figures can be gathered, reported and ultimately used to determine if something works or not to understand that it is difficult to use much of the data in a valid way.

When trying to using hit rates etc., to determine validity of a program, there are SO MANY variables that other than generalities, it is difficult to determine results from the data.

This was corroborated by Ted Sames of SISS

The stats: Few, very few agencies publish stats…it’s a taboo

Remember, 19% hit ratio (anywhere on the body) within 0 to 12 feet away on the Bad Guy is the US Police stat.

Mr. Sames says very few agencies publish stats yet later claims there is an accepted “US Police stat” (whatever that is…) Not even various NYPD reports agree each other, never mind any sort of universally-accepted statistic. Police training and qualification standards varies among departments within the same state despite held to a state-decreed POST standard. Forget any sort of nationwide uniformity.

Even within a single department there are differences. NYPD’s poor hit rate is routinely reported (and often misinterpreted as some universal result for all policemen) yet NYPD SOU member Bill Allard managed a 100% hit rate in his nearly two dozen fights.

Grab Gun, Point Finger, Pull Trigger


The following article is by John Veit.


The Officer’s Guide To Police Pistolcraft by Michael E. Conti


The Officer’s Guide To Police Pistolcraft by Michael E. Conti
A review by John Veit

The Officer’s Guide To Police Pistolcraft is a new (2009), comprehensive, practical, and reality-based survival guide for today’s Police Officer.

Precision Accuracy in 0.2-0.3 Seconds


Precision Accuracy in 0.2-0.3 Seconds
by John Veit


Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: