Combat Accuracy

Discussion in 'Training & Safety' started by canebrake, Oct 1, 2009.

  1. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    Got this in my Gabe Suarez's WARRIOR TALK NEWS - OCTOBER 2009

    It's post worthy:

    Combat Accuracy Part 1

    Roger Phillips - Suarez International Staff

    There are many varying opinions on what accuracy is needed inside of combat. Who is correct all comes down to who you believe. The definition that I use when it comes to combat accuracy is as follows, "any hit on the adversary that effects change in the adversary in regards to the OODA loop." In reality, any hit on the adversary is good for you and bad for them.

    The generally accepted nationwide hit ratio for law enforcement officers is 15-25%. This is with guys that have to qualify often using fundamentals of marksmanship skill sets. The question is why is this hit ratio so low while the qualification standards are so much higher?

    When we look at combat accuracy we need to factor in the balance "to hit and to not be hit." The reality of not wanting to be hit simply has to be factored into the equation. This is why we see such a low hit ratio. Fundamentals of marksmanship skill sets are not the mythical "end all, be all" inside of combat situations. The situation is the dictating factor.....not the technique focused fundamentals of marksmanship. When we understand the physiological desire to "not get hit" it becomes evident that inside of combat, misses happen. They happen even more readily if you do not train within reality...... the "to hit and not be hit" reality. Once we accept this reality and begin looking at skill sets beyond the fundamentals of marksmanship the hit ratio improves dramatically. There are many police departments across the nation that has proved this to be fact with their increased hit ratio.

    Let's look at some of the things that have been taught as acceptable combat accuracy in the recent past.

    The Pump House

    The pump house is that fist size group into the heart. By all means, this is a great area to target. It is my default, but it is not the "end all, be all" fight stopper that many would have you believe. There are numerous stories of dedicated opponents that that fought well and continued to kill even after taking hits to the pump house, just because the adversary may very well die, does not mean he is dead yet. Many times people will refer to these guys as "he did not know he was dead yet" guys. I see them more as "I am going to take as many of you with me as I can" guys. There is a huge difference in the mindset and danger level between the two. Shots to the pump house are not a guaranteed immediate fight stopper. In fact there is no guarantee that the adversary is going to eventually die due to the shot to the heart.

    On the square range, there are those that teach the following. "You will be half as good in a life threatening encounter as you are on your best day at the range." They teach a fist size group, in the pump house, on the range telling you that it will turn into a hand span group in a life threatening encounter. While this all sounds great, the generally accepted hit ratio numbers simply do not back up this claim. In my humble opinion, this would be due to not training within reality

    The Thoracic Cavity

    This is the hand span group that covers the heart and the upper lungs. There is a lot of good stuff in here to cause substantial bleeding and breathing problems. While my default may be the pump house, I would be more than happy with any hits in the upper thoracic cavity. A very good representation of the upper thoracic cavity is a nine inch paper plate. Good stuff? You bet! Although, the thoracic cavity is not the guaranteed fight stopper that some would have you believe. Not only is it not an immediate fight stopper many people survive chest wounds.

    Cranial Ocular Band

    This is the credit card width band that wraps around the whole head. This targeted area is delineated by the soft tissue around the nose and the eyes. It is also delineated by the thin skull around the temple, the ears, and the base of the skull. Some portray this as a "turning them off like a light switch." This is simply not so. There are cases of people fighting through hits to the cranial ocular band. The only way to "flip the switch" to turn a person off is with a direct hit to the medulla oblongata or the "apricot" as the snipers call it. The medulla oblongata is part of the "Reticular Activating System". The RAS is the portion of the brainstem that keeps someone awake. That is one of the reasons that a shot in the medulla literally "flips off the switch".

    Training With in Reality

    These first three are very much what is taught in the recent past inside of the Modern Techniques based schools. While these targeted areas do offer excellent hits inside of combat, they are not the only alternatives to excellent hits. There are other areas that offer excellent combat hits and many of them are combat proven and come to us from the "old timers." They come from gunfighters who were in a very substantial number of gun fights or from guys that documented a substantial number of gunfights. We need to face the facts that the Modern Techniques is a competition based system that put a high priority on a successful marketing strategy and an ability to "score" to help perpetuate that successful marketing strategy. The fact is that forcing the students to only target two distinct areas made targets much easier to score. It is the improvement of the "score" that led people to take the exact same course over and over and over again.

    The introduction of Air soft guns to the general public changed all of this. All of a sudden the general public could test everything themselves. This power of testing was no longer solely in the hands of people with an agenda. The information on the realities of a fight that had been held back could no longer be protected. The flood gates were now open and nobody could stop the changing tide. For the critical thinkers out there dumping the status quo was simple. Heck, they were already half way gone just out of common sense. For those people looking to be the best that they could be this often led them back to studying the history of gun fighting and the vast amount of knowledge and combat proven skill sets.

    Let's take a look at some of the things that the "old timers" considered "combat accurate."

    Center of Mass

    The definition of center of mass is as follows, "targeting the center of whatever mass that is available." That means if only a foot is available, target the center of the foot. If only the elbow is available target the center of that exposed elbow. This is all about making a hit. If you target the center and you are slightly off, you will still get a hit. This also means that if you are in low light and both you and the adversary are moving (as a high percentage of gunfights actually come down) you should target the center of mass so that if you are not perfect inside of this difficult situation you will still land a hit. When some of the old timers talked about center of mass, you would often hear them discussing targeting the belt buckle. We need to realize the difference in where they wore their belt buckles. They were not at waist level they were at abdomen level, very close to center of mass. These guys knew the realities of the fight and they had no competition based dogma ingrained in them. Focusing in on the belt buckle gave them a very nice "focal point" at center of mass to lock in on. They understood the seamless integration of sighted fire and instinctive fire and the correct context inside of the fight.

    In "Shooting to Live" Fairbairn and Sykes documented six hundred and sixty six gunfights inside of a twelve year period. They saw this one phenomenon so often that they put it in writing "If you shoot a man in the gut, he will most likely drop what is in his hand."

    In a reactionary gun fight, with decent distances, and dynamic movement, I teach targeting center of mass. We need to take back the lost initiative with our speed, movement, and ballistic effect. We need to put a hit on board! The best way to insure this is targeting the center of mass. As we settle into the fight, our movement, and our increasingly accurate marksmanship, we can begin bringing the shots up into the thoracic cavity.
  2. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    Combat Accuracy Part 2

    Roger Phillips - Suarez International Staff

    The Central Nervous System (CNS)

    In my Modern Techniques training of the past they always scoffed at the CNS stoppage for anything short of the cranial ocular band. They use to hold their pinkie up and bob it back and forth while saying "go ahead try to shoot it" all while laughing. While entertaining, it was not the truth of the matter. For a CNS stoppage you do not have to disrupt the pinkie size spinal cord, you can often disrupt the CNS by making a hit to the spinal column. A good representation to the size of the spinal column is a 1 1/2 inch side of a typical two by four. When you look at this way, the CNS stoppage is not near as difficult as the Modern Techniques portrayed it to be. But once again we get into the whole "scoring" philosophy and it's misrepresentation of the facts.

    When we train the CNS should always be taken into consideration, just as center of mass needs to be taken into consideration. The CNS stoppage is a prized and worthy goal. For a squared up adversary, by all means target his center line and his CNS. If the adversary is bladed we need to balance our targeting of the CNS with our targeting of center of mass.

    The old timers recognized this and even developed tactics and techniques to target the CNS. The zipper is all about targeting the CNS. We are looking for a five to six shots, vertically stringing right up and on the CNS from pelvis to cranial ocular band. The level of "stoppage" is dependent on the height of the hit to the CNS. Hit them low and you take their mobility. Hit them higher and take away their mobility and their arms. Hit them even higher and you take oh so much more. There is very few shots better than a CNS stoppage. Only the "apricot" could be better.

    The Pelvis

    I am not even going to get into this old tired debate. I will just repeat the advice of Jelly Bryce given to Dave James. "Son, if you shoot a man in the nuts.....he will leave you alone."

    I have not had one male student question the validity of that statement.

    There is so much time spent on debating "the pelvic girdle." What is usually missing from the debate is the huge number of blood vessels in that area. This brings up another old timer philosophy, "more holes in, more blood out, lower the blood pressure and win the fight." You may not break the pelvic girdle and take away mobility, but you are putting holes in and lowering the blood pressure.

    If we look at pure speed of the draw and the irrefutable law of physics and economy of motion, the very fastest that you can be is a draw stroke right out of the top of the holster straight to the adversary's pelvis (Elbow up/ elbow down.) Combat proven!

    More Reality to Think About

    Resetting the OODA Loop

    The OODA loop is the decision making process that all human being make. It stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. It takes the average person .2 -.25 of a second to cycle through this decision making process. The old timers used this phenomenon for everything that it is worth. The old timers proclaim that any hit on an adversary will buy you .2-.25 of a second. Each hit resets the adversary's OODA loop. This goes right in line with Suarez Internationals philosophy of "Any hits on them is good for you and bad for them." This also goes hand in hand with shots to "less then optimal" regions of the body, such as the pelvis. We are not worried about the effects of one hit we are looking at the cumulative effect of five to seven shots, within the first two seconds of the fight, dispersed out all over the body. We are using the phenomenon of the resetting of the OODA loop to get as many hits on board as possible until the threat has been stopped.

    Multiple Traumas to Multiple Systems

    The "old timers" were big on staying away from tight groups. They believe in multiple traumas to multiple systems. When the reality of the fight becomes clear this philosophy happens naturally. The biggest thing about them is that they did not worry about a perfect group. They were fight focused not competition focused. This is why this article is a lecture in every one of my Point Shooting Progression courses. So many times I see that concern about the loss of a tight group when we begin pushing the limitations, so many "shaking of the heads" and "looks of disgust." That is until things are put into perspective. Once the "Combat Accuracy" lecture has been given all of the marksmanship based egotistical nonsense just melts away. Only then can we get down to the serious business at hand.

    "Face" the Facts

    While targeting the cranial ocular band has some benefits, the major down fall is that this requires more precision than most situations will allow. We need to accept the reality that any hit on the adversary's head it a darn good hit! Sure, make you focal point the bridge of the adversary's nose, but realize that a slight miss is still a great hit. When we talk about resetting an adversary's OODA loop any shot to the face has to be a major reset. While I have no proof of this, common sense tells me you just bought yourself more time than just .2 - .25 of a second.

    The Neck

    In my Modern Techniques school I was shooting a drill at twenty five yards. When we walked up to the target I had one perfect shot dead center into the throat. As they marked it a "three points down" I could not help to think how absolutely stupid that was. Here was a perfect fight ending shot and it was scored as a "peripheral." Where is the reality in that? I blew out the esophagus and the spinal column.

    I do not know about you all, but the last place in the world I want to get hit is square in the neck. Common sense tells me that a neck shot is a winning shot in most fights.


    It's simple any shot on them is good for you and bad for them. It may not be a fight winning shot, but there is a whole lot more coming and it is coming fast and accurately. Stay fight focused, not score focused, spread the love, and shoot them to the ground.

    Combat shooting is nasty business. You are not going to be perfect, you are going to fight within whatever the situations allows you. You will need every edge that you can get to be the very best that you can be. You need to be able to fight inside of the realities of the fight, not inside of the made up realities of the recent past. Learn from the very best that had no agenda.....look to the history of the gunfight and seamlessly integrate the best of the old with the best of the new.


    SGT-MILLER New Member

    Good post, Cane.

    Gabe Suarez knows what he's talking about. Those are wise words.

    [ame=]YouTube - Close Range Gunfighting - Defending SUL[/ame]

    IGETEVEN New Member

    Indeed, very good post Cane and shooting accuracy as close to reality one can train for. Zipper to forehead, point shots delivered from a weapon, double, triple tap. Game over.

  5. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

    Great stuff Cane, thanks. I'd never read any of Suarez's stuff before, this makes sense.
  6. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    The Correct Mindset

    In training, we talk about everything from how we walk, strip out a magazine, hold a rifle/pistol/carbine, and even how to adjust slings and gear. Ditto the OODA loop (and how to interrupt it), the advantage to closing on a threat rather than running away in certain situations (OK, I'm still vague on this one, but I know the unexpected action is frequently the right one, this is just a little counter-intuitive).

    Fighting is, as they say, as much an art as the mechanics of its study are a science.

    Last week, however, I was reminded that there's a part of the combat mindset - and preparation for dealing with a known threat- that many of us forget.

    Our best weapon- in virtually any circumstance- is our mind and its correct usage to adapt and overcome in life-and-death situations. The training scenarios are, for me at least, one of the best ways to see - clearly- that on many occasions, I'm letting my natural instincts and that most immediate of drugs, adrenaline, take my mind out of the fight.

    There's nothing like having that brought home to you by a world-class martial artist and trainer who looks more calm and unflappable than capable and experienced. John Hutchinson, one of Gunsite Academy's trainers, had his unflappability tested last week, trying to help me improve my shooting techniques.

    I'm not a bad shooter, but I'm not practicing at the levels I once did. I'm also not at the physical skill levels of twenty years (or more) ago. So, Hutchinson reminded me, I should be applying my mind more to the fighting situations.

    Having been more reactive than proactive in most physical situations, that's tough advice to comprehend.

    Until you get in a situation with a little performance pressure. Standing on a line with eleven other shooters - most very experienced and trained - induces a little of that pressure. For me, that means the mind starts working against me. Instead of telling me to analyze the situation and respond in a sensible manner, I get the "ready-set-GO" thing from my brain, turning me from a logical guy into a pretty passable imitation of Jerry Lewis. The easy things get difficult, and suddenly, I'm missing shots I know I can make in my sleep.

    Unfortunately, I'm too-wired to sleep. Having been in a real shooting situation, I fight old memories and matching reflexes. I don't know if it's happened to you, but I've sure seen if from both the personal and observational side.

    After trying to correct me mechanically and not seeing a response, Hutchinson told me something that clarified my problem and gave me a way to instantly tighten shot groups and simplify procedures.

    "You're moving around too-much in your body," he said simply, "that's making you have to work against yourself to get a good shot off."

    Eureka, he was right. I was guilty of the shooting equivalent of "moving over the ball" in golf. Instead of getting into a strong, neutral position with my rifle solid and stable in that position, I was moving head, eyes, arms, feet, knees, elbows. Let's just say I looked more like an explosion than a rational machine

    I was violating the basic rule of a fluid situation: slow down physically and analyze mentally; then follow your mental mapping. It's amazing what a couple of deep, calming breaths and a solid stance will do to tighten your groups. It's even more effective when you're on the move. Strides may shorten or steps may drag, but the upper body remains still, strong and on target.

    After shooting, Hutchinson reemphasized that fact by reminding us that when running indoor shooting simulations, he wanted us to concentrate on analyzing each problem individually, and to slow down rather than racing through the simulator as one large timed event.

    "Err on the side of safety," Hutchinson says, "I'm going to be with you, and safety's what I want. Don't try to go high-speed, low-drag on a situation, try to make each motion deliberate and thought out. If you rush into a situation, you may find out you've put yourself in a situation you didn't anticipate."

    What he didn't have to say was that in real life, those kinds of situations can get you seriously killed. After all, he reminded us, a single person clearing an unfamiliar building was already a bad enough deal. Trying to do it at the speed of Jason Stratham in an action flick was a good way not to get out the other side.

    What's my point? THINK before acting in your practice. If you're on the range and suddenly start rushing shots and taking those short, sharp, jerky motions that are producing less than your optimal results, slow down and stop fighting with yourself.

    That's one fight you're always going to lose. Instead, breathe, slow down and think before acting.

    Now, if I could only remember to do that before I speak.

    --Jim Shepherd from The Shooting Wire 10/7/2009
  7. Cory2

    Cory2 New Member

    Indeed this is the truth. I have played paintball and airsoft for about 5 years now (thats a long time since im only 21) and although I can get pretty good groups on target at the range I do not do this or try to do this when playing paintball/airsoft. I point my gun at the biggest target I can see which is usually a torso, although it can be a leg or an arm or the face. I picked up something from a movie none the less a while back though that I tried out and discovered works quite well when aiming quickly. In the movie Patriot when the guy is telling his son or whatever to aim for the smallest target on the body such as a button. This is true I often find my self aiming at peoples pockets on their vest or one of the breathholes of the mask. Now I don't mean I take the time to sight directly on this to make sure I hit it but I simply decide in my mind that is what I'm going to shoot and it has helped my accuracy greatly. However there are times still when I simply point and shoot but these times are when aiming is not really an option, such as pieing a corner and an enemy comes running at you, you simply fire untill they are hit.
  8. spittinfire

    spittinfire New Member Supporter


    IGETEVEN New Member

    QUOTE: I was violating the basic rule of a fluid situation: slow down physically and analyze mentally; then follow your mental mapping. It's amazing what a couple of deep, calming breaths and a solid stance will do to tighten your groups. It's even more effective when you're on the move. Strides may shorten or steps may drag, but the upper body remains still, strong and on target.

    Great post information Cane, and very accurate IMO, and my own personal shooting experience. (Yours may vary).

  10. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    From the Warrior Talk News – The Stalemate 10/14/2009

    The Stalemate – Gunman’s Perspective

    First is the recognition of the event. As soon as you find yourself grabbing his weapon wrist, you place yourself in position for him to do likewise to you so be aware of this. Grabbing his wrist may be the only thing keeping his knife from entering your guts so do not discount the option of doing so. Moreover, understand that the reality of movement and chaos will preclude you keeping your gun in the popular #2 or retention position. I am not here to argue that point. I will invite you to try the drills we do and then it will become obvious as to what is possible on the shooting range and what is possible in a dynamic fight.

    I will offer a layered approach to this as well. This means that anyone layer can solve the issue, but if one does not solve it, we have additional layers as backup.

    Upon recognizing the adversary's grab, pull your hand back and up, like a karate man chambering a punch. It is important to get your slide over the man's wrist so it does not impede the coming shots. While doing this of course, you grab tighter on his knife wrist and keep that away from you as you begin pulling the trigger as fast as you can and sending hate right up his arm into his face.

    If that doesn't work, it will probably be as a result of an excessively strong adversary that prevented your pistol and wrist from chambering back. No matter, as you feel his pressure holding your wrist down, simply go with it and drop your weight down in a dynamic manner. Again, harder to write about than to show you. This will often free the gun hand. The best option now is to spring upward into the adversary, with a Rugby style head butt and a multitude of shots as you drive him back.

    The third layer is more complicated but has been done many times in free FOF exercises. If you are solidly held from bringing the gunhand up or down, simply move the body around the gunhand. Move the body away from the gunhand laterally. This will create a gap that you can move quickly under. Now simply push up with the body and down with your gunhand and you will be free. Once free, get the gun in place and work that trigger 'til your finger cramps. Remember, in all of these you are holding the adversary's knife hand well away from you.

    Stalemates, just like ground fights, and other things happen. We may not like them, but only a fool ignores them. These and other topics are discussed and drilled in our Zero To Five Feet course.
  11. gorknoids

    gorknoids New Member

    Great gouge, Cane. The thoracic cavity is a target of convenience, while the nose-chin area is a stopper. A hit in the gizzard will experience the least resistance on the way to the medulla oblongata, which is the 100 ring, and why I practice them. Sunday's stuff: [​IMG]

    I know, the appendix isn't really that critical!
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2009
  12. dicky0331

    dicky0331 New Member

    AWESOME posts cane! +1 for the snake. This is basically what they taught us be fore my deployments. They called it enhanced marksmanship program. It consisted of shooting at a three inch box to the head and a 9 inch circle in the chest, failure to stop drills and hammered pairs.
  13. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    "If you shoot a man in the gut (appendix), he will most likely drop what is in his hand." "Shooting to Live" Fairbairn and Sykes

  14. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    Skill Set: Are You Ready?

    The Shooting Wire for Friday, January 8

    Skill Set: Are You Ready?
    by Tiger McKee

    "How do you rate me, my skill level?" "Will I be ready when the time comes?" "How will I perform when faced with a fight?" These are questions I constantly hear from students, and there is no clear-cut reply that I can give. The only way one can know the answer to these inquiries is to be tested, under stress, with someone actually attacking you. But the one thing I do know is that there can never be any doubt in your mind as to the answer.

    We equip ourselves with reliable weapons, so that we can face a threat knowing our equipment will function properly. We train and practice, so that when the time comes we have the skills to stop our attackers. Countless hours are spent studying fighting tactics and comparing notes with fellow shooters in hopes of learning something new, while at the same time praying that we will never have to use these skills. And yet, in most people's minds there is always a nagging doubt as to how they will perform when "facing the elephant."

    You can never allow doubt to enter into your mind or heart. When the seed of doubt is planted, and given even the smallest amount of attention, it will grow like a weed until it chokes out anything else. The cure for this problem is simple. Never think or dwell on anything negative. While the solution is simple, its execution is difficult, for as humans our minds tend to wonder on the "what if." Stay diligent, following the path to victory, constantly guarding against letting doubt enter into your thought process.

    If there is doubt in your mind, your body's actions will tell on you, and it will be picked up on by the predators out there looking for victims. If there is doubt about how you should respond to an attacker there will be hesitancy in your response, which tells your opponent that you're not quite sure about what you're doing, and provides an opportunity to press their attack. If you're unsure what to do, then it won't get done.

    Regardless of what level your skill, you must always be thinking that you're ready, and will respond accordingly. No matter what the nature of the crisis, you must have confidence in your skills. As Jeff Cooper said, when you awake in the morning you say to yourself "today may be the day, and I am ready."

    There have been those trained and prepared, but who failed to follow through to victory. At the same time there are others who have never trained or practiced, and yet defeated their opponent soundly. How will you perform? However you have decided in advance. Sometimes you have warning that trouble is coming, at other times it erupts instantly. Your response, no matter what the problem, must always be "Yes!" While it is possible you may be wrong, there can never be any doubt. This is the heart of a warrior.

    IGETEVEN New Member

    Another great read Cane, and spot on Sir! [​IMG]

  16. Franciscomv

    Franciscomv New Member

    Good stuff, Cane! Thanks for sharing.
  17. Rentacop

    Rentacop Well-Known Member

    On the other hand, you could try a surgical shot to the hypothalumus, the brain's pleasure center, thereby shutting down all the good feelings the bad guy is getting from the drugs in his system. ( LOL)
    There is such a thing as over-thinking a problem. Against a moving target--- in dim light--- trying to fire before he does---I'll settle for solid hits period and let a doctor tell me which organs were perforated.
  18. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    * bump *

    * bump *
  19. Angry_bald_guy

    Angry_bald_guy Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    Very informative reading. I learned a lot.
  20. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    Your sights are training wheels

    NOTE: All you 'Sighted-Fire, Tight-Group, Religious Zealots", there will be no piling on! Just read and learn.

    Another good read (Supporting the canebrake view. Hey, you don't like it, post your own bias thread! Stop the hatin'.) from the Gabe Suarez newsletter.

    By Randy Harris - Suarez International Tier One Instructor

    I am a sighted fire shooter. No doubt. And I am a point shooter. I simply shoot however I need to in order to hit the target as quickly as I can no matter what the target or how far the target. But some see it as an all or nothing, either/or proposition. If you read the internet or gun magazines any at all you are bound to run into a discussion where one side argues that only sighted fire is effective because point shooting is too inaccurate and the other argues that sighted fire is for games and that only unsighted fire is fast enough in a reactive situation.

    Frankly those discussions bore me. The participants seem to be more interested in defending their "gun religion" than actually becoming a better more complete shooter. The truth is somewhere in between, and this is how I see it.

    First thing right off the bat we need to look at is context. When I discuss this I am referring to the use of a pistol in a lethal force situation where one or more individuals are trying to harm another. The distance will typically be anywhere from 2 feet to 20 yards. The distance will largely dictate on one end how precise a shot I need to make and on the other end dictate how fast a shot I need to make. An
    assailant at 3 yards is a much bigger target (spatial perception wise) and a much greater threat than a target at 20 yards. Therefore I will need to shoot faster here due to the increased threat and less time to deal with the problem. But as a fortunate by product of that close proximity I can shoot fast and still score hits on the target with relative ease. On the other hand if I am shooting at someone 20 yards distant I will need to slow down the process so as to be able to make a more precise shot. Fortunately for me the distance is such that he is not as great a threat and I will have time to make that precise shot...hopefully.

    The "point shooting only" crowd will tell you that since it always happens up close there is no point in learning to use the sights. And the "sighted fire only" crowd will tell you that distance is your friend and that the superior accuracy gained by using the sights is a better thing to rely on. So who is right?

    They BOTH are. If I am attacked by someone reaching for a pistol at 3 yards I need to be worried about getting out from in front of him and getting my gun out quickly and hitting him more so than I need to worry about getting a picture perfect sight picture before I press the trigger. On the other hand if I am engaging a target 20 yards distant I need to hopefully get behind cover (if available), slow down, and
    get a precise sight picture before I press off the shots because misses will not profit me. There is a balance to this.

    As for me, I use the sights all the training wheels. What do I mean? I teach people to shoot first by setting the context for how the situation will likely occur. After all you can only solve a problem if you understand the problem.

    Distance will likely be short so I do not start them out shooting bullseyes at 50 yards. I have them shoot a man shaped silhouette at about 4 yards. But I use a small circle in the center to represent an aiming point. I then teach them about how their body works under stress and how your body wants to work to avoid tension. So if our body wants to do "A". in the situation, but we are going to teach it to fight that
    and do "B." does that sound like efficient use of our time? Especially when our body won't do it under stress anyway? Of course not. So if we will naturally drop our weight and curl our shoulders forward then why would we teach "combat " shooting from an upright stance with the gun in front of our face? And if our arms do not naturally extend with our thumbs straight up in the air why do we teach them to orient their arms that way?

    So once we have a grasp of what we are most likely to be doing then we start to build our platform around that. I first teach them to grip the pistol in a manner to not only allow them to point it as naturally as pointing a finger, but also in a manner that reduces felt recoil during firing. I teach them how to draw and extend the pistol in an efficient directional motion that drives it straight at the target
    no matter what position they are in and no matter where the target is in orientation to them. I also teach them to look for the sights. You see, the sights on a pistol are pretty much permanently located in one place. They are on top of the barrel or slide at front and rear of the pistol and one of them sits right above the muzzle. The front sight could be termed a "muzzle reference indicator" because wherever it is, the muzzle is there too.

    Imprinting the draw stroke through repetition and seeing the sights appear on the target over and over again gives neural feedback and builds confidence. They continually drive the gun to the same place and the pattern of always finding the sights lined up there superimposed on the target builds confidence that whether they can see the sights or not, the draw stroke is delivering them to the same place
    every time. Then I have them stop looking through the sights and just look over the top of the gun. They will still be looking at the target spot, but with their head not behind the gun but looking over it.

    They continue to draw and present, but now each time we drop our head behind the sights after we extend to see just how close we are to where we were wanting it to go. Often we are right where we wanted it to be because the gun does not know nor does it care whether you were looking at the sights, it just puts a hole where the muzzle was pointed. That bullethole's location is directly proportional to whether you pointed the muzzle correctly. This is the foundation of shooting well and shooting well on the move. If we cannot drive the gun to the target so the muzzle is pointing at the spot we are focused on while we are standing still, then how will we do it when we move?

    The key though was using the precision of the sights to begin to convince our brain that we were doing it right. The bulk of this mental conditioning can be done without even shooting. If the sights are in line with the barrel, and the sights are pointed at the target spot/focal point when we present the gun to the target then by logic the barrel is now pointed at the target. It does not take long for the students to become familiar with and confident in this. They get to a point where they can bring their head up off the gun and look at the battlefield not just the target and know that the gun will end up pointed at whatever they choose because the draw stroke delivers it where they want it. My dry fire routine is as much or more about driving the gun to the target correctly as it is about pressing the trigger smoothly.

    Now as we progress we look for less and less feedback from the sights. That allows us to make hits faster. We are not taking the time to look for a perfect sight picture. We know the perfect sight picture is there but we do not have to prove it to ourselves by looking for it. We know from experience that the muzzle is getting driven where we need it to go...whether we see it or not. What this leaves us with
    is a faster presentation and the ability to not get tunnel vision on the sights.

    Keeping your head up and being aware of the surroundings and running the gun in your peripheral vision is a key to survival. We are no longer GUN focused but fight focused. We are looking at our adversary not hunting the sights. Why? Because we used the sights appropriately in training until we had internalized the fact that if we project the gun the way our muscle and bone structure works best and that lines the sights up, then we only have to look at the sights if we CHOOSE to in an effort to verify that our work was done properly. Jeff Cooper even said the sights are not used to aim the gun but to verify the gun was aimed correctly.....hmmm.... interesting.

    Of course if we are engaging targets at farther distances we will need more than just faith in our draw stroke to insure hits. My rule of thumb is this. If I am looking at the silhouette of the gun superimposed on the target and the target looks bigger than the gun I do not need the sights. That is if I present the gun to the target and I can still see target surrounding the gun, then I am close enough that looking for the sights will only slow me down. BUT... If I look over the gun at the target and the target (or target area if I'm trying to hit something like a specific spot) is smaller than the gun, then I NEED to use the sights. This little maxim will help you read distance and learn to determine how fast to shoot and how precise to operate the trigger.

    So I absolutely am a sighted fire shooter. If I hit what I am aiming at my sights were in fact aligned properly...whether I saw them or not. So what if I told you I could teach you to shoot accurately without looking at the sights? After all , we use some sightless airsoft guns in the force on Force class and after a brief draw stroke tutorial most everyone is making sighted fire quality hits even with sightless guns. So how is THAT possible? Some would believe it and some would not.

    But regardless I do this regularly and with great success . How ? By first teaching you to look for the sights. By doing that I am letting you use the training wheels until we build your confidence to the point you no longer need them . Sights are training wheels. You use them until you no longer need them and then after that..... just use them when you NEED them.

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