There is a thread at The High Road discussing “point shooting” or shooting without using the sights vs. traditional aimed fire that got me thinking about some of the shooting and training we did at Blackwater. To sum up the debate at THR, it’s devolved into the classic “Aimed fire is better/nuh-uh/yeah-uh” ad naseum that such conversations often turn in to. That’s unfortunate, because there has been some pretty solid information offered by both sides of the discussion.
I’m of the school of thought that if I’m shooting at a distance any further than immediate contact distance, then I should probably be using the sights on my gun – Jeff Cooper and Todd Jarrett told me to use the sights, and I figure they’re pretty smart guys. But Todd Jarrett also touched on shooting at close distances without using the sights.
As part of demonstrating the frangible ammo, we shot some big steel plates at about 2 or 3 yards. At about the 10-12 second mark of this video Todd demonstrates firing from the close in retention position we were taught. Notice the two handed grip on the gun, and how he keeps the pistol rigged in very tight to his side.
One of the objections to “point shooting” is that you’re not aiming the gun – when you use a tight retention method like what Todd demonstrates in the video, that’s actually not true. Yes, your aim won’t be as fine as it would be using sights, but it’s more than accurate to hit a torso sized target at very short range.
The key is holding the gun tight into your body – to aim the gun, you simply square up your body to the target, and if your grip is correct the pistol will be pointed roughly at center mass. Think of it like a World War I fighter pilot aiming his guns – to aim the guns he maneuvers the entire aircraft into position. Where the aircraft is pointed, that’s where the bullets are going to go. You could also use the tank turret analogy, but let’s face it, biplanes are cooler than tanks.
I’m not really going to address the whole “aimed fire vs. point shooting” debate per se, because as I said above I think that both have a utility. I will admit by bias in that as a competition guy, I see more utility in using the sights, but I also understand that a gunfight or a self defense encounter is a dynamic event, and you may not be able to use your sights. Aside, that’s why I thoroughly endorse getting a laser grip for your SD gun, but that’s a whole different post.
Characterizing point shooting as unaimed isn’t really accurate – by using a close retention position and your body as the guide to point the gun, you are in fact “aiming”, but it’s a much less fine point of aim than you could establish by using the sights on the pistol.