Point Shooting vs. Sighted Fire

This would be one of the “great” intertron gun board debates, right up there with 1911 vs. Glock and .45 ACP vs. 9mm in terms of the passion and rhetoric that is brought to the table whenever someone posts a thread on The Firing Line about how awesome/sucky point shooting is.  The difference between those threads and the other flamebait threads is that for some reason, I can’t avoid the point shooting threads like I can the other ones.

Obviously, I tend to come down on the side of “use the damn sights”, because they’re on your gun for a reason.  Plus, until the day when the Army Marksmanship Unit changes their CQB course and says “yeah, you don’t need those sights”; or when the instructors at Blackwater take the sights off their Sigs I’m going to keep using the sights on my gun.  But that’s just me, and there are people on the point shooting side of the debate who are just as passionate about how Rex Applegate et al taught pistol shooting.

The problem that you end up with is one that any practitioner of martial arts is familiar with – “style X of chop-sockey is better than style Y”!  When I was working on my first black belt in high school, and then my second one in college, I ran in to this exact same mindset all the time, probably because one of my flavors of chop-sockey is generally regarded as useless “on t3h st33ts”.

So, short of trolling TFL and Bullshido (that reminds me, I need to post over there more often) what should we do?  Since I do believe that combat pistol shooting is a martial art, like the rest of the martial arts world I suggest that we get over our collective selves and just go pull some triggers.  It’s not up to me to prove to someone that their technique is “wrong” or inferior to my technique.  If you’re happy with your training methods and instructors, than more power to you.  Since I don’t believe that point shooting is dangerous or is going to get you killed, then as long as people are pulling triggers and buying ammo, I’m pretty happy with the result.  Just don’t try and preach to me that your chop-sockey is stronger than mine, okay?

P.S. 1911s are better than Glocks.


  1. It seems to me like this would depend on the situation. Like the distance to the target, and the amount of time you have at your disposal. And of course your individual proficiency with either technique.

    If you have the time to aim, you should do it. But if the target is really close, at some point using the sights will start to look ridiculous, and could waste time for no better result.

    Also, the location probably matters. If there are bystanders close or behind the intended target you might need to use a different technique then if you and your target are all alone in the desert…

  2. On Sunday while coyote hunting with the trusty EBR, I happened on a 5 foot western diamondback. I kept my distance but he didn’t — and made a bee-line right for me. He never coiled, he never rattled.

    The 4x scope was worse than useless at 12, 10, 8 and 6 feet, so I broke away from the stock and engaged in a little point shooting exercise, something I’ve never practiced.

    Since I’m alive and he’s dead, I think I chose wisely. I also did the other thing you ridicule… I fired as fast as I could pull the trigger. And I will be practicing both techniques in the future.

  3. I can’t recall talking down about firing as fast as you can pull the trigger, because I do that all the time in competition, I fire as fast as I can pull the trigger and get the gun on target.

  4. Reread my account and understand: unaimed point shooting, rapid fire saved my life.

  5. Right, I got that – although I’d question the lifesaving part a little bit since you can run faster than the snake can move, but be that as it may you said “the other thing”, referencing rapid trigger action, which I’ve never disparaged.

  6. i prefer the use the sights and pull the trigger as fast as you can while maintaing an acceptable sight picture. i’ve tried point shooting, mostly when plinking with 22s, and while i think one can become proficient at it, an acceptable sight picture is an acceptable sight picture and point shooting isn’t.

    but! this weekend i was ro’ing folks during an uspsa match. one guy on my squad in his 70s was point shooting close targets and aiming on distant targets. when scoring his targets, the only misses and D hits he had were on swingers. Not my cup of tea, but one can hardly argue with results.

  7. “P.S. 1911s are better than Glocks.”

    I’ll give on that one, since my only real reason for preferring my Glock is that I understand it better. But I will add this.

    PCs are better than Macs.
    BMW motorcycles are better than Harleys
    PS3 is better than XBox360
    Nikon is better than Canon
    Intel is better than AMD

    Oh, and .45ACP is the only “real” self-defense round.

    Did I miss anything there? I thought of adding the whole “Ford/Chevy” thing in there, but that’s like arguing the differences between pig shit and chicken shit. 😉

  8. The proof is in the pudding. If after so many years of competing, you find that one style gives the best scores, then I guess that way is the right way, isn’t it? Maybe one style works for a while, and after the muscles are toned, it’s possible to excel with the other. I certainly don’t hold a pistol the same way I did 20 years ago.

  9. A lot depends on whether you are a rifle or a shotgun shooter.
    Spend 40 years shooting a lot of clay targets and you will find it hard to even consider sights under 25 yards as long as you have a nice slab sided pistol.

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