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Discussion Starter #1
I used to play pool a lot and at one time was quite good IMHO. Unfortunately I don't play a fraction of as often as I used too. But what does this have to do with shooting? First of all billiards is an excellent and rather enjoyable way to develop hand-eye coordination, not to mention a chance to share some cold ones and conversation with friends.

More importantly for the scope of this post however is that though not as deeply divided, as in defensive pistol, pool shooting has two camps; those who look down the cue, through the cue ball, and at the target (as in using sights) and those who just look at the target and shoot (akin to point shooting) myself being a member of the latter. Sometimes on the long green shots I'd knuckle down and "sight in" but for the most part I'd "point shoot" and do it faster and more accurately than many of my counterparts, even doing the occasional no-look shot (banking no less). After a while you just KNOW where the shot is going. A friend and fellow "point shooter" was so accurate and so fast that he would literally run around the table as he sank ball after ball. He really should have gone pro.
SO GET ON WITH IT ALREADY

Applying the afore mentioned to pistol shooting; I feel that I innately shoot better without using the sights than with. I'm a relatively new shooter and have been working on my sight usage. With the help of some reading, particularly the great wealth of information on this board, I have been improving.
My question is this; is it possible, or even advisable, to learn both types of shooting? From what I've seen it is the consensus that in a defensive situation there is no such thing as the "perfect" stance and that the "proper" grip is whatever works for you. In the sights vs. point debate however, things seem a little different. While advocates of point shooting admit there are times in which sights might be necessary, some proponents of sight usage (who are better than I could hope to be in three life times) often dismiss point shooting in anything but the most extreme situations as amateurish. I would think that the bigger your bag of tricks, the better your chances in a wider variety of scenarios. We hear about situations where the balloon goes up and a good, or even great shot, empties the magazine with nary a hit on target. What happened? Was it poor aiming under stress or was it unconsciously reverting to point and shoot without point and shoot experience? Was it something else? I may be going off on a tangent.
Anyway, I think there's a question in there somewhere. I'm going to get some formal training as soon as I can. I want to become a good shot and don't want to be ingraining bad habits.
 

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Some point-shooters can put on amazing demonstrations of skill. However, point-shooting, like billiards, requires that the shooter address the target in his practiced manner. If the target are on different levels than the shooter (simulating an attacker standing on a loading dock or at the bottom of a flight of stairs), then the point-shooter will generally fall apart. Likewise for shooting around cover or at targets to the side, where the shooter cannot index his body to the target.

The flash sight picture uses the sights to VERIFY an alignment that has been achieved through a practiced presentation. The degree of difficulty of the markmanship problem being addressed will influence the degree to which the sight picture must be refined. For close-in, large targets simply seeing the silhouette of the gun centered in the target may be enough. For a tight or distant shot, one may have to see the sights in razor-sharp focus and exact alignment.

Point-shooting is a necessary close-in skill, as shooting from a retention position is, of course, unsighted. However, if one has the room to extend the pistol forward, there is little excuse for not using, at least, a rudimentary sight picture.

Don't get too enamored of having a "big bag of tricks". Under stress, it can eat up a lot of time to mentally sort through which "trick" to use. It's better to have fewer "tricks" (I prefer the term "tools"), ones that work really well under a great variety of circumstances, and few enough to be able to choose appropriately, quickly and decisively.

Rosco
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply.
I wasn't starting a this vs. that thread, more along the lines of the importance of knowing both methods. Stating that I shoot better at this point without the sights was an acknowledgement of my need to improve. When I refer to a "bag of tricks" I mean to train for a variety of scenarios. For example: it's too dark to use the sights. If one has never trained for such a situation it could be a real problem. Same goes for the examples you stated (non-familiar settings, around corners etc...) in which sighting is necessary. Only knowing point shooting could spell big trouble. Just like offhanded shooting; hopefully you'll never NEED to use it, but if you do, it's nice to know how. I certainly do understand what you're saying about having a few techniques that cover a variety of circumstances.
 

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Fine post Rosco. One additional point--no pun intended-is when the shooter can see the hits on the target, he is able to correct. When the target is clothed, and point shooter cannot see the hits, he has a much more difficult time. GLV
 

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Chris,
I heartily agree that we should train in as varied and diverse scenarios as can be safely presented. It helps one be adaptable and able to think "on the fly". I'm not trying to start a "this technique" versus "that technique" debate. I just point out what I have observed that seems to work best for MOST shooters (I would never have tried to talk Bill Jordan out of point-shooting
).

As to shooting in darkness; If it's too dark to identify one's target without a flashlight, then one will see one's sights just fine...silhouetted against the flashlight-illuminated target. If the light is sufficient to ID one's target, but too dark to see one's sights, one should take one's normal stance JUST AS IF THE SIGHTS WERE VISIBLE. If one has a well-practiced presentation, it is surprising how well one can hit by so doing!

GLV makes an excellent point, in that if the point-shooter cannot see his bullet strikes, it is difficult for him to correct subsequent shots. It's easy to "walk 'em in" on a blank, buff target (and/or a dusty backstop). From time to time, we cover our targets with old shirts to preclude being able to observe the hits. It also makes it harder to see one's sights, as the patterns, plaids, and colors clutter up and complicate the sight picture.

Rosco
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the insight guys.
I like the shirts on targets thing. Next trip to the range I may give that a try.
 

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Rosco, ran a match at our club yesterday, with lots of old t-shirts. The results are always fun, and the real quick guys tend to slow down a little, or miss. GLV
 

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Originally posted by ChrisS:
I used to play pool a lot and at one time was quite good IMHO<snip>
and those who just look at the target and shoot (akin to point shooting) myself being a member of the latter.
<snip>
Applyingshooting; I feel that I innately shoot better without using the sights than with.
<snip>
My question is this; is it possible, or even advisable, to learn both types of shooting?
<snip>
I hope this does not sound like dogma or a pronouncement but you may not be setting up the question correctly. To prove your point you wouuld have to be able to play pool with someone covering the cue ball and your entire cue stick with an opaque object. I don't know much about pool but I would surmise that just where that cue stick hits the cue ball is of prime importance and that no one really gets good by looking *only* at the target ball. IOW his periferal vision is indexing just where to strike the cue ball with the stick.

Most people don't really understand reflexive shooting (there is no "instinctive" shooting - other than just spraying lead around the countryside). By rote we first train our muscles to know where the gun is pointed by watching the sights carefully. As we progress we lean where the gun is pointed by muscle memory or kinesthetic sense and we confirm where it is pointed in less than .1 second by catching the "flash sight picture" (it is a lot easier to do than to explain
). Most advocates of point shooting are extending the gun out until it is actually in their periferal vision... they are actually using a sighting system of sorts in that they are getting a visual index. In my experience they are neither faster nor more accurate than those who really know what they are doing. They are faster than those who spend a lot of time refining the "perfect" sight picture.

Of course there are times when the range is too close and you do indeed have to point shoot from the retention postion. It is good to practice this one, it may come in handy.

Food for thougth,
Cordially
Jim Higginbotham
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Originally posted by JimH:
I hope this does not sound like dogma or a pronouncement but you may not be setting up the question correctly. To prove your point you wouuld have to be able to play pool with someone covering the cue ball and your entire cue stick with an opaque object. I don't know much about pool but I would surmise that just where that cue stick hits the cue ball is of prime importance and that no one really gets good by looking *only* at the target ball. IOW his periferal vision is indexing just where to strike the cue ball with the stick.

Most people don't really understand reflexive shooting (there is no "instinctive" shooting - other than just spraying lead around the countryside). By rote we first train our muscles to know where the gun is pointed by watching the sights carefully. As we progress we lean where the gun is pointed by muscle memory or kinesthetic sense and we confirm where it is pointed in less than .1 second by catching the "flash sight picture" (it is a lot easier to do than to explain
). Most advocates of point shooting are extending the gun out until it is actually in their periferal vision... they are actually using a sighting system of sorts in that they are getting a visual index. In my experience they are neither faster nor more accurate than those who really know what they are doing. They are faster than those who spend a lot of time refining the "perfect" sight picture.

Of course there are times when the range is too close and you do indeed have to point shoot from the retention postion. It is good to practice this one, it may come in handy.

Food for thougth,
Cordially
Jim Higginbotham
Actually, you describe it better than I did.
Yes, bringing the weapon into the line of sight and obtaining a rudimentary sight picture, certainly not hip shooting. I'm definitely not saying that the method is the way to go, just that it was more "natural" to me. I think my biggest problem is trying too hard sighting in, then I tense up too much and wind up milking the grip.
Went out both days this weekend to put serious work into sighting/trigger pull(mid to upper 90s with 90+ percent humidity... GADS!) Anyway, made GREAT progress. Put the last two magazines into an area about 6" around from ten yards. Not bad (for me) considering the sweat in the eyes and the bugs buzzing my head. Practice, practice, practice...
 

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I do alot of reflexive shooting practice when I shoot. I've found that for myself, if the target is more than 4 or 5 feet away, I would be better off with some sort of sight picture.

In practicing a speed rock (touching distance) good hits are easy and fast with hip shooting. Much beyond this distance and I have to start extending my arm to get the proper point reference. If I'm going to extend my arm I might as well pick up the sights and make it count.

I've read quite a few books by men such as Bill Jordan and Col. Charles Askins. Jordan was a proponent of point shooting, but even he stated that at ranges beyond 7 yards, you needed to reference the sights.

Charles Askins related a incident in which he got into a gun fight with a illegal crossing the Texas/Mexico border near El Paso, in which they were so close that he point shot the bad guy. Askins stated that he was glad that the bad guy was dirty, so that he could see the dust jumping off the bad guy when he made hits.

Hope I never have to use this kind of knowledge.

------------------
Any day above ground is a good day!!!
 

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Originally posted by Randy Cain:
On a human target you will NOT see the hits.
You MAY see the clothes twitch on impact but afterwards there will be no visible sign of a hit.
Well, wouldn't that depend on the type, color and thickness of the clothes?
And on the location of the hit?
As well as the distance from the target.
Someone wearing just a T-shirt, for example, a few feet away, may show alot of evidence of being shot.
 
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