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Someone - as I recall, a training officer in the Massachusetts State Police named Conti - recently did a series of articles on training police officers for The Real Thing. One point he made was that, in an actual gunfight, most officers aren't using their sights. Therefore, time spent in formal marksmanship training is not well spent, since it has little in common with an encounter in a dark hallway.

That's one viewpoint. How valid is it? Anyone care to contribute, especially with comments based on actual shooting encounters?

I guess I'm curious to know if Mr. Conti has the right idea, and it would benefit other jurisdictions to put more emphasis on combat-style training vs stand-at-the-firing-line training.


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If God didn't want us to own guns, why did He make the 1911?
 

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I have to say that Mr. Conti is pretty much in line with reality on average. I would not however, advocate not teaching flash sight picture use at ranges over say, 10 yards.

At ranges under 10 yards the use of sights in my opinion is simply silly.
 

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It is true that most officers do not use their sights. It is also true that most officers miss what they are shooting at. Massachusetts is among the worst.

The LEO and military groups that have the best records for hitting their targets are the ones who emphasize using the sights at all ranges beyond retention, and have enough training to take that philosophy to the street.

For a discussion on the subject by someone who has successfully participated in a number of gunfights and has taught some of the organizations with the best records, read Gabe Suarez's "The Tactical Pistol".
 

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Folks will revert to training under stress. If they've been trained to use their sights, they will.

Cal POST, about three years ago, held a fairly seminar trying to push departments in the state to follow CHP's lead and adopt point shooting. Didn't work, a number of instructors & other officers who had won gunfights by using their sights turned it around.
 

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Out here in Montana those of us who used our sights normally have won the fight, those who didn't usually just missed. We teach using the sights for that reason, it works for us.
 

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Shooting has been an important part of my life for many years. At age 70 I still shoot competition, and while wins don't come often,they do not come at all unless the sights are used. When I shoot a stage poorly, the problem is normally that I watch the target rather than the sights. GLV
 

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Originally posted by jpwright:
<snip>

That's one viewpoint. How valid is it? Anyone care to contribute, especially with comments based on actual shooting encounters?

I guess I'm curious to know if Mr. Conti has the right idea, and it would benefit other jurisdictions to put more emphasis on combat-style training vs stand-at-the-firing-line training.
While I sure hope that there are not any agencies who teach only "stand and deliver" (that is most appropriately reserved for basic training on the fundamentals) a lot of the debate on this subject is grounded in simply not speaking the same language.

First off, reffering to stats on how officers do and what technique they use is highly questionable and, I fear, doomed to failure. A very minute per centage of officer are actually "trained"... true they have been exposed to instruction (some of it very good instruction) but if you do not live and breathe shooting you are not really "reflexive" with any of it.

Secondly few people understand the "flash" sight picture as it was introduced and taught by Jeff Cooper.. and this apparently even includes by some of his successors in the training business. In reality you don't actually see a flash sight picture conciously... at least not in a detailed way. You first practice slowly but ultimatley you advance the speed until you know where the sights are supposed to be and compress sights and trigger control into a space of less than a tenth of a second or so.

An illustration may be in order. In the 599 at Gunsite we went out into the dark (it was an overcast night). Only the instructor had a flashlight and he would identify a target (pepper popper) by briefly sweeping the area in front. The student had the weapon holstered so that the light went off before the weapon was presented and the student had to hit the target by remembering where it was and also only being able to see the sights in his mind (there were not any nite sights back then). We were all amazed but that is what the "flash" sight picture is all about. Today we work such a drill into every week long class that we can and people routinely hit targets that they cannot see with sights that they cannot see (of course most people have nite sights now but that is actually a disadvantage in this particular exercise).

Is this point shooting... not at all. It is "programmed reflex"... it only takes a few thousand rounds of serious training


Food for thought,
Jim Higginbotham
 

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The front sight is the key to hitting what you are shooting at. I can not believe that any agency in this day and age would even advocate the "Point Shooting" doctrine as a matter of policy.

The purpose of a pistol is to defend against an unexpected attack. If you do not use the sights in a "combat"situation, why put them on the pistol at all. Think of all the money your agency could save on tritium night sights. Just fill out the next purchase order and tell the factory rep that you do not want any sights on your pistols, your agency does not need them for combat. That should get a snicker...

A firearm training program that trains Police Officers to react to an unexpected attack and combines draw and fire from the holster, close contact, and low ready at multiple targets for time is critical.

If you combine that with the four basic firearm safety rules, the seven principals of marksmanship, and arm your officers with a heavy duty service pistol, Then and only then will you be training officers to survive and win good old fashioned gun fights.

Point shooting with .38's loaded with lead ball ammo and holding your streamlight at arms length to keep from being "shot behind the light" are relics of the past and a really good way to get officers killed in the line of duty.

Just my .02

Brad

P.S. How fast do you have to miss to win a gunfight???
 

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Originally posted by Evil Brad:
and holding your streamlight at arms length to keep from being "shot behind the light" are relics of the past and a really good way to get officers killed in the line of duty.
That takes me back


There may still be a tactical situation that calls out for this approach, but more, and more, weapons mounted lights have changed this.

FWIW, I still get uncomfortable with the thought of being behind the light, but know it's a necessary evil I must deal with if I plan to use a suitable grip.
 

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jpright,
I had a chance to use the dept's FATS simulator, and was truly surprised that after 3 or 4 scenarios, I realized that I was not using my sights. I was looking at the subject. Hey, in competition, you NEVER look at the target. The target is a blurry mess. Here, I HAD to look at the target, did he have a gun? what is he reaching for? is there something in his hand? etc. I had one where I shot a guy at about 50 feet,he pulled a gun out of his waist and I shot him. I always thought I would shot only once, shot him 4 times. in the slowmo play back,as I shot him, it turned his body slightly, but it did so in the direction he had been turning pulling out the gun, so when I shot him it "aided" his body motion in pulling the gun. I just kept shooting until the threat was gone. In htis case 4 rounds spun him around and put him down.
People can say all they want about since you may not use the front sight in a gunfight, not to train marksmanship with proper sight usage. I say nonsense. Perhaps give additional training, but it is of utmost importance that anyone using a gun be able to use it to its utmost. and that means suing the sights and using them correctly. It is only because of the many thousands of rounds that I have shot using the sights, looking at the front sight through the rear, that allowed me to just point and shoot. My body knew where I was looking and it aimed the gun for me. It needs to be habit. It should just happen, you look there, and the bullet will hit there, no need to think move the gun here or there, just all bdy memory, as you look your body knows how to adj. That only comes with practice, and practice with the sights is imperitive.
Tom
 

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Originally posted by Evil Brad:


Point shooting with .38's loaded with lead ball ammo and holding your streamlight at arms length to keep from being "shot behind the light" are relics of the past and a really good way to get officers killed in the line of duty.

Just my .02

Brad

Here Brad, hold this light for me will ya? No, no, stand over there about 10 feet so you will feel safer.
 

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Originally posted by tomstark:
<snippage>It is only because of the many thousands of rounds that I have shot using the sights, looking at the front sight through the rear, that allowed me to just point and shoot. My body knew where I was looking and it aimed the gun for me. It needs to be habit. It should just happen, you look there, and the bullet will hit there, no need to think move the gun here or there, just all bdy memory, as you look your body knows how to adj. That only comes with practice, and practice with the sights is imperitive.
Tom
Tom you just knocked the center out of the X-ring! Some people don't recall using the sights in a fight. Some probably don't actually use them but - unless a large amount of luck was involved - the most successful had confidence in their marksmanship because they had done it thousands of times before... using the sights.

No quarter back "instinctivley" hits the wide reciever in the end zone... he practices until it becomes repeatable.

Good post!
Press on,
Jim Higginbotham
 

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JimH,
Thanks for the kind words. Pratice is key to all things. And not just practice, but perfect practice. Imperfect practice perpetuates our mistakes. Did you know that we need to repeat a task 3000 time for it to become habit? 3000 times! That is a lot. We need to dedicate enough time to become as good as we desire. Now, I am no longer with the reserves, and am self employed. I take every thursday off to go to the range. I get there in the morning around 11, and shoot the 60 round indoor ppc course 3 times with my 4506 (carry gun), my 1911 wadcutter 45 (full race gun) and my 38 PPC "funny" gun. Then I do position shooting, 100 rounds prone, 100 rounds left hand, etc. I do this, and "I" have to pay for all my ammo, "I" have to buy my range time, etc. I really can't understand cops who get ammo and range time for free, yet can't seem to get out except to qualify. I am not saying that they need to shoot as much as I do, (Yes, I KNOW that I am a bit excessive, but then I am an artist, and excess is what we are good at!), but you would think they could make one day a month to get out and go through a few hundred rounds.
At the Troy PD where my wife works, on the range they have a sign. It reads "Somewhere, there is a guy who is practicing. If you are not, and the two of you meet, he will win." I thought that was a rather effective sign.
Tom
 

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any target,any time,any condition..."FRONT SIGHT, PRESS" .
When the DUKE would shoot from the hip and all the Indians would fall over, well boy's that was all in the script.
Stay safe all
 

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Originally posted by 1911blaster:
any target,any time,any condition..."FRONT SIGHT, PRESS" .
When the DUKE would shoot from the hip and all the Indians would fall over, well boy's that was all in the script.
Stay safe all
Actually, though the point is well taken, the Duke pretty much knew how to shoot and, other than a few silly B "oaters", he almost always brought his gun up to eye level... a fairly good imitation of acquiring the flash sight picture. Come to think of it he always wore his gun in the right place too. And then there was that nifty 45/70 cartridge on his belt to let him know when he was down to 12 spare cartridges....

On top of that he had all those fascinating one liner retorts ;
Rustler: "You bring the gold?"
Chism (the Duke): "no gold"
Rustler: "you bring silver?"
Chism: "Just lead"
Rustler: "There must be some mistake"
Chism: "you made it"... end of rustler

Hmm, I think I'll go watch some training films


All in good fun, we all know how goofy Hollywood can be.

Press on,
Jim Higginbotham
 

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Front Sight

I have some experience investigating shootings and not all react to the stress of the event the same. Their recollection of events vary, and just because they do not recall looking at the sights, may not mean it didn't occur.
 

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I hope you didn't get there 13 years too late...
 

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I don't see how you could possibly qualify for any kind of marksmanship certification if you're not giving at least some attention to the front sight. I suppose you might have a 50/50 chance of hitting the target but that is not "marksmanship". That's more like "Allah will guide my bullet to the target". ( AKA "faith based" marksmanship)
 

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This thread is 13 years old.
 
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