“Some Thoughts on Point Shooting” – The Rebuttal

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Recently there has been a decent amount of anti-point shooting talk in some circles. While some of this talk comes from people who do deserve a good deal of respect, I feel that it would be wrong to not address some of the misrepresentations that have been made in order to cast a bad light on point shooting. The way that I look at it is, it does not matter how elite you are, if you are going to dismiss the accomplishments and skill sets of the elite that came before you, you have put your comments into the position to be judged by others, the same way that you have judged others. The bottom line is that point shooting as been used successfully by some of “the elite of the elite” for a very long time. It is a combat proven skill set used by some of the greatest gun fighters this world has ever seen, people such as Col. Askins, Jelly Bryce, Bill Jordan, Col. Fairbairn, Col. Sykes, British SAS, and Darby’s Rangers, just to name a few. To suggest that these men did not know how to get it done would be extremely presumptuous.

I am going to give a point by point rebuttal to some of these recent anti-point shooting statements and misrepresentations, my comments are in bold.

“Some of the stuff that we are seeing on the range that is a concern to those of us that are out there as trainers in this industry is that people want to talk about point shooting.”

Some of the stuff that concerns me as somebody that is out there as a trainer in this industry is when combat proven skill sets are dismissed out of hand, without the training necessary to make the distinction on whether the skill sets have merit. It concerns me when trainers are unable to see the successes of the past or feel that they cannot learn anything from the elite that came before them. It concerns me when closed mindedness keeps the student of the gun from honestly understanding how some of the very best got it done. This closed-minded “exclusive” approach only gives the student a partial view of the reality of the world of gun fighting. If you do not know about the skill sets that some of the greatest gunfighters used, then you do not know the history of gun fighting. If you do not know the history of gun fighting, then you do not know what has been extremely successful.

“You do want to see your sights every chance you get.”

Anybody that would say anything different from that would not be very smart. I know that I teach “if you can get to your sights……. get to your sights!” The difference between what Fight Focused Concepts (FFC) teaches and what anti-point shooters teach comes down to being either open-minded and “inclusive” or closed-minded and “exclusive.” FFC teaches to “get to the sights if it is at all possible……but do not die trying to get to something that may not be there or the situation may not allow for.” When we look at the realities of the fight inside of typical civilian CCW attack (because that is what FFC focuses on) it is very clear that we are most likely going to really be up against it. We are most likely going to be behind in the reactionary curve and not proactive. This is the key difference between elite military unit application and typical civilian CCW application.

Let’s take a look at “the most likely” of the reality of the fight for typical CCW civilians.

  • Behind in the reactionary curve due to the fact that we are going to be reacting to what the bad guy is doing
  • 70% of all gun fights are in Low light
  • Both you and the adversary moving dynamically
  • Activation of the sympathetic nervous system in the fight or flight response leading to a dilation of the pupils causing a probable inability to focus on anything small or up close
  • Adrenaline dump that reduces the quality of our fine motor skill sets
  • Instinctive desire to visually lock onto the person or thing that is trying to kill you
  • A retention problem that is fluid and ever-changing
  • High possibility for the needed integration of hand to hand along with the use of the handgun, since over 50% of all gun fights happen inside of three yards.

These are all issues that can substantially affect your ability to get to the sights. The philosophical question is, as an instructor inside of this industry, do you teach the student what to do if the situation does not allow you the ability to get to your sights, or do you teach a closed-minded “exclusive “ approach that leaves the student with an inferior skill level when the student cannot get to his sights? That is the question! Do you leave your student out there with no quality skill sets to fall back on if he cannot get to the sights?

We teach the student to be the very best that they can be when they can get to their sights and when they do not have the chance to get to their sights. That sounds like teaching that takes care of the students needs even when the student is in the deepest of trouble……..unlike the closed-minded “exclusive” approach.

“It is a sad state of affairs to start teaching our LEO’s or Soldiers to generally shoot in an area that they think that there might be a target.”

I do not know one person that has actually been trained in quality point shooting that would consider that statement as something that is even remotely accurate to the philosophy, skill sets, and actual application of the point shooting skill sets that they use. This statement here is either over the top marketing, using over the top verbiage in order to try to make point shooting look stupid, or a sure sign of how little is actually known about the actual skill set.

Trained point shooters target a dime size focal point on the threat using eye/hand coordination. The bullets go where the eyes go just as a baseball thrown by a pitcher, a three-point shot taken by a basketball player, or an arrow shot from a long bow. The idea that point shooting is not accurate aimed fire is absolutely false. It is aimed fire using a methodology that is based on pure science. Anyone that has had quality point shooting instruction knows this to be so. While it is based on solid science it is also very natural, instinctive, and reflexive. This means that it is relatively easy to learn and the retention of the skill sets is outstanding.

The concept of “shooting in the general area” would be a failed concept used by those that do not have point shooting knowledge or skills. This would be what is done by those that are only taught a closed-minded “exclusive” training philosophy and suddenly find that they cannot get to their sights. That is what somebody with no point shooting knowledge, instruction, or skill sets would do. Let’s not misrepresent the skills of the open-minded “inclusive” trained student with the skills of the closed-minded “exclusive” trained student. FFC will make sure that you will have the skills, no matter what the situation is. The ability to get to the sights or not……. we will make sure that you have your bases covered. You will not be out their floundering just because your pet technique was not accessible due to the reality of the fight.

“For LEO’s, point shooting is probably not the road to go down, for liability issues for one. We need to make sure that we account for every round that is fired.”

Sighted fire “always” has been the predominant training methodology inside of Law Enforcement (LE) for a very long time. The national recognized hit ration inside of LE is 15%-25%. That means out of every 100 rounds fired there are 75 to 85 rounds that miss the adversary completely. I do not blame the LEO’S for this……. I blame the closed mindedness of the predominant training methodology. If we look at the civilian CCW list above of “most likely” is becomes clear that LEO’s deal with many of the same issues as the civilian. “Sighted fire always” methodology leaves the officer with nothing to fall back on when the situation does not allow for the officer to get to his sights. The officers need to own sighted fire and have the necessary skill sets when they cannot get to the sights. The only way to do this is to train in an open-minded “inclusive” manner. When you train within the reality of the fight you are in a much better position to rise to the level of the situation. If the situation does not allow the LEO to get to the sights, we need to make sure that he has the skill sets so he can still go home at the end of the shift. I have real concerns that these highly successful, combat proven skill sets are being held back from those out there that go into harms way. If their Department won’t teach them due to having more concerns for liability, than that of officer safety……I will!

When we look at liability and the nationally recognized hit ratio, it is clear to see that the liability to only teach sighted fire is a major concern. Our LEO’s should be given the very best training available to deal with the reality of the fight. They need to have skills that cover the situations where they are unable to get to the sights. Training to get to the sights needs to be the priority, but training when getting to the sights is not possibly, needs to be addressed also. To not do this leaves our men and women in a very dangerous position, a position where they are required to attempt something that they have never received any training to do.

“That does not mean that if we are at contact distances that we would not just point our weapon and squeeze the trigger until we have eliminated the threat. What that means that if we have a target that allows us to get to our sights on that target, we need to make every effort to see those sights.”

The debate about point shooting has been a debate cursed by ignorance and semantics. The ignorance part of it deals with people who have zero point shooting knowledge, skills, or instruction offering up their uneducated opinions as fact. The semantics portion of this comes down to people changing the definition and name of point shooting in order to not give point shooting it’s due credit. This also causes confusion as to what point shooting really is. I work off of the historical definition of point shooting, which is……. “If you are focused on the threat, then you are point shooting. If you are focused on your sights then you are using sighted fire.” “Contact shooting” is a term developed so people did not have to admit to the fact that they do actually point shoot. If you admit to point shooting, you simply cannot debate against point shooting.

The question arises, “what is contact distance?” Many people believe the answer is two yards.

From what I have seen, people with good instincts begin to instinctively consider retention at around four yards. If two men were to stand apart, at four yards and reach towards each other, the distance between the men would actually be less than two yards. So it is my opinion that we need a retention concept that allows us to be the very best that we can be inside of four yards. This retention concept should allow you to extend the gun out just far enough to guarantee the hits, but not so far that you leave yourself open for an attack on the gun, the gun hand, or the gun arm. This retention concept could be called “contact shooting” due to the desire to not project the gun unnecessarily into contact distances. But the reality of the matter is that the retention concept would be nothing more than point shooting. If you look at the reality of the retention concept and it’s absolute fluidity, it is plain to see that you need solid fluid point shooting skill sets in order to be the very best that you can be. The further out you extend, the more accurate that you can be. Yet, if you extend out unnecessarily, the more open you are to a retention issue. It is all about the perfect balance of speed/accuracy/retention properties.

In my opinion, to say that it is alright to point shoot at “contact distances” means that it is alright to point shoot out to four yards, out of the retention concept. If you agree with this concept then you are going to need point shooting skill sets. If you disagree, you may want to test your opinions inside of Force on Force (FOF.) Run the Tueller drill with a training partner that is trying to take your head off. Run it down to six yards, then five yards, then four yards, then three yards. Once you have done that then come back to me and we will discuss the retention concept again.

Retention is not a position……it is a fluid concept.

Contact shooting is not a position……it is a fluid concept.

Contact distance is not a set distance……it is a fluid concept.

The average gunfight happens at three yards. That means that half of all gun fights happen inside of three yards. Do not project your gun into contact distances due to the fact that you do not have quality point shooting skill sets. Being a slave to any pet technique can get you killed.

Situations dictate strategy, strategies dictate tactics, and tactics dictate techniques……techniques should not dictate anything.

If your techniques are dictating your response to a situation……you may not be as ready as you think you are. The situation is the dictating factor and you are going to need versatile, fluid skill sets in order to be the very best that you can be inside of the fluid reality of the fight.

“We need to make every effort to use those sights, I think you will have better down range results once you do that.”

Once again, you recognize the fact that there are times that getting to the sights will not be possible. The question arises again, “do you teach your students what to do when that happens?” I know that FFC does.

Every point shooting instructor that is worth is weight in salt knows that getting to the sights will allow you to be more accurate. But, inside of a fight it is not just about accuracy. It is also about what is actually possible. It is also about the perfect balance of speed and accuracy……dictated by the dynamics of the fight……..inside of the balance “to hit and to not be hit” all while taking the retention concept into consideration. Being accurate means nothing if you are too slow in your draw stroke, too slow in your movement, too slow in your initial shot, too slow in your follow-up shots, or if you project your gun into an area of danger. The quality use of our sights should be a priority inside of our thinking. Making sure that we do whatever needs to be done to guarantee that we go home needs to be our priority inside of the fight. Staying fight focused does not necessarily mean that you have to stay sight focused.

“Point Shooting, I’m not a big fan of that”

I am not a big fan of closed-minded “exclusive” training, especially when it is recognized that the sights will not always be there for you. If the student cannot get to his sights…. that means that the student is in really deep trouble. Is it really wise to not give the student the tools to deal with the most difficult of the problems? It would seem to be a disservice to the student to say “there are times that you will not be able to get to your sights……..sorry I got nothing for you in the curriculum on that.” Is that really the best way to handle that when some of the greatest gunfighters of all time have already shown us how well point shooting works?

I guess this all comes down to perspective.

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