“Which One First, Sighted Fire or Point Shooting?”

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

From the archives of the heretic……

Here is my thinking as the heretic that I am. This is not mainstream thinking, but that has never stopped me before.

When we get down to the very core of sighted fire and point shooting, each of them have their own very distinct mantra. The sighted fire mantra is “front sight, front sight, press.” The point shooters mantra is “focal point, focal point, drive that gun to the focal point.”

When we look at the very core thinking behind the mantras, which mantra emphasizes being perfect before we even touch our gun?

That would be the point shooters mantra.

Which mantra emphasizes the very last thing that we actually do right before we shoot the gun?

That would be the sighted fire mantra.

Back in the day of the sighted fire-vs-point shooting debates, the sighted fire guys use to love stating this one phrase. “Sighted fire can degrade to quality point shooting, but point shooting can never upgrade to quality sighted fire.” While this statement sounds good to those that do not know what they do not know, there is actually no truth to it. The reason that there is no truth to it is because the point shooter is focusing on the perfection of his body mechanics to facilitate the perfection of eye/hand coordination before he has even touched is gun. This act alone, from the very start, will make him a higher quality sighted fire shooter when the need/ability to gets to the sights is actually needed/possible.

In comparison, the sighted fire shooter is focusing on what he does at the very end of the draw stoke. In reality, he is allowing the sights to lead him around by the nose instead of using them as the final confirmation of an already accurate aim that came out of is perfect body mechanics facilitated by his perfect eye/hand coordination.

While this may seem like a small issue, in reality it is not because there is much less “sight adjustment and confirmation” needed when the perfection of the body mechanics and eye/hand coordination are focused on from the very start.

Inside of the Fight Focused Handgun course that I teach, sighted fire and point shooting at the very same time. Because it is all just about getting the hits inside of the situation that you are dealing with. I talk non-stop about the correlations between the two forms of shooting. But, the bottom line is that the first few live fire drills run inside of this course are run before we have even covered the fundamentals of marksmanship and the use of the sights. The first few drills are all about the “eye/hand coordination draw stroke” and driving the gun to the focal point. This approach sets the stage because it covers what we do at the beginning of the fight……not what we do towards the end of the fight.

Once the “eye/hand coordination draw stroke” is put in place, teaching somebody the fundamentals of sight fire is actually much easier because the use of the sights is just something done and the end of the perfection of the body mechanics and the eye/hand coordination.

Let me ask all of you a couple of questions.

What percentage does your body mechanics and eye/hand coordination get you on the targeted area?

Mine gets me about 98% of the way there.

If this is so, why would it not be best to start the training with what we do at the beginning of the fight instead of what we do towards the end of the fight?

The Mantra…….

We have heard it over and over “front sight, front sight……press.” Then guys like me come along and teach you a new mantra “focal point, focal point………drive the gun to the focal point”

But who is right? What is the best mantra? Does one cover it all to the highest levels possible?

The best mantra is actually a combination of the two. The very best mantra would go like this. “Focal point, focal point……drive the gun to the focal point……front sight, press”

It is the combination of eye/hand coordination and perfect body mechanics that get you on target in the most efficient and effective manner as possible. The sights are nothing more than  a 2-5% verification of an already accurate aim. If you can nail down this mantra and combine it with a very nice focal point transition during the draw stroke……..you are at the starting point to hit the highest of levels.

Think like a point shooter before you ever even touch  your gun. Nail done the perfect body mechanics that come out of the your eye/hand coordination draw stroke. Get to your sights whenever you can or if they are needed. Find the perfect balance of speed and control  so there is no disruption at the end of your draw. Make sure there is no wasted movement……… economy of motion is key.

That is the optimal draw stroke, the paragon of draw strokes! This is the foundation for everything that follows.

More from the archives of the heretic…..

If looked at this subject with an open mind and a solid understanding of how each is taught, sighted fire and point shooting can be taught at the same time. Since they are not separate skill sets, they do not need to be taught separately.

Context is everything! If the context of the fight is kept at the forefront, the ability to see the need for a conceptual approach is evident. Many trainers of the recent past considered their students to not be sharp enough to understand the context and dynamics of a fight……all while learning how to shoot.

Over the last five years of instructing, I can say that that is a pure misconception. Many people want to believe that “common sense is not common.” I believe that is an elitist attitude that has very little reality attached to it. The students that I have trained with since 2010 seem to recognize and understand common sense very quickly.

What we are talking about here is teaching “the mental aspect of the fight” from the very first minute of training. When teaching the fundamentals, if they are addressed in this manner, it is very easy to teach the continuum of shooting right off of the bat. When addressed correctly the students understand that the situation is the dictating factor and that there is a need to be well-rounded and versatile.

When you give the student an open-minded perspective to start with, the barriers that are created by the closed-minded instructors are simply nonexistent. When the student has never been subjected to closed-minded teaching, they are in a much better position to learn at a pace that is more in line with their real ability.

To inform a student that he “needs” his sights is a blatant lie and perpetuates the closed-minded training that we have seen between 1950 and 2000. I have found that it is very beneficial to teach a more open-minded approach from the very start, an approach that teaches sight fire and point shooting as nothing more than pieces of the puzzle that must be connected.

Very few people actually know how to teach point shooting. Even fewer know how to teach sighted fire and point shooting as one fluid concept. Until you have actually seen the two taught conceptually…….you may not know what you may not know.

It is hard to judge something that you may have never even seen before. But that may be why the terms “open-minded” and “closed-minded” are used so many times.

Just because people say “That’s the way we have always done it” does not mean that is the best way.

Heretic on a roll………

I’ve given thousands of tips as an instructor, here is one that is worth as much or more than any tip that I have ever given.

Whether your entry-level course is fundamentals of marksmanship, or fundamentals of point shooting, make the mental connection between the two from the very start. That is what this thread is about. Do not compartmentalized the information as a “sighted fire course” or a “point shooting course.” Begin to identify the correlations between the two skill set from the very first minute!

What this does, is it allows you to be a better point shooter as you learn the fundamentals of marksmanship. In return, you will become a better marksman as you learn the fundamentals of point shooting. The two go hand in hand. They complement each other. They are just points inside of the “just shoot the dirt bag” concept.

It is all about making the hit! Eye/hand coordination and the corresponding body mechanics is what allows this. The sights only refine the precision an additional 2%-5%.

Once we begin to understand the applications of eye/hand coordination, solid body mechanics, and the concept of “economy of motion”, we can begin to start taking short cuts.

It is the short cuts that facilitate the differences between the “one-handed combat draw stoke” and the “two hand high pectoral draw stroke.” Both of these draw strokes are linear. Both work off of eye/hand coordination. Both use solid body mechanics. Both work within the concept of economy of motion. The difference is just a natural progression in your short cuts. The height out of the holster that I “turn the corner” and drop that elbow is dictated by the situation. One handed combat shooting is all about speed so I turn the corner as soon as I have cleared the holster. This is just a natural progression in your skill level and your ability to implement short cuts.

These are not separate skill sets. They are just points inside of the continuum.

Back to the Present…..

Most of you guys know me, what I think, and what I believe to be important. I have always been concerned with how long it takes to bring somebody up to a decent skill level, to actually be able to fight with their handgun. Fight Focused Handgun I – Introduction and Fight Focused Handgun II – Fundamentals are courses that I have been teaching since 2010 and are designed to combat the specific problem of there not being enough fight focused material taught inside of basic courses.

I seriously have an issue with people not being as ready to defend themselves or their loved ones, as well as they should be able to, after one or two days of training.

We all know that the fundamentals of marksmanship are “most own” skill sets! But, the reality is that they are too intricate to be the primary focus inside of the first couple of days, inside of self-defense courses. If we are going to call our classes “self-defense” then “the reality of the fight” has to be the primary focus. As we focus on the reality of the fight, we need to accept the most likely way that the fight will come down and the most likely effects that they will have on us. That means that there is a very high chance that our new students to self-defense may not be able to get to their sights.

“Spray and pray” is what happens when a new shooter can not get to their sights due to their lack of knowledge on the mental aspect of the fight and when they have no other skills to fall back on.

This is progression on how I think that a basic “self-defense “course should be run.

1) The reality of the fight
2) The mental aspect of the fight
3) The hits that can be made using your natural abilities (point shooting)
4) Loading and unloading
5) The eye/hand coordination draw stroke, including grip and stance (point shooting)
6) The understanding of good body mechanics
7) The fundamentals of marksmanship
8) Malfunction clearances
9) The seamless integration of sighted and unsighted fire
10) The retention concept
11) One handed shooting and the seamless integration of sighted and unsighted fire
11) Making the hits on the move

This is what I teach in my eight-hour “Introduction” course. Seeing students that actually own fight focused skill sets, after one day of training, gives me a great sense of pride. I will never teach a one day course that does not reach that same level of pride.

In my opinion, I owe my students a fighting chance after the very first day that we spend together.

After they have a decent understanding on how to fight, then we can take the time to nail down the intricacies of high level sighted fire.

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