A Blast From the Past

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Since I am being called out by name, I think that gives me the right to address some of the issues brought up in this piece. I have no idea who wrote it, it was just sent to me.

My responses will be in bold.

Aimed-Fire versus Point-Shooting

Oh, great! I have not read a silly point shooting -vs- debate in nearly a decade. The title alone sets the stage for what follows.

There’s really no argument here, among learned shooters. While there are certainly times that preclude visually using your sights (like, shooting from retention at contact distances in a “wrasslin’” match), there can be no legitimate debate that using your sights is better than not. I’ve read a lot of Roger Phillips’s arguments, and at first glance, they make some sense. Unfortunately, in the real world, they fall flat.

“Learned shooters” I wonder who they are. Are we talking about the best pure shooters in the world……the competitors? It has been long-established that the very best shooters in the world do point shoot. The form of point shooting that they use is commonly referred to as “Type One Focus” and “Type Two Focus.” Are these “learned shooters” the special units and squads that often hire the competitors to teach them the tricks of point shooting, all taught under manipulated names other than point shooting?

“There can be no legitimate debate that using your sights is better than not.”

This would only be true if you think that projecting your gun into a retention problem is a good idea. In my opinion, projecting the gun into a retention problem is one of the biggest signs of a lack of acceptance of reality that there could possibly be. Why would I hand my gun over to my adversary, open myself up to an attack on my gun, gun hand, and gun arm when it is not necessary? To open myself up for such a retention problem, when it is not necessary, would border on stupidity.

I’ve read a lot of Roger Phillips’s arguments, and at first glance, they make some sense. Unfortunately, in the real world, they fall flat.

You may want to look deeper than “first glance.” It is clear that your first glance is coming from a closed-minded position. It is the depths of the material that shows the truth. I would like to understand “the real world” that you are talking about. Context is everything and your real world may be very different from me and my students real world. I have never seen a handgun projected out toward a skill knife man who did not end very badly for the gunman. But that would be “street” context and not Special Forces context.

Lest I offend anyone, I’m going to break this down into the simplest, most easily understood grammar school language I can manage….

Whether you are operating in a combat zone, as a uniformed service member, are a cop in a LEO role, or a survivalist in a TEOTWAWKI, who accepts the very real need to maintain good rapport with neighbors and community members….you are, absolutely, 100% accountable for the FINAL destination of every single fucking projectile that exits your muzzle. Period. Full-stop. End-of-story.

And sighted fire has guaranteed this 100% accountability in the past? Could you please cite your sources on this mythical percentage? Do you have any idea how ridiculous that statement sounds when the facts are that the nationally recognized hit ration of the LEO’s across this country is 15%-25% and the vast majority of them are taught just as you are advocating? It is the acceptance of the lack of reality that has left these -vs- debates in the dust of the past. If people keep clinging to the fiction of the past, the truths will never be discovered. Since distance is an unmistakable fluid concept inside of a fight, that makes retention an unmistakable reality inside of a fight. If you do not know how to point shoot you are left with no skills to handle the retention problems inside of a fight. From four yards and in, there is a fluid retention problem that simply must be taken into consideration if you are going to be as deadly as you can possible be.

Those sights, on top of your weapon, were put there for a reason. They are not an after-thought. They are not a conspiracy between gun-designers and clothing companies to rip your shirts and cost you money. The original Colt Paterson revolver; the first functional, commonly available repeating handgun, had sights (however rudimentary they were….and they were pretty primitive), for a reason.

Wow! Nice work Captain Obvious! Only a silly -vs- debate would state something so ridiculous. If you read anything from me past the “first glance” you would know that this statement means nothing since I teach the use of the sights on a handgun up to the level of 200 yard hits on demand. You may want to actually know what you are arguing against before you argue.

Will point-shooting work reasonably well at common hand-gun ranges? Sure. Absolutely. Heck, I’ve made hits on an index card at 30 feet, with my eyes closed, point-shooting. Not with regular consistency though. A trained, practiced shooter, running a modern, semi-automatic pistol, using his sights, can put four rounds per second, or more, into a 3×5 index card at 30 feet, in less than one second; every single time. When a point-shooter can do that, and prove it, I’ll start taking a second look.

Context is everything and it is clear that you do not understand the context of point shooting and where it fits inside of a fight. Ten yards inside of an index card……I would use my sights. This is known as a straw man argument. You have created an argument where there is no argument. This is designed to make your adversary look stupid, but it has no real teeth or relevance to those that are in the know on the use of such Junior High School debate tactics or those that actually know what it is that I teach.

It’s a given, amongst serious students of pistol-craft, that however tight your shot groups are with your pistol, they’re probably going to widen up considerably when the stuff gets real. Mine certainly did. The difference between my index card-sized groups on the training range, and my entire “sniper’s triangle” sized groups in real life and even in Force-on-Force training are significant. If your idea of a “good group” in training is keeping them all in the C-Zone, or even the A-Zone of a silhouette, instead of a small portion of the A-Zone, you’d better accept that a lot of your rounds, real world, are going to completely miss the intended bad guy.

Since you have never received professional instruction on point shooting due to your closed mind on the subject, you do not understand the philosophical differences between these two forms of shooting. Sighted fire is a conditioned response that works off of fine motor skills. Sighted fire is deeply affected by the adrenaline dump and activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Point shooting is a natural/reflexive/instinctive response that works off of gross motor skills and is not nearly as affected by the adrenaline dump and activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Therefore, my groups do not double in size when I am fighting……..because I am training as I would fight and fighting as I would train. But that knowledge would require more than a “first glance” at what I teach.

There’s a couple of problems with that: first off, the more rounds you miss with, the longer the fight will last. The longer the fight lasts, the more chances there are for the bad guy to get a couple into YOU. That’s bad (although the bad guy would disagree). Second, every single round that misses the bad guy has to stop somewhere. In a crowded, populated environment (the exact types of places where we CONCEAL our weapons…), there’s a GOOD chance that those stopping places will be other people, either non-combatants or even dude’s on your own team.

Sounds as if you suck at point shooting! Or it could be that you do not understand the context of point shooting and are using it incorrectly. I find it difficult to accept that point shooting does not work just because you have received no training in it. Could it be that it is your weakness in this skill set and knowledge base that has left you in a position that “you do not know what you do not know?” Could it be that you have no idea what you are talking about because you do not have the requisite training to make an informed decision?

There is not a single serious gun-fighting professional organization anywhere, that I’m aware of, that uses point-shooting as a doctrinal method, for good reason. It’s NOT accurate. Anyone that claims otherwise is trying to sell you something. That something is generally brown in color, and smells nasty. I am well aware that Eric Haney, retired from SFOD-D, claims that he used point-shooting while in the Unit. Never having served in that unit, I can’t say, but every instructor I ever had who came from that unit, used aimed fire. There are plenty of veterans of that unit walking around in the training industry for guys to ask…Delta uses aimed fire, and for good reason. It works.

Oh the lack of knowledge of the proper context! Context is everything! How many reactive gunfights does Delta plan on getting in? Isn’t their job to dominate the action while using every resource available from the US Government? How does this Spec Op context even remotely look like the context of the lone LEO suffering from complacency or the father fighting for the life of his family while walking through a Wal-Mart parking lot? Could it be that it is your lack of street experience and context that has led you to believe that your Spec Ops context is the one true context? Do you understand the realities of the fight that can show up at your door step or do you only see things through the eyes of somebody that works Spec Ops? Do you think you are the only one that fights and that your predominant type of fight is what others are going to be dealing with?

This is a very, very, very tired debate, that I can’t believe I’ve even let myself get dragged into, but what the heck. If you want to point shoot, more power to you. Don’t do it anywhere around my wife and kid though, and do the world a favor, and quit telling people how awesome it is, until you’ve shot a quantifiable course-of-fire, with accuracy and time standards, to PROVE conclusively, that it is superior.

But here you are, talking about something that you have very little knowledge and experience in. How about you learn how to test your fighting skills inside of properly conducted force on force? I guarantee you if I ran the properly conducted force on force training, I would have you point shooting over and over again, because you would simply have no choice, but to do it……or die. Once I introduced you to the reality of a reactive gunfight, I would even forgive you for this hatchet piece and teach you how to do it at the highest levels possible.

I am aware of course, that numerous “studies” have demonstrated the even “highly trained” shooters don’t use their sights in real-world gunfights. All I can say is, I remember always seeing mine, and so does every single other guy I’ve talked to from serious backgrounds who’s used their weapons in real fights.

Context is everything! What was the context of the gunfight? Was it reactive or proactive? What was the context of the fighter? Were they the elite units that train and fight for a living or were they people who have regular lives, jobs, responsibilities, hobbies, and friends. If you cannot see the contextual differences between these simple things you will always be speaking from a position of “you do not know what you do not know.”

As far as the old West gunslingers…yeah…number one, when you actually start seriously studying the history of those gunfights that did occur, rather than taking the word of “experts” like John Ford and Louis L’Amour, most were not the noble, stand-up in the street, and face the ne’er-do-well like a real man sorts of events. Most were drunken brawls and bar fights at or near contact distance, with little or no concern for non-combatant bystanders in the room.

I’m also aware that seriously qualified old-timers like Bill Jordan used a point-shooting variant. Same thing…a shooting at “arrest” distances may very well be pulled off with point-shooting. I’d also point out however, that Mr. Jordan also despised the 1911 and other auto-loading pistols in preference to the revolver for social purposes. How many guys who espouse point shooting are going to give up their modern sidearms too?

What? What does this have to do with anything?

Guys, just aim your guns. It does NOT take any longer, at the 1-10M distances we’re talking about for tactical applications of the defensive sidearm (seriously, most guys I’ve seen who use “point shooting” actually end up being slower than dedicated craftsmen who use their sights, just getting their first hit on the target, let alone actually putting multiple rounds into a target.

How about you learn that point shooting is aiming your gun. It is another form of aiming your gun rather than using your sights, but it is aiming, just as you aim a three-point shot, a pitched baseball, and a long bow. But that would require knowledge, training, and actual study. You may also want to learn a little something about the irrefutable law of physics called “economy of motion” that states that the further you have to move the longer it takes. I will always be faster off the top on my holster that I will be at line of sight. It is simply irrefutable science…….not uninformed opinion.

Your lack of knowledge, training, and experience in what you speak of is showing……..brightly and loudly. Either that or you are so closed-minded that you refuse to see the obvious facts that are staring you right in the face.

How about you open your mind and get some training in point shooting from an expert so you can actually speak from a credible position.

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