By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts
I find it amazing that the act of bashing a combat proven skill set, one in which all highly trained self-defense minded hand gunners use, has arisen from the grave and has become common place once again. This debate had been put to rest for over a decade, through testing in force on force (FOF) training, the mitigation of the use of semantics, the establishing of the correct definitions, and the correct context of point shooting.
Anyone that tries to tell you that the art of the handgun is an “all or nothing” world is either being intellectually dishonest or willfully ignorant. Anyone that tells you that the use of the sights is not a superior form of aiming, either does not know how to use the sights, or does not understand the correct context of sighted fire. Anyone that bashes point shooting, all while practicing/teaching/advocating contact shooting, retention shooting, soft focus, tucked shooting, hip shooting, type one focus, close contact shooting, type two focus, bad breath distance shooting, or a myriad of other “play on words” is just using semantics in order to bash something that they do (at a relatively low skill level) that is nothing more than low-level point shooting. Point shooters accept the fact that all of these “plays on words” are just ways to justify point shooting, without actually accepting the fact that they are point shooting.
The difference between people who accept the term point shooting and those that refuse to accept the term, is that the people who accept the term understand the fact that “the more you know, the further you can go.” Point shooting is a skill that can be taken to amazing levels, just as sighted fire can be brought to amazing levels. A highly skilled point shooter will be better at contact/retention/hip/bad breath distance shooting than a person of lower skill, just as a highly skilled sighted fire shooter will be better at precision shooting than a person of lower skill level. Both of these skills are absolutely essential if you want to be as deadly as you can possibly be. To excel at one and to dismiss the other will leave you wanting in regards to be able to be well-rounded, fluid, and adaptable to the ever-changing dynamics of a fight.
I see the rise of this long dead debate, over the last couple of years, due to two main reasons. The first comes down to point shooters, that do not accept or understand the correct context of point shooting. They know how to do it, yet they take it outside of its intended purpose and its intended role. Whether this is intentional or not, it does cause damage to the advancement of the art. Point shooting has a very definitive purpose and an absolute role. It is an aiming method that is designed to work well inside the very worst of situations. It is what you default to when things are very close, extremely fast, horribly bad, and you simply cannot get to your sights. It is not designed to be used when you can actually and safely achieve more visual input on the sights of your gun. The perpetuation of the incorrect context of point shooting, by point shooters themselves, is one of the main reasons that people jump onto bashing these life saving skills. People that do not know any better are listening to people who do not know any better. That makes point shooters look dumb and an easy target for a hit piece. The simple fact is and I say this inside of every class, “get the maximum amount of visual input on the gun that the situation will allow. If you can get to your sights…….GET TO YOUR SIGHTS! But, do not die trying to get to something that is simply not going to be there.”
It is not about sighted fire -vs- point shooting……it is about the seamless integration of sighted fire (the traditionally correct use of the sights) and unsighted fire (aiming the handgun using methods other than the traditionally correct use of the sights.) It is all about seeing what you need to see, to get the hits that you need to make, all inside of the specifics of the situation.
“Situations dictate strategies, strategies dictate tactics, and tactics dictate techniques……techniques should never dictate anything.”
Any Instructor out there that does not prepare you (at least minimally) for the very worst of gun fights, all while bashing those that do prepare you for the very worst of gunfights, should be seen for what they are…….nothing more than salesman promoting their product, while denouncing their competitor’s product.
On the other hand, any Point Shooting Instructor that does not advocate a very high skill level, in regards to the use of the sights, all while denigrating high skill level “marksmanship base” Instructors, is just as bad as their counterpart. I for one, believe that we should see the skills for what they are and accept the necessity of the skills as an absolute fact. Sure, I have my point shooting specialty, but I also practice, teach, and advocate very high level sighted fire skills. I find that being open-minded, inclusive, accepting, and a perpetual student to be much more beneficial to the students than being closed-minded, exclusive, intolerant, and arrogantly ignorant of my ignorance.
The second reason for the recent surge of bashing inside of this topic is one that must be tread upon very carefully. It must be addressed with the appropriate amount of respect in place, unless disrespect was given first.
What I am talking about is the newer tier one military Instructors who have made a very good name for themselves on their return from Iraq, Afghanistan, or other overseas deployments. While most of these men have earned a high level of respect from me for their service, their opinions, knowledge, training, and skills on point shooting may be a very different story. Some of the most out spoken of these Instructors tend to only see things from a military context, since it is the only context that they have experience with. Most point shooting advocates work from a civilian or a law enforcement context. I find it telling that law enforcement and civilian trainers are coming around to accepting point shooting, more and more, while the tier one military Instructors push further and further away from it. Could it be that it is the difference in “the correct context of point shooting” that is what drives this phenomenon? Could it be that the correct context of point shooting plays a much heavier role for civilians and law enforcement? Could it be that the context of military application creates a much smaller role for the need of point shooting?
The civilian context of getting up in the morning, getting ready for work, holstering up their CCW handgun, and going out to make a living is very different from the military context of collecting intelligence, making a plan of action, gearing up with all of your buddies, with the best weaponry of any military, and going out to find people to kill. The civilian context leads to a much higher possibility of a confrontation being a reactive event, with the use of a handgun. The military context leads to a much higher possibility of a confrontation being a proactive event, while using a rifle. These are key points that are often overlooked.
The correct context of point shooting is much more suited for the civilian context and for Instructors that focus on the civilian context. This would be the reason why the bashing of the skill has begun to become common place, from the tier one military Instructors and their followers. It has nothing to do with an Instructor teaching a superior curriculum. It is much more about an Instructor teaching what they know, what they are capable of teaching, all while casting disdain on what they may not know and what they may not be capable of teaching. The simple fact is that if you do not understand the correct context of point shooting, you believe that the only context is a military context, or that you do not believe that the military context is very different from a civilian context it is very easy to sit back and disparage a combat proven skill set…….at nothing more than a glance.
I feel that as an Instructor, we should all be teaching our students the very best material that we know and that we can find. This means that every Instructor out there should be running his curriculum through his very personal and private set of filters……….based on his very personal and private set of experiences. That means that we should all be teaching something that we absolutely believe in and that is different (even if just slightly) from everyone else. We all need to have our mission……..our focus…..our specialty…….our niche……..and our hook that sets us apart from everyone else. Embrace what makes you different, but remain the perpetual student, and look to see what you can learn from the accomplished man, that sees things very differently from you.