The Correct Context of Point Shooting Part Two

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight focused Concepts

It is clear to me that a second part of this article needed to be written, since there is so much information that needs to be transferred, so as to understand why the recent bashing of a life saving skill, such as point shooting, has resurfaced. The first article is nothing more than a quick introduction into the topic and a more in-depth look is needed, since we are talking about matters of “life or death.” When it comes to making decisions on matters of life or death, a quick introduction is simply not good enough.

In part one of this series of articles, I wrote this:

” 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.”

And while this paragraph says a lot, it simply does not say enough. Point shooting can be brought to a very high skill level and when it is, it can dramatically increase your abilities to fight when you are behind in the reactionary curve, during the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, during a body alarm response, when there is a retention problem, in low light, when both you and/or your adversary is moving dynamically, from odd angles and positions, when you have physical limitations, and when you have poor eyesight. The number of areas that point shooting facilitates a higher fighting ability is what leads me to always say;

“It is not about point shooting……it is about what high level point shooting skills allow you to do.”

These are facts that are known by those that have actually attempted to raise their game by seeking out and mastering the material and skills. As their skills rise, they are capable of taking these skills to levels that the vast majority of people simply believe to be impossible. This allows them to excel in areas that would be impossible for the uneducated to even imagine. This allows them to own an entirely different level of “the correct context of point shooting” and when they speak of it, most uneducated people simply roll their eyes in disbelief. When I witness this fact, over and over, it further increases my dismay and disbelief of those that “do not know what they do not know” disparaging something that they have very little knowledge of or mastery over, especially when they have zero idea of the amazing skills owned by those that have actually put in the work.

When we look at “the correct context of point shooting” and when it is being used in the right situations, we need to understand that the biggest factor inside of the situation is the individual and his abilities and limitations. A point shooter with poor vision, slower reflexes, and slower speed of hand will always bring his point shooting abilities to bear, at a much higher rate than a person with perfect vision, quick reflexes, and fast speed of hand. That is what being “as deadly as YOU can possibly be” is all about. That is what tailoring YOUR response to the specifics of the situation is all about. That is why it says “see what YOU need to see, to get the hits that YOU need to make, inside of the specifics of YOUR situation. I find it amazing that the people who bash point shooting cannot grasp the most simple and basic of pure common sense. It is so ridiculous, that it must be one of those things where you ask “why” and the only possible answer is “follow the money.”

If you ever become interested in learning point shooting and begin to discuss it with accomplished point shooters, I would highly recommend that you ask them about their context/situation and why they do what they do, in order for you to begin to tailor your context/situation to the varying skills. This is not a “one size fits all” issue. It is deep in layers and to judge it at a glance, without the requisite knowledge, work, and skill is the height of ignorance and arrogance.

It is also very important to keep the context of the training in mind. This means that any point shooter worth his salt practices in two manners. He practices within the correct context of the skill that he is working on, inside of the correct context of the fight. This means that he is working the skill at logical distance, all while attempting to ingrain this tool, for its use inside of this specific portion of the fight. He also practices outside of logical distance to establish ability, skill, confidence, and limitations. The thinking is “if I own this five yard technique, out to twelve yards, then I truly own this five yard technique.” Just because we can consistently own a five yard skill at twelve yards, does not mean that it is the best solution to the twelve yard problem. All of this skill, all of this well roundedness, all of this fluidity, all of this ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome is all geared to finding out exactly what you need to do to be as deadly and safe as you can possible be, inside of the correct context of the fight.

The civilian context is that we are looking to go through life, all while being able to protect ourselves and our loved ones, just in case somebody decides to target us. We are taking care of our daily business with usually nothing more than a handgun, a reload, a knife, and a flashlight. If something comes down, in most cases it is going to be us (as individuals) against the world. We cannot depend on being proactive. We cannot depend on anyone helping us. We cannot depend on the availability of better weapons. We are very limited in our options and abilities.

How is that anything like a military context?

While I am not military, I have discussed the differences in the civilian context and the military context with hundreds of students and friends, who do know both contexts. They are overwhelmingly in agreement with me in regards to just how different the contexts are. I have complete respect, admiration, and am in complete agreement with the military applications, inside of the military context. My concern obviously arises when this is not reciprocated by the military based trainers, to those that focus on the civilian and law enforcement context.

The military context of collecting intelligence, coming up with a plan of action, having an evacuation plane, securing air support, securing armored support, setting up communications, gearing up with high numbers of highly trained units, all while carrying an array of differing offensive weaponry is very much a proactive environment. It is designed that way to take the initiative and hopefully dominate the battle. Sure, there will be reactive engagements but the goal is to remain proactive as much as possible.

This military context does have overlap into law enforcement and inside of this context the need for point shooting is not a priority. But, that is not the only context that law enforcement deals with. The context of a lone patrolman heading out every day to “serve and protect” can find themselves in the much higher chance of a reactive situation. Complacency is a very real problem for law enforcement, especially for patrolman whose main contact with people is that of law-abiding people. Routine stops can turn into life and death struggles in an instant. This is why we are seeing an acceptance of point shooting (usually under another name to make the lawyers feel better) in most departments, all while seeing a push away from point shooting in the more elite units of law enforcement. It is simply about the context of the mission at hand and whether the mission is more likely to be proactive or reactive, or handled with a handgun or a rifle.

Another huge portion of the differences between the military context and the civilian context is about experience. How many civilians get into multiple encounters inside of one day, how many have the chance or time to slap themselves, in order to remind themselves to get to their training and their sights?

As it stands, I have not had one tier one military guy tell me that he automatically went straight to his training and the sights in his first encounter. There was the initial reaction to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system or body alarm response, where they remained focused on the threat, then an eventual settling into their training and their sights.

I have heard these stories over and over again.

How can you experience that and still disparage point shooting being taught, in the civilian context, knowing perfectly well that stress inoculation, from multiple encounters, is a very real and tangible thing?

As reactive lone civilians, we do not get the luxury of that time. We most likely go from zero to a thousand miles an hour as the sole focus of who is being targeted. There is no settling in to get to our training, there is not stress inoculation from numerous encounters. There is just one person, who went out to take care of the business of living a life and found themselves in a life or death struggle, with next to zero warning, and possibly with zero life or death experience.

Context is everything!

Be very careful who you listen to and follow in regards to matters of life or death. If a tier one military guy struggled to get to his sighted fire training in his first encounter and is now telling you that sighted fire is all that you will need in a civilian context…….ask yourself if that really makes sense. Check your ego at the door. If he could not do it……what makes you think that you can do it?

Do you have the experience! Do you have the time to make the correction?

Or would it just be best to accept the civilian context of a life or death struggle and learn the amazing set of skills that is designed around the natural human response of a life threatening encounter?

The Correct Context of Point Shooting

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.