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Sight alignment is a simple linear geometric arrangement between your dominant eye, the front and rear sights. Your eye and sights must be aligned properly to show you where the bullet will strike. The sights are always aligned to the point of impact by being parallel to the barrel of your pistol. If your eye is not aligned with the sights then the bullet will not hit your intended spot. The sight radius is the distance between the two sights. The longer the sight radius, the easier it is to achieve a perfect sight alignment.
Sight picture is the superimposition of the sight alignment on the target. 4 objects must be in a straight line: Your dominant eye, the rear sight, the front sight and the target spot. You must hold the proper sight alignment while the sights are placed on the object you want to strike at the time of firing to hit the intended spot.
There are three main sight picture methods. Always start with Point Shooting. Learning all three and applying the proper method at the proper time is your goal. Which to use depends on many factors some of which include, your skill, the target distance, the lighting conditions and whether you and/or your target are moving. Learn and practice each method.
In a real life shooting encounter it is our natural reaction to focus on the threat and concentrate on what's trying to kill us. So many combat troops and police officers have commented and written in reports that they never saw or used their sights. When target shooting or casually plinking or shooting competitions, shooters can take their time and use both the front and rear sights to make accurate hits and tight groups close to the bullseye. Likewise in a close combat scenario shooters can Point Shoot but give up accuracy. At close range Point Shooting will produce fast adequate hits. At long range or where accuracy is paramount Sighted Shooting will accomplish the most precise results. For most combat situations Flash Sighting is the preferred method giving highly accurate and fast consistent hits. All shooters should be familiar and practice all three Sighting techniques. Know the pros and cons of each technique and use the proper Sighting for the correct situation. Remember 90% of all shootings are inside of 15 yards, take place in reduced lighting and the target is moving.
Do This Every Time! Regardless of whether you are going to also employ either of the following two sighting techniques after pointing. Learn how to properly, accurately and consistently point your pistol, by building your muscle memory.
Target-focused shooting, Indexing, Instinctive shooting or Point Shooting is an aiming technique where a shooter quickly points the gun at the target with both eyes open, lines up the weapon and shoots without using the sights. This technique is taught to members of the military for use when there is no time for sighted fire, like in Close Quarter Combat (CQC). 75% of gunfights happen at less than 21 feet (7 yards) and 90% at less than 15 yards according to police studies (New York, Las Vegas and LA) and Department of Justice reports. At that distance there may be little time for proper sight alignment, which is critical for accurate shooting, and then repeating that process for each shot taken. Also, in up close life threatening situations, your fine motor skills and near vision, which are necessary to Sight Shooting, will be lost due to a rise in your heart rate, which jumps to 140 and above due to the dump of adrenaline. The adrenaline will also cause your eye muscles to relax and change the lens in your eye to far vision so that you can focus on the threat/s. As a result, near objects (the sights), will be blurry. At close range 3-5 yards or less the highest accuracy is probably not required and Sighted Fire may take to long or remove your focus from the target.
To accomplish Point Shooting as you grip your weapon you keep your Index finger (trigger finger) on the side of the frame pointing in the same direction as the muzzle. As your support hand grasps the pistol your thumb aligns on the side of the frame opposite your trigger finger and again is aligned in the same direction as the muzzle. Now point your trigger finger and support thumb at the target area. Practice this dry until after pointing and holding in line you look thru the sights and they are on your target area. Practice one shot at a time by bringing your weapon up from low ready and as soon as you have pointed you smoothly shoot. (The loss of near vision and instinct to focus on the threat is what makes lasers and red dot sights so effective. With these electronic sighting aids the shooter can keep both eyes open, focus on the target and shoot precisely). See our Advanced Handgun class for Red Dot and Laser training.
Fastest most natural and instinctive.
Least accurate. Should only be used at short range.
In most cases, using your sights is the best technique to properly align your pistol for accurate shots. This is necessary for making distant shots and is the most accurate way of shooting. Focusing on the front sight overlaid on the fuzzy target and moving the weapon till the rear sight is perfectly centered around the front sight will produce the most accurate and proper sight alignment and picture. This is normally accomplished using only your dominant eye with your other eye possibly being closed.
1. Difficult to see and recognize the fuzzy target in: low light situations, while target is moving or see their actions (like dropping their weapon or stopping their crime).
2. We physiologically lose our near vision in high stress environments making front sight focus difficult to impossible
A combination of Point Shooting and Sighted Shooting. This technique provides excellent accuracy and quick acquisition. It is excellent in combat shooting do to its superior use in multiple shots and transitions to multiple targets.
Grip and point your pistol the same as Point Shooting. As you bring your firearm up to eye level to shoot with the target in view, you immediately see the FRONT SIGHT in the foreground without focusing on it. Remember ALL shots are taken with the aid of the sights! When shooting controlled pairs / triplets the front sight is always visible and used for each and every shot. After the recoil of each shot you re-point your pistol to return it in-line to the target and pick up the front sight. As the front sight covers your point of aim you fire. Flash sighting takes a lot of practice to master, but it is one of the most critical pistol skills to perfect to improve your combat effectiveness.
Best combination of accuracy and speed. Most useful in a combat high stress encounter where near vision is lost.
1. Takes the most practice and training.
2. Not as accurate as front sight focus
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