Point shooting?

Point shooters say that most people will not see their handgun sights under stress so the best way to train is to point shoot because why bother training to use your sights?

The sighted fire guys say that you should always use your sights because accuracy is everything. And that is what the sights are there for and you are responsible for every round you fire. Point shooting, is also known as target- or threat-focused shooting, intuitive shooting or instinctive shooting, is a practical shooting method where the shooter points a ranged weapon at a target without relying on the use of sights to aim, the emphasis is more on fast draw and trying to score preemptive hits first rather than for accuracy. In close quarters combat where life-threatening situations often arise suddenly leaving little reaction time for precise aiming, it is difficult to apply proper marksmanship techniques without risking oneself to be hit and thus suffer injury or get killed, which is why point shooting advocates a less sighting-oriented style of shooting prioritizing on achieving a tactical advantage through quick fire superiority and suppression. You will be able to point shoot if you practice sighted fire, but not the other way around.

As you might imagine, the practice with sighted fire builds a consistent physical index with your body that happens subconsciously. In fact, if you’ve practice enough you can usually focus hard on the target you want to shoot, close your eyes, draw the gun and when you open them, you will be looking at your sights and gun aimed in at the last place you were visually focusing on. So, who is right? If You Cannot See Your Sights Under Stress Why Practice Using Them? You can learn to see your sights under stress. This has been proven time and time again. The key is to simply practice and practice under stress. The correct way to practice is to first look to the target and focus where you want to shoot the target making the target as small as possible allowing for smaller target, smaller miss, and then draw the gun and with enough reps the sights just “appear” where you are focusing with your eyes.


In my last CCW renew class, we had about 6 students so the instructor had lots of time with each student. And at the range he introduced me to this threat-focused shooting. Where at first he would have me just raise and lower my weapon at where I wanted my hit to place, I would do this for a minute or to, then he would come back over and say faster… for a few more minutes. Kind of like muscle memory in a way. And then I started my drill, surprising I wasn’t that far off of what I would of been if I would of took the time to sight in my target. But like you mentioned above, in a life-threatening situation, hits first than accuracy. Especially in CQB where life-threatening come quick. What ever way one wants to shoot, practice, practice, practice. Thanks for the great information.


Good point @Todd30 .
Practice under the stress. But before you put yourself under the stress, practice regular sighted fire. Draw and aim.
After some time with proper stance and grip you build foundations for point shooting.
After some time with proper stance and grip you build foundations to see the sights under the stress.

In my opinion all depends what is the current situation.
If the threat is close - fast point shooting.
If the threat is far - fast point shooting doesn’t make sense, you have to see your sights to make an accurate shot.

So, who is right? I think both sides… but we always should start with sights.


I have been doing instinctive shooting most of my life, not with pistol, but with speargun and shotgun at moving targets. If I have a fish or animal stay still, I am more likely to miss it :thinking:

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How about both?

I accidentally learned how to instinctively shoot during my first defensive handgun class during drills requiring speed. Made me look a lot faster and more accurate than my actual skills. But it got in the way of my being more precise. So I did a lot of practice with sighted targeting.

Now I use a combination of both. Unsighted for close fast work, sighted for further or more precise shots or, most often, a combination of both where I see both the target and sights at the same time with the front sight a little out of focus and I’m not trying for precise alignment. This way seeing the sight let’s me know the gun is on target or back on target after the recoil and I can immediately pull the trigger and expect a good hit. I have only heard of a couple instructors teaching a somewhat similar technique so I can’t recommend it but it works for me.


Great post topic Todd. Appreciate it. Still a newbie, I had thought about this, especially when at the range. Thinking more about realistic training simulation.

The range I go to normally does not allow pulling from holster then shooting. I can see why a range has strict rules, because reaching for then gun - intending to fire it, places the shooter at risk of dropping the gun.

I may look for a training location which allows draw from holster and shoot, Vs. find a safe outdoor area where I could practice safely and legally. I believe it’s an entirely different practice, as one would need to use special care not to injure someone accidentally.

“Dry-firing” from holster pull might help me train.


Same practice! Don’t accidentally shoot anyone and don’t get shot;) But you won’t have anyone to tell you if you are screwing up or to fix anyone who does. I shoot on public land all the time but I choose spots that are safe for myself and others and have the first aid training and supplies to fix serious wounds.


@Burdo , being a newbie you are in great position to learn how to perfectly draw from the holster. You don’t have any bad habits yet.
Home practice without live ammo will give you more than range time. Practice without stress - safely and legally at home. If you feel you need Instructor - find one, train with him and then copy everything at home.


I do my draw training with my SIRT laser gun. I start of slow and build on my speed as I go. This way I build the steps into muscle memory. Especially with placing my finger on the trigger. That is at the high and ready.


Thanks. Good training tips.

Others or yourself have more experience than I, and can chime in on holster draw training classes; I believe some of the indoor ranges offer classes which might allow holster draw and shoot training. I noticed their class fees are not low, and they do ask that the trainee have a certain number of rounds, such as 100. Tough for many of us during this economically challenging era, so I will take your advice.

As age degrades my eyesight I have learned to look at the target and make my hands go where my eyes are. Yes, I see the sights but am not actually looking at them and it works quite well. I know the experts say I shouldn’t shoot that way but I say it’s quick and effective.


Appreciate it Dale. In the heat of the moment, if we need to react in seconds, quite different from the relatively slow pace of the practice “range”.Wondering if most sentinel events are short distance, get off me distances, where stopping to look into the gun’s sights is more of an advanced training level. I wonder if we improve over time with good continuous training.

For me still being new, I think about the many steps in preparation, then being able to quickly retrieve “safely”, not drop or fumble, stay on target, maintain cover. Then there’s if I’ve family with me, or more than one attacker. I gotta have a student mindset I guess.

The true expert will say - you shoot this way if it does work for you.

For self defense, up to 10 - 12 feet - it’s gonna be the fastest response from your gun.


I read through this… I am in agreement that if you are a competitive shooter looking for the tiny groups, shoot as slowly as you can for the contest and use the sights for that extra edge. For self defense… Have you ever given a talk with PowerPoint or other “chalkboard” type media and used a laser pointer? Do you find it natural to hold the laser pointer in your hand maybe down by your waist or chest? Does your laser pointer have sights? Yet you can push the little button and mostly the dot will appear really close to where you want it. Magic? No, just experience. After pushing that button thousands of times you’ll have it.

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IMHO there are TWO distinct types of point shooters. The first is the guy who can get himself/hefrself into their Natural Point of Aim (NPA) stance as soon as they walk to the line, draw and push to full extension and hit the target. The second is the fella/girl that from any position can draw, make the gun horizontal and rip off THREE rounds on target on the WAY to full extension.

I would submit that most of us who are moderately competent can do the first BLINDFOLDED. I do mean that literally and I do use that as a training tool in the final stages of a pistol course. 'Cept I use a welding helmet. With your feet planted on the ground and your body pointing at the target 3 - 10 yards away there is no reason you should not be able to do this once you understand NPA. Don’t believe me? Try it. Do the whole draw and shoot thing (or bench ready if your range won’t let you draw) with your eye closed. I’ve actually had some students shoot BETTER with their eyes closed than with looking.

The second bunch requires LOTS and LOTS and tens of thousands of draw strokes and thousands and thousands of rounds of ammo to accomplish with any consistency. The reason it is so difficult is that you have to make your body do something unnatural and in the beginning painful. Draw the gun straight up out of the holster and then PIVOT it to HORIZONTAL before moving it forward. It is an unnatural movement to drive your elbow down and back while keeping your hand still or only slightly moving forward, which is how you get to horizontal. Once you can consistently achieve that then you get to shoot from that position and learn the left and right of it all. THEN you get to push the gun forward WHILE maintaining that horizontal. When you FINALLY figure that out you get to shoot TWICE. Once at pivot and once while moving. After you have all the above figured out you get to take the last shot when the gun finishes its travel to full extension. When I got my Tier 1 cert if that draw took 2 seconds or more you failed. 1.8 seconds was marginal. Good was 1.4 seconds, all from hands over belt buckle on a thigh rig. Think about that, 1.5 second from the BEEP to 3 rounds on target, misses were an auto fail and involved pushups.

Are many/any of us here going to be doing that kind of shooting? I hope not. The one key take away is that from draw to a usable firearm is a bit of training away to teach yourself how to shoot from the hip (close retention if you prefer) in a clinch or close contact situation. When you draw, get the gun pointed at the bad guy FIRST!! THEN start sticking it out there for your favorite two handed grip. Don’t drag your muzzle through the mud on the way to pointing and don’t kick a field goal with it either. Get it level and learn to push it straight out. Is it hard, Yes. Does it suck, Yes. Does it work YES.




If you stand still in a gunfight you have an 85% chance of being shot, and 51% chance of being shot in the torso. (Source)

If you move and shoot you have a 47% chance of being hit, with 11% chance of a torso shot. (Source)

FBI statistics say; Seeking cover and returning fire reduces your chance of being shot to 26% with a 6% torso hit rate. (Source)

The most common caliber to be shot with is 9mm (Source)

Most gunfights average 3.59 rounds per incident (Source)

The distance of any shooting varies. Most may say that shooting normally happen close up to touch you to 7 yards away. If they are attacking you and trying to get to your gun, point shooting is what you should do. Your not going to be able to get into you target training stance to defend yourself. This is debated and some say an average of three yards away. This distance is where point shooting would be advised but, any distance away a person has to ask, How threatened is my life? To be able to shoot someone at a distance of 25 yards or further, could you escape or evade? At 25 yards you better use your skills, as well as, your sights.


I don’t think it’s an either/or thing.
You may find yourself limited from properly drawing by either time or distance
You do what you have to do, and that’s why I feel some practice with point shooting is always a good idea.


Agree with @John292 :+1:

Just remember what wise shooter said:
“Fast is fine. But accuracy is final, you must learn to be slow in a hurry.”


I think that sight shooting should be an option after first getting the muscle memory for using the weapons sights. I believe you can’t learn too much about gun safety, and it is possible that if in an immediate situation one might need to shoot before being able to get the sights lined up, so learning every shooting style safely is key for me.


I studied under Jim Cirillo, of NYPD Stakeout Squad fame and former FLETC instructor. He won multiple gunfights. He advocated careful aimed fire, when practical, but also advocated learning what your firearm looked like when the sights were aligned and using body indexing at close range. We ran through range sessions with our rear sight taped. His books and videos make the techniques clearer than I can here. His techniques work for me.