The Truth Behind Your Front Sights

So many tacticians teach front sight alignment at their “gun site” training facilities as a fundamental of self defense with a firearm. Inherently the miseducation stems from the lack of understanding of what actually takes place in a gun fight. So typically the first general questions should be-“If your are teaching how to survive in a gun fight... you might have been on a gun fight?” The reality is only a small amount of tacticians have actually been in a gun fight. So what’s the Truth? 

I remember the uncomfortable feeling that came over me as I trained in Close Quarters Battle in CQB during my time in Special Operations. Where I would enter a room and clear my point of domination (my corner) only to be confronted with a bad guy holding a gun-made of paper. Even though this paper target couldn’t shoot back we treated them as real targets, a man size target holding a gun pointed in your direction-no matter the form factor is indeed an immediate threat-meaning someone that could immediately hurt or kill you. The procedure was to identity the threat-or-non-threat than acquire your red dot and take shots, usually two well placed shots on the face, and continue to clear your sector. The part of this I struggled with, is I always felt like if a guy is pointing a gun at your head, and you identify that gun-more than likely you are already dead, but I played the game.

As I started to rotate to war I started to realize how impactful this type of training improved my capabilities and how important it was in preparation. I also noticed that there were something’s that didn’t make sense or really translate to war, like acquisition of my sights. I started coming across immediate threats-a guy behind a door, a guy in a room with a gun, a guy hiding in a hay bale, and I thought about the process in which I engaged that threat. What I began to realize and then later confirm with my peers, is no one was finding their sights or red dot to engage threats, because we simply didn’t have the time. 

Long ago we practiced point shooting as a “reflexive” instict and this digressed into trick shots/entertainment and not taken seriously in the practical pistol or self defense realm. As I trained LEO and even Civilians I started to see a trend-when confronted with an immediate threat-meaning a barrel pointed at you, you are racing time. The variables are his reaction time-typically a quarter of a second for most humans vs. your ability to acquire your sights and react. What I discovered is the lull in time in shifting your focus or depth of field from target to your sights took anywhere from .30-name it, based on a bunch of physiological factors. Meaning if you and another person were holding guns at each other, and one pulled the trigger with their reaction time and you acquired your front sights-you would be dead before you finished acquiring your front site-here in lies the issue. 

No one-well at least it’s rare, teaches this understanding as a FACT, it’s not a concept it’s a fact. So if this is a fact why don’t Law Enforcement officers learn this in the academy, or military guys during training? The simple answer, Liability-without understanding there is a process for your eyes to catch up in this process, we’ve lied to ourselves to check the block in training. This has perpetuated the wrong tactic, training, and creating a false narrative for thousands of people who have yet to validate this in real life. You know how people are figuring this out? Because they’ve been lucky to survive and talk about it... “Hey so what did you see when you pulled the gun...?” “Nothing-just the target-I didn’t have time to find the sight.” Some Tactical instructors blame  “target fixation” nope! Wrong analysis again-you just don’t have the time period-pure physics. 

So what’s the right answer-first of all it’s to train with us or someone like us that teaches truths based on reality in practice, not theory. Second it’s to understand that you have to evolve through a gun fight-your eyes will catch up after the 3-4th shot-we aren’t teaching people to point shoot in gun fights. We are teaching people the truths of what your eyes capabilities are and to trust your instinct to align and break that, and to be faster than the bad guy you are confronted with... in a world where everyone is a tactician-sometime the truth hurts, but I’d rather speak truths and people live-than let lies determine your fate before you ever had a fighting chance. 

17 comments

  • Great points. Over the years I’ve noticed a dramatic improvement in accuracy when one goes from the static, stay in your lane and plant your feet handgun shooting, to drills and scenarios that take the time to aim away from the shooter. I think the shooters are aiming, but not in the traditional sense. With familiarity and experience they are using their body to align their weapon to hit the target or “aim”. For what its worth, in low, or no light handgun ranges I found shooters getting better groups than with the lights on.

    shawn
  • Monte, valid point and thank you for the education. I have trained at Rogers, and have been taught the speed shooting in different instances-“midsouth, gryphon group, blackwater, rob leatham… I think this tactic is specific to an understanding that it’s a deliberate option as opposed to a reflexive Action. I’ve often noticed LEO/Mil react and never realized what has happened until it’s talked about-the conversation for 99% of all those I’ve interviewed remember seeing the target, but never the sights. Part of this is the fear response driving the eyes to the threat-but if I can teach people the process, to refine their reactions on target with better results, and then evolve… then it’s a better shooting solution than the current protocol.

    Mike Glover
  • Eddie,

    Spot on-we teach evolving through the gun fight. Just because you start the fight with alignment doesn’t mean you can’t track the site and evolve through the process. We have found by shots 3-4 you will find the front site-and then aim small miss small. Evolve, thanks for the feedback.

    Mike Glover
  • In response to “SkyViking” you stated “Range(s) will be short, if their weapon is even employed. If you are not placing the front sight on the area you want to hit AND exercising good trigger control, you are relying on luck, not skill to win the fight. So… Good Luck!”
    I’m not sure where you’ve learned your tactics, but let me try and educate you without insulting you. I do not teach “Spec-Op” ninjas, I did, but now I teach men, women, Civilians, Mil, and Police. I am a Federal Firearm instructor and I am not teaching theory. Second, you will never find your front site with your eyes when “reacting” to a threat-this again isn’t theory, you physically can’t do it… “on the area” you want to hit, I agree with-we teach that in alignment, but not front site focus. You don’t need “good” trigger control at all… trigger control implies manipulation, in a gun fight with little experience if you have a proper grip and alignment-given the close proximity which you stated-you can smash the trigger, and you will put rounds on target. We over complicate shooting in self defense, by imposing our own bias or emotions of what we think, when the reality of shooting in close proximity when properly executed emulates our current abilities with eye hand coordination.

    Mike Glover
  • The majority of police agencies in the United States and throughout the world train with sighted fire. The NYPD has trained with and implemented point shooting in the past. Their hit rations in shootings is extremely poor at best. LAPD and their SWAT unit D-Platoon (the single most successful hostage rescue unit in the world statically) utilizes sighted fire and has throughout their history. This subject has been argued for many years and is well documented. Mr. Bill Rogers of the “Rogers shooting school” teaches speed shooting emphasizing speed and “flashlight picture”…among other nationally recognized training institutions. The Rogers school is a DOD contract organization for many national asset groups. “Gun Site” also teaches speed shooting and flashlight picture. At very short distances rapid indexing of the weapon on target / threat is a typical a reflex response with the focus on the threat and delivery of rounds on target. I think there is merit to your article in general, but it paints with a broad brush a multifaceted issue and os an over simplification of the topic. My personal experiences validate the use of sights and threat focus / point shooting combined. The article perks my interest in attending your training and I will as comparison evaluation. Respectfully

    Monte GOULD

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