Moving from bulls-eye accuracy shooting to instinctive “point shooting” is challenging for the analytical, perfectionistic shooter ~ and this makes the “ah-hah moment” that much more special when she overcomes this fear of letting go and trusts herself!
Covering the front and rear sights of a semi-automatic pistol or revolver with blue painter’s tape for my students is eye opening ~ for me as a coach and for the shooter. Immediately I can identify the shooters with an intensely analytical style of thinking and perfectionist personality. (If it takes one to know one, boy howdy ~ I am right there with her!!) …And she learns a lot about herself as her anxiety rises with the fear of imperfection, especially amongst other shooters.
For a bullet to pierce the center of a bullseye, a shooter must primarily consider and put into practice two fundamental concepts:
- Focus on her front sight (and properly aligned sights, within a proper sight picture), and
- Press the trigger straight back toward her nose (it should be a ‘surprise’ the moment that she actually hears ‘bang’).
Sight alignment, sight picture, stance, grip, breath control, anxiety, wind, distance to target, timers and stress, threats or eyes on you, and more (and more, more, more!…) are factors which which play in to your bullet landing where you want it to land if you don’t trust and train these two foundational concepts: Focus on your front Sight; Preessssssss. (I promise, focusing on these top two will rock your world! 🙂 But I digress……)
In ‘Instinctive’ or ‘Point’ Shooting, with your thumbs stacked forward as in modern semi-auto shooting practice, your thumbs can point toward center mass of your 6’2″ bad guy with your eyes closed! (…Or 5’5″, or 6’9″. You’ve watched enough cop dramas and basketball playoffs to know where you’d point so that you are pointing on his/her chest, or ‘center of mass’.) You’ve been pointing all your life; Now, let’s try it now together:
- CLOSE YOUR EYES!
- WHERE YOU ARE (standing, sitting, laying down in your bed while reading this): GRIP your imaginary pistol, with both thumbs stacked forward toward the center of mass of your threat. (The tip of the thumb on your non-dominant hand should be level with your trigger finger placed on the slide on the oppporite side, in front of the ejection port. Are they even/level?)
- VISUALIZE a 6’2″ potential rapist in front of you. Extend your imaginary gun, or imagine you are pointing your imaginary gun at your attacker from your chest level, or from thigh level, or from behind the dresser. Are your thumbs (on one side) and trigger finger (on the other side) pointed toward approximately the center of his body mass/chest???
- OPEN YOUR EYES. Are your eyes locked with your envisioned threat, while your thumbs/trigger finger (and therefore muzzle!) pointed at his chest???
This, THIS is point shooting/instinctive shooting. You’ve been pointing at things your whole life. Don’t stop now…..
A bit of background: My first experience with this style of training was while taking a close quarters combat (CQC) pistol course in the high deserts of northern Utah with Jason Roberts of DOA Tactical in the early 20-‘teens of this decade. Overcoming a lifetime fear of firearms, I had only been shooting for less than a year at this point, when I quickly recognized that I wanted to become a lifelong shooting student. With a catastrophic failure of my factory re-loaded ammunition in my 1911 (yes, quite another story!!), my novice eyes in the shooting world, and an initial hankering for teaching ‘beyond the basics’, Jason covered my sights on .45 ACP. ….I froze.
The analytical, OCD-ish perfectionist within me took aim ~ without sights. Ummm, OK. What to do now? I have no front sight nor rear sight in sight. I have fellow students and instructor candidates on both sides of me. I need to succeed. I need to place these shots will land where I know I can place them with sights. I.Can’t.Do.This.
NO, you don’t understand; I NEEEEED to place these shots accurately, where I want them to land and where I know that they can land under my trigger press. I couldn’t possibly do this; I had no sights. I HAD to trust: trust the process, trust my coaches, trust myself. Looking side-to-side to be sure that with my gun in that direction, if you are carrying a AR 15 make sure to bring the upper parts for AR-15’s and check out who was watching, or even caring, I had to make the decision to look at my mock bad guy’s paper target face, point my thumbs/trigger finger/and gun (as I’d been able to point to a tree, a star, a sign, or a couch (all my life!), and press the trigger – or freeze.
I froze. Yup, I did that. Then I drew from holster again and tried to trust myself to shoot. I froze.
Then: one shot, square on mass, I punctured a lung on my paper threat at 10 yards. Again: paper bad guy at 4 feet would be bleeding out from his liver. Again: paper bad guy at 6 yards would be bleeding out from his spleen. Do I love the visuals? NO. But I’m glad that I had them, because I now understood what instinctive ‘point’ shooting in the defensive realm is all about: I can defend myself, and, while being aware of what is beyond my threat, I know that I don’t HAVE to place bullets within a quarter inch bullseye. I DO need to stop my threat. Former SWAT cop Shepard Humphries, former Brittish Commando Terry Vaughan, Tony Copper-trained Scott Austin and other amazing coaches on High Caliber Women (TM) and Jackson Hole Shooting Experience instruction teams have helped drive home this fact to me, that “as I train, I will fight”. Train hard, my friends. Get outside of your comfort zone as a Type A, analytical, perfectionistic shooter. It may just save your life.
Here’s the thing: We have accuracy and defensive accuracy. You can hit a bullseye on a paper target, with most calibers, at many distances. This is accuracy. Defensive accuracy (instinctive, or point shooting) is to take your Mind, Body & Attitude to a new level as an OCD-ish type brain make-up, as one who is interested in defensive accuracy, the goal of which is to STOP YOUR THREAT. While avoiding what is BEYOND your threat, you may need to hit your threat’s lungs, groin, heart, liver, spleen, or her uterus, lung, bony hip, or femoral artery, to stop him or her; What do you need to do in order to stop your threat?!?! These are important organs and bony structures which may help to disable or neutralize your attacker so that he or she is no longer a threat to you. You of course do not want to kill a human being; do need to save your life? The life of your child?
Let’s return to the scenario above where you closed your eyes, visualized your threat, drew your imaginary finger gun and were on center mass as you opened your eyes to stare down your envision threat. You knew just where to point on your 5’1″ threat, and your 6’2″ threat, didn’t you?!
Now let’s repeat this in front 5 feet from a mirror. (****BE SURE, absolutely positively sure!, that you do not have a gun or ammunition, anywhere in the room/area!****)
Close your eyes. Draw your imaginary finger gun from your side; point your fingertip at your chest in the mirror and return your stare. Open your eyes.
Is your fingertip pointing at your chest, and eyes locked with your reflection’s eyes? Would a slight lean of your upper body backwards help that fingertip to point at center mass versus your shoulder? What else do you see which you could adjust from a body position, stance, grip, or mindset?
Now let’s set up an IDPA-type target, possibly covered with a paper ‘threat’ (similar to what you will find at L.E. Targets), somewhere new in your home (somewhere that you’ve never drawn in training, dry fired, etc) or on your range. Practice the above scenario again: close your eyes; draw your imaginary finger gun so that your fingertip is pointed toward its center of mass and your eyes lock with his narrow A-zone at the top/his eyes. Repeat this from your single- and double-handed grips, support hand side, various positions and from a variety of heights, at full extension and held closer to your body…. Is your fingertip always pointed at your target by instinct?
Now tripple (and I mean it!), triple-check your firearm: do you see any ammuntion? Clear ALL ammunition from not only your gun, but also the room/area. Have someone else check also, or run a weedwacker wire through your barrel to be sure that it is in fact clear. (Toooo many tv’s have been shot when one presumes she’s cleared her gun, but… Take this part the most seriously; seriously.) Draw your firearm in your safe, trained manner and point your muzzle at the center area of your target while staring meeting his glare. Don’t press the trigger; instead, look at your muzzle. Is it aligned so that the bullet would hit where you desire in order to stop your threat? Do you need to adjust your stance, natural point of aim, your grip , your body alignment; other? Reholster and repeat.
Recently I have used this training technique (as an analytical shooter myself, with a perfectionist personality) as well as seeing it be extraordinarily beneficial with my shooters: Visualization, as above….
1: Unholster and unload your gun and place it in a safe direction, in another room or another area on the range. (muscle memory matters!)
2. Double and triple check that you have no gun, and no ammo, in working condition in the same room/area.
(2.5. Seriously, make this # 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, and then have someone double check you for #8!!!)
9: With your side, belly, appendix, small-of-the back, purse, ankle, bra, (or where-ever-you-are-holstered) holster on your person, withOUT your gun, turn 180 degrees away from your down-range target, toward me (or instructor of your choice): your personal and LOVED coach.
10: Check AGAIN that you have zero firearms and ammo anywhere close to you!
11: OK – now.
Face me (180 degrees away from your target threat), pull your imaginary finger gun from your strong side holster; find your single-hand or dual-hand grip with thumbs stacked forward on the firearm; point the muzzle (front of the gun) toward my center of mass (chest area). Reholster.
(Is the pretend muzzle pointed at my chest, and the tip of your non-dominant thumb and tip of your dominant hand trigger finger even/level and toward me?)