Instinctive Shooting

This is a guest post by Scott Sylvesterinstinctive shooting

Instinctive Shooting or Point Shooting or Unsighted Fire

Shooting a handgun without using your sights may seem like voodoo magic to a lot of shooters. While it is a difficult skill to master it is not really magic or difficult if you apply your fundamentals of handgun shooting and allow your mind to fill in the gaps where you sights should be. Instead of calling it Point Shooting, or Unsighted Firing, I prefer to think of it as Instinctive Fire.

Your mind is an amazing super computer that can fill in the gaps in a series of events in such a way that you will have a complete picture of events. For example, try to recall the last conversation you had with a friend or spouse. I bet you can’t recall the actual words used, but your mind get the gist of the topic and that is what you can recall. A better way to think of it might be when you re-watch a favorite movie. The first time you saw it, there was several things occurring and as a result your mind filled in what it missed using logic to give you a complete story. As you watch it again you know the story so it frees up your mind to notice more details that were glossed over the first time.

Due to your supercomputer nestled between your ears, you do not always need a perfect sight picture to get fast and accurate hits. By applying good fundamentals, pointing your handgun at the target and looking directly at your target, your mind will compensate for the missing pieces of the picture and you will naturally make good hits. Lets go through the steps to clarify the process.

Instinctive shooting without using sights is a skill that is developed after you spent some time building a solid foundation shooting with your sights and practicing good fundamentals. Without a foundation to build on, you will not be able to obtain consistent and accurate hits when point shooting. Once you have a solid understanding of the basics, it is time to push yourself and start unsighted fire.

What you will find is that point shooting is a very quick way to get the gun on target and get hits. When we are discussing accuracy there is a trade-off. Using your sights, you can easily get the rounds to touch on a target, unsighted you will achieve slightly larger groups but pick up a lot more speed. In a self-defense situation being the first one to get effective hits is the best way to win!

When you are learning unsighted fire I recommend you begin at the five or seven yard line and as you progress, start moving backwards. Starting with your stance, facing your target with your feet slightly offset in a boxer’s stance with your toes pointed towards your target. Your chest and head should also be square to your target and your eyes looking directly at what you want to hit. Draw your handgun and punch out driving the gun towards your target as fast as you can safely control the gun. I want you to literally picture yourself throwing a punch since this a very natural motion. Staying focused on the target with your eyes, press the shot using good trigger control. Holster and assess.

The reason I use the punching analogy is because your hand eye coordination makes hitting something with a fist easy. When you punch you are looking at your target and your mind fires all the neurons to complete the action with very little conscious thought. The same occurs when shooting except you are driving the handgun towards the target which creates a natural alignment putting you right on target. With your feet, chest, eyes and arms all focused the same direction your mind fills in anything missing allowing you to make hits.

Point shooting or unsighted fire is typically done one handed, but that is not always the case. I recommend you start off using your standard two handed grip. As you punch the gun out, about half way between your chest and full extension, your hands should meet and form the two handed grip you are familiar with. Once you achieve solid results drop the support hand and try it one handed. For some tips on one handed shooting, refer to my previous article, One Armed Man.

This will take some practice in the beginning since you will have to apply good trigger control and break the shot at the right moment. When learning and teaching I find most students initially press the trigger too early and the round goes low, very similar to someone who is anticipating recoil. Like everything else when you are training start slowly and pick up speed until you find the sweet spot where you can push out with the arm (your gross motor, large muscle movement) and your pull with a finger (a fine motor, small muscle move).

One aid you can use to find that sweet spot is to start off with an unloaded handgun and dry fire. Draw, punch out, and as you press the trigger “peek” at your front sight to see where your point of aim is. After a few reps, insert a full magazine and do it live.

As you get faster, now it is time to improve the accuracy. Once you have developed strong neural pathways, start moving back and / or decrease the size of your target. When really trying to push myself on the range I usually shoot 9″ circles. If you can quickly put rounds into a small circle target or plate, you’ll have a very easy time hitting a larger person or silhouette target.

So this weekend, get out there and start developing a new skill. Be safe, train hard. Remember, your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool.

Scott S Find us on Facebook!
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