Sometimes though, fate throws a big gift in your face to grab and go with. Such is this topic..
A few weeks back The Mad Ogre posted this excellent and vintage training film on MadOgre.com
Now that is some cool and historic stuff there!! This is back when the Infantry was still expected to close and destroy with the enemy and the folks watching these movies would be in combat within months. I just love those old khaki field uniforms that we wore!!
And then a few days later a FaceBook friend, JD, posted this video on that site...(Since it was commented that the video's autostart feature - which is embedded in the code - was not necessary, and I agree, I am just putting a direct link up to the video. Its worth the watch, trust me.)
Again, some good stuff there. Now what does both of these videos have in common? Point Shooting. The concept of point shooting is simple. Since birth our brain has trained our eyes and hands to work together in order to sustain basic activities such as gathering food and bringing it to our pie holes. In the case of shooting, its the assumption that your eyes and your hand will both point to the same object instinctively when you look at it. This method is touted as being both quicker and as effected as aimed fire in engaging close targets.
Both of the videos use techniques that do not require the use of the "normal and modern" sighting technique of aligning both rear and front sights on a target. This type of shooting is not new. Matter of fact is was once the predominant type of shooting practiced. I have seen pictures of the FBI shooting qualifications in the 30's where every person on the line was firing from a bent elbow. So when you seen those corny film noire pictures from the 30's and 40's and laugh when they pull out revolvers and fire from the hip..that was actually status quo back then.
Back in the 50's Jeff Cooper basically gathered up a whole bunch of information he observed and read about the use of the actual sights on a pistol and put forth a means of target engagement that has become known as the Cooper Modern Technique. Key amongst this technique is the Weaver Stance that he got from watching a good friend, Jack Weaver, use it to great success in shooting competitions that he helped create to promote the shooting sports. It was theorized (and proved) that taking a extra second to make sure you were going to hit your target was worth the extra time to get off that first shot. Also key was the use of the front sight as your primary aiming reference when engaging a target, hence the "front sight..press" cadence used to teach combat shooting today.
I do have some issues with Cooper on a few topics, such as the insistence on the .45 ACP as the only cartridge really viable for defense. I think if Mr. Cooper had revisited the topic in the past few years with the advances in bonded ammunition in other calibers he may have softened his tone on the subject. But then again, this is only one minor complaint about his writings compared to the vast body of the rest of his works.
To a large degree point shooting is still taught and practiced today, but normally only after the basics of aimed fire are mastered. I remember learning a version of point shooting with a M16 in Infantry OSUT back in the 80's where we fired from the hip after squaring off our hips and locking our arms into our sides. In 2006 I learned another similar method for employing "controlled pairs" that empasized quick target aquisition using the large rear aperture on my M16 and focusing on the front post on the target.
Putting the point shooting method to the test!
So, how about a quick test of normal aimed fire against point shooting techniques. This is a quasi-scientific test I did the week before Christmas. I used the methods outlined in the second video and used an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper with a 4" orange center as a target..going by their claims that the method was good enough to render that level of accuracy. I have not been formally trained in the point firing a pistol, but by the size of my waistband I have not had any issues gathering food and putting it into my pie hole so I am assuming my hand-eye coordination is good enough for the method. Besides, if it is as natural as they say it is this should be a good representation of its effectiveness shooting cold without training.
I used my G19 as its basically the same pistol they used in the second video. I shot ten rounds at each target at 21(ish) feet using one of two techniques:
- Standard Aimed fire utilizing the sights on the pistol
- Point shooting using the trigger finger to point at the target and the middle finger to manipulate the trigger.
And I fired in one of two different courses of fire.
- Aimed "Cadence" fire - where I started from a low ready, brought the pistol up, acquired the sights, fired, reset the trigger, got back on target and fired again and repeated. This entailed shooting a shot about every 1.5 to 2 seconds. It was deliberate shooting cadence without needlessly pulling the trigger without first lining up on the target.
- Draw from a low ready - as close as I could get to drawing on this range. I started each shot from a low ready, brought the gun up and acquired and fired as fast as I could. Then I would lower the pistol to the low ready, relax, get my concentration off the target and go again. This was to simulate a "real world" encounter.
So, how did it go? Lets take a look.
Standard Aim - cadence fire (10/10)
This being the most common type of shooting I do I expected it to be my best and I was not disappointed. Although I did have a flier at the top of the target all 10 got on paper. I did shoot a few inches high for the rest of the group and it was not exactly what I would call "tight". However, it would be "good enough" in each and every case using 124gr +P 9mm hollow points.
Point Shooting - Cadence Fire (8.5/10)
8 rounds on paper and 1 round (partially circled at the top) which broke the papers edge. In IPSC shooting (which Cooper helped create btw) this would not count as its a "small caliber" but for my purposes I will give it a half point. They grouped decently, abet at the top of the paper, but still the shots would of been effective.
Standard Aim - draw from a low ready (9/10)
Again, I expected to do well and was not really let down by myself. Flew one round off the paper but the rest were on it. I also practice this type of shooting a lot, but normally from about 10 feet to simulate a street encounter.
Point Shooting - draw from a low ready (6/10)
Hmmm, only 6 out of 10 from this string. Still, 60% would be good enough to qualify on an army weapon (M16/M4 qual is 24 hits on 40 targets) so I guess I have to say that I am satisfied with that. And remember, this was with no prior instruction or practice, just go with what I saw in the video and shoot.
- Point shooting has some serious merits going for it, though, as with any weapon, practice on a range is far from implementation in a real life scenario. A good amount of time should be devoted to learning and programming "muscle memory" to the technique before deciding to use it.
- Speaking of decisions, you should evaluate this technique against your normal means of target engagement to make sure its something that really benefits you. While it may seem really neat to shoot pie plates with an air soft gun in a video, trying to explain your reason for not using aiming sights in a court of law when you have been charged in a civil suit after a shooting and are being labeled a cowboy for "shooting from the hip" is an entirely different matter.
- There are other considerations to, like ergonomics of your carry gear and weapon. I tried to see if I could use the middle finger trigger pull on my LCP and determined that my index finger along the small slide would most likely be an obstruction to the pistols slide operation if not a safety hazard to myself! Also the Balckhawk Serpa holster I have for my G19 that I use occasionally and my 1911 requires a certain technique to disengage the retaining lock to draw the pistol. This would have to be relearned as the grip used with the middle finger method is higher than the normal grip and would position your drawing hand different in relation to the holster release.
- I think the use of a laser should be examined with this method as well. Not only do you may have to consider any changes to the laser activation with a new grip, but also whether or not the use of the aiming dot of the laser distracts from the actual technique. I did not test this out as the only pistol I own with a laser unit is the LCP with the Crimson Trace unit and I had decided that there may be a safety issue using that method with that particular pistol. I would hypothesize though that some people may work too hard on "muscling" the dot on the target as to negate the actual benefit of target engagement it provides. Anyone that gets a chance to test this I would love to hear from you.
Overall, I think its worth the time to consider shooting a few mags on the range using the technique and deciding for yourself. I seriously doubt whether I will adopt it as my primary engagement method but it does have its place in the shooting world for sure when a quick shot in close proximity to a target is called for.