Front Sight or Threat?

Front Sight or Threat?

This is a discussion on Front Sight or Threat? within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Alright.. I was practicing my drawing (with my gun loaded with snap caps) tonight. I picked out a couple inanimate objects in the apartment as ...

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  1. #1
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    Question Front Sight or Threat?

    Alright.. I was practicing my drawing (with my gun loaded with snap caps) tonight. I picked out a couple inanimate objects in the apartment as "targets" and started drawing on them and practiced acquiring multiple targets at different distances.

    As it is evening and the lights in the apartment in contract to the darkness outside, I found my patio window made a great mirror image of myself as I drew my gun on a chair, a book stand and a clock.

    Then, getting the fabulous idea to draw on something with a human shape and human movement, I decided to draw on my image reflected back at me via my patio window (it's a good thing we live on the remote side of the complex with nothing but trees and a huge hill outside our window and two stories up so no one can see me and think I'm pointing a gun at them).

    Anyway, I found my eyes wanting to watch "ME" in the reflection instead of focusing on the front sight.

    So, I started forcing myself to concentrate on the front sight and to put that front sight over "my" reflected center-of-mass.

    But then I got to thinking.

    What if my reflection was a real threat? What if this wasn't just a mirrored image of a gal with a gun, but someone really there to do me harm? Shouldn't I be paying more attention to them and what they are doing? Yeah, I should get the gun up and get that front sight over the COM but then shouldn't I watch "him" for movement, for a weapon, for confirmation that this is, indeed a threat?

    Besides, while staring at my front site I found my reflection to be blurred and a bit exaggerated. I couldn't see facial features of even what was in my own hands (though, of course, I knew).

    I don't like the idea of taking my focus off of a threat. I want to see the threat clearly and perfectly so that I can make the decisions and gather visual info that might mean the difference between life and death.

    So which is it? When facing a threat, what should one do? Focus on the front sight or the threat?


  2. #2
    Member Array turbo93's Avatar
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    ? focus on the threat until just before you fire. If you are already committed then sight picture only .

  3. #3
    Member Array SubMOA's Avatar
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    I don't care how much you train, when you are facing a threat, you instictively focus on that threat.

    As an NRA instructor, I tell my students to focus on the front sight, which is perfect for target shooting. However, when something is shooting back, I can guarantee you that lesson goes out of the window.

    I practice both ways.
    NRA Certified Instructor

    Primary carry guns: Glock 23, SA Loaded Custom LW Micro .45, S&W Model 10

    If those don't work: BM/DPMS CAR-15 custom, Rem. 11-87 3.5-inch

  4. #4
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    Threat focus is needed. What if the threat pulls a badge, drops the gun or turns to flee?
    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson


    Nemo Me Impune Lacesset

  5. #5
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    So which is it? When facing a threat, what should one do? Focus on the front sight or the threat?
    As already stated..you will focus on the threat.

    This is where instinctive shooting comes into play. You learn to draw the gun and bring it up to eye level. Where ever you look, the gun is pointed there already. With a little practice, its quick and fairly accurate.

    You dont consiously aquire a sight picture with the front sight, you just LOOK at the target.

    The thing is...
    the front sight is great for target practice on targets that arent shooting back. If you take the time to aquire the proper sight picture on someone that knows how to shoot you will lose and die.

    This is can be illustrated by using Simunitions and having someone play the badguy. Having done this with various LEO training that I have had over the years, at the ranges that real life encounters always seem to take place at, the range is short enough that simple "point shooting" will suffice. It is quick and it works.

    Lets say you are clearing your house and its fairly dark because you dont want to turn on the lights and give away your advantage.Its dark enough that you cant really see the sights, but you see an armed thug just as he see you. He turns on you with gun in hand and starts to raise it towards you.
    You already have the drop on him because you are looking at him and you gun is up at eye level. You are looking over the gun and focusing on him. You should have no problems hitting him at least several times.
    That is just one example.

    When seconds count, you dont have time to get a proper sight picture...unless you are at an extended range. In a house, or the average shooting distance of less than 7 yards, you dont need to focus.
    As Rocky stated, you must look at the threat. Is he armed or is that an adjustable wrench in his hand or a set of keys ? What if its a drunk in the wrong house? You must notice the details and be able to do it with split second timing.
    Focusing on the front sight wont give you the opportunity to do that.

    Now, if you are say...in the parking lot at Walmart and some whacko starts shooting everyone he sees and you happen to be there, by all means, get behind cover and aquire a good sight picture.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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  6. #6
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    Thanks for the responses. These were what I was expecting as it seemed less than good practice to be focusing on your sights when a conceived threat could be any number of things. Like Rocky pointed out, what if he did pull a badge, what if, what if, what. if.

    However, I discovered another "funny" think this evening in my practicing.

    I found myself constantly aiming for "my" head as my gun goes where my eyes go and I kept looking at my own face in the reflection of the patio.

    HotGuns, like you say, instinct takes over and you point where you are looking. I had to consciously look that the COM to get my gun there.

    I thought it was good practice as even practicing with silhouettes doesn't quite give you the kinds of distractions you deal with while drawing on a moving human shape.

    It was only a reflection in a dark window and so my own features were not as clear as if I were drawing, say, in a mirror, but it was good enough to see the feet, the hands, the face and to see where my gun went as my eyes moved.

    It was interesting, for sure.

  7. #7
    Member Array hrtbrk07's Avatar
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    Definatly have to watch your threat. You don't want to get tunnel vision then end up getting blindsided.

    Lesson number one. Point and shoot works. With practice. Something I like to do around the apartment is aquire small targets, light bulbs, switches, the head on my 4 foot tall paper mache "Mr. Peanut" I made in junior high, etc etc. As soon as I feel I'm dead on, without looking at my sights, i flip on my laser and see where I'm at. It works well.

    Lesson number two. You are not a negotiator. If you have a good sight picture, don't ask questions. Do what you have to do. I don't mean to be cold, but the longer you focus on that target, the bigger target you make yourself.

    At least thats how I roll.
    "Wear a gun to someone else's house, you're saying, 'I'll defend this home as if it were my own.' When your guests see you carry a weapon, you're telling them, 'I'll defend you as if you were my own family"

  8. #8
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    Lima, now take this information to the range and practice on man sized silhouette targets out to 7 yards and see where you actually hit while focusing on the threat!

    You probably won't get quarter sized groups unless you are throwing several hundreds of rounds down range each and every week, but I think you'll be satisfied that you are hitting COM with acceptable groups.

    I use my sights when ever I can... but I also know that realistically, in a SD situation I'm likely at contact distance out to 5 - 7 feet! Also, I'm wanting to be the one hitting first, not last.

    In a deadly encounter, I'm not interested in 3 rounds in a quarter size... If I'm first to get one in the sternum, one in the nipple and one in the throat, That'll do for me! I'll probably be the one going home.

    Now I shoot enough to expect my groups to be much tighter than what I just said... but you also have to factor in things like, Fear, Surprise, Body Alarm mode, Adrenaline, Reduced Light, an Awkward Shooting Position and with that, I can see how my groups can open up a bit. That's fine. As long as my Bullets hit those "vital areas" before he can think to respond, I'm ok with that.

    Now I try to get as tight a groups as possible, and out to 10 yards, I usually get a magazine full inside a 50 cent piece or silver dollar (depending on which gun and caliber I'm shooting) with maybe one or two flyers which will open it up to say 5 or 6 inches? Still the flyers are on target in COM.

    What I really need is a shot timer to induce some stress and work on that.
    -Bark'n
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    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

  9. #9
    Senior Member Array blueyedevil's Avatar
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    First thought; at the point you clear leather you should have a credible threat, and not have to worry about target identification. Second thought, watch hands......In God we trust....everyone else show me your hands.

  10. #10
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    As human beings we instinctively look at the face.
    Common sense and logic tells us that we should really be looking at what the hands are doing but, we are not logical creatures during times of high emotion or when facing a deadly threat.
    We will always try to instinctively read the face because is what is ingrained in us since infancy.

    One of the reasons why I like the laser is that it is 100% in tune with what we will naturally revert to during Fight or Flight which will be to instinctively look/focus at/on the threat.

    When the front sight is no longer on the firearm but is positioned right onto the intended target then the firearm can be completely ignored.
    Then looking at the threat and looking at the front sight become one and the same thing.
    The front sight is the red dot and the red dot is on the threat.
    Sure makes sense to me.

    That being said IF you are intimately familiar with your self defense firearm and your self defense firearm "fits" your mind, hand, eye then your firearm will instinctively (and quite naturally) be on your threat as you look at your threat. Your POI will be where your mind and your eyes are.
    If not....then you need to find a firearm that will better point where you are looking.

    Truthfully, for a close-in deadly encounter most seasoned shooters that are familiar with their daily carry firearm should be pretty much on the mark in their practiced presentation of the firearm to the intended target.

    As fast as possible gaining access to the firearm...a consistent proper grip once you are there...your practiced presentation and you should be pretty much spot on out to 20' anyway.

    Just my opinion on the fact that most average folks should be able to get solid COM hits on a human size target with a properly fitting familiar firearm even if the firearm had no front or rear sights.
    It is certainly a "feat" that is well within the realm of possibility for any individual that is willing to put a bit of honest effort into it.

    If an average human being positioned a wastebasket 20' away and every day - for an hour a day - put some real effort into tossing 100 marbles into the center of that wastebasket - at the end of one month guaranteed you would be getting 95 out of 100 marbles into the wastebasket.

    It is no different knowing where your point of impact with your daily carry will be.

    Why are people are so unwilling to grant themselves the knowledge that with genuine and sincere practice all human beings can accomplish nearly anything they have the will and strong desire to do - and so hitting a man size target with a pinpoint precision instrument at what amounts to slightly over spitting distance is far from an impossible and unattainable human task.

    Practice thoughtfully and sincerely and you will "own" great and amazing things.
    Make your fiream an extension of your mind through your body.
    Ignore how "spiritual and hokey" that sounds when you read it here and give it a chance.

  11. #11
    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    The first time I held someone at gunpoint I can honestly say I didn't concentrate on my front sight.

    Now I use a "Flash Sight Picture" and know it's there w/o really seeing it. This works for double taps too. I also point shoot at close distance, with the gun at my side and arm locked in. It takes some practice, but it's worth it.

    I shoot my defensive off-duty weapons out to 25 Yards, so I know what I can do at distance. The majority of my time is spent at 10, 7, 3 and 1.5 Yards, especially the 3 and 1.5 Yards.

    At 1.5 Yards I am shooting from the hip. As the target gets further away the more I use my sights. At 3 Yards I have the gun out in front of me in an Isosolese stance. The sight is there, but my "focus" is on the target. At 7 Yards I get a better view of my sights, but I, "take my time in a hurry."

    I find that certain guns "point" better for me than others. I don't point a Glock well and have to use an arched Mainspring Housing on a 1911 to get them to point to an acceptable degree for me. The best pointing gun I own is my Colt SAA, but I don't carry it for SD purposes.

    Years ago I used to stand in front of the mirror and practice point shooting COM. If you pay attention to your barrel you can train yourself to be pretty accurrate in a short amount of time w/o having to fire any rounds.

    If you always practice using your sights and sticking your arms out fully extended you will be in a world of hurt when the confrontation takes place inside of 3 Yards. Why limit yourself to just one way of shooting?

    I shoot two handed, one handed support side and primary side and two handed support side when I go to the range. I also shoot from different stances. Weaver, Iso, kneeling and prone all get their time from me.

    Good luck and I hope you never have to find out if this stuff works.

    Biker

  12. #12
    VIP Member Array ExSoldier's Avatar
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    Conscious "active scanning" for additional threats besides the primary. Thugs often work in teams. Front sight always unless I'm firing from a position of retention.
    Former Army Infantry Captain; 25 yrs as an NRA Certified Instructor; Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO.

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    If we are going to be totally instintive why train?

    That's what training does it breaks instinctiveness ( if there is such a word). As for sight or target foucsed, depends on the distance to the threat. Distance means a harder front sight focus, as very close distances threat focus may be all we need especially in the first shot, follow up shots may be better fired using a flash or hard sight picture. So distance is always going to be the determination of retention shooting, gun index shooting, flash sight picture or a hard front sight.

    In the four count draw stroke we teach you are always threat focused but we bring the sights/gun to our line of vision, all gun manipulations are done some where high in the scope of vision.

    As for using a mirror or other reflective surface, it is a bad idea for some of and more of the reasons already mentioned. Sit up your videop camera and use it, perform the task a few times, rewind and watch. It is a much better way to evaluate yourself.
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    The term "Breaking Instinctiveness." That works for me.
    Really though (for sure) you are replacing one instinctive behavior with another behavior which hopefully will then stay instinctive when the chips go flying.
    I don't have a problem with that.
    Well, when you've been able to put the firearm out there and "all systems are go" I don't have a problem with anybody grabbing a flash of the FS.
    That would be ideally if the gun is right there.
    Not sure how necessary it would be at say 10' but, it's not like a whole ton of time is going to be lost if somebody wants a reaffirmation sight picture.
    Regardless with a practiced presentation you are very likely going to have an instinctive known vertical alignment anyway. At least I do.
    I'm not an instructor and luckily for me I don't need to teach I only need to to what will work for me.
    If it ultimately does not work for me it won't matter to me anyway.
    I have been plinking with a .22 since I was 8 years old so I am only saying that it is humanly possible to hit very accurately without sights but, they are there right on the firearm where they should be and they are there so folks can use them.
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

  15. #15
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SubMOA View Post
    I don't care how much you train, when you are facing a threat, you instictively focus on that threat.

    ...focus on the front sight, which is perfect for target shooting. However, when something is shooting back, I can guarantee you that lesson goes out of the window.

    I practice both ways.
    Agreed very much!
    I do exactly this when training, to be specific sightless training toward street/personal defense.

    At distances of 7yds./21ft. and less I train to sight on the target and aim for center mass. Additionally I set the target to return toward me prior to firing so as to imitate movement of the BG from distance to immediate contact range ending with the pistol barrel literally against and touching the target backing.
    There is no way I'm going to depend on muchless bet my life toward successful aim on pulling off a fine motor skill shot to a BG(s) by using my sights. Not to mention doing so while momentarily stressed to 101% levels and suffering an adrenaline dump too.
    The NYPD can't do this with a success rate even in the 20% range, why would I plan/bet/expect to same or better under stress.
    When practicing toward bullseye type shooting or targeting out to non street defense distances such as 20 and 25 yd. distances then I'll transition to using the sights front and rear.

    Shooting toward street defense without using the sights at 7yds. I use 8" pie plates attached to the target backing in a vertical line. The first plate represents a 'face' and I place it high equivalent to/mirroring my own face in height. The second plate I place 2 to 4" lower and below representing the CoM (sternum, heart and lungs).
    With the lowest (second plate) I target it first placing two shoots within it as quickly as I can squeeze them off without focus for tightness of grouping. I figure two rounds of JHP Corbon DPX that expands to a nominal .89 to .90" diameter will at the very least stun if not stop a BG. With two within that same area my chances of hitting a major organ (heart) or blood supply (e.g. aorta) are pretty good. As at the range he's still coming at me after that then I transition to the top plate with a single shot to the dead center of that plate which for most average humans equates to the bridge of the nose. Most often my shots hit there or left and right by an inch of that center which places them just below or into either eye socket.
    I'll run this in two sets of three with a total of just six rounds in my magazine. Usually my last round will be fired ~6" before the target backing physically touches the barrel of my pistol which I'll leave up and on target to check where my aim is or rather was set had I'd a seventh or more round available.

    One other thing, I also will place 5.5" bullseye target 'Orange Peel' brand stickers inside the plates to target. Doing this provides me an even smaller target to visually focus and sight against, again without using the guns sights. As well being hi-visibility in coloration (at the edges) it simulates for m brain the focus I would have on a BGs face.
    I've found that the old adage 'aim small miss small' (ass applied to football and soccer) is applicable and works very well toward pistols.
    Aim toward a small target and by gum you will either hit it or miss by small margins. Rarely will I train using conventional man sized targets, with exception of the FBI 'Q' type, because those are simply huge and train ones brain to hit large and miss...

    - Janq is not an instructor

    P.S. - BTW one has go to train using all manner of possibilities including from the hip as noted above (again no sights), from the low guard/chest, with one hand strong hand, one hand weak handed, and two handed grip both strong and weak handed. Train for the worst and hope for the best. :)
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

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