The Sight Continuum

This is a discussion on The Sight Continuum within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; The "Sight Continuum" is merely a guide to which shooting technique you will use in a deadly force situation. I came up with the sight ...

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Thread: The Sight Continuum

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    The Sight Continuum

    The "Sight Continuum" is merely a guide to which shooting technique you will use in a deadly force situation.

    I came up with the sight continuum to explain when to use point shooting and when to use the sights by the urgency of making shot and the distance involved. Other things like movement, and the use of cover are other considerations that play a part in the sight continuum.

    The final piece of sight continuum came to me one day while watching simunitions training and I noticed that people A) do as they were trained or B) spray and prey or C) nothing (until to late). Well sometimes people do what they were trained a little to well. No one every told them that they could go from the mind set of I’m going to draw and take a aimed shot to of oh crap I need to make the shot right now. When this happened most shooters didn’t use point shooting and make the shot but rushed the draw stroke which usually threw the gun even more off target and then it took them even longer to recover their sight picture and by this time you could play connect the dots on them.

    The distance which most handgun fights take place at are within 10 feet and the victim is usually reacting to the attacker which further puts them behind the reactionary curve. The only way I have found to off set the attackers advantage is for the victim to move, draw and fire the second the gun comes on target and continue to zipper up the body until the attacker is down.

    The "Sight Continuum" starts with "hip shooting" and continues to the use of sights and this give a person the ability to shoot at any point within their draw stoke one hand or two handed. In combat, I did not have to think about which method I would use as it just came to me.

    The body is amazing as if you keep the weapon with the centerline of the body or the nose with the gun in the peripheral vision the mind will determine when to take the shot. All you have to do is focus on the spot you intend to hit. Your subconscious mind will worry about the alignment of the gun and the spot your focusing on. This is especially useful while shooting and moving fast.

    When I attempt to move and use aimed shooting, I have found that if I attempt to aim to make the same shot it slows me down as I have to consciously think about the front sight, the target, and when to fire. This is the reason so many schools teach the groucho walk. While I'm in the process of trying to align my front sight on the target, I tend to slow down my movement in order to keep the front sight from bouncing and begin to get tunnel vision on the front sight.

    The shooter’s focus should be on the target with their surrounding in their peripheral vision not on the front sight. Continual focusing on the front sight while moving leads to tunnel vision. Furthermore, on the squared range, there are usually no obstructions to trip over but in the real world there are many hazards one can find themselves negotiating in the middle of a gunfight.

    In point shooting, the index is very important just as it is with sighted shooting. The index gets the gun on target and with point shooting eye/hand coordination places the bullet on the same spot that the eyes are focused on and with sighted shooting the index gets the gun on target and the gun is brought a little further up to the point where the eyes pick up the sights and verify the gun is on target. As the distance increases, the effectiveness of indexing and eye/hand coordination decreases.

    From 0 to 3 feet, or at what is commonly referred to as bad breathe distance, a retention techniques needs to be employed. These Techniques rely heavily on body index with very little to no hand/eye coordination.

    Indexing will only take you so far and with all point shooting techniques there still needs to be some degree of hand to eye coordination. The further away the target is from the shooter the shooter goes from relying on indexing and more to the ability of putting rounds on the spot where the eyes are focused on. It is similar to throwing a punch but only at an increased distance. Your fist is replaced by bullets. Index alone will get hits on the target out to 10 yards however you want your point of focus and your point aim to be on the same point (hand/eye coordination).

    From 0 to 3 yards, most people use techniques similar to Fairbairn's "Half Hip". With the Half Hip position, I use my body's centerline as an index with my gun in my peripheral vision. This technique relies on both body index and hand/eye coordination.

    For extreme close quarter gun fights with “half hip” the shooter needs to explode off the line. The draw of the weapon occurs while the support arm forearm is driven into the attacker throat. The shooter dives the attacker back and zippers up the attackers body.

    From 5 to 10 yards, I use either in one handed or two-handed point shooting, which will be under the line of sight, I use my nose as the index. The person uses the index to get the gun on target and the eye/hand coordination places the on the spot where the eyes are focused on.

    NOTE: The above yard estimates are not absolute and will change do to shooter and/or target movement.

    Aimed shooting comes at the end of my sighting continuum. Why because I can start to draw my weapon and anywhere in the steps of my draw I can point shoot off of body index/eye hand coordination or I can continue to bring the weapon up to eye level and make a precision shot. The steps of the draw that I use are the same with point shooting as with sighted shooting. Time (the urgency of making the shot) combined with distance will determine which method I use in the Sight Continuum.

    In closing, I'm not exclusively a "Point Shooter" or a "Sighted Shooter" I simply use whatever method will allow me to go home at the end of the night.

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    I'm not exclusively a "Point Shooter" or a "Sighted Shooter"
    That to me is it in a nutshell - no need whatsoever to isolate these two aspects. One should flow into the other - during the build of what you call the ''sight continuum''.

    Time available will generally determine the duration of the point shooting phase - possibly even rendering it unnecessary. It is tho part of the whole IMO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by P95Carry
    That to me is it in a nutshell - no need whatsoever to isolate these two aspects. One should flow into the other - during the build of what you call the ''sight continuum''.

    Time available will generally determine the duration of the point shooting phase - possibly even rendering it unnecessary. It is tho part of the whole IMO.
    Yes it is...
    Point shooting is another tool in the tool box that compliments sighted fire. It also gives the shooter the necessary eye-hand coodination to make a shot in the event that they become threat focused during a gun fight.

    I can tell you from personal experience this happens and having the ability to shoot the moment my weapon came on line but not up to sight level saved my bacon at least once.

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    I have considered the issue of point-shooting vs. sighted shooting for quite some time. I like your idea of a continuum but offer my thoughts for consideration.

    1. There is not a "one-size fits all" approach to shooting. The type of shooting an individual uses is contextual. All shots are not just range dependant. They are also time and/or precision dependant. The requirements of an individual storming an aircraft are dramatically different than those of an individual being robbed in a parking lot despite the fact that both are engaging a threat at 5 yards. An individual may spend a significant amount of time practicing to engage targets in the 5-10 yard range using his sights because the circumstances under which he expects to employ his weapon demand a high degree of precision. For that individual, it is counter-productive to develop a seperate skill set (point-shooting) to address threats in this range.

    2. I dislike the idea of selecting which "tool" to use based on the distance to the target/time available/degree of precision required for two reasons.

    First, we know that the stress of a gunfight can create visual and/or temporal distortion. Targets may appear bigger (or smaller), closer (or farther away) and time may slow down (or speed up). It is therefore possible that the information we are using to select our sighting method may be incorrect.

    Second, it requires additional decisions to be made. Having to discriminate between "shoot" and "no-shoot" targets lengthens the target engagement sequence. To that decision we now have to make a determination as to the distance to the target, the amount of time we have to engage the target and the degree of precision the target requires, "crunch the numbers" and select a sighting method. I firmly believe that this adds time to the engagement sequence.

    There is a fair amount of evidence demonstrating that point-shooting techniques are faster at closer ranges. However, if we look at it in the context of Boyd's OODA loop, the savings we gain in the "Act" phase is off-set, to some degree, by an increase in time spent in the "Decide" phase.

    3. I have doubts about an individual's ability to move back and forth in the continuum. (I think an excellent test would be on a target system like the one used at Bill Rogers' Shooting School.) I also tend to think that the ability to do this is going to vary from one individual to another.

    4. At a certain point, I believe experienced shooters who use sighted fire exclusively have performed enough repetitive movement that they can point-shoot fairly well. Conversely, experienced point-shooters have enough experience aligning the weapon with the target and when they choose to focus on the sights probably require little, if any refinement, of the sight-picture. For this reason, I tend to think the continuum is circular rather than linear. The question being: do you move clockwise or counter-clockwise around the circle?

    Thoughts?

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    As always 7677, well done

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave James
    As always 7677, well done
    Thanks DJ...it means a lot coming from a guy with your experience hope you see you in July.

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    Blackhawk,
    I agree with you that there is “no one size fits all” approach to shooting the reason for the sight continuum. I also agree with the precision angle.

    The following link is my take on moving and shooting and hopefully it will explain how it fits in and some of the training.
    http://www.combatcarry.com/vbulletin...t=10873&page=5

    I’ll share a little background with you when it comes to re-taking aircraft. Last summer, I went through Tactics for Flying Armed Class. This class is all about engaging multiple combatants in an commercial aircraft and how to retake it. Without going into details even though our sister agency the air marshals management released a video showing some of the tactics used, I can say that we used both threat focused and sighted shooting techniques in the class. Time, distance and at times precision dictated the method we used.

    In the continuum, the use of sight is default mode and are used for precision shots. Time (urgency) of making the shot combined with the distance to the target are overriding factors in the use of sights. I just noticed that I somehow removed that fact when I copied and pasted it on this site. Simply put do not die just to use your sights. I believe if you only practice precision shots and you meet up against someone that mastered both threat focused and sighted fire techniques they’ll never get a shot off. I’ve done it countless times in the shoot house with new agents and ask those who have taken my courses or seen my demos.

    Since we are on robberies in parking lots and tactics for such I’ll share some of my thoughts from the above link: Most incidents with handguns occur at less then 21 feet with 5 to 7 feet being the most common. Let face it if you are more then 7 yards away and you have picked up the threat you should move to a position of advantage, i.e. cover, and if a shot needed use your sights. However, threat identification may not have picked up the threat and cover is not always available we are most likely reacting to a threat moving to avoid being shot and using a point shooting technique to return fire.

    I believe that to much fuss is made over the OODA loop and most people do not understand it. The simple rule is that action beats reaction. Example, you take someone that has mastered shooting and you put him through the paces the whole OODA loop phases will be almost non-detectable. Then put another person that is just beginning at shooting and you will see the OODA loop in all of it glory. I also see it every day in martial arts. Those who consciously think before they act are mopped up by those guys that act due the position and moves made by their opponent. This occurs because they have experience and have gone down this road before until it is second nature and this is something that is not taken into consideration with 99% of the discussions regarding the OODA loop.

    Why do you suppose Boyd created “Top Gun” after discovering the OODA loop? To speed up the loop and make the tactics and techniques used by the pilots second nature.

    We have gone past squared ranges and paper targets and use aircraft, houses, building, buses, shooting with PPE, etc and simuntions FX rounds to determine what works and what doesn’t. It is called using the bodies natural abilities instead of fighting against them is the reason it works so well.

    Written words in a forum do it no justice and make it sound overly complicated but it isn’t. All you have to ask is someone who has had the training and they’ll tell it works.

    Edited to add: I agree with your thought process in number 4. I have found sighted shooters who practice the steps of the draw usually can draw and hit the target blind folded. This is accomplished by hours of practice. All these guy usually need is an hour of hand/eye coordination drills to get pointshooting down. Pointshooting is for close quarters shooting generally 7 yards and closer so thing like trigger pull is not going to play as much of a role as a sighted shot at 15 to 25 years.
    Last edited by 7677; June 30th, 2006 at 10:01 PM.

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    7677, the information in that post is as invaluable now, as it was the very first time I read it, years ago. You have been on the forefront of this type of thinking and training for a very long time. It has been my pleasure to learn, share, train, and evolve with you over those years.

    Once again, outstanding post and it is really good to see you here. This place has rapidly become my favorite forum. There are a lot of very open minded knowledgeable people here....I think you'll like it.

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    7677,

    I appreciate your comments and have considered them at some length. I also read the link you provided and considered the information there as well. As I disagree with little you had to say regarding movement, I will confine my comments to the original topic of the sight continuum. My thoughts follow.

    In the continuum, the use of sight is default mode and are used for precision shots. Time (urgency) of making the shot combined with the distance to the target are overriding factors in the use of sights.
    Good tactical shooting requires an understanding of the degree of speed and the degree of precision each shot requires and then being able to deliver both the degree of speed and the degree of precision required. I think we both agree on this point. Regardless of the sighting methodology used, some degree of analysis of the problem is going to be required. What I fail to understand is how requiring more analysis and increasing the number of decisions the shooter must make translates into a faster response. If you explained it, I missed it.

    I believe that to much fuss is made over the OODA loop and most people do not understand it.
    I would agree that the OODA loop is an over-cited, and often incorrectly-cited, theory. However, I am quite sure I understand the theory. You are welcome to further my education.

    The simple rule is that action beats reaction.
    Not necessarily true, but true enough for the discussion at hand. The fact is that a shooter is almost always reacting when he identifies a threat, especially a CCW-holder. By creating additional decisions and/or considerations we unnecessarily increase the time needed to implement a response. The best reaction is almost always a simple technique suitable for dealing with a variety of problems. In the sight continuum you have proposed, there is a technique for dealing with a threat at 1 yard or less, another for 1 to 3 yards, another for 5 to 10 yards and another for 10 yards and beyond. A sighted-fire only shooter might use one technique for 3-yards or less and a second for greater than 3 yards. Who has the simpler system? How much more complex does each become when in addition to distance, target size is introduced as a variable?

    Example, you take someone that has mastered shooting and you put him through the paces the whole OODA loop phases will be almost non-detectable. Then put another person that is just beginning at shooting and you will see the OODA loop in all of it glory. I also see it every day in martial arts. Those who consciously think before they act are mopped up by those guys that act due the position and moves made by their opponent. This occurs because they have experience and have gone down this road before until it is second nature and this is something that is not taken into consideration with 99% of the discussions regarding the OODA loop.
    You make a good point. Time spent training and experience are directly related the success. My ability to discern relevenant information from irrelevant information and use that information is increased with training/experience. However, if I have a finite amount of training time, is it better to spend it focusing on two techniques that allow an effective response or on four techniques that provide an effective response?

    We have gone past squared ranges and paper targets and use aircraft, houses, building, buses, shooting with PPE, etc and simuntions FX rounds to determine what works and what doesn’t.
    I am well aware of how training is being conducted. I have a few thousand hours conducting force on force exercises and a not-too-insignificant amount of time downrange as well. The flat range is not obsolete but it must be used in context. Likewise, there are certain artificialities to any FOF method that must be considered as well. It is important to collectivly assess a technique's value. One is not a substitute for the other.
    It is called using the bodies natural abilities instead of fighting against them is the reason it works so well.
    I agree that harnessing the body's natural reactions is beneficial. This can be done using sighted-shooting methods as well as point-shooting methods.
    Written words in a forum do it no justice and make it sound overly complicated but it isn’t. All you have to ask is someone who has had the training and they’ll tell it works.
    I have no doubt that it works. I am trying to understand your assertion that it works better and why.

    Based on your earlier reply, I believe we are in agreement regarding points #1 & #4 of my earlier post. However the following issues concerning the sighting continuum remain unresolved:

    1. The sighting continuum creates the requirement for a more detailed analysis of the problem, as the shooter is required to evaluate more variables prior to selecting a response.

    2. Stress may alter the shooter's perception of the problem and consequently trigger a less-effective or ineffective response.

    3. A shooter exposed to two or more problems simultaneously may be unable/find it difficult to transition from the approriate method for one to the approrpiate method for the other.
    Last edited by Blackhawk6; July 5th, 2006 at 04:50 PM.

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    All valid points, I find it difficult to get my thoughts expressed , but here goes.
    I try to point shoot close targets, and sighted fire longer distances. By engaging a specific way, diffrent distance targets , I believe I will naturally react As I train. seems to work on targets, luckily I have not had to try it out in real life.
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    I have found that "seeing what I need to see to make the hits" takes zero conscious thought. I know my sighted fire skills inside and out, just as I know my threat focused skills.

    The decision when to use them.....takes no time at all. It is like a jab compared to an upper cut. Which one is the best to throw in a certain circumstance? It is as obvious as can be and takes zero effort or time to pick between the two. As a matter of fact I can add hooks, overhand rights, straight rights, and body punches and the time to aquire the information on when to use them is minimal because they are thrown with zero conscious thought.

    Any top athlete can perform at a level that is impossible to reach with conscious thought. They have things ingrained so well that they are working at a subconscious level. The use of your weapon systems should be ingrained to that same level.....subconsciously competent.

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    BH,
    I would like to point out that threat identification is the most over looked part of shooting. The further out one identifies the threat the more options they have to deal with the situation such as the use of cover, avoidance, etc. This is the logical starting point of all deadly force encounters.

    I'll try and explain the decision process better. The system I teach uses the same draw stroke for both threat focused and sighted fire. So when we speak of two systems we are basically talking about the point where the eyes are focused on. Those that have trained in threat focused techniques have built up hand eye coordination to the point where they can make good hits on a target out to 10 yards even though I only teach and advocate out to 7 yards.

    This eye/hand coordination gives a person that is focused on the threat the ability shoot without having to transition their eyes back to the front sight (the time equation of the sight continuum). This same hand/eye coordination gives the shooter the same ability to fire from any point along their draw stroke after the gun has come on line with the threat and while moving too.

    I think of it as insurance that if I have to shoot before the gun gets up to my eye level (so I can use the sights) that my eye/hand coordination can aim the weapon and I can hit the attacker. In most of these situations it comes down to who is faster and gets the first and/or second round on target wins.

    Which method you use is based on your threat is doing (time equation). Since most robberies occur at face to face distances (distance). Again, threat identification plays a big role at what point in the sight continuum a person is going to start.

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    7677,

    Originally Posted by 7677
    I would like to point out that threat identification is the most over looked part of shooting. The further out one identifies the threat the more options they have to deal with the situation such as the use of cover, avoidance, etc. This is the logical starting point of all deadly force encounters.
    I agree. However, threats may appear suddenly and require an immediate response.

    Originally Posted by 7677
    Which method you use is based on your threat is doing (time equation). Since most robberies occur at face to face distances (distance). Again, threat identification plays a big role at what point in the sight continuum a person is going to start.
    This is exactly were I see the issue. Let's remove the distance equation from the discussion and focus on a threat that is 7 yards distant. What the threat is doing (time equation) is certainly a consideration but so is the the amount of the threat available as a target (precision). As I attempted to explain earlier, a fully-exposed threat in a parking lot attempting to shoot me with a gun is a different problem than a partially-exposed threat on an aircraft attempting to shoot me with a gun.

    In both examples what the threat is doing (time equation) is the same, yet the degree of precision required differs substantially. Distance alone can not be the determining factor, nor can time nor can the degree of precision when using your sight continuum. All three have to be considered equally before a response can be initiated.

    Once again, my concern is that the shooter is required to evaluate more variables prior to selecting a response. Additionally, stress may corrupt the shooter's analysis of the problem resulting in a less-effective or ineffective response. Finally, multiple problems presented simultaneously invlving different distance/time/precision requirements would force the shooter to perform the difficult task of moving from one sighting method to another.

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    Blackhawk6;

    The amount of threat [ amount of precision needed ] available is part of the equation 7677's sight continuum addresses. The more precise shot necessary, the more the sights are necessary.

    The variable selection you mention is all part of well rounded training for some. Those who are only trained to use their sights in every situation [ and the majority have been trained in this way for decades ] do not have these options available to them.

    Threat focused shooters can use their sights to great effect when necessary. That necessity is dictated by the variables you mention which are always present in a SD sitation.

    These variables hold different weightings in all SD situations we'll find ourselves involved with and they are always there. Time/distance/precision needs, to effect an immediate resolution once the gun enters the equation, are what the brain figures out in less time than a computer could once the data was input into it.

    7677 mentioned "threat identification". The further out we identify a threat, the more time we have to make decisons and two variables [ time and distance ] is then extended which affects one or both of the other variables. It also will affect the precision variable.

    Conversely, if we neglect to identify a potential threat early enough [ or through no fault of our own it just presents itself up close and personal ], the variables weightings change. As these variables change, so do the requirements of what order they need to be weighted.

    If, for instance, the threat presents at 7 feet in the open. The heaviest weightings will be time and distance. If that same threat presents behind cover, the variables change again. If the threat is moving, again they change.

    If the threat presents with a hostage, threatening to kill them, weightings of the variables change with it. Then the precision variable will weigh more if we decide to act. The threat isn't shooting at us presently, so time is not weighted as heavily in the equation.

    These variables can be trained for. When the time/distance/precision requirements do not dictate we neeed to take the time to use the sights and we do anyway, we are leaving ourselves exposed to danger longer than necessary.

    Threat focused skills are used to reduce the time equation if and when the other two variable are weighted properly to allow us to reduce the time to threat. If the weighting of the other variables are more prevalent in the equation [ distance and precision requirements ], other skills using the sights become more weighted and necessary.

    As for myself, being a threat focused shooter whenever possible, I do not have to take the time to use the sights when they are unnecessary. Another shooter not trained in the skills of threat focus shooting would either have to take the extra time to get the gun up into the line of sight or rush the shots and effectively be "spraying and praying" some of them found their mark.

    If you take the time to get to your sights when you don't have the time, you reduce your chances of surviving the encounter and extend the time further for the threat to get rounds on you. If one is not well rounded in their skills they don't have the same choices to determine the weightings of the variables.

    It's certainly easier to not have to think about the variables and just always train to go to sights. SD situations present problem solving equations. The more skills [ tricks ] you have physicallyin that possibles bag so that the brain can pick the best solution/s, based on the weightings of the variables presented, the better you can effect an acceptable resolution to the problem in the least amount of time.

    On the streets, thats a good thing. Problem solving in the most efficient manner in SD encounters is not difficult. The brain has the ability to pick the best options instantly, but the brain needs to know what physical skills are available to be able to choose the most efficient resolution to begin with. That only requires the physical skills available to be used. If the brain does not have the same amount of choices to make, it picks the best one available from the physical skills it knows, but that certainly does not mean it was the only skill it could have used nor the most efficient.

    The more options it has in determining how to weigh the variables, the better it can choose the most efficient resoltion to the problem.

    7677 and I train others to have these options available to them through the physical skills training. Once the brain knows the skills are there physically and are available, they can be utilized effectively in an instant [ called upon in time of need ]. If the skills are not there through lack of knowledge and training in those skills, they can never be called upon effectviely nor will the brain attempt to use that which it does not understand or know.

    If the brain makes the decision through analysis of the weightings of the variables to try to use a skill it does not know under stress, it will lack the potential proficiency in doing so, and thats where people run into trouble at times and just "spray and pray" under dire circumstances. The brain picked the weightings and the skills were not there through lack of training and knowledge of how to effectively solve the problem. The computer [ the brain ] knew the most proficient solution requirements to solve the problem, but the harware [ physical skills ] were lacking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AzQkr
    It's certainly easier to not have to think about the variables and just always train to go to sights.
    This has been my point all along.
    Quote Originally Posted by AzQkr
    The more skills [ tricks ] you have physicallyin that possibles bag so that the brain can pick the best solution/s, based on the weightings of the variables presented, the better you can effect an acceptable resolution to the problem in the least amount of time.
    More solutions to a given problem do not equate to a faster implementation of a solution. This has been born out in numerous studies on the subject.
    Quote Originally Posted by AzQkr
    The brain has the ability to pick the best options instantly...
    I do not believe this is true. Consider 7677's earlier comment:
    I also see it every day in martial arts. Those who consciously think before they act are mopped up by those guys that act due the position and moves made by their opponent. This occurs because they have experience and have gone down this road before until it is second nature and this is something that is not taken into consideration with 99% of the discussions regarding the OODA loop.
    Were the individual "instantly" able to pick the best option, no one would be "consciously thinking" before they acted. As 7677 states, and I agree, training and expereince accelerate the brain's ability to process the information and select a response to the point where it becomes intuitive. I believe that by reducing the number of responses the brain has to choose from we can further accelerate the process. Studies in the field support my position.

    This is a commonly observed phenomenon. Consider a shooter who is trained to engage targets that suddenly appear. Now introduce "shoot" and "no-shoot" targets into the equation and watch what happens to his speed. The increased analytical requirements require him to slow down. In time, as he gains experience, he may become quite fast again. But he will never reach the same speed as if he were just able to shoot every target he saw.
    That is only introducing a single analytical requirement into the equation. The sight continuum requires the individual to discriminate between three different criteria before selecting a response.

    As has been stated previously, while the physical act of engaging a target with a point-shooting method may be slightly faster, the cognitive requirements slow the shooter down. I believe they also introduce more opportunity for shooter error.

    Using sighted-shooting almost exclusively may be marginally slower than point-shooting. However, it requires less analysis prior to implementation and provides fewer opportnities for the shooter to err.

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