I debated whether to put this in the training section or this section and opted for this section since it is a discussion of a technique rather than a training method per se.
This is in response to some specific inquiries regarding the flash sight picture technique. First and perhaps foremost, this is not a spiel to sell or promote the flash sight picture technique, but rather to explain what it is and the concept of how it is intended to be applied. I hope ensuing discussions will address the technique, etc. rather than drifting into ‘other’ methods, debates regarding effectiveness, etc. All this has been discussed many, many times and will certainly add no clarification to the technique itself. This is intended to be a what-it-is, not what’s best, etc. Those types of discussions simply go on forever in circles consisting of very specific situations that ‘proves’ that something is better than another. So having said that…
Perhaps the flash sight picture is really more than the name infers, yet it is exactly what it infers. It may be one of the most misunderstood, and misrepresented methods used in defensive shooting, yet it’s principles are decisively defined. First some principles:
1- The flash sight picture is primarily a close range technique with a useable range of 5 feet or so out to about 21 feet or so depending on skill, training, and reliability of hits. When hit reliability becomes compromised, then the rear sights may need to be brought into play.
2- The flash sight picture does not enable precision shooting, but rather provides a means of achieving well placed shots at fast speeds.
3- The flash sight picture involves the front sight – alone – i.e. the rear sight is not involved. In fact, many that use this technique install a front night sight with standard rear sights. I believe that would be the best set up for fast sight acquisition in close range encounters in subdued light levels. The down side of the front sight only night sight is loss of rear sight alignment for accuracy at longer ranges or more precision shots at closer ranges.
4- The flash sight picture is dynamic - eye focus moves from the threat to the front sight only long enough to confirm alignment and shoot, and then focus moves back to the threat. The rear index or reference comes from the stance, grip, etc. as dictated by the situation. The threat will be slightly blurry when the shot breaks.
5- Good flash sight technique involves seeing the front sight very early in the draw stroke as will be described later.
6- If done properly, the gun is aligned on the target throughout the extension process, hence the gun can be fired at any point during the extension. By comparison, the sequential extension, sight, and fire is slow and poor technique.
7- Guns with DA/SA triggers:If you have made the decision to shoot, pull on the DA trigger should start as soon as the gun is indexed toward the threat, and increase pressure applied throughout the extension stroke, so that the shot breaks as soon as the desired extension is reached.
The strength of the flash sight picture method of indexing a gun comes when it is part of a system rather than as an isolated technique. Here’s an example, and this example addresses ONLY those situations where the gun would be fired from an extended arm position and the decision has been made to shoot.
This describes, although not exhaustively, how the flash sight picture used in conjunction with a tactical draw stroke:
Starting with a holstered gun, and the eyes focused on the threat, the shooting hand acquires the proper grip on the holstered gun and simultaneously the support hand is positioned near the center of the chest. There are some variations of how the support hand is oriented. The shooting hand pulls the gun straight upward while the support hand remains in the same position. The gun is then rotated 90° with the gun positioned very near the strong side of the chest with the muzzle indexed forward toward the threat. The support hand should still be in the same position on the chest. The gun should remain high and tight to the body in a ‘retention’ position. The flash sight picture begins now.
With the eyes still focused on the threat, as the gun is extended, the peripheral vision starts to pick up the front sight. The support hand now moves from the chest and acquires the support hand grip on the gun. As the gun extends, more pressure is applied to the trigger (remember the decision to fire has already been made) and the front sight becomes superimposed on the threat. Just as the gun reaches full (or desired extension) the eye focus now moves from the threat to the front sight and the shot breaks. The focus then returns to the threat.