As featured in American Handunner:
Aimed Vs. Point Shooting
American Handgunner, Jan, 2001 by Massad Ayoob
The argument over using gun sights versus merely pointing the handgun for defensive use has been one of the most acrimonious in the history of hand-gunning. However rancorously the debate may have raged, actual scientific comparisons are notable by their absence.
It took several years before the chance came to test point shooting versus aimed fire in something resembling a scientific manner. Mike Briggs, who runs IDPA and Steel Challenge events in New Hampshire, invited me to design a stage for his upcoming IDPA Regional Championship of New England.
Since Handgunner's Ken Hackathorn has noted that the point shooting debate has revolved largely around "the two Colonels," two prominent and respected handgun authorities with field experience, I titled the match "The Applegate/Cooper Conundrum."
Through the good offices of Chris Edwards at Glock, two Glock 17 pistols were provided. John Koppel at Pro-Load donated a sufficient quantity of 124 grain +P 9mm ammunition. A Club Timer was donated for the course by Ronin Colman at PACT, Inc.
For safety's sake, shooters began with the pistol in hand, finger out of the trigger guard, and the front of the frame resting on a bench in front of the shooter, which also represented cover. Though all would be briefed on the Glock's function, many shooters would be new to this pistol and accustomed to a longer, heavier trigger pull.
Therefore, the test Glocks had New York triggers, specifically the NY-1 module which gives a firm resistance from the beginning and brings the pull weight to a nominal 8 lbs. An armorer removed both front and rear sights from one of the pistols.
In designing the course and placing the targets, I wanted to prove or disprove as many hypotheses as possible. Since many instructors recommend that non-visual indexing of the firearm be limited to no more than four or five yards. One target was placed at four yards and another at five.
For decades, FBI and NRA police instructors insisted that all shooting at the seven yard line and closer be done point-style, with the gun below line of sight. So, one target was placed at seven yards. This target, unlike the first two, was partially obscured by masking, which represented hard cover.
Advocates of point shooting have insisted that unsighted fire would work reliably out to 12 yards. Therefore, a target was placed at 12 yards. There was a no-shoot target in front and slightly to the side of this target. A shooter could step to one side for a clearer shot if he wished to take the time.
The late Col. Rex Applegate repeatedly stated that point shooting could deliver "head-hitting accuracy at 15 yards." Therefore, the fifth and final target was placed at 15 yards, with masking that represented hard cover and left only the head of an IDPA silhouette exposed.
A total of 107 contestants shot the event. Because five turns were involved to engage the targets, 18 shooters succumbed to the instinct to shoot the next target visually in line and suffered a three-second procedural penalty. These were removed from computation when figuring comparative speeds. There was no reason to remove their scores when computing for accuracy, however. This left us with 107 scores to study for accuracy, and 89 to study for speed.
The results are shown in the accompanying chart. Of the remaining 89 "clean" scores, 29 (32.58 percent) showed slower speed but greater accuracy when using the sights. The next largest group, 24 shooters (26.97 percent), experienced slower speed and lower accuracy with the sighted pistol. The third largest grouping, 15 shooters (16.85 percent) experienced greater speed but worse accuracy when aiming with the sights.
The 15-yard headshot proved disastrously difficult. Rather than averaging, it was easier and more illustrative to tally up the number of hits and misses. Only one shooter-- Walter Carlson of Concord, N.H., who competes with a revolver- managed to make both headshots with both guns.
Seven shooters made both headshots with the sighted Glock. Seven did so with the unsighted gun. Only 35 made one headshot with the sights, and 35 managed one headshot without sights. A staggering 65 missed both headshots using the sights, and 65 missed both using the sightless gun.
The identical numbers in the previous paragraph are not a misprint. They are, certainly, a statistical anomaly. The odds of such a test coming out exactly equal should have been astronomical, but the scorecards do not lie.
Shooters were observed and surveyed as to the technique they used with the gun that had no sights. Of the 98 surveys returned, slightly over 100 technique explanations were recorded, since some shooters combined techniques. Of those, 63 percent looked over the top of the pistol. In one way or another, they had used the top plane of the pistol's slide to index visually with the target.
Of those, 14 percent used the silhouette of the gun from the rear, visually superimposed over the target. This technique was developed and popularized by Jim Cirillo, who calls it an "alternative sight picture" rather than "point shooting."...
The whole of this interesting article can be found at; Aimed Vs. Point Shooting | American Handgunner | Find Articles at BNET
- Janq is trained in and practices defensive Point Shooting