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As featured at Janes:

06 January 1999

A technique which helps armed officers stay alive

The handgun for law enforcement purposes is given to an officer as the most effective means of delivering deadly physical force. In this capacity it is used for both offensive and defensive shooting. The use of deadly force demands that an officer has the utmost level of confidence developed and maintained in his ability to deliver hits on target over that of his criminal adversary.

Records show that the vast majority of life threatening encounters involving officers take place at 20 feet or less.

In his treatment of the safe use of firearms in South Africa, author Hilton Hamann points out that Uniform Crime Reports published in the United States prior to 1990 demonstrate that the average police officer killed in the US 'is hit at a distance between 30cms and 1.7m ...73 died at distances of 1.7m or less.' The FBI's 1992 Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report, detailing the deaths of officers killed by firearms over a 10-year period, shows that out of 650 killed during this period, 367 were shot at a range of five feet or less. Another 127 died within ranges of six to 10ft, 77 more at 11 to 20ft, with only 79 officers in 10 years killed at a range of 20ft or more.

With these painful facts in mind, the challenge for today's law enforcement firearms trainer is to research and create a practical foundation of shooting and tactical skills responsive to the real world.

After the Second World War handgun instruction for law enforcement can be best described as traditional in both concept and execution. As most serving police officers of that era were exempt from military service, war-won life-saving lessons and advances in training were either unheard of or ignored at the conclusion of hostilities.

Returning veterans with extensive close quarters pistol fighting experience taking up careers in law enforcement found little support from entrenched police firearms instructors, many favouring theory over reality. Even today, range firing and qualification is essentially determined by the minimal amount of ammunition a department can provide each officer during training because of budget restraints and civil litigation considerations.

A half century's ingrained post-war habits has likewise led many instructors to adopt handgun training programmes developed by professional shooting theorists. Such programmes have become especially popular since the 1970s, when the use of deadly force by police came under enormous social and legal scrutiny. Today, despite it being well documented that close quarters pistol instruction can reduce police death tolls, traditional training and techniques continue to find favour.

As one of today's top authorities on both shooting and tactics, Major John Farnam (retired), has noted: 'There is so much information out there on this subject... Sadly, material which is absolutely wrong, in many cases dangerously so, is being routinely taught and promulgated by the ignorant, every day. The results are dismally evident: too many gun accidents, even among those who are supposed to be "trained", too many missed shots, even when accurate shooting is critically necessary, (and) too much irresponsible and unskilled gun handling.'

Where 'the modern technique' of pistol instruction and its variants has been used since being introduced in the US by Colonel Jeff Cooper (retired), many of its adherents appear to either overlook or minimise Cooper's admonition that 'the firing of a shot in a fight is the last step in a long list of means to an end'.

Practical law enforcement handgun training is perhaps the epitome of this long list of means. So what is critical to sound police handgun training is not which 'shooting guru' or school of thought is most popular at the time, but rather which techniques, when combined with proper tactics, give the greatest degree of officer/public safety while bringing the situation to an acceptable end.

The resurrection of point shooting with its pre-Second World War origins is providing a sound foundation for 21st Century police handgun training.

Developed and refined by Captain WE Fairbairn and Colonel Rex Applegate (retired) in the 1939-45 conflict, point shooting was proven by Fairbairn to save police lives during shoot-outs with some of the world's most desperate gangsters in Shanghai, China.

Extensively researched, experimented with, and tested under real conditions by police officers, point shooting owes its documented viability to Fairbairn and BA Sykes, of the Shanghai Police.

0136 Point shooting's basic premise is that both sighted and unsighted fire is effective and should be taught. But documented case studies as first recorded by Fairbairn in Shanghai and then by Applegate and his staff at the Military Intelligence Training Centre at Camp Ritchie, Maryland, provide indisputable evidence that a well rounded offensive/defensive pistol programme must be grounded in the equally well documented realities of close quarters combat.

The research and training conducted by Fairbairn, Applegate, and their staff demonstrated, via direct feedback and written documentation, that 'instinct', or point shooting does exist as a combat pistol technique and that an acceptable level of ability, that is, fight-stopping hits placed on target at ranges from contact to 20ft under circumstances of surprise and extreme stress, can be achieved.

In brief, point shooting:

* Allows for the engagement of hostile targets at unknown ranges from a multitude of shooting positions and under a variety of shooting environments. This includes subdued light, an environment and period of time during which the majority of officers killed in gunfights are engaged

* Takes into account observed stress and documented physical reactions in responses the officer undergoes when under fire

According to the late Col Applegate: 'There is a tremendous difference between shooting methods that work well when you're simply trying to put holes in the target and those that work well when the target is trying to put holes in you. Failing to understand this difference is a mistake that will get you (the police officer) killed if you ever have to use your handgun in a real armed confrontation.'

0137 Point shooting became standardised training for both the US elite DELTA and SEAL Team 6 (ST-6) counter-terrorist forces in the mid 1990s. Operators from both units say that extensive shooting drills and scenarios demonstrated an exclusive reliance on front sight shooting alone which was too little, too late at close range under periods of extreme stress. Both DELTA and ST-6 were extensively schooled in the modern technique of pistol shooting prior to incorporating point shooting into their demanding close combat skills training.

Steve Barron, of Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, is part of an innovative and far-reaching programme that trains law enforcement officers nationwide. Upon examining the shortcomings of front sight only fire and the stance promoted by modern pistol technique advocates, Barron said: 'We have made several observations concerning point shooting during the past two years. First is the speed with which novice shooters develop acceptable skill levels. Typically, the basic recruit can be trained adequately in about half the time as was previously used. The next issue is accuracy. This system of shooting provides excellent accuracy in close quarters (inside 30ft). Third, the speed at which the students are capable of engaging targets is astonishing. It is not unusual to see the first round on target in less than .4 seconds.'

Point shooting is a documented lesson of the past being reintroduced for the benefit of the future in law enforcement shooting instruction.

Unlike other so-called modern instruction, point shooting does not discredit additional techniques and their associated tactics. Quite to the contrary, point shooting instruction seeks to provide the law enforcement officer with a valid shooting continuum spanning contact range to two-handed, sighted fire. Where the officer fires along the continuum is based on his distance to the target, the perceived threat facing him, and his ability to control instinctive physical, mental, and emotional responses to stress.

Wild Bill Hickcock, noted US frontier lawman and gunfighter, killed a number of adversaries in face-to-face gunfights. In a written response to an inquiry about how he was so successful Hickock wrote: 'I raised my hand to eye level, like pointing a finger, and fired.'

Today's lawmen are again being educated in the same time proven techniques of close quarters pistol shooting as that of men such as Hickock, Fairbairn, and Applegate.

Progressive shooting instructors can avail themselves of point shooting programmes knowing this technique will continue to save police lives.

The report can be found at; A technique which helps armed officers stay alive - Jane's Law Enforcement News

- Janq

Note:
I've trained in Fairbairn & Sykes type 'Instinctive Point Shooting' as under Michael T. Rayburn of Rayburn Law Enforcement Training (RLET).

There are other methods out there like 'Fist Fire' and firing using the hands/back of the hand as an index etc. I will not speak to those.
As to I.P.S. though as based on the Fairbairn & Sykes method in specific, I am not only a believer but I integrated it into my training and practice it.

It works. Period.

With gun drawn from holster but rather than in front of the face or chest kept and held at various points from the waist on up the mid line to just at the sternum. It works. For extreme close engagement purposes out to as afar as 21'. I've seen it done and have done it myself on full man sized targets with combat accuracy.

Also I've applied it in training and in FoF with Simunitions, and it works. Works for me rather...And not so much for the OPFOR who tried to use Weaver and all other manner of method to counteract same engagement. All experienced law enforcement shooters, no newbies.
 

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Huh. Imagine that. :wink:

I've been beating that drum for years now, even on this board. And some "NRA certified" :rolleyes: instructors tell me I'm wrong. LOL.

This was a good find with a little bit of history mixed in. Thanks for finding and posting.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sixto I am with you shoulder to shoulder on this subject.

Problem is that all manner of whatever else than true point shooting gets lumped in and the subject has become a miasma of ehh I saw that once and it's garbage thought & view.

Meanwhile Jelly Brice and very many other experienced shootists (!) have been applying as much on the streets against real world threats with very high success, following training and continued practice & application.

See my next post, also in this area, for further support as it relates directly to this matter.

- Janq
 

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I'm anxiously awaiting it!
 

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Janq, funny you posted this. I was just at Mike Rayburn's class this past Sunday over in the S&W sports center.

The first thing he did was to grab a roll of black duct tape and tape over our sights. At the end of his class we were smoking the targets with rapped fire in tight groups.

I'm a firm believer now on point shooting, and to think I was considering buying expensive night sights. NOT! :twak:

I liked it so much I even signed up for Rayburn's Combat Shotgun class. :image035:

For SD point shooting can be a real life savor, it's worth it to learn.:comeandgetsome:

Point Shooting Instruction - Rayburn Law Enforcement Training
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Jat,

If you were there then you saw me, briefly, walk in during your break as along with Mike and several other S&W employees as we played around with the new S&W electric Airsoft M&P15/AR15

I'm a big fan of Mike's instruction method & manner and am a multi-course graduate of his programs.
You will like Combat Shotgun I as it's more of same.

Anyway I'm a regular there and train at S&W very often. As well I am an instructor under Smith & Wesson Company (not the SSC...yet) teaching basic firearms education, handling and safety. Also I'm an IDPA safety officer and this weekend per their request I'll be working as a volunteer RO at S&Ws employee picnic and product shoot event.
Finally I get to try out the 500 (!).

I spend a fair amount of my spare/volunteerism time walking the halls at either the main plant or the SSC.

- Janq
 

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Yes Janq, I did see you I was wearing a NRA shirt with a Savage Arms hat. That Airsoft AR was a blast to shoot, I couldn't resist giving it a go. Thanks for letting me try it out. Next time I see you I'll introduce myself. That Close Quarters Handgun class was a real winner can't wait for the next level.:bier:
 

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Jang, thanks for the post. I was trained in the 60s (law enforcement) to draw and fire from the hip at close range (7-15 or so feet), then some of us moved to point firing with varied stances including falling and firing, and diving to the ground and firing. We learned to move rapidly off center while firing, to shoot in the dark using two rounds to illuminate the target. We kept our Maglights or Kel-lights high and away from the body, apparently in contradiction to what is taught today. I'm not sure what's taught today, but your post awakened a great interest in what's happening. Practice is key...and so is thinking outside the box...
 

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I've been an advocate of the C.A.R system for a year now and think everyone should atleast give it a try before disregarding it!
 

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I highly recommend Mike Rayburn's courses as well. I took his Instinctive Point Shooting Instructor Course at S&W Academy. It was three days of breaking down the techniques of point shooting and practicing them. About 95% of the class was live fire.

When practiced and applied properly it is a very lethal technique.
 

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LOL and so many people tell me front sight aiming is the way to go.
"you only need a colored front post, dont worry about the rear sights"

always sounded dumb and this article reinforces that.

im going to start training point shooting.
 

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which techniques, when combined with proper tactics, give the greatest degree of officer/public safety while bringing the situation to an acceptable end.
There is a time for sighted fire, and a time for, whatever it's called, non-sighted fire. "See what you need to see," has been said in the past, although I don't recall by whom.

We can argue until the cows come home over technique, but the end goal is the same. I personally believe in combining all techniques, as they all work and have their advanatges and disadvantages. Besides, the more techniques you know the more tools you have in your Tool Box to draw from.

Force on Force classes tend to show what works and has a habit of getting real close and personal, IME and opinion. Thank you for posting this, as it tends to bring another aspect of things to the discussion.

Take care and stay safe.

Biker
 

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I wonder, and someone correct me if I'm wrong here, but I wonder if accurate point shooting has somewhat to do with regular SIGHTED practice. Think about it. Those of us that practice via the front sight style of shooting, if we train the same way every day, you should be able to take the sights out of the equation due to more or less "muscle memory".

You've done the same style of draw, the same muscle movements over and over again so that it's gotten to the point that every time you draw, you naturally index yourself to your target whether or not the sights are even visible. It's just habitual. I know I've noticed it with myself.

Its the same as in martial arts. Someone that studies say...BJJ for a decade is going to be able to perform those same locks etc... on a person whether their eyes are open or not or the lights are on or not. Sight doesn't matter. They've done the exact same movements over and over again to the point where it's an automatic response.
 

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That would be Roger Phillips, our own Sweatnbullets.
Actually Brian Enos is where I got the phrase from.

+1 on Roger Phillips and his Point Shooting Progressions!
Thanks Geno!

The book, DVD, and the course are all doing very well. I would never have believe that I would be filling up courses across the nation teaching stuff that was taboo six years ago.

It is really good to see that reality based, fight focused skill sets are coming back to the forefront. The worm has definitely turned. Force on force is bringing back common sense in what is being taught as real world solutions.
 

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I wonder, and someone correct me if I'm wrong here, but I wonder if accurate point shooting has somewhat to do with regular SIGHTED practice. Think about it. Those of us that practice via the front sight style of shooting, if we train the same way every day, you should be able to take the sights out of the equation due to more or less "muscle memory".

You've done the same style of draw, the same muscle movements over and over again so that it's gotten to the point that every time you draw, you naturally index yourself to your target whether or not the sights are even visible. It's just habitual. I know I've noticed it with myself.

Its the same as in martial arts. Someone that studies say...BJJ for a decade is going to be able to perform those same locks etc... on a person whether their eyes are open or not or the lights are on or not. Sight doesn't matter. They've done the exact same movements over and over again to the point where it's an automatic response.
packinova, what you are talking about is the entry level of point shooting. What you are really physically capable of is far beyond the muscle memory out of the default draw stroke that you are speaking of.

If you want to be the very best that you can be while point shooting.....learn point shooting as it is meant to be taught.....it is meant to be taught as point shooting. Getting there through the path of sighted fire is extremely inefficient and ineffective.

True point shooting will move you past the capabilities of muscle memory out of the default draw stoke within a few minutes of quality instruction.

You give a good point shooting instructor a couple of days and you will be accomplishing what you believed to be impossible just two days prior.

It is an entirely different training methodology. It is very much a gross motor skill set that has very little to do with the fundamentals of marksmanship.
 

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Exactly! ^^

Before I sought out a _quality_ PS instructor I had started out my gunmanship base decades ago as being 'taught' by _non-instructor_ people I knew from the streets to shoot by pointing (the gun) at a target, and firing.

I've come to learn and understand as via now good instruction from real and professional instructors that point shooting is not at all the same as just pointing the gun, and firing.

As noted above by SNB it is a developed skill like any other form of directed fire and firearm handling.
The skill is relatively easy to pickup and apply to a degree of proficiency, BUT like any other skill it requires regular practice to hone and maintain as a skill set.

I would encourage folks to be open minded about this subject same as you would toward some new make or type of ammunition, powder, firearm or anything else.

BTW to be very specific we, myself and SNB, and this article are _not_ referring to "Aimed Point Shooting" as is one of the first items to come up via Google search. That is a completely different system on it's own. I will not speak to that further other than to reiterate that is NOT what we are referring to.

As with any other method and manner of employing a firearm seek out a good, well known, and respected instructor.
In my own case Rayburn came to me as referred by three different instructors two of whom I've trained under through multiple courses and specialized one on one private sessions as well. Both persons being lead/head instructors with background in not specifically civilian but international LEO, military, and para-military/government operator instruction. I respect those people and go to them when I'm unsure of some item or require instruction.
As well Roger Phillips is another whom folks here at DC.com know of directly.

Seek out same type of sources as in your own area toward referrals for instruction on anything as related to combatives; firearms, edged weapons, open/closed hand and mentality.

In this industry like any other there are people hanging a shingle on every other block referring to them self as an 'Instructor'.
As with any other industry a subset are excellent and they cost money while being difficult to get time with. Another subset are good and they cost less but are equally booked for months ahead. Then there are the rest and you do very much tend to get what you pay for.

It's your life and investment of time & money.
What are they worth to you.

- Janq

"[Point shooting] is an entirely different training methodology. It is very much a gross motor skill set that has very little to do with the fundamentals of marksmanship." - Roger Phillips aka 'Sweatenbullets'
 
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