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Point Shooting Home Study Course

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Point Shooting As Taught By Fairbairn, Sykes And Applegate. ( For a version with photos/illustrations click )

Teaching Point Shooting

The following information on Point Shooting was developed from a handout prepared by Mathew Temkin for use in his instructor classes on Point Shooting. It was written for instructors, but can be a training guide for most anyone.

Mathew Temkin is a former NYC Court Officer, Police Trainer, and advocate of Point Shooting for use in close quarters combat situations.

Also the books Shooting To Live by Fairbairn and Sykes, and Kill or Get Killed by Rex Applegate, were used as sources, and should be read.

The lesson plan is presented in five parts.


Start of Part One.

Since nearly everything taught in this system flies in the face of most other systems, you had better have a very good reason for your students to change to it, and especially for streetwise police to change to it.

The extensive combat and training experiences of Fairbairn, Sykes and Applegate, support making the change. (See pages 2-5 of STL, and pages 99-106 of KOGK.)

Police who were consistently trained in this method, were involved in 666 armed encounters involving pistols over a period of twelve and one half years. Police casualties were 42 killed and 100 wounded. Criminal casualties were 260 killed and 193 wounded.

Based on actual actual records, the authors were involved in over 200 violent close combat incidents.

Further, the combat conditions of their day, are the same as those experienced today.

In Shooting To Live we find that almost all shooting affrays took place within four yards, and very frequently at shorter distances.

Often times the only warning of what was about to take place was a suspicious movement of the opponent’s hand. The opponent also was likely to be on the move.

If you believe that shooting is likely to occur, you will be keyed-up to a high pitch and will be grasping your pistol with almost convulsive force.

If you have to fire, your instinct will be to do so as quickly as possible, and you will probably do it with a bent arm, and possibly even from the hip.

Chances are that lighting conditions will be bad, or that there will be no light at all.

The average affray will be over in a matter of seconds.

"It is literally a matter of the quick and the dead. Take your choice."

Instinctive aiming will be called for as there just will not be time to take a proper stance, aim, and then shoot.

Instinctive aiming can be described as using our natural ability of being able to point a finger at an object with great accuracy, to aim a handgun.

The gun becomes an extension of the hand, and the barrel an extension of the finger.

- How To Grip The Handgun

Place the first crease of your index finger on the trigger, and grip the gun until it shakes. The handgun should now be in perfect alignment with the Y of your hand.

That is the grip taught in both Shooting To Live and Kill or Get Killed. Here is a pic from KOGK.

Basic Dry Fire Drill

The simplest way to learn the method is to use a two hand Isosceles stance, with feet squared to the target and with your body in a slight crouch.

Then release your weak hand and hold the pistol only in your shooting hand. The gun should be directly in your center line. Test this by slowly bending your elbow until the barrel is nearly verticle.

Just make sure the darn thing is unloaded, OK?

- The Vertical Lift.

Q targets are used. The students should concentrate on the Q, and then slowly lift the pistol from the "low ready" by using just their shoulder, and when they feel on target, trigger a shot by convulsively squeezing their hand.

That is called milking the grip, and is usually considered a no-no. But do it anyway.

The key is to lock the wrist and elbow, and lift only from the shoulder while focusing on the spot you wish to hit.

The handgun should be in the position illustrated in Shooting To Live. Here is what it looks like.

The Applegate video, SHOOTING FOR KEEPS also has an illustration of this.

Now, have the students raise the handgun up, and then fire after a slight pause but without looking at the sights or at the gun.

As they progress, the tempo can be increased. Also, make sure that they come down SLOWLY between shots.

- Live Fire

Starting at about 8 feet, have them fire single shots. Many will find that they are shooting out the Q very quickly.

If shots are high, have the student squeeze the pistol harder as in combat. If they are low, slow them down. Off center? Adjust the grip so that it cuts the body's centerline.

- Bursts of Two or More Shots

Now it is time for bursts of two or more shots. Same drill as before, but trigger two shots as fast as possible. The secret? As Applegate aptly put it, "Just pull the damn trigger as fast as possible."

If the shots open up a bit, have them clutch the pistol tightly as in combat. Yes, it hurts.

OK, it's time for a break.

- During Breaks

During breaks or when loading mags, stress the importance of practicing with a slight crouch, convulsive grip, focusing in on the target, etc.

Why? Because that is what often happens in combat. Insist upon it in practice. Also, the more real in pratice, the more accurate it will be.

- Back to Work

Repeat the basic two drills but now with one foot forward, either one, as we bid farewell to the "square stance" which was only meant as an initial training vehicle.

It is important to keep the back heel slightly raised. Or as Applegate called it, the "Forward crouch position."

Do both drills again, the first with only one shot at the whistle, then with bursts of two or three.

- Focusing

The real "secret" of Point Shooting is to focus on the spot that you want to hit. With practice it is not necessary to have your body "squared" to the target. Eventually where the eyes go, the hand and gun will follow.

End of Part One (which takes about 50 rounds or so).


Mathew Temkin can be contacted at [email protected]

The books Shooting To Live With The One Hand Gun by Captain William Ewart Fairbairn and Captain Eric Anthony Sykes (1942), and Kill---or Get Killed by Major Rex Applegate (1943), are available on the web.

Posts: 117
(2/8/06 4:46 pm)
Re: Point Shooting Home Study Course

The following course segments are more relevant to "police" and "military" use than to home defense situations. ..........


Start of Part Two.

- Adding Movement

Applegate was a firm believer in moving into the enemy if the range was short and there was no cover nearby.

Special military and police units have devised several methods --Graucho, heel-to-toe, etc. of advancing without bouncing. But as we are not trying to keep a sight picture when moving, we can do so with any natural foot motion just as long as the student is not bouncing.


Recently I was in my local gunshop when I ran into a student of a few years back who since moved to Florida.

He told me the story of a cop in Broward county who was recently in a shooting. His gun ran dry and he had to pull his belt buckle mini revolver in .22 caliber.

While firing he choose to charge into the BG, firing all the way.

Several witness's reported that the bad guy froze up as the cop was running in and presented an easier target to the officer.

Cop 1, BG 0

Now do the same drills, but while moving in, and slowly at first. Work up to finally running in at full speed and firing away. The body will soon find the perfect blend of speed and accuracy, without the need for sights.

All shots should be covered by the palm of one hand. We are looking for the ability to hit a man size torso hard, fast and often.

- Pivot/angle Shots.

Nearly all shooting schools teach set ways of moving one's feet to engage a target to the flanks/rear. Both Fairbairn and Applegate warned against this. They said that "the shooter should change his body direction in any natural manner. Stay away from any set method of changing body direction. Terrain is uncertain, and the actual position of the feet in combat may not always be the same..."

The trick is not to swing your arm. The pivot and vertical lift should coincide, meaning as soon as your eyes are on target, you should be ready to fire. A step in after the pivot is a wonderful aid to accuracy and the proper combat mindset.

There may be situations in which you can not move your feet at all, but must twist the body to get on target. No problem. But try to step in ASAP after the twist.

- Marching Drill

Once the students has both right/left and rear pivots down pat, have them walk parallel to a line of targets. Tell them to keep moving with the gun in the ready position" and to wheel, turn and move in towards the nearest target "on the whistle".

Watch the feet, so you can blow the whistle sometimes when the left foot is forward, and sometimes when the right is forward.

Whether with or without the sights, shooters should be taught to focus/aim at the belly button. (See page 78 of STL for reasons why.) my dad pointed do not want to see a man's face when shooting to "stop", since doing so may slow you down.

- Multiple Targets

Place two targets side by side, about 5 feet apart. Engage them with movement, meaning to step in to engage each target. Do not pause between shots, but fire only when your eyes lock on each target.

Eventually work up to 4-5 targets staggered at various distances. Good results are surprisingly quick.

- Lateral Motion

Quite often the only possible way to safely move is directly into the enemy. But exceptions do exist so let us examine how to move off line.

Applegate cautioned not to give specific methods of moving one's feet, but here is where I break that rule.

Face the target square in a "horse stance". As the pistol is raised do a "In Quartata" (as Styers shows in COLD STEEL). Your left foot comes behind your right foot but DO NOT cross your feet. At all times you should be on balance with your feet shoulder width apart. After the first step keep sidestepping and shooting for a few rounds.

Do it righty and lefty, and then practice it with either foot forward. If you were being charged by a knife/stick armed man you could combine the first step with a muzzle smash to the BG's mouth before shooting.

- Use of Cover

This is how Fairbairn taught it. For left side he taught to change hands, but Applegate felt that Cirillo's method made more sense. For best results, use the sights with both eyes open, and aim for the navel.

(Bonus...doing so does not make the weapon block out the target.)

Learn both.

- Zipper Drill.

Start point shooting--rapid fire--while focusing on the navel. With each "burst of two" focus your eyes a bit higher and higher on the opponents body, finishing on the head.

The shots will go where you look, almost as if by magic. The pistol. BTW, should sound like a machine gun.

- Head Shots

Fire two shots into the chest. Without pausing, focus on the head and fire two more. When the 4 shots sound like one, and the head shots are dead center, you are doing it right.

Remember not to think or pause, just shoot.

Naturally this is a close range technique. But since the head shots are coming from below his/her eye level, he/she will never see it coming--as long as you do not PAUSE.

Mental Attitude. My dad always stressed--be it armed or unarmed combat--that it is not so much what you do that counts, but how aggressively you do it.

See the bottom of page 141 into 143 of KOGK for Applegate's opinions on this vital element.

- Shooting For The Stomach Area.

A friend who is a police officer in the 28PCT, told me about a recent shooting of a NYPD Captain. The Captain had his gun out and was about to fire when the punk got off the first shot. The Capt was shot in the stomach area and was literally unable to pull the trigger. He then clutched his stomach, dropped his Glock and collapsed.

He survived thank goodness.

Read why Fairbairn & Sykes advised to focus in on this area.

NOTE: It is my opinion that to many self defense experts spend way to much time arguing minor points and over analyzing techniques. Perhaps it would be better to heed the advice of those who are been and done--even if it conflicts with our cherished but untested beliefs.

End of Part Two



Start of Part Three

- The 1/2 Hip Technique

One flaw of Applegate's method was his insistance on a point shoulder (arm fully extended at nose/chin level), over the closer range methods favored by Fairbairn, Sykes and Grant Taylor.

Much later on in life Applegate began teaching a 1/2 hip technique, which he called "Body Point."

In fact on his deathbed in 1998 Applegate told Hocking College's Steve Barron that he considered 1/2 hip technique to be the a vital aspect of combat shooting.

In my armed guard classes we do both active role playing and Shoot/Don't Shoot videos with Co2 pistols, sans projectiles of course.

In the majority of cases when the distance is within 2-3 yards I notice that most of my students would go into half hip even though they were never taught it.

Fairbairn mentions this on page 4 of STL....."If you have to fire your instinct will be to do so as quickly as possible, and you will probably do it with a bent arm, possibly even from the level of the hip..."

But first let us deal with 3/4 hip position.

What Fairbairn is showing is the ready position that will naturally turn into 3/4 hip.

Face the target at about 9 feet and fire by bringing the gun up by lifting only from the shoulder. In other words, the wrist and elbow remain in the exact position shown. The pistol should be fired in bursts of 2-3 shots at about chest level.

The best example of this is the O.S.S. film, especially the part where Fairbairn is having the student chamber and fire in one motion. That pretty much shows how to do 3/4 hip from the horses mouth, so to speak.

In this picture of the 1/2 hip, the subject has the pistol way off his center line.

This is an illustration of why hip shooting has gotten such a bad rap for decades. As with all but close hip, the pistol should be intersecting your center line. A good photo of the proper method is on page 124 of KOGK, but ignore Applegate's warning as to the dangers of the technique.

Limitations perhaps, but within it's proper distance, 1/2 hip is deadly accurate.

The easiest way to get into it is to face the target square ( 6 foot distance) and hold the pistol in a 2 hand Isoc. position. Slowly bend your elbows until they rest on your ribcage. Release your weak hand and you are now in half hip.

Fire in bursts of 2, 3 and four shots and soon you will be amazed at the accuracy. Then repeat the drills with one foot forward.

Finally, start backing off a step at a time to see how far away from the target you can get with man hitting accuracy.

Close or 1/4 hip) The current trend is to rest the gun hand against your ribcage and fire away. The fact that few instructors can agree on exactly where to reference the pistol is not a good sign. It is also very easy to loose track of the muzzle during a struggle. And make no mistake about it---- You are not in a gunfight but a fight, and shoot yourself.

To avoid this Applegate favored to strike the BG with the muzzle and then shoot. With a revolver this is no problem, but a semi auto may go out of battery, so be sure to draw it back slightly before firing.

You'll notice how each shot tends to blow the target into a very raggedy and very, very large hole. That is the gasses working for you as an extra bonus. Just ask any Medical Examiner to explain this in greater detail.

Once you have the basics down it's time to practice this with some unarmed strikes. Both the tiger's claw/face smash and axe hands are effective. I like to have my students face the target with the gun holstered. On the whistle I have them excecute a left hand face smash while drawing the pistol. Keep your left into in his face (in a real fight it would be clawing, gouging, ripping, etc.), and draw your pistol. Thrust the muzzle into the stomach area, pull slightly back and rip off two shots.

It is important to keep your left hand high and the pistol low to avoid shooting your free hand.

Drills) With both half and quarter hip you can repeat all of the drills taught in parts 1&2 (with point shoulder) but instead doing them with the closer range methods.

I should mention now that working on a square range, even one which allows up to 180 degree shooting, has it's limitations.

Once the basics are mastered you really have to pratice either in a "Kill" house, with FATS machine, Airsoft, SIMS or CO2 pistols.

End of Part Three



Start of Part Four

One of the my favorite articles in gun mags is the review of courses given by "name instructors."

Much of what passes for "advanced" training sometimes makes me shake my head in wonder.

For example, should "double taps, hammers, rapid reloading, zeroing the weapon and other fundamental skills really belong in a so called advanced course?

When I teach a long arm point shooting couse, I assume the student already is very familar with his weapon of choice and my teaching style reflects this.

First of all, the following methods are workable with any type of longarm...rifle/carbine/shotgun...regardless of action.

The only exception would be concerning underarm assult position with fully automatic, very short barreled weapons such as the Uzi, Mp 5 with adjustable stock, etc.

- Longarms

1. Explain how the principles of point shooting with long arms are identical as to those with the handgun. It is assumed that the student is proficient with the weapon, manipulations and aimed fire from all positions (standing, kneeling, prone, etc.)

2. Cover the 4 methods of aiming a weapon.

A. Classic aimed fire using both front and rear sight.

B. Weapon at shoulder, ignoring the rear sight, but putting the front sight at enemey's navel area.

C. Weapon at shoulder, eyes focused on enemy's navel, but toatally ignoring the sights. ( Sometimes called Quick fire)

D. Underarm assult position. ( See pages 182 & 183 of KOGK)

All of these techniques have one thing in common and that is that the barrel is always in line with the eyes.

3. Assume the same offensive stance--left foot in front, toes of both feet facing the target with the back heel slightly raised. practice one shot drill, two shot drill and 3-4 shot bursts from both aimed and front sight only sighting techniques. Begin at distance of 20 feet or so, backing up to about 10 yards. Once you have good groups the real training will now begin.

4. Face the target in a square (Isoc) stance with the riflebutt in the shoulder. The exact location is not so important, but it should be comfortable. I tend to place it somewhere between the shoulder pocket and my collarbone.

Most shotgun stocks, however, are a bit long and I usually place that stock in more of the tratitional shoulder "pocket."

No matter what, both elbows should be sharply bent and pulling in slightly.

To do "QuickFire" have the weapon at low ready and focus on the exact spot you wish to hit. With the stock in your shoulder raise the barrel until it is about at chest level and immediately fire off first one, then two and finally bursts of 3-5 shots.

Since the sights are not being used the rate of fire is very rapid. The best illiustration of this is in the rifle section of ALL IN FIGHTING, page 125, figures 156 and 157.

5. Repeat this drill while moving towards the target. Then fire a few shots moving in, followed by shooting while retreating.

6. Multiple targets.

Same Quickfire position, same concept as with the pistol. Key is to move into each target while engaging. Avoid swinging with just the hips from a stationary position.

Lastly we come to the underarm assult position, which does not get the attention it deserves.

Thankfully it is well illustrated in KOGK (see the chapter of firing shoulder weapons) and you will be all set.

Pratice it with the same drills that we used for close pistol work. Also pratice it while carrying the weapon at port arms by slapping the stock under the armpit and immediately shooting upon impact.

End of Part Four



An often mentioned objection to Point Shooting that I would like to deal with is that: "It either takes years and years of training to make PS work, or an extreme amount of natural talent."

The following is a short synopis of what I recently taught to 6 police/military instructors in Sweden.

Course time was about 3 and one half hours, including short breaks. We went through about 1200 rounds of ammo.

We did not move on to a new drill until all students had fist size groups. Distance was from 0-6 meters.

1. Brief history of FAS.

2. Describe term instinctive and how it relates to shooting.

3. Basic drill from square stance. Single-bursts of two-bursts of 4-5 shots.

4. Repeat same drills with one foot forward.

5. Repeat drills while moving in.

6. Move in for 4-6 shots, then back up for 4-6 shots.

7. Zipper drill.

8. Two chest, two head drill.

9. Lateral movement drill, right and left.

10. Principles of angle/pivot shots. Work up to marching drill.

11. Putting it all together drill..rapidly fire while moving forward, back, right, forward, back, left. Should fire off 15 rounds in a bout 8-10 seconds while in constant motion.

12. Explain how distance dictates technique. Show 3/4 hip position. Repeat all drills from this position.

13. Half hip.

14. Multiple target drill.

15. Show problems with retention shooting and why gun must be canted to the side. Then explain why Applegate prefered to strike with the muzzle.

16. Repeat drill with face smash. Explain why we rip and claw.

17. Do drill, then incorporate movement...back, lateral, etc.

Finish with stalking drill..Student slowly moves in and out various targets until, at the sound of the whistle, he engages the closest target. (Called a "S" drill by the London Swat Officers).

I have used this same format to teach civilians, some of whom have never even touched a pistol before, with excellent results.



Start of Part Five

- Subgun

Since most of my exposure has been with the MP 5 I will concentrate on this weapon, although I will mention others.

The standard seems to be the telescoping stock variety, which has its good and bad points.

- How to Carry

Most police departments that I have had contacts with do not teach fully automatic fire.

(Which begs the question of why bother with a subgun in the first place)

...and most have also settled on the first man through the door carrying it with the selector on semi auto and the finger off the trigger.

Applegate and Fairbairn taught to keep the weapon on full auto and use the trigger to shoot it semi automaticly, which makes sense.

However, this seems to work beat with older style weapons with a cycle rate of about 550 RPM's.

Since the MP 5 cycles at about 850 rounds per minute, this is a bit harder to do, even in a range enviornment.

- Basic Drills

All the basic drills for the rifle---front/rear sight, followed by front sight only, and quick fire, all apply when the subgun is used with the stock fully extended and fired from the shoulder. All work with the MP 5 and do not need to be repeated here.

So it is time to close the stock. But the SAS teach to leave it slightly open to make a malfunction TAP/RACK/COVER technique easier to pull off.

3. One technique I was taught in Sweden, via London Special Response, is to thrust the weapon out to full extension (from the sling position), and shoot without the sights in a modified isoc type position.

I did not like the technique, since I tended to lose control of the weapon, and it seems to be falling out of favor.

I prefer to fire from either the navel or chest level, and all of the drills from the rifle half hip section apply to the shortened MP 5 or any other machine pistol.

In fact all of the pistol drills designed for three quarter and half hip are also applicable with the MP 5 in this position.

- Full Auto

The weapons that I have experimented with in Europe have both full and three burst features, while in the states, a semi and full auto feature seem to be the norm.

No matter, since either will do just fine.

I like to have the student fire off a 30 round burst from the hip, fired at about 10 feet or so.

They soon see that it is possible to keep all 30 rounds into a very small group, and this seems to boost confidence.

Then I have them work on firing short bursts from the weapon while it is set on full auto.

This usually takes a few mags for them to get down pat.

- Full Auto Drills

I merely repeat all of the half hip pistol drills---static, moving in, zipper, multiple targets, etc, with the MP 5, since all it really is, is a big, ugly, fast shooting pistol.

Then we repeat the same drills with the stock fully extended, but still shooting short bursts from the shoulder.

- Chest/Head

Have the student fire a fast burst from hip level into the chest, and then have them fire a burst into the head without any pause by just looking at the head.

I was amased how quickly even "poor" shooters pick this up.

- Traverse

(AKA how a subgun was really meant to be used.)

I love to do this at an outdoor range with a sand or dirt backstop. Just lock the weapon into your chest/hip/sternum and let her rip while twisting your body rapidly from left to right.

I am not sure of the police application of this, but it sure is fun.

Mathew Temkin can be contacted at temahedysa(at)

The books Shooting To Live With The One Hand Gun by Captain William Ewart Fairbairn and Captain Eric Anthony Sykes (1942), and Kill---or Get Killed by Major Rex Applegate (1943), are available on the web.
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