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Point Shooting vs. Sighted Shooting: When to Use Which

Jeff Lehman

Whether pointing or sighting, the end goal is to get lead on target.

“Always use your sights.”

“There is a reason there are sights on your gun.”

“Focus on your front sight.” 

We hear these things all the time in various classes or on the range, and there’s no denying it is important to use the sights on your gun. But are there times when not using your sights is acceptable? Should you ever just point your gun at the target and pull the trigger?

Point Shooting

Known by various terms like indexing, target-focused shooting or instinctive shooting, point shooting is a technique where a shooter will quickly point the gun at the target and with both eyes open, line up the muzzle and fire. This technique was and still is taught to members of the military for use when there is no time for sighted fire, like in close quarter combat.

The technique has trickled down to law enforcement, and also to competition shooters and defensive shooters. The technique can be practiced using drills like the Mozambique or Bill Wilson’s 5×5 Drill.

There are many things that can factor into deciding to point shoot or use your sights. If there isn’t time, or there is a high probability that you will be shot if you take the time to line up your shot, this would be a good time to point shoot.

While still not considered mainstream, point shooting is something that all defensive shooters can learn and use. It is a more advanced technique, so it should only be attempted after you have a good basis of sighted shooting.

Heinie Specialty Products
Heinie Specialty Products

In most cases, using your sights is the best technique. This will of course properly align the gun for accurate shots. When first learning to shoot, everyone is taught proper sight alignment. This is necessary for making distant shots and is the most accurate way of shooting. As a general rule, you should be using your sights whenever you can.

Pointing the way

However there are times when just indexing, or pointing, the gun at your target and firing is a better way to go. For example, when you are right on top of your target or within arm’s reach, lining up your sights is probably not going to be able to happen. You won’t have the time to do so.

As soon as you draw, you will be bringing the gun up and firing as soon as you have it lined up with your vision. Using this technique, you will typically be shooting for center mass, so you have a better chance at hitting your target.

The best example of having to use both techniques happened to me in competition. In a recent IDPA match, there was a stage where both long distance and short range targets were presented. When the stage started, I had to use my sights to shoot the farther targets from the start position. As I moved through the stage, the targets were presented closer and closer. As the targets got closer, I started to transition to using the point shooting technique. At one point, I came around a corner and the targets were right in front of me. I stuck my gun out and just pulled the trigger, as the muzzle was almost touching the cardboard. To save precious seconds, I didn’t even bother looking at my sights.

Whether point shooting or sight shooting, our ultimate goal is to get lead on target. This is a technique that should be practiced and used when needed. It is a viable and great solution to close quarter combat situations.

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Point Shooting vs. Sighted Shooting: When to Use Which