The Big Question: How do I shoot well under pressure without using my sights or “point shoot”?
The answer: Back to basics.
It’s simple, really: Proper shooting fundamental development and gradual training leads to fluidity, security and confidence in one’s abilities, ultimately translating into a high level of skill.
When learning how to shoot, students must take a "step-by-step and check" approach. Perfection of fundamentals is key before moving to tactical training. Proper stance (or position), grip, and trigger control are the first steps in shooting. Without these basics, sights are of little relevance. It is only when these fundamentals are perfected that students learn to develop a proper sight picture and follow-through, ultimately ensuring each round fired has a proper sight picture before and after. With every repetition (round fired), students will develop the proper hand-eye coordination leading to the muscle memory of a perfected follow-through. In essence, students should always bring the sights to the dominant eye and more specifically aim exactly where they are looking (point shooting). In exercise terms this is called proprioception: "The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself."
Keep in mind: building this ability takes a lot of time and practice, so students must take a very systematic approach in building point (target focused) shooting abilities. Skipping steps will cause bad habits to form.
Part 1: Basics Development
- As mentioned above, perfect the fundamentals - stance, grip, trigger control
- Work on proper sight picture and follow-through with each round fired
- Increase shooting speeds (cadence)
- Increase shooting distances
Part 2: Intermediate Development
- Firearm manipulation - drawing the weapon (for pistol shooting) from both OWB and IWB holsters, magazines changes, malfunction clearing and one-handed shooting
- Changing positions
- Mental thinking stress - different shape, colors, numbers and math for target acquisition
- Mental/psychological stress - yelling and distractions
Part 2.5: Intermediate Plus
- Physical stress - push-ups, running, jumping and then shooting
Part 3: Advanced Development
- Physical and mental stress - fighting or hitting pads (Krav Maga), decision-making and then shooting
- Physical stress/ mental toughness - being hit while shooting
Note that each step builds on the previous step. Therefore, until a high level of proficiency is developed at each step, the shooter should not move forward.
Of course, safety is always the number one priority; students MUST practice every step dry and under professional supervision before going to live-fire training. Indeed, dry practice is the learning stage of shooting. What does this mean? Each drill, technique, and situation should be perfected in dry learning before ever firing a live round at the range. This ensures SAFETY and efficient practice at the range itself (ammo and range time is expensive).
Oftentimes, shooters notice that as they progress through the stages of training with the systemic approach, they use their sights less and less. This happens for two reasons - proficiency increases, and levels of mental and physical stress increase, effectively turning off the use of the sights. Essentially - Point (target focused) shooting with the same accuracy as sight focused shooting.
Take your time, be systemic, and be successful!
Thank you for reading,
Tactical Fitness Austin
Instructor | Owner