Virtually every training tells you to "focus on your sights".
How important are they to being an accurate shooter?
Do You Need Sights?
Before answering this question, you have to realize there are different types of shooting with a handgun. You can shoot for marksmanship (extreme accuracy and high points on a target), or you can do combat shooting (shooting designed to win a deadly force encounter). To be a great marksman, you will need to use your sights, but to be an effective combat shooter, you do not really need them.
No Sights - Just Another Training Fad?
As a firearms instructor, with hundreds of hours of certification training, I had only briefly heard mention of shooting without sights. It was a concept mentioned in passing, and poorly explained. It was brushed off by those covering the curriculum as "nonsense" because it was contrary to the customary training associated with firearms.
I blindly passed along to my police officers the training I had been taught for years, "Focus on your front sight. Your front sight is your world." All of that changed after I had my first shooting incident on the streets. After the incident, I realized that I had not seen the front sight at all. Part of this was due to the fact that it took place on a dark street, and our department did not have true "night sights" at the time. The other part was that my focus was focused sharply on my threat. I felt like a failure for not following my own advice. Despite that, even the detectives were thoroughly impressed with my shooting accuracy, with 4 out of 6 rounds ending up in a less than 2-inch group.
Afterward I began speaking with other officers that had been in a shooting incident with at least marginal shooting accuracy. I polled them to see how many of them had seen their front sights during the shooting. Not one of them had seen their front sights during the encounter. It became clear to me that when we were teaching combat shooting, we needed to forget about the front sight.
Why Sight Alignment Is Taught
The majority of new gun owners that take training seem to be interested in using a firearm for self-defense. If this is the case, why do we even bother teaching sight alignment. To become a good combat shooter, you first need to understand the principles associated with good sight alignment. Good defensive shooting still requires a certain amount of proper alignment, you just find other ways to accomplish this alignment, rather than using the sights.
Shooting without your sights is effective up to approximately 10 - 15 yards away, depending on the skill of the shooter. Anything outside of those distances will typically still require you to use your sights. The numerous officers I have trained have been astonished to learn that they actually shoot much better WITHOUT their sights.
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