Saturday, October 3, 2015

Understanding Point-Shooting -Michael Janich

      "I thought I'd begin sharing some of the "cerebral" side of my take on shooting to help you understand my approach. And since my lineage in shooting goes back to one of my greatest mentors, the late Col. Rex Applegate, I thought that would be a great place to start.

Col. A was one of the greatest proponents of point shooting. Rather than argue over what point shooting is or isn't, I think it's more important to understand why it's physiologcally important to accept point shooting's role in real defensive shooting.

First of all, ALL shooting begins with point shooting, which I define as "aiming the gun through kinesthetic alignment." Think about it: before you get any kind of sight picture, you "point" the gun toward the target. Typically, the adjustments you make to that general "point" based on the sights are minimal, so the initial kinesthetic alignment of the gun is usually pretty damned good.

Accurate shooting is basically a process of aligning the gun with the target and maintaining that alignment while you operate the trigger. Let's talk about sight picture and put that into perspective with combative shooting when you're in fear for your life.

First of all, we have the theoretical sight picture, as shown in picture 1--front sight perfectly centered in rear notch and superimposed over bad guy's center of mass. Although this is a great "academic" reference, it's physiologically impossible because the eye cannot focus at different distances at the same time.

Proponents of sighted fire will respond to this by citing the "flash" front sight picture. Bad guy establishes that he's a bad guy and you are in fear for your life. You present your gun, align it with the target (sounds like "pointing" to me), and, when you have no other choice but to defend yourself, you switch your focus from the bad guy to the front sight of your gun, confirm its alignent with the target, and fire. 

There are two problems with this approach:

1 ) If you're using all your resources during this process, you should also be using verbal commands like "Drop the weapon!" Well, when you--by your own admission--switch your focus to the front sight, how do you know he still has a weapon and still poses a lethal threat if you're not looking at him?

2) In a life-threatening situation,your body activates its sympathetic nervous system (SNS). This defensive response is what initiates the "Body Alarm Reaction," which is colectively responsible for things like startle response, fight/flight/freeze reflex, adrenaline dump, etc. One of the effects of this is dilation of the pupils to take in more information. Dilation also limits the eye's depth of field, making it physically incapable of focusing at shorter distances. If you weren't already "motivated" to look at the guy trying to kill you, physiologically, your body just made that your default.

With regard to the latter phenomenon, here's some interesting reading from the Journal of Behavioral Optometry

Both pictures 1 and 2 are also "artificial" in that they show the gun and sights as being opaque. This is the way the camera shows them because the camera is a single (monocular) image. If you shot with one eye closed, you'd get the same effect. However, instinct--and good combative shooting technique--will have you shoot with both eyes open. Binocular vision--especialy when focused at a distance--will make things in your near field of vision appear translucent. Your gun is there in your field of vision, but your brain, which combines the images created by your two eyes, allows you to see "through" it. The result is the silhouette of the gun superimposed over the target--Jim Cirillo's "Silhouette Point" (picture 3). This is what you want to see when you're looking at the target.

Since the hardest part of teaching someone how to shoot is knowing that he is "seeing" what you want him to, I like to start with this process. Practice dry fire, with a blue gun, or even with the thumb of your empty hand so you can look at something that is a short distance away, maintain your focus on it, and still visually register the gun/thumb on your line of sight to that object."

- Michael Janich 

Picture 1: Theoretical sight picture 

Picture 2: Front sight focus 

Picture 3: Silhouette point