During a combative pistol call, I noticed that a few of the students kept saying to themselves quietly, “front sight, front sight, front sight…”  I understood what they were trying to instill into their minds, but I had to keep reminding them that at a distance of 5-10 feet, what does the front sight really mean, especially when your life may be on the line?

I think some may get too caught up with becoming the “precision sniper pistol shooter,” making sure that all the rounds are touching in the 10-ring.

Taking a step back and looking at why most of us law-abiding citizens carry a pistol, we can start to put things into perspective and reevaluate our training regimen.  Most of us carry a pistol for personal protection and the protection of others in everyday living.

We never know when the time may come that we have to use it. It may be leaving the store, walking to your car, at the ATM machine, at the gas station, etc., whatever the case may be, odds are you won’t be expecting it.

The Police Marksman Association conducted a study of 180 cases where the LEOs won the confrontation. The results:

  • average distance was 4-12 feet
  • average number of rounds fired: 3.5. This was dependent on caliber; .357 Mag the average was 2.3 rounds and 9 mm it was 5.5 rounds, and other calibers fell in between these two figures
  • the officers hit [their assailants] 61.5% of time (compared to FBI, where the figure is only 14% hit percentage)

Being that most of my courses revolve around combat shooting, I typically train to fight at a practical distance. This doesn’t mean the students won’t engage targets 100 yards and beyond to show what the weapon system is capable of doing, but how often do you hear stories of victims engaging a threat at 120 yards. At that point you have time and distance to get an AR, or flee.

To get the students time up to par, and get them into a combat mindset where time is key, we conducted a simple drill that anyone at any range can conduct. There is nothing wrong with saying “front sight” repeatedly for a beginner shooter, or someone who is competing, or making a precise shot at distance, don’t get me wrong, but this is about training to fight. I can guarantee with almost 100% certainty that, if you have to use your weapon as a defensive tool, you won’t remember ever seeing your sights because it’s an almost instinctive shoot.

The Front Sight Focus Shooting Drill

  1. At a typical defensive shooting range, place a target in front of you.
  2. Aim your pistol at the “X” and fire, placing one round as close to center as you can get.
  3. For the next round, place the front sight so that it is obscured by the left rear sight and fire.
  4. Next, place the front sight so that it is obscured by the right rear sight.
  5. For the fourth round, place the front sight so that the top portion can barely be seen just below the top portion of the slide and fire.
  6. Finally, place the front sight so that the base of it becomes level with the top portion of the rear sights and fire.

At the end of the drill, you should have a nice cross-looking group around the ‘X’, but they will all be center mass hits with a 3-5 inch spread.

The point of this front sight focus shooting drill is to show you, the shooter, that there can be some leeway in regards to the front sight. It’s not a sniper rifle, it’s a pistol, and odds are you won’t just shoot one round center mass at a threat and call it a day.

Give it a try!