Anybody do instinctive shooting?


February 26, 2010, 10:08 PM
Maybe I don't have the term right but it is basically learning to shoot without using the sights. I read a long article written in 1958 about a guy in Georgia that taught a method. It claimed anybody can learn and be like Wild Bill Hickok in no time. The article did read more like an infocommercial but it was intriguing. Really I never saw a western where the hombre took time to sight in after he cleared leather. Some in spaghetti westerns must have know the technique because they could fall all 13 bullets in their peacemakers and smoke down at least 15 newly dearly departed desperadoes. While we are at it old 30s gangster movies usually held the gun chest high and the dirty rat always went down with plenty of accurate ventilation.

Is there any tips to shooting like that or is it all B.S.? My eyes aren't as good as they use to be.

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February 26, 2010, 10:43 PM
I am definitely not that proficient. But I practice handgun shooting at the 7-10 yards (20-30 feet) distance. I practice moving; stopping; shooting. 2 steps, stop, point, shoot 2 times, move again. And literally, I point. I don't aim. My goal isn't to get a 1 inch group. My goal is to shoot an entire magazine in the size of 6-8 inches. At 20 feet, I usually can do that with a 7 round magazine. At 30 feet, I usually miss 1 or 2. But even those 2 are still in the trunk of the body. I just practice bringing the gun up and stretch it out and point it. For me, the key is to not think about it.... and shoot a lot of bullets. That's how I practice all hand guns. I never just stand there and try and aim and hit a spot on the target. I only practice by moving, stopping, pointing, and shooting 2 shots. Sometimes 3 shots to break up the repetition.

I don't know if anyone can shoot the wild bill caliber; however, I've seen some pretty crazy shooting shows on the outdoor channels where they can shoot breath mints sitting on a golf tee, and holding the revolver upside down. So I guess it's possible. But for me, if I can shoot the size of a basketball EVERY TIME, then that is the center of mass I am aiming for. And I can generally do that without closing one eye and "Aiming".

February 26, 2010, 10:48 PM
I point shoot ... usually hit what I am looking at (1x1 foot) up to 25 yards.

Lotsa dryfire practice.

February 26, 2010, 11:30 PM
Yep, but as christcorps said himself, it doesn't mean that I'm good at it :o .

After reading Bill Jordan's No Second Place Winner, I've been looking for a beater $100 S&W or Taurus that I can use as a dedicated wax bullet gun to work on drawing from concealment and firing a shot from the hip with as much accuracy and speed as I can muster. Thus far, I've either practiced this by dry firing, basically starting the trigger pull immediately after clearing leather with the shot breaking as the gun comes on target. So it's pretty obvious why I don't want to use live ammo for this technique :D .

February 26, 2010, 11:43 PM
It claimed anybody can learn and be like Wild Bill Hickok in no time

it is generally agreed, by researchers, that Hickok brought his pistols to eye level and used the sights

February 27, 2010, 12:14 AM
I am not sure if this answers your question, but back in late 90s, the range master of our local range who taught the local LE SWAT teams taught a group of us who volunteered at the range for match shooting to "point shoot". This is what he did.

He had us stand 3 yards in front of the full size target (flipped so no black outline) and with our eye closed (yes, eyes closed) draw and shoot at the target. He called this "instinctive shooting" or what the body would naturally shoot. We were surprised by our shot groups, as most of us shot low (low abdomen and groin - he laughed and said it was OK since most LE officers in his SWAT training end up shooting the floor) when we were aiming for the center of mass. He told us this is due to our anticipation of recoil and pushing the gun down.

He then had us shoot at the same 3 yard target with our eyes open and not looking at the gun/sights, draw and shoot. He asked us to look for the holes on the paper as they appeared, instead of the front sight flash we were used to for match shooting.

When we achieved 2" shot groups, he moved the targets back to 5 yard, then to 7 yard.

By end of our training, our final test was 6 paper plates at 7 yards. We were blind folded and he called out the shots (Top Right, Bottom Center, etc.) and we all hit our targets.

It's not as accurate as front sight flash, but the range master said point shooting has its application in low light or night shooting where sights are not usable. He also conducted night shooting with us using iron and night sights. Once your pupils dilate in the dark, a bright shine of light in your eyes rendered them almost blind and our night sights were not as bright. He convinced us being able to point shoot without the use of sights definitely had benefits.

I hope this helped.

February 27, 2010, 12:31 AM
I believe the guy you're thinking of is Lucky McDaniel. His story was told in the book "Instinct Shooting", by Mike Jennings. The catalog card number is 59-13632. Good luck finding a copy, I treasure mine.

Daisy Air Rifles even sold a kit under the name 'Quick Skill' that promoted his method. It was adapted from the US Army 'Quick Kill' program that was taught by Lucky.

February 27, 2010, 01:00 AM
It was adapted from the US Army 'Quick Kill' program that was taught by Lucky.

...for use with the M-16 in Vietnam

February 27, 2010, 01:01 AM
Point shooting has been around a long time. We were taught it in firearms training over thirty years ago. It stands to reason that in many real life situations point shooting may well be much preferred, IMO.
Nothing can substitute ample practice though, handling your weapon enough that it becomes second nature will go farther in bringing you out on top than any bag full of gadgets and gizmos.

M2 Carbine
February 27, 2010, 01:31 AM
He had us stand 3 yards in front of the full size target (flipped so no black outline) and with our eye closed (yes, eyes closed) draw and shoot at the target.
I also do a bit of eyes closed shooting and have new shooters do it also after they have been shooting for a little while.

I have often said that shooting at seven yards and closer is so close you might as well close your eyes.
So I tried it.
The gun I used was a Taurus that I seldom shoot so there would less "muscle memory" with that gun. Each shot I started with the gun pointing down, eyes closed. Mostly single shots but two shots a few times.

I also have been known to say the Texas concealed carry qualification is so easy you can pass it with your eyes closed, so I tried it.
I shot the course "by the book" except I closed my eyes before raising the gun and I didn't shoot the 10 shots at 15 yards, thereby losing 50 points. Still passed.:)

Some more eyes closed targets.

It was clear that with practice a person could get right good point shooting, even in very poor lighting conditions.

Personally though, I'll stick with a (good) laser or laser/light when I can't use the gun sights.:)

February 27, 2010, 04:35 AM
All the time. It's an important skill to have. Google "7677" and "Sight Continuum".

Most people think of this as "Either/Or". It is not. It is part of the shooting skill set and has appropriate and inappropriate uses. The use of point shooting is appropriate at close range or when in physical contact with your enemy. The distance to which point shooting is appropriate is dependent upon the shooter's confidence in his or her skill. Some people can only get seven yards out of it; others can go farther. Additionally, the sight continuum is a useful tool because it dictates the position of the gun vertically in relation to the eyes. The longer the distance to the target, the gun will be held higher and more in line with the eye. Longer distance generally also means more time, but not always (such as when they're already shooting at you). Just because they're 25.000001 yards away does not mean their bullets are no longer lethal. In such a situation, the shooter will need to make a judgement as to whether or not he or she has enough time to use the sights. Without skill in point shooting, the shooter has only one tool to use and may not be able to adapt as well.

Additionally, initiative will dictate the level of speed required. Point shooting allows someone to get a shot off very, very quickly while moving as fast as possible. This movement will result in seizing initiative from an opponent if the shooter has lost initiative. If initiative is equal, point shooting will result in a built-in dodge with a close range hit. If the shooter has initiative, he or she probably has enough time to use the sights (but that could change).

A person involved in a lethal encounter will probably have his or her eyes open. While the examples above show that it's possible to achieve good groups with eyes closed, it proves nothing beyond that a person whose eyes are blocked (from blood or something) can make hits. Point shooting assists in accurate shooting in low light conditions. Night sights are a help, but are essential except at longer distances.

You can figure out point shooting yourself. Get Shooting to Live by Fairbairn and Sykes. When reading it, remember that the three positions are not static. They are transitory from one to the other. You can shoot from anywhere; if you're transitioning from half-hip to three quarter hip, shoot if you need to. Get a good 22 caliber pistol and several bulk packs of ammo. Put the target at 3 yards. Draw a small dot on the target. Raise the gun to eye level, then drop it to nose level. Walk the rounds in like a mortarman drops rounds on the enemy. You should be able to consistently get very small groups in a short time. Lower the gun as you gain confidence. Try the different positions in Shooting to Live from high to low. Once you can get consistent groups all the way down to hip level, extend the distance by two yards.

You will notice a distinct increase in shooting speed. This is good for your shooting ability and bad for your wallet.

February 27, 2010, 07:47 AM
Jim Cirillo said sometimes he used sights, sometimes he didn't, depending on the circumstances. As I recall, he was involved in more than a dozen gunfights.

February 27, 2010, 07:55 AM
I had the good fortune to be taught how to point shoot properly by Jim Cirillo. Here's a link that supplies some basic info:

It's not point shooting vs sighted fire. You need to know how to do both.

February 27, 2010, 10:22 AM
Good grief, M2's groups shooting with his eyes closed are at least as good as mine when I shoot eyes open!!!

Awesome shooting M2! :D :o I am humbled!

M2 Carbine
February 27, 2010, 11:11 AM
Good grief, M2's groups shooting with his eyes closed are at least as good as mine when I shoot eyes open!!!

Awesome shooting M2! I am humbled!

If you can try this under COMPLETELY SAFE conditions you might be surprised.

It's probably mostly "muscle memory" but in a little bit you can "feel/see" where you are shooting.

Like bds said.
By end of our training, our final test was 6 paper plates at 7 yards. We were blind folded and he called out the shots (Top Right, Bottom Center, etc.) and we all hit our targets.

A few months ago I had a young girl (16) shoot a couple targets with her eyes closed. She did very well. I had her date and sign the targets.
I told her, "You put these targets away. When you are a Grandmother and the subject of shooting comes up and everyone talks about how good they could shoot when they young, you get these targets out and say,
"Not only was I a good shot but I could do it with my eyes closed". :D

February 27, 2010, 11:50 AM
Point shooting or "instinctive shooting" has been around for a long time. The fellas credited with first systemitizing it though were named W.E. Fairbairn and Anthony Sykes. They did this when they headed up the Shanghai Police in the 1930s. The system moved from there to the British army during WWII and from there to the U.S. Army during the same period where Rex Applegate and many others took up training folks in it and altering it. They wrote a few books on the subject which are still in print and available.

But it is older than that many of the early fast draw and competitive shooters, like Annie Oakley for example, worked variations of it.

Sykes, Fairbairn, Applegate and others started with the idea that gunfights begin quickly and often by surprise and not under the best lighting conditions. They noticed that under surprise conditions fine motor skills deteriorated and aiming in the dark with tiny black sights was heeka hard. So they developed a method of training large numbers of folks quickly to respond to these attacks. The concept was to get a shot or two off rapidly into the center of mass. Shooting one handed and "indexing" the gun off of body position. It works.

The books of these fellas make good reading. Google will lead you to them and you can follow up from there. Fellas like Michael Janich are also helpful.


Hk Dan
February 27, 2010, 10:26 PM
Look into Bryan Enos' "5 types of Focus".

I'd also recommend Rob Pincus' commentary on 'Deviation Control". I've posted it 3 or 4 times on here and am not willing to do it again.

If you're hooked on point shooting, please be certain that my family isn't behind the bad guy; I'll shoot back.


March 3, 2010, 01:44 AM
oops, wrong thread

Big Bill
March 3, 2010, 01:58 AM
I do instinctive shootin with my recurve bow and my Remington 870 12 gage.

March 3, 2010, 02:18 AM
I do instinctive shootin with my recurve bow

i do that least i did when i took archery in college. drove the instructor nuts, because they kept talking about the importance of a consistent "hold point" after the draw. i later found that Japanese Archery is completely base on feel and projection

March 3, 2010, 05:25 AM
i have been trained by Rob Pincus of the CFS in Intuative shooting, and it has worked out well for me, there is a time and place fore everything, there are times and sittuations that i would and do use it, and then there are times that i don't. unless i am shooting from retention, my gun will allways be at least at eye level between me and the target. if i use the sights depends on the size of target, distance to target, anticipation for the need to shoot, and the circumstances surrounding the need to shoot.

March 3, 2010, 09:37 AM
i practice point shoting in the house--dry firing of course--then I check where the sights are--and its pretty close almost every time. gonn try closed eyes at the range--I'll tap the force!

March 3, 2010, 06:18 PM
I always point-shoot. I use the sights for more precision or longer-range shots, but "pointing" is still most of aiming.

This is not an either-or thing.

March 4, 2010, 12:35 AM
How 'bout this???


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