I had the fortune to be a student recently and boy how I miss this aspect of my profession. I don’t get these opportunities too often so when I do, I am a sponge and I need to be challenged.
The class was a great experience, working with Chris Costa, long time friend and fellow nationally recognized instructor. We ran multiple relays and my partner was a novice shooter. Our target ended up being slightly less feedback oriented. It was a great experience. It was a reminder of how important “sight tracking” is to a skilled shooter. We all probably heard it explained over the years. For those who haven’t, it is the active tracking of your front sight post during the firing sequence. Where it literally does not leave your focal plane, but instead stretches to the very edges. Yes, it requires a lot of solid foundational skills. What I appreciate is the heavy emphasize on your own feedback loop. I say this over and over in our classes, you can only shoot as fast as you can guarantee your hits.
You Cannot Make a Miss Fast Enough
While everyone is interested in wanting to shoot fast, most do so compromising their accuracy. They rely more on their ability to perform a “double tap” versus seeing their sights for each shot. It becomes a bad habit that is further enabled when you develop your natural point of aim to a reliable level. You sometimes forgo the feedback and instead just get on the trigger. While this may seem like a good idea, it takes you down a dark path. This path is one where you eventually forgo seeing your sights at all during a rapid fire, high volume string. When firing a high volume you have to be even more aware of your sights. During our dive planning we use what are called error boxes that would indicate our most probable location should we be off in direction or pace. If we made a turn, the error box would increase since you would plan from the outer fringes of your previous error box. Eventually, your target was completely engulfed within the error box and your probability was low. How did we correct for this, by ensuring a higher level of accuracy in our direction and pace.
Improved Hit Probability
Same theory applies here. If you try to use your natural point of aim versus sight tracking you increase your chances of missing. If you don’t see your sights before you pull the trigger you have no idea where the truly are, other than a general area…your error box. From there, you pull the trigger which produces another error box slightly larger, eccetera… In an effort to be fast, you sacrifice accuracy. This only compounds the challenges of the lethal force incident you are facing. Instead, you have to learn how to quickly see your sights. Make it an integral part of your technique to see enough of the sights for the shot required. The time, distance and target all are factors to consider. Then during the string of fire, track them. See them lift out of the notch. Reach their apex then return to your intended point of aim. Once you make this a habit you will find the time difference to be less of an issue. In return you get a higher hit probability and improved outcome since you are able to land first round, lethal strikes more reliably.
Everyone wants to do cool stuff until you have to put the hard work into making it look cool. There are no shortcuts, just fundamentals executed faster than the bad guy.