Point shooting (target shooting, instinctive shooting, intuitive shooting) represents a set of cognitive-mechanical processes and actions that a shooter utilizes to engage a target using a firearm, without aligning the sights or using aiming devices.


The close protection specialist training a quick weapon draw and point shooting. : specijalne-jedinice.com

Historically, the first information relating this aiming method are mentioned in the XIX century in the instruction of a certain Lieutenant Colonel Charles Random de Bérenger from 1835, published under the title Helps and Hints How to Protect Life and Property with Instructions in Rifle and Pistol Shooting. De Bérenger advises a shooter to place his index finger straight down the barrel to orient aiming, and middle finger to pull a trigger.

Today, the method has many names, such as Point Shooting, Treat-focused Shooting, Instinctive Shooting, but also, for example, with an incorrect phrase Muscle Memory. The last one due to a reason that the method of point shooting is not only a result of skeletal muscles contractions, but largely dependent on various impulses and cognitive processes, connected with a proprioception, which stands for the ability of conscious or sub-conscious, instinctive recognition of the posture and movement in space. Thanks to proprioceptors found in skeletal muscles, tendons and joints acting as information collectors, human brain processes received information and outputs an impression of posture and movement, respectively. As a result, for instance, it is possible to direct the index finger at an object or outer stimulation that has attracted one`s focus: by eye focusing one simply directs finger and neuro impulse stops the contraction of skeletal muscles and movement of tendons and joints once the finger position meets the object in focus or a direction from which the outer stimulation has come.


With point shooting a shooter is focusing on a target, therefore, it is easy to understand it is not a method offering a high fire accuracy, nor its application at medium or larger distances. Besides that, by learning certain entities and practicing, a shooter can master this method allowing him to engage a target properly in specific situations.

Simply summed, point shooting is reasonable to tactically apply in a situation when using sights is aggravated for a shooter. This can be a case when a threat emerges suddenly, abruptly and in front of the shooter, at only several-meters distance, so one must react instantly in order to repel the daring attack from himself or other person.

Such situations can be expected in close combat surroundings, especially in urban areas, as when conducting the VIP close protection jobs, tasks and actions.

According to multiple studies, all of which analyzed the causality between cognitive, mechanical processes and movements and fire accuracy, during point shooting it is possible to outline several elements for a shooter to pay attention to, when training this method.

Among the most important is a shooter`s determination when spotting a threat. A study published in a book Kill or Get Killed, from Rex Applegate, in Chapter VI is underlined that accuracy of the first shoot in point shooting is directly correlative with the shooter`s determination to pull a trigger after drawing a weapon. If the time period from drawing out of a holster to shooting the first bullet increases, the accuracy decreases and vice versa.

The next element relates to target focusing quality. According to the same study, if a shooter focuses a target at eye level — the accuracy of the first bullet will be significantly higher. In addition, if a shooter focuses a specific part of a target, such as a necktie or a chest pocket, for instance, and the like, accuracy of the first shoot will also be acceptable.

For the needs of point shooting training, several training methods have been developed. So, a shooter can tape an opaque tape over weapon iron sights, or paint aiming dots or lines and practice quick target acquisition at shorter distances, keeping the focus on the target.


Target-focus practicing in point shooting. : specijalne-jedinice.com

Bearing in mind the nature of the method, it is clear that shooter`s preparation before shooting is highly important, especially if one uses a short-barrel weapon, such as a handgun. Drawing action must be proper and grip strong. By bringing a firearm just bellow eye level and as close to the body center as possible, a shooter must lock in his shoulders, elbows and wrists, either using both two-handed or single-handed grip, along with the trigger pulling, which has to be performed properly and as quickly as possible. Besides this, it is an option to perform a hip-shooting technique, which is especially reasonable when a target is very close to a shooter, or when one has to use a firearm in a very narrow surroundings. In a case of spotting a threat, which is not positioned frontally from a shooter, but sideways, it is more reasonable to engage a target by performing a hip rotation, with a minimal movement of an arm or arms, in order to maintain the possibility of a hit as high as possible. By prolonged and regular practice of movements of drawing and brining a firearm in a position to engage a target and shoot, one trains his conscience and skeletal muscles to work synergistically, thus “learning” them to execute these actions connectedly, smoothly, sharpening them close to the automatization level.

Operators at police, military and military-police formations tasked with the VIP close protection missions, meticulously study methods of point shooting in various conditions. For instance, this method is studied and practiced considering the vicinity in which a retainer or a retinue and the VIP can operate.

Very specific and compound situations regard to spotting a threat and engaging outer targets from a vehicle, as well as reacting to an inner ones, within a vehicle. Training curriculum in these situations are being carried out in various ways, and tactics of actions is executed deeming the circumstances such as if a vehicle is moving or not, a specific role of an operator within a retinue.[1]. On the other side, a significant attention is devoted to study actions of preparation, under which a shooter brings a firearm in a position to engage a target and shoot.


A shooter must execute their preparation actions flawlessly. : specijalne-jedinice.com

Drawing techniques largely depend on a holster type that carries operator`s firearm, features of a weapon, but also a clothing configuration that one is wearing[2] and the like.

The point shooting method can be applied using various individual infantry weapon systems, such as handguns, revolvers, submachine guns, carbines or assault rifles. Although far from an ideal, under specific conditions it can be reasonable to apply and effective, therefore it does not come as a surprise the fact it is being studied nowadays within many formations. For example, in manuals used in the US Armed Forces, it is being mentioned as a reflexive fire and is mostly trained using an assault rifle or carbine, but among accepted methods it is being marked as the least accurate, while within the Israeli Armed Forces it is known as the Israeli Method and besides rifle systems, it is being studied using submachine guns and handguns as well.

[1] For instance, there is a difference between tactics of actions of a driver and a personal retainer inside the vehicle.
[2] For instance, special hip-firearm drawing techniques have been developed when one wears a necktie.

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