You can pick out the right gun. You can select the best holster in the world. You can practice your draw thousands of times and be able to put hits on target consistently. But, what can you do to take your self-defense skills to the next level?
The question is, can you teach an old or young dog new tricks? The simple answer is “yes.” After thousands of draws and rounds with iron sights, is moving to a target/threat focus on a pistol natural? For most people I talk to, the initial answer is “no.”
However, in my experience, most people seem to like it better right away. One might ask themselves how is the transition not natural, but we like it better? Let’s see if we can figure that out. For me, I have been practicing this a lot with my XD-M Elite Tactical OSP pistol.
Stop Staring at Me
When we shoot, our eyes are shifting focus — even if we do not realize it. Remember, the firearms safety rules state that we must be aware of our target, back stop and beyond. But how is this possible if we are hard focused on the front sight?
It’s rather obvious we are shifting focus from one object to another completing target assessments. Ask yourself, when using a red dot on a rifle, is it almost unnatural to focus on the sight/dot rather than the target? The fact is, we focus differently on a pistol than a rifle when equipped with a reflex sight initially, because we have trained our body two different ways.
Can I Retrain My Eyes?
Yes, but the speed at which you do this is completely up to you by how much time you put into it. In reality, you do not need to go to the range to begin working on this. In fact, I would suggest lots of dry fire and focus transitions before any trips to the range to save frustration and ammo. Here are a few tips that may help this transition.
- During dry or live fire, when you are focused on the target look for the smallest detail to lock onto while bringing your optic into view. Maybe a number or the X? The “aim small, miss small” approach will also help you lock onto the target instead of the glowing dot or reticle.
- Stop using your optic at maximum brightness. This will likely cause you to stare at the insanely bright reticle or dot rather than the target. Think about using more medium settings.
- After getting the hang of target/threat focus, practice transitions on smaller targets with dry fire at home. Use your kid’s G.I. Joe figures or something small that you can make quick focal changes onto, then transition your pistol over to the new target, while remaining hard target focused.
- Stop staring for too long. If you endlessly have your optic up and you keep bouncing back and forth from target to dot, give your eyes a break and start over. Do ready-up drills and lengthen the time you hold on target only after you can keep your eyes target-focused with ease.
When Will I Be Ready?
This is different for everyone and it will take time and training to become proficient. Do it from your home for free then move it to the range to maximize your ammo savings.
So, keep up your training, practice the right way to get the most of out of it, and work on changing your focus to the threat/target. If you’re ready to make the transition from irons to optics on your pistol, I think you can really wring out some serious additional performance.
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