Don’t Aim in a Gunfight

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Don’t Aim in a Gunfight

November 28th, 2019

4:14 runtime

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth entry in our 12-part Armed & Ready series from Richard Nance and Handguns magazine. The series covers a range of personal defense and CCW topics. Tune in each week for the next entry in the series. See links below for the other entries:

Is there a time you should not aim your gun? While it’s more complicated than just that, the qualified answer can be “yes” based on the situation and the distance to your target. But let’s dive deeper into that.

In a close quarters self-defense situation, you might not have time to align your sights and aim. What do you do?

What we’re talking about is accuracy when engaging a target that is threatening you. This is practical accuracy rather than mechanical accuracy. Sure, your Springfield XD-M OSP 9mm might be able to hit a gnat’s posterior at 100 yards, but what can it hit when someone threatening you is only 3 yards away, and you need to draw and shoot?

When It Counts

There’s not a lot of time for deliberation when you’re in danger, and at ultra-close ranges there’s rarely time for a good sight picture. If you don’t have time to aim, you need to develop the skills needed to get rounds on target accurately and quickly.

A target that realistically represents a threat you might face is a must for this type of training.

I recommend a realistic target that represents the threat you are likely to face in a self-defense situation. This target will give you the means to realistically train to shoot at the ranges you might find yourself in a self-defense shooting situation.

Going the Distance

We mentioned ranges. At bad breath distances (i.e., three yards and closer), you may have little to no time to precisely aim. In these cases, you should draw, bring the gun up and try to get a flash sight picture and put rounds into the upper center of the target, giving you the largest target possible.

How long you can take to precisely aim is determined by the nature of the threat and its distance from you.

At a more distant threat, such as at 10 yards or so, you will want to slow down the process and aim more deliberately. Slow down just a bit, to make sure your rounds will hit. With the threat farther away, you theoretically should be able to spend that extra fraction of a second making your shot count.

If the threat is farther away, you will need to spend a fraction of a second longer to align your handgun on target and smoothly press the trigger.

When a threat is farther out, say at 15 to 20 yards, you will need to become even more deliberate in your shot. Get a solid sight picture and press the trigger smoothly and deliberately. I realize this is easy to say but much harder to do under stress, but training on the range can ingrain these skills into your muscle memory, and you will revert to those types of skills under stress.

A red dot on a pistol, like this Trijicon RMR mounted on an XD-M OSP 9mm Springfield Armory pistol, can make quicker shots easier.

The Why, Plus the How

You might ask why one would be dealing with a threat at the farther distances, versus an “immediate” threat up close. Each self-defense situation will differ, so it is hard to say definitively what you will face if you do end up in one. You may be facing a threat with a knife very close, or one with a gun at a farther distance. Also, it is a good idea to train for a range of possibilities so you won’t be caught unprepared if you do face the unexpected.

Did you enjoy this video?

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

Handguns Mag

Handguns Mag

The Handguns mission, as America’s only small-arms media property, is to emphasize the proper use and selection of handguns for self-defense and sport shooting.

© 2019 Springfield Armory. All rights reserved.

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