Instinctive Shooting

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Amongst other things, I’m a fan of westerns, especially those written by Louis L’Amour. I like the rugged life they lived and like to think that I would have fit in well in that environment. While I know that much of what is depicted is not true to the life they lived, I enjoy it anyway.

One of those untrue things is the gunfight. While I’m sure that there was some gun fighting going on in that time, the idea of meeting on the main street of town and shooting it out wasn’t. The fast draw is an invention of Hollywood, not a part of the American heritage. Those who would win any gunfight, any time in history are those who are the best shots, not those who can draw the fastest.

That’s not to say that there is no place for a fast draw or that the instinctive shooting that supposedly went with it is impossible. Both are possible and worth practicing. With the limited time available to us when the lead starts flying, being able to draw a gun rapidly and smoothly is a real asset. Should any of us ever be faced off against a criminal, that ability might be critical to have, if we want to get a shot off. If we can’t do so quickly, all we might succeed in doing is inviting a shot, without having the ability to shoot back.

Likewise, there is a place for instinctive shooting, although not from eight paces away. If you’re that far away from the bad guy, you’ve got the time and so you’re better off raising your gun to eye level and taking an aimed shot, no matter how badly it is aimed.

The kind of instinctive shooting I’m referring to is when you don’t have the time and distance to take an aimed shot. When someone is within five feet of you, raising your gun to eye level puts it within their reach. That risks the possibility of them grabbing your gun and pulling it out of your grasp. You can’t take that risk.

Rather than taking a normal stance and proper aim, these situations call for drawing your gun and firing from the hip, shooting instinctively. The question is though, can you do that?

Here the advice of those westerns comes to our aid. That is, that most of us naturally point at what we’re looking at. With that being the case, we should be able to naturally point our guns at what we are looking at too. We just need to test and see.

To start with, use your finger, rather than a gun. Pick something as a target, five to ten feet away. Without looking at your hand, “draw” your finger gun and point at the target. Then freeze that finger in place and look to see how well you did. Did you end up pointing at the target or are you pointing off to the side somewhere?

Repeat this exercise until you are comfortable that you are actually pointing at the intended target. Then step it up, using an unloaded pistol, preferably your carry gun. After checking to see that it is unloaded, holster it and pick your target. Then draw your gun and point it at the target, again from waist level. Check to see that you’re actually pointing at what you think you are.

A laser sight can help with this exercise, as it will show you right where you are aiming. If you don’t have a laser sight, then you might want to consider buying an inexpensive one, just for this. Boresight it and then use it for practice, drawing and aiming your unloaded gun.

While this sort of aiming and shooting is instinctive, it can be improved upon with practice. Repeated drawing and pointing will help you to get your aim down to the point that you will be shooting within a couple of inches of where you are looking. Once you get to that point, you might want to go to an outdoor range someplace and try it out for real. Just be sure to do it when nobody else is around.

So, when would you use this sort of shooting?

There’s actually a fairly high percentage of self-defense situations which happen within a very short range; belly to belly so to speak. One such situation would be a stick-up, where someone is trying to rob you at gunpoint or knifepoint. Another could be a potential rape situation. For that matter, it could even be someone who has had a few too many to drink.

Regardless of the situation, you would be faced with an aggressor, probably an angry aggressor, who is within extremely short range. While I would highly recommend trying to back away from them to give yourself more range, you may not be able to wait until you have that range, before drawing your gun. In that case, you’re going to be in a situation where instinctive shooting is the only kind of shooting you’ll be able to do. So it just makes sense to practice and make sure you can do it.

That makes this just one more thing to keep ready; like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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