Myth or fact: You will not see your sights during a gun fight? What does Travis think about this common saying?
There are a few bad pieces of advice that seem near universal in the world of gunfighting, concealed carry, and home defense. Stuff like just racking a shotgun will scare them away, and .45 ACP has all the stopping power, and of course, you won’t see your sights in a gun fight. Today, we are addressing the latter and talking about sights in a gunfight.
This is one of those silly pieces of advice that seems valid. Imagine you are in a life and death struggle for a moment. Your adrenaline is jacked through the roof! The fight is likely moving faster than your mind can process it, and your hands are shaking. How could you ever hope to see your sights? That’s a fair question, and today we will break down this little myth, its origins, and how you can be sure to see your sights in a gunfight.
You Won’t See Your Sights In a Gunfight
The reason this myth existed is likely because it was true at one point or another. Look at early pistols. Look at the first generations of the M1911, the Savage M1907, and other early pistols. They packed super small sights that are fairly tough to see, especially in any poor lighting conditions or in the heat of the moment.
Those little sights sucked, so when Fairbairn and Sykes promoted instinctive shooting, they weren’t spreading a myth. There were merely working around the standard equipment of the time.
Seeing your sights in a gunfight might’ve been a lot tougher back then, but today it’s changed entirely. Look at the modern sights we have on guns. Even small weapons like the SIG P365 feature big sights that are easy to see, easy to focus on, and often bright and eye-catching. Modern sights are easy to acquire, and if you want to win a gunfight, you better use them.
Directing aimed and accurate shots are a must, and if you don’t, you are just wasting ammo at some point or another. Additionally, just blasting rounds downrange will put other innocent people in danger. Stray rounds are still deadly. If the bad guy throwing lead at you gets his sight picture first, then guess what?
Game Over, man.
Finding your sights is completely possible, and anyone who instructs different is selling something you don’t want. Train yourself to find those sights and to have them on target. If you can draw and assume a good firing position, you can use your sights.
How Do I Know?
Well, I’ve been in gunfights, admittedly not with a handgun and not in your typical self-defense situation. It was overseas during my time in the Marines. Whenever we received fire, my first instinct was to get a sight picture, which meant finding and using my sights.
That’s my personal experience, and it’s also the experience of every credible firearm instructor. Every class I’ve ever taken emphasizes using your sights to win a gunfight. People with much more experience than I or you with a handgun teach you to use the sights. Guys like Scott Jedi’ Jedilinski even teach courses on how to use red dot sights consistently and accurately.
Beyond that, look at the fastest professional shooters in the world. They use their sights, and they hit very small targets very quickly with relative ease. Sure those targets aren’t firing back, but there is plenty of pressure to succeed and exceed the standard. Seeing your sights in a gunfight is completely possible and should be the main focus for any person serious about using a handgun for self-defense.
Do You Always Have to See Your Sights In a Gunfight?
That’s a great question; honestly, I hate absolutes. There are extreme close-quarters combat situations where you won’t use your sights. When firing from retention, for example, you won’t be using your sights. Being that close certainly doesn’t require it or allow it.
However, at any time you can get into a good firing position and extend your weapon outward, you should be using your sights. If you want to win, using your sights in a gunfight isn’t optional. Make seeing those sights and getting them on target quickly a nonissue. Train, and you’ll succeed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.
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