As a competent slow-fire pistol/revolver shooter, but rather poor rapid-fire shooter, I need more information on the term "flash sight picture" and your comments on its role in developing speed with accuracy. All help most appreciated. --c
First, firmly (underline 'firmly')establish a mental image of a good sight picture. Then dry-fire practice bringing the gun up from a ready position, any ready position will do, taking a 'snap shot' of the gun on the target when the actual sight picture 'resembles' the mental image. Don't dwell on it, but rather make it happen in less than a second. Now do it for real with live ammo. Practice. Done.
There are many, and varied, definitions. One is probably as valid as another but I learned the technique directly from Jeff Cooper who coined the phrase.
Jeff used the analogy of the "flash cards" many of us older folks remember from those identification cards held up in military training of silhouettes of various enemy/friendly aircraft, vehicles and ships.
IOW, it can take as little as about 1/10th of a second to use the sights (this of course does not include the draw, physically indexing the weapon by muscle memory or other physical requirements like pulling the trigger - which take longer).
In some cases you do not even need to include the rear sight, nor does it matter if there is precise alignment. However as range increases a little more refinement is required. In the advanced class at Gunsite some were able to draw from concealment and hit the A-zone of a target 50 meters away in 1.5 seconds 10 times out of 10. You have to use the flash sight picture to achieve that. By the way that is one of those highly perishable skills you lose if you do not practice it constantly - sad to say :-[
What many people do not understand is that the flash sight picture is used simultaneously to other operations. You are not searching for your sights nor trying to refine the picture - your eye comes to focus where the front sight will be when your weapon indexes on target BEFORE the sight gets there (it should almost always be on a straight line between the exact spot you want to hit and your eye...except in that 1/10 of 1% circumstance when your threat is so close you have to protect your gun).
With that focus established (by muscle memory) the instant the front sight hits that spot the trigger is pressed... The amount of precision required varies with the size of the target (that changes either due to range, occlusion or circumstances).
The truth is, you do not even have to consciously see the sights to "use" the sights. Col. Cooper proved that to us by making us shoot at night without lights (or night sights) at medium to long range on Pepper Poppers in the Advanced Class (599). It all comes from muscle memory and all that practice of using the sights until you have that mental image abninftr talked about.
Sorry to be so long winded, this is a much misunderstood subject. Partially because folks confuse *mental* focus with *optical* focus. I can no longer bring iron sights on a pistol into sharp focus optically...that does not mean I cannot use the flash sight picture.
Gentlemen, This is very interesting and very new to this old target shooter. Mr. H., what kind of accuracy does one trained in this technique expect to achieve in the ten to twenty yard range? An A-zone hit at 50 meters in 1.5 seconds astounds me. Thanks very much. --c
Corky, it astounded me too. The "Par" time for that drill was 3 seconds but Col. Cooper commented that many were doing it in 1.5 (he had the stopwatch). Quite naturally, one does not hit the A-zone without a bit of precision on the sights at 50.
This is reflected in the fact that a concealed draw and *2* shots at 7 yards was Par Timed at 1 second for that class - the first shot coiming about .75 seconds (using the sights).
So at 50 one is probably putting about half a second or a little more on the sights.
Also bear in mind that these were using a stopwatch and does include the reaction time of the shooter as well as the watch operator - one can assume a quarter of a second slop either way as compared to modern electronic timers.
What I have found is that one adjusts his time on the sights by the demands of the target - which is why these days I shoot on a target which has an "A-zone" approximately half the size of the IPSC/USPSA target. about 6X6" with a sort of truncated 2" top up to the neck line. But what I really want is about a 4" or less group inside that zone. I might thow one every now and then too.
At 5 yards I do not have to slow down any (according to my electronic timer) to keep them in the A-zone compared to "point shooting" from a similar position. At 10 yards I have to slow down by about .1 to .2 seconds per shot but I truly think this is more time spent on careful trigger control than the sights. Still it is a mixture of both sights and trigger control.
Also it is a matter of practice. When I was in top form (something like 25 years ago) I could "hammer" (two shots with only one flash sight picture...shots well under .25 seconds apart) at 25 yards and expect A-zone hits on the old "Option" or "Item" target. Today I would be very lucky to do that at 10 yards (Rob Letham can do it though - I have seen him). Others can too but Rob did it with full charge ammo factory ammo.
I hope this helps a little. It is a hard subject to describe.
I think Jeff Cooper made a statement that you are using the flash sight picture to confirm your presentation (draw).
In other words, and to paraphrase what Jim H said (I thnk), if the draw was well-practiced, and done as you have been doing it in that practice, the gun WILL be aligned on target as you desired. The sights only verify that fact.
I know that's a very simplified version, but do I have that about right? So many things he taught have been mutilated, and I hate to add to that.
He also said that some shooters have it down to the point that if the front sight isn't there, they can't press the trigger without forcing themselsves to. Sort of a built-in "go" switch.
Jeff went so far as to explain that with a double action revolver you actully start pulling the trigger on the way to index (but after your hands come together of course) and the hammer falls about the same time that the sights hit the right spot.
I find the same is true of a DA auto or taking out the slack on an auto pistol trigger but I dont recall Jeff mentioning them specifically.