Front Sight Fight – Fact or Folly? Part Two of a Two-Part Series


By Corporal Greg Bettis, Holly Springs Police Department

In part one, we reviewed the concept of appropriate sight use of the handgun during a gunfight. In this final segment, we’ll finish with some simple ideas on how to skill-build in that direction.

Does the front sight work for you or do you work for the front sight?

I Didn’t See Him

“I didn’t see him.” Of course not, you had one eye closed. I appreciate a shooter who will work diligently to complete a task in perfection. However, as a Law Enforcement (LE) instructor I push officers to win gunfights, regardless of how imperfect they may look while doing it. Those who over-focus on the front sight when inappropriate are invariably slow, as they often are closing one eye to create a crisper vision of the sight. Great when needed, deadly when not. Most officers under combat duress respond with both eyes wide-open, regardless of their training. Both eyes will be open anyway, why not teach it from the start.

Placing paper plates at varying distances is a great way to try your visual limits while shooting. Place several paper plates at distances from three yards to about twenty yards. Start by hitting the three-yard plate then immediately engaging the longer distant plate before returning to a closer plate. Each trigger pull requires a different sighting method to be successful. Close plate–place gun over the plate and “burn it down.” Seven-yard plate–look through the sights, but still focusing on the plate, and press the trigger completely through smoothly (no trigger staging). Longest plate–well defined sight picture with a clean press will get you the hit. Quickly reverse the order and shorten the time between plates. Adjust your sighting methods to successfully get the hit in the least amount of time. Proper sighting methods will keep a shooter from “searching” for the sight picture he or she wants and allow him or her to use the sight picture needed. This is the kind of simple shooting that teaches speed and accuracy and demonstrates when you need more front sight focus and when you can get by with less.

Try the paper plate drill with other officers. Can your officer distinguish the type of sighting required to make fast hits? An officer who has grasped this simple, natural concept will more quickly hit closer plates than those at longer distances, but not by much. Officers that linger between plates are probably not utilizing the focus necessary for each.

Practical accuracy is not precision accuracy. Your sight picture and trigger-work greatly determine your efficiency. All other shooting factors, such as grip, must be well rehearsed to be truly effective. Working hard on proper sighting will result in a natural change of focus, allowing us to use the eyes as God created them to be used. Practice will teach us the sight focus needed to make the hit. Teaching this to officers is easy if we’ll make the effort to teach fight-winning skills instead of qualification passing errors.

Corporal Greg Bettis is the Department Training Officer and brings 26 years’ experience. He is a POST Master Instructor. Greg can be reached at

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