Seven Common Misconceptions That Can Get You Killed: From Front Sight

Fortunately, they made it to our course before any of their misconceptions cost them time, money, or worse—their lives.


With thousands upon thousands of law abiding citizens, law enforcement officers and military personnel traveling across the country to attend courses at Front Sight, we are astutely aware of what people think— prior to their Front Sight Experience — about firearms, training, and their personal safety. Fortunately, they made it to our course before any of their misconceptions cost them time, money, or worse—their lives.

In the interest of helping you learn from others’ mistakes, allow me to share with you Seven Common Misconceptions That Can Get You Killed!

These misconceptions are not listed in any order of importance or frequency:

Misconception #1: If I stab my attacker with a knife he will immediately collapse. This misconception has been created and propagated by the movie industry. We have all seen the action adventure hero, throw a knife, sticking it into the stomach or chest or neck of the bad guy, and as the bad guy lets out a groan, he falls to the floor. In reality, a single knife stab is very unlikely to cause immediate collapse simply because the knife stab does not create enough immediate damage to the nerves, arteries, or organs to cause a massive spike and then equally massive and immediate drop in blood pressure. Even multiple stab wounds will not necessarily stop an aggressive dedicated opponent. All the while, your attacker is continuing his assault on you. A knife is better than no weapon at all, but is never a match for a gun in well trained hands.

Misconception #2: If I shoot my attacker with a handgun, he will stop and drop. This is another misconception created and propagated by the movie industry. The reality is that handguns are woefully inadequate in their stopping power as compared to a shotgun or rifle. The proliferation of street drugs that numb reaction to pain, access to body armor, and an overall increase in the number of hardened criminals victimizing Americans, makes the chance of a one-shot stop less likely than ever before. Even the handgun of Dirty Harry (Model 29 in .44 Magnum) will not guarantee a one shot-stop. (More on gun selection later in this report.)

Since handguns are inherently not good fight stoppers, you must rely on your skill and ability to deliver TWO, well placed shots, delivered quickly to your opponent’s thoracic cavity to create the greatest amount of damage you can. Then be ready— and mentally prepared— to fire a cranio-ocular shot (between eye-brows and mustache) if he continues his attack. This requires training. Without such training, you can be tragically surprised when your opponent is hit but does not go down. The good news is that after a course at Front Sight, You Will Be Able to perform this drill on demand to a level that exceeds the vast majority of people who carry a gun for a living!

Misconception #3: All you have to do with a short-barreled shotgun is point it at your attacker and shoot because the WIDE pattern will knock him down. This misconception comes from Grandpa! In reality, most lethal encounters will occur at a distance of three to five yards, be done in three to five seconds, with three to five shots fired between the combatants. At the distance of three to five yards, the pattern on your shotgun is not much bigger than the size of the bore and rarely larger than a couple of inches! It is real easy to miss if you don’t see a flash of the sights on your shotgun before pressing the trigger—especially under the stress of a lethal encounter, when you must shoot first and fast to save your life. We prove this in every course when we place our students into the live-fire tactical simulators. They can’t believe how easy it is to miss at such close distances. Once they understand the concept of a flash sight picture, they are just as fast (sometimes faster) and can guarantee their hits. After all it is not how fast you shoot that counts in a gun fight, it is how fast you hit that counts!

Misconception #4: Give a woman a small, lightweight revolver because all she has to do is grab it out of her nightstand, point and shoot. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this in gun shops, at trade shows, and from husbands explaining why their wives are burdened with a gun that has minimal sights and a long, heavy trigger pull! I could literally write a book on the subject of Misconceptions on Gun Selection. Let me just say that a woman or a man, when confronted with a situation requiring them to pull a gun from their nightstand, needs a gun that they can quickly HIT with on the first and second shot and then be able to deliver a precision shot if needed. (See Misconception #2). If you miss, the only reason you will survive is because your opponent is sloppy. In order to be able to HIT with a handgun, you need high visibility sights and a trigger that provides a clean, crisp trigger break. The small revolver or small pistol is a weapon that satisfies a specific tactical niche and requires advanced training to use it effectively for general self defense.

At Front Sight we have hundreds of students attend every month that do not own a gun or have never fired a gun before attending our course. We rent them all the gear they need. We could provide any gun in the industry. What do we provide them? We rent them a semiautomatic Glock in 9mm. Why? Because it is simple to use, has high visibility sights, and a smooth trigger. By the end of the first day, our previously inexperienced students are operating the functions of the pistol like a pro and hitting their targets. By the end of the fourth day, they are able to present from a holster, and deliver a pair of center hits to a target 5 yards away in less than 1.5 seconds!

Misconception #5: You need to bring a Glock or 1911 to attend a handgun course at Front Sight. This misconception was spawned by students who see lots of Glocks and 1911’s being carried by our instructors. The reason you see Glocks and 1911’s being carried by our instructors is because they are reliable, simple to use, have good sights and a smooth trigger. The reality is that Front Sight’s motto is Any Gun Will Do— If You Will Do. What I mean is that in a lethal confrontation, training is superior to equipment. We will train you to be great with what you have, so simply bring what you have. You don’t need to go to the extra expense or time of purchasing another gun (unless you want to) in order to attend a course with us. The techniques we teach are specifically created and refined to work with any firearm. We train you so you can pick up any gun and operate it with the proficiency of a seasoned professional. Don’t ever believe that equipment will substitute for training as that type of thinking that can get you killed. Remember, YOU are the weapon, your firearm is just a tool. We are training YOU to be the weapon, not the gun you are carrying.

Misconception #6: I will rise to the occasion in a gun fight and be better than I normally am on the shooting range. This misconception comes from people who, in the past, have had great success when facing clutch situations, in activities involving gross motor skills—like the fullback who can be counted on to score the touchdown when it is fourth down and goal-to-go or the underdog boxer who musters everything he has to deliver a knockout punch in the last round. They are successfully responding to the positive effects of adrenaline which makes large muscles stronger and faster.Unfortunately, in a gunfight, your body is going to dump massive amounts of adrenaline (much more than you are accustomed to in any sporting activity) into to your bloodstream from the “fight or flight” survival mechanism. This adrenaline dump will make you temporarily stronger and faster, but it adversely affects fine motor coordination such as your ability to focus on the front sight and press the trigger without disrupting the sight alignment. As a result, you will tend to be about half as good in a real gunfight as you are on your best day on the range.

We prove this to our students in the live-fire shooting house where their adrenaline flows a bit more than on the range! As a result of this phenomena, those who know, train twice as much on the range and in the live-fire simulators, so should they ever need to use their skills to save their life or the lives of their loved ones—in a real lethal encounter— their “half as good” will still more than enough to win! Remember, you will not rise to the occasion in a gun fight. Instead, you will default to the level of your training and then only be half as good as you are on your best day on the range… so you better get great training and train to be twice as good as you think you need to be!

Misconception #7: “Point Shooting” (Shooting without seeing a flash of the sight picture before pressing the trigger.) The point shooting misconception has been around more than 50 years. Point shooting reinvents itself every now and then with a different name or different instructor or different agency and for different reasons, but still falls flat on it’s back because you cannot guarantee your hits unless you see a flash of the sight picture. Only good hits win gunfights and you need to see a flash of the sights to get good hits. “Point Shooting” can be very fast shooting if you want to practice five times as much as people trained to use their sights, but if any precision (cranio-ocular cavity) or distance (beyond 7 yards) is required, Point Shooting will get you killed because you have to see your sights to get good hits.


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