View Full Version : Front Sight, Squeeze...

Sgt T
06-03-2009, 12:25 AM
When I first learned to shoot some 40+ years ago, I'll be 47 in a few weeks, my Dad taught me the acronym BRAS: Breathe, Relax, Aim, Squeeze. I had added a second 'S' which means Stop, making the acronym BRASS.

Recent trends in training have replaced Squeeze with Press. Therefore I have had to again change my acronym. Now it is BRATS: Breathe, Relax, Aim, Squeeze, Touch/Press, Stop.

Breaking it down, you need to take a

Breath, let out half and hold it.
Relax your muscles,
Aim at the target; getting proper sight alignment and sight picture,
Touch the trigger with the pad of your finger then
Press the trigger to the rear until the firearms discharges (while maintaining your focus on the front sight) and then
Stop, also known as follow through.

You will either place the trigger finger in register along the slide or cylinder if you are finished shooting or you will release the trigger just until you feel and possibly hear the trigger reset if you are to continue with followup shots.

So, why the change from Squeeze to Press? Basically this change was made because when you tell a new shooter to squeeze the trigger they have a tendancy to squeeze all the other fingers as well. This of course makes a steady hold difficult. The grip of the shooting hand should be about as firm as a good handshake. The trigger finger is the only finger that is supposed to move once the master grip is attained. Telling a new shooter to Press the trigger conveys this concept more accurately than squeeze does. Thus the change.

Understanding why changes take place, and keeping up with the changes is important if you are to give your students the best possible instruction.

06-03-2009, 08:04 AM
The grip of the shooting hand should be about as firm as a good handshake.

I am still trying to decide on the firmness of grip. Mas Ayoob says one should practice while holding the gun in a death grip, basically as hard as you can, as that is probably what you'll do anyway in a panic situation.

I've tried both, and see little difference in grouping, but then again, I am FAR from an expert shot.

Sgt T
06-03-2009, 12:27 PM
In defensive shooting I will defer to Mr. Ayoob's considerable experience when it comes to grip. Since most of my students are beginners, and shooting to learn fundamentals, I will continue with a more relaxed grip. Excellent point though.

For myself I will experiment with a tighter grip and see if I notice any difference.

06-03-2009, 08:33 PM
This may seem like a silly question to some but could someone explain what is meant by looking at your front sight.

I assumed it meant looking at it through the rear sight like one would do while target shooting but i want to be clear.

Sgt T
06-03-2009, 10:13 PM
Decline, there are no "silly" questions here on ASD.

Because the eye can only focus on one thing at a time focusing on the front sight (not to be confused with "looking" at the front sight) is very important. The placement of the front sight in relation to the target determines the stike of the bullet on the target. If you are focused on the target the front sight can be moving all over the place causing the bullet to strike an unintended area. But let me back up a moment.

There are two phases in sighting. 1) Sight Alignment, which consist of the Eye, Rear Sight, Front Sight. The top of the front sight is even with the top of the rear sight with even amounts of "daylight" on each side of the front sight. On a target pistol this "daylight" may be very small. On a defensive pistol the blade of the front sight is usually thinner so more "daylight" is visible.

The next phase is 2) Sight Picture, which consist of the Eye, Front Sight, Target. While maintaining the proper Sight Alignment (Eye-Rear-Front) you are now superimposing the top of the front sight on the area of the target where you wish the bullet to strike. The target will be out of focus, but (depending on your vision) only slightly. The front sight should be clearly in focus. You are looking at (seeing) your sight alignment and sight picture, but you are focused on the front sight.

Target shooters use a 6 o-clock hold on a bullseye target because they can distinguish the top of the front sight as it makes "contact" with the bottom of the target. If they were to put the front sight within the area of black on a bullseye target they would not be able to distinguish the "daylight" and top of the front sight well enough to insure precise shot placement.

In defensive shooting (and this should be taught only after a student has mastered good fundamentals) as long as the front sight is visible within the area of the rear sight notch and placed in the center of mass on the target, you will get hits on the target. While not as precise as a target shooter they will still be on target. This is known as Defensive Accuracy. With practice you will automatically focus on the front sight while still being effective in your defensive shooting.

My favorite line in the movie The Patriot, with Mel Gibson, is "Aim small, miss small."

Hopefully this answered your question. If not, I'll try to clear up any confusion.

06-04-2009, 07:18 PM
yes, that cleared it up.

This was how i was taught to shoot as a boy but when i started hearing people talk about focusing on the front sight i thought they meant they were forgoing the back sight entirely. That didnt make any sense to me at all.

when i tried it, it really didnt make any sense:D

Thanks for the explanation!

06-05-2009, 11:21 PM
Decline: 1. 'T is right, no dumb questions on here. 2. 'T is on spot on the asked subject.

Remarks: I would never, ever, even remotely question Ayoob on anything dealing with firearms or firearm laws. I will however, mention what works for me, and a death grip on a pistol is not it.

Some of us are old enough to remember when "Dynamic" exercises were in vogue, and actually I still do some of them. This was when, as an example, you would put your fingers under the lip of your desk as you are sitting in front of it, and try to lift the desk. Lift, let off, lift, let off. Do this each second for three minutes and see what your biceps feel like, and the stomach muscles work too.

Anyway, during that time, an LEO bud (and a top shooter in his Department) suggested a dynamic pistol grip. The grip was held firmly in the right hand (not a death grip) and was the "push" hand. The left hand, wrapped outside was the "pull" hand. When done evenly (which basically comes naturally) you have a remarkably stable platform.

I don't have a fancy name for this....when instructing, I just call it "push/pull", but it's so muscle memoried I never even think about it anymore.

Work for everyone? Dunno, maybe not. But it's was a God-send for me, and my biker bud that I've brought into concealed carry saw his scores amazingly turn around in less than 10 minutes.

Question the great Ayoob? Never. "Adjust" his thinking to fit me? No prob.


Sgt T
06-06-2009, 12:17 AM

I addressed the push/pull method in my Polymar gun thread. The term you are looking for is "isometric tension." Isometric exercises were envogue during WWII on naval vessels. You may have seen Marines doing them in old footage, standing on the deck pushing their hands together, etc. Basically you are using your own muscles to provide resistance to the oppossing muscle group.

I teach this method to all of my students. I tell them to push forward with the shooting hand and to pull back with the support hand. As you said, it makes for a very stable shooting platform.

I mentioned that the grip of the shooting hand should be like a firm handshake. The support hand, however, is actually the stronger grip of the two. The shooting hand provides leverage for the trigger finger. The support hand provides the grip the gun and controls muzzle flip.

In a defensive shooting situation having a "death grip" may in fact take place. I can see an advantage to having such a grip at all times because it would reduce the chance of having a sympathetic movement of the trigger finger should your grip suddenly tighten.

As for questioning Mr Ayoob, I don't believe he would mind being questioned. None of us should. If we can support our opinions with a well thought out explanation our opinions will prove out. I also believe that he would be the first to say that what works for him does not work for everyone.

06-06-2009, 12:54 AM
Hmm, a piece of 'Corps lore that never got to me. Isometric/Dynamic must have dropped out of style as there was no mention of it during my time. My introduction was much later.

My pistol grip is more than a firm handshake, but less than a death grip. For me, gripping that hard moves my barrel front around, destroying the stable platform I've built. But, all that is personal preference stuff.

Re: Ayoob. Once a year he issues a magazine with articles covering a wide range of subjects, all of which he wrote. In the most recent one, there was an article about vehicle shooting, and it showed a copper using a door for cover. Ha! Wrong. Maybe if that's all you had, but in this case it was the driver's door so the windshield post was right there.

Gee, there are some hot .380 rounds that will go through a car door. But anyway, I flash-thought I'd drop him an email.....naa, he's forgotten more about firearms than I'll ever know.


Sgt T
06-06-2009, 01:08 AM
Times change, so do tactics.

When I look at all my photos from years past of me with firearms my finger is invariably on the trigger. When I look at photos of famous shooters from the past they too have their finger on the trigger. Whenever I see someone in a photo with their finger on the trigger now I say to myself, "rookie." What was once common is now uncommon, what is now common will one day be uncommon.

06-06-2009, 01:16 AM
We've got to keep fighting or in the future, lemmings will look at our shooting techniques and ask...."is that what a gun looked like?"


06-06-2009, 04:05 PM
In a defensive shooting situation having a "death grip" may in fact take place. I can see an advantage to having such a grip at all times because it would reduce the chance of having a sympathetic movement of the trigger finger should your grip suddenly tighten.

Here is the article by Ayoob that recommends the hard grip.


Scroll down about half way, and read the section entitled "Hard Grip"

Let the debates begin!!!

Sgt T
06-07-2009, 07:58 AM
Excellent Article. Naturally I read the whole thing, not just the grip section...

The grip is really the only difference from what I have been teaching. I already use an aggressive stance, front sight focus, etc. I am going to use this with my students and note the difference in shooting performance. I am going to use it myself and see if my performance improves as well.

Thanks for posting the article.

06-07-2009, 08:14 AM
SgtT, let us know if you see a difference using this method.

06-07-2009, 10:02 AM
Sgt T: We must stop meeting like this. Yes, I had to read the whole article, yes, my stance is already very aggressive, yes, I will check out the "grip of death", yes, I'll report the results, and yes Bill 21, thanks for posting the article.

Bill21: Ride safe my bud, I am getting ready to burn some Valvoline and eat up some pavement myself.