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Rapid Sight Acquisition

When I was learning to formulate the quickest and most clear sight picture with both eyes open (see The Pivot Technique), I did not know which eye my brain preferred. I was not aware there was such a thing as eye dominance ( see Your Eye Dominance), and as a result, it took me too long to acquire an accurate sight picture.

Once you have learned effective trigger control, the bane of all aspiring shooter’s existence, your training is far from complete. The next step is to reduce as much time between full extension of the arms and your trigger pull, which requires rapid acquisition of your sight picture.


As I instruct intermediate shooters, the most common problem they all face is an efficient and accurate sight picture. They may have excellent grip, a controlled trigger squeeze, excellent recoil absorption, but if it takes you a second or more to gain an accurate sight picture, your hope of defending yourself and living through it may already be lost.

Fact is, within 5-10 yards in a live fire situation, you may not even aim but more point-and-shoot, and miss. You may well live to tell about it, but a disciplined shooter is able to slow down their response and employ technique, thereby increasing their chances of survival exponentially. Even against multiple targets.

Sight picture is critical to accurate shot placement. This means your gun is both properly aligned with the front & rear sights, and you are pointing it at the exact location where you want to strike your target. All of these things must be in alignment in order for you to accurately place your shot on target.


Rapid Sight Acquisition is not a new thing. Much of of the mechanics is drawn from the practice of Flash Sight Picture, a way of aligning your sights with the target in just a few tenths of a second, allowing you to accurately and rapidly fire multiple rounds with very little error.

As we develop Rapid Sight Acquisition, the goal is to decrease as much time between full extension of the arms and the trigger pull, striking the target within a 4-8” circle. We are not going for a bullseye every time here, we are concentrating on the high critical mass of a human target, just below the shoulders and between the armpits. The upper, critical chest region of an average-sized human is about 8” in diameter. Outside that range, and you may not deal a sufficient, defensive blow.

Much of what we covered in Your Eye Dominance and The Pivot Technique will prepare you for the Rapid Sight Acquisition drill. We are only employing first shot from compression here, so multiple shots will not be fired in each rep. A box of 50-100 rounds should be sufficient for each workout.

Start with our Accuracy Target 5 yards away. With your gun in compression, meaning you have a firm grip with both hands, elbows bent, the gun to your chest about 6-8” away, and the muzzle pointed about 45 degrees upward. Now slowly extend your arms and move your focus from the target to your sights, aligning them during extension. Begin to load the trigger. Once you have reached full extension, shoot immediately, with no hesitation. Then bring the gun back to compression.

Mind your accuracy. Do this for about 20 rounds. Don’t try to speed-up, just continue with this process trying to eliminate any pauses you notice between full extension and the trigger pull. If your accuracy is good, start to speed-up until your aim suffers. Again pay attention to any pauses in the process, especially as you complete extension and fire. This is what you are trying to eliminate.

After 50-100 rounds you may want to stop until next time you hit the range. I found spending hundreds of rounds at one technique didn’t get me any better, faster, just lighter on ammo.

As you continue to gain accuracy and speed, move your target further away. You can develop any distance you desire with this technique, but remember, the smaller your target, the more time it will take to acquire an accurate sight picture. I generally try to stay within 25 yards, at that distance you definitely need to take more time to aim. You will start to notice the further away your target, the more pause you must incorporate to gain accurate sight alignment.


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