Pistol Sights , Much Better Than in Olden Days

S&W J-Frame Sights
Pistol Sights , Much Better Than in Olden Days

By John Farnam

Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- “There are two ways to be fooled: One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is.” ~ Kierkegaard

Pistol sights:

My esteemed friend and colleague, Tom Givens, recently made the excellent point that the practice of shooting pistols from postures other than at eye-level came about mostly as a result of pistol sights that were so poor as to be mostly unusable. Indeed until relatively recently, sights on production pistols were small, hard to see, and thus hard to align quickly.

Gun manufacturers, who knew something about manufacturing, but not much about guns, traditionally figured (incorrectly) that most pistols used for serious purposes weren’t going to be “sighted” like rifles during a lethal confrontation, and thus “sights” on most production pistols were little more than a pitiable afterthought. “Training” in practical pistolcraft during at least the first half of the last century consisted largely of watching cowboy movies. And, [just like today] movie-makers didn’t know much about guns (nor history) either!

“Non-sighted shooting,” “body-index shooting,” “natural-point shooting,” the practice has gone by a number of titles, and even has a few naive advocates today. Results are poor, even among those who claim to be able to do it well, so most of us now opt for shooting pistols at eye-level while using our sights, under all but a few circumstances.

I remember, as a young patrolman back in the early 1970s, watching Bill Jordan who, shooting from waist-level, hit aspirin tablets with his S&W revolver, at a range of three meters. I recall being mightily impressed! (I’m old enough to have know Bill personally)

A generation earlier, Ed McGivern performed similar amazing demonstrations. (That was a little before my time!)

Both Bill and Ed, and a number of others less well known, were amazingly talented, no doubt. In fact, they were so gifted, neither enjoyed much success trying to teach us mere mortals how to do the same thing! And when they died, their astonishing talents died with them!

Modern pistols, intended for serious purposes and from reputable manufacturers (who today, to their credit, know a lot more about guns and their serious use than they used to), have genuinely usable sights that can be seen and aligned quickly.

Accordingly, we now train our students to make good use of them!

“Sights are good!” ~ Dave Spaulding


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

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James H.

With commitment, dedication and lifestyle changes, most anyone can become a Bill Jordan or other such luminary. Practice sighting and target acquisition on a secure range wearing proper eye and hearing protection knowing full well, at the end of range session you may count on a hot supper waiting at home making a fine conclusion to an enjoyable day. In combat, there is no time for sight acquisition. You point your pistol and fire hoping to kill whomever it is trying to kill you. Fire your pistol at night, you are instantly blind from muzzle flash and deaf. Your only… Read more »


Speaking of point shooting don’t forget FBI agent “Jelly” Brice who could draw and shoot with deadly accuracy faster then a criminal could pull the trigger. His choice of weapons were double action S&Ws in 44 special and .357.


Okay, it used to be that point shooting was worthless. Now it is that only a few guys who are now dead could do it. How long did the sighted fire only crowd take to re-invent the wheel by coming up with the “Retention position”, which was just a variation on the old 1/4 hip position. At a certain distance it favors point shooting, and at a certain distance, which will vary for different people, it becomes a sighted fire solution. But thanks for the video…

M.A. Hall

John, well said my Friend. I’ve been teaching young police recruits and civilians to shoot for over 40 years now and still occasionally get someone that wants to learn to “hip-shoot”. Mostly because they think it’s faster. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the old Jordan movies of him hitting those targets from the hip and the one thing that stands out, is the time he takes to “verify’ the position of that model 19’s muzzle before he breaks the shot. He was good at it but he was much faster when the sights got between his face and the… Read more »


very nice shooting.