When aiming a gun, it’s vital to aim at something.
But what should that something be?
When hunting, people talk about the “kill zone”. It varies from animal to animal, but they talk about a general area… a zone… a somewhat large space. Take a look at this feral hog kill zone:
Look at the description: behind the shoulder. While it’s true anywhere in the zone is good, that’s not really how you should aim.
When talking about defensive firearms skills, people often talk about the notion of “center of mass”. I don’t care for that phrase because it’s not accurate enough. The center of mass relative to what? If of the whole body, I guess the center is around the bellybutton. If just the torso, then it’s around the diaphragm. Neither of these are good places to aim for. Consider an article I wrote a few years ago about “ignoring the X-ring” on a B-27 target because it’s not anatomically correct. At the end I suggested a better aim point:
Thus if you’re using a B-27 target, aim at the target where the upper “8″ and “9″ are printed.
But since I wrote that, I’ve stopped offering that suggestion and offered a better one: to aim at the line between the 8 and 9 rings (really, it’s the 9-ring’s outline line). And I point to where to aim.
Why this? I’m trying to give a more specific aim point.
I tell my students that one element of my plan is that as soon as I meet someone, I pick out the spot on their body that I am going to aim at, should it become necessary to shoot them. Then I describe to each person in the class what the aiming point for them would be. This tends to generate considerable discomfort but makes the point very clear.
Pick out something specific. How about a button on their shirt? Or if it helps you visualize better, you know how a button tends to have 2 or 4 holes in it so you can sew the button to the shirt? Pick one of those holes – a smaller, more specific target. Granted, sometimes getting too small and too specific is tough because you cannot see it. But the intent is to impress in your mind a very specific target to aim at, not just “center of mass” or “the A-zone/-0 zone” or “within the 8-9-X rings”.
Trick shooters like Bob Munden and Tom Knapp knew that the center of a target, the center of a coin, the center of an aspirin — they were all the same size. That whole “aim small, miss small” thing.
Yes, there are trade-offs, yes there are different sorts of sight pictures (see: Brian Enos). But the key take-home here is that somehow, on some level, you do have to aim. And when you aim, aim at something specific.