Keep Your Eyes On the Prize

| October 25, 2017 | 5 Comments

Keeping your eyes aligned with your sights (or optics) has a huge performance advantage when working inside of structures. Students learned this lesson the hard way at  Craig Douglas’s Armed Movement In Structures class.

Sights. Tilt torso. Move feet. Sights. Tilt torso. Move feet.

Such was my inner monologue as I sliced angles off of a corner.

I had my Airsoft AK47 vSBR trainer in my hands. Mike Anderson of Shoot the Gun was the assistant coach for Craig.

I got to a stairwell, and repeated my process. I thought I was doing well — until Mike stopped me.

“You move your head above your optics every time you take a step. Then you bring the rifle up to your eyes. Just stay on your sights.”

I walked back down the stairwell and started over. This time, I kept the rifle at eye height and continued to practice until it became natural to me.

Most every student at AMIS did the same thing with their pistols. “Low ready” is still being taught at a lot of places apparently, and/or is a natural way novice students hold their firearms. Students would point their muzzles at the ground, then adjust themselves to see as much as possible, then bring the handgun up, then move their bodies, then go back to low ready. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until someone corrected them.

Other students held the muzzle high, in a Charlie’s Angels-like ready position:

Actress Shelly Hack, Charlie’s Angels Season 04

Students would point their muzzles up, lengthen their angles as much as possible, bring the handgun down, move their bodies, muzzle back up. Repeat, repeat, repeat until someone corrected them.

Like me, most students didn’t realize that they were coming off of their sights and/or pointing their muzzle in a suboptimal position until they were told.

By the end of AMIS, almost everyone consistently oriented their muzzles towards unknown space, and kept their sights in their eyeline. This was a big deal when we transitioned to force on force exercises. A fraction of a second could make the difference between seeing — and engaging — the bad guy first, or being shot by someone hiding behind a couch or around a corner.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

5 Comments on "Keep Your Eyes On the Prize"

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  1. Vanderlinn says:

    To be clear, search the area w the muzzle NOT pointed in a “safe direction” is what was taught?

    Not implying this is necessarily wrong because it either does or would seem to violate one of the four rules, but it might be good to address this question.

    I can see how that can make the difference though, time wise

  2. CR Williams says:

    Possible drawback: Staying on sights could narrow your visual field such that you don’t pick something up you need to be seeing right then.

    At the usual room distances or withing the visual field I’m running during interior sweeps I can keep the gun up in the vertical eye-line but below horizontal eye-line, get wider field of vision, and use alternative sighting methods to engage when and if necessary with accuracy. If a precision shot is required it’s just a small lift to be on-sight. It is an option, especially for those of us that aren’t able to spend enough time in training and practice at CQB to be able to work the sights like an assaulter or the rest of the guys in the stack.

    You can learn to do this with pistol or rifle. It is a viable alternative to staying conceptually glued to sights or optic.

  3. Robert says:


    One thing we found when I took AMIS 1.5 years ago was that a lot of students (myself included) were, at times, tickling their triggers with their trigger fingers. This, obviously, gets dangerously close to violating ANOTHER of the four rules. Students just wanted as much of an “edge” as possible, given the nature of the sudden appearance of “bad guys” in this class. Many students had to be constantly reminded that, while keeping the pistol “up” was usually a good thing, we could NOT violate the finger on trigger rule.


  4. van der line says:

    I recall reading an article by jeff cooper in G&A shortly before he died. No, it was not about whether or not to focus on the front site in a gun fight. It was related to the safety mindset, I guess in relation to people who are dogmatic to a fault about the rules. He basically said that as important as the as the 4 rules are (was it him that came up w/ them?) the four rules do not trump victory in combat…FWIW. He might have said something about a victory mindset.

    I also remember him saying the trigger finger rule was the golden rule.

    • CR Williams says:

      Memory says it was Cooper who made the Four Rules, yes.

      His Commentaries provide many interesting insights into background and things like places and times when front sight-press isn’t the best thing and things like that.

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