The myth of “Natural Point Of Aim”

One of the challenges that we have with self-defense and competition shooting is that we have to break a lot of the rules that we were initially taught.

Natural point of aim is a good example.

Natural point of aim is a very useful tool for long range precision rifle and precision pistol.

Basically, you want to figure out what stance and body position will allow you to shut your eyes, aim, and be on target when you open them.

With long range precision, one of the things I do is aim at the bottom of my breath, shut my eyes, take an exagerated breath, open my eyes, and see if I’m still on target at the bottom of my breath.  If not, I make adjustments until I am.

Natural point of aim makes it easy to stand with a static stance, draw, and have your sights come up into automatic alignment between your dominant eye and the target.

I used to teach natural point of aim to shooters interested in self-defense and competition but realized over time that it creates a fragile technique that doesn’t work so well in real world conditions.  In fact, a lot of times we HAVE to break the guidelines of natural point of aim (NPA) in order to succeed.

NPA does work to make it easier for new shooters to hit the target with a perfect stance, but I’m going to share a technique with you that works with ANY stance.

To be clear, what I’m about to share with you is not well known.  It took me a few hundred hours of neurology training to figure it out.

I’m trying to make it a LOT easier for shooters and instructors to skip to the front of the line and avoid what I had to go through to learn this.

First off, why don’t natural point of aim drills/stances work for self-defense or competition?

Natural point of aim drills are based on a few myths:
Myth 1 is that natural point of aim is based on fixed body mechanics that take too long in dynamic shooting situations.  We want to be able to aim quickly and naturally at ANY angle with ANY foot position.
Myth 2 is that eye dominance & binocular fusion is always stable and consistent.  (There are 4 types of eye dominance that I test for with shooters and I’ve found that different stances and grips can shift dominance in some shooters.  Binocular fusion is how your brain merges and/or suppresses the images from each eye and whether that fused image is confusing or easy to understand.)
Myth 3 is that you’ll be able to assume that perfect stance in a real world situation. < This creates a fragile technique, which we don’t want. We want a resilient/durable technique.
Myth 4 is that your natural point of aim will be the same when you’re holding your pistol in your right hand vs. left hand vs. both hands.

NPA, the way it is commonly taught, is incredibly fragile and subject to slight changes in foot position, head tilt, and the curve and angle of the spine.

If you have time to get all of that right and you only have a single target to engage (long range hunting/sniping) then NPA will definitely help you aim quicker and be more precise.  If you don’t have that kind of time or if you need to engage multiple targets, there is a better approach than NPA.

I want my shooters to be able to point accurately regardless of whether they’re standing flat footed, moving offline after striking, sprinting right or left to cover, moving into a shooting position, or leaning around a barricade.

Because of gesture activated devices and touch screens, a lot of money has gone into how accurately people point and what they’ve found is that it’s common for people to be off as much as 10″ at 10′ in calm situations with neutral body positions.

And the more stress and balance challenges we add, the worse our pointing accuracy becomes.

Accurate pointing is a function of our vision, balance, and hand-eye coordination systems all being in agreement on which direction is up, where the horizon is, and which direction is straight ahead.  I walk people through a quick and super-easy test to see how accurately they can point at Automatic Aiming

When these senses aren’t matched up, it’s called sensory mismatch.

Accurate pointing with a gun also involves consistent grip, consistent eye dominance, and consistent binocular fusion (accurately merging the images from both eyes so they’re not confusing).

The more sensory mismatch someone has, the more compromised their aiming ability will be and the more dependent they’ll be on natural point of aim (NPA) to have their presentation automatically deliver the sights to a point between their dominant eye and the target.

Interestingly enough, sensory mismatch can cause the threat level in the brain to skyrocket and can be a HUGE driver for behavioral episodes for people with ADHD, ASD, TBI, PTSD, long-Covid, OCD, schizophrenia, and more.

The more someone’s vestibular system has been compromised by TBIs, or long-Covid, the more dependent they’ll be on vision for balance and the less accurate their pointing will be in non-sterile conditions.

Natural point of aim, as it’s traditionally taught, is dependent on stable (not shifting) eye dominance with consistent suppression of the non-dominant eye and consistent, accurate fusion of the images from both eyes.

Any NPA training that doesn’t address this has a high likelihood of not working with a non-perfect stance.

One of the fundamentals of NPA is that we have residual muscle tension that will pull us into a natural point of alignment that allows us to maintain aim without consciously doing anything.

This is correct, but that residual muscle tension can change dramatically in SECONDS.  (I can oftentimes help people increase range of motion by 15-30 degrees with less than a minute of eye movement.)

Residual muscle tension is controlled in the brainstem and it’s highly dependent on eye movement and our inner ears…both in the moment and immediately prior to the moment.

The midbrain controls residual flexor muscle tone.  The pons controls residual extensor muscle tone.  The medulla controls residual extensor muscle inhibition.  The cerebellum controls residual flexor muscle inhibition.  Change any of these and you can change NPA, as it is currently taught.

What we want to do instead of adjusting our stance to find our NPA in a single, fragile position is to improve how our vision and balance and hand-eye coordination work so that we can point accurately in a wide range of stances and non-stances.

I cover this in a few ways with Praxis…sensory resets, tapping the jawbone, using shock cord, eyes-closed aiming, and I’m going to be teaching a small group of instructors how to unlock performance in themselves and their students in my upcoming Vision Training for Firearms Instructors class.

It’s a 6 week, live online class that we’re holding on Zoom and it starts next Thursday.

In it, we’re going to unlock a LOT of the mysteries of the eyes and how you can use vision to create dramatic, immediate changes in pain, performance, endurance, learning speed, accuracy, speed, and much, much more.

Every session will be recorded so you can watch it if you miss the live class and re-watch it as many times as you’d like…forever.

If you’re interested, make sure to use your best email address and say “tell me more” in the comments below.



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  • Mark G

    Reply Reply July 6, 2023

    Tell me more!!!

  • David Nichols

    Reply Reply July 5, 2023

    Tell me more

  • Linda South

    Reply Reply July 5, 2023

    Tell me more

  • David McArdle MD

    Reply Reply July 5, 2023

    Tell me more

  • rod vanzeller

    Reply Reply July 5, 2023

    Are you familiar with the training Peyton Quinn offered at his training center in Colorado a few decades ago?
    Specifically, the adrenal stress drills with firearms?

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