Monday, February 28, 2011

Front Sight

So THAT's what happens when you focus on the front sight. It seems so counter-intuitive to me.

Look! I'm not wandering to the right. That's 15 rounds of .177 wadcutters @ 30 feet. A slighty different technique than what I use with a .75 caliber smooth bore with no sights.

Here are the next 15 rounds.

These were all done seated, resting my elbows on my knees.
Now I just might have to adjust my sight picture a little more, and I may be good to go. I think what worked for me was breaking the process down so I was dealing with fewer variables at a time. I hope the skills will transfer to something with a little more oomph.


  1. THAT'S MY GAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Remember the mantra, " Front sight, Press"


  2. You're a good teacher. *grin* I still don't quite get shooting at something I'm not focusing on.

  3. Outstanding.

    You've learned something that, as an instructor, is one of the most difficult things to impart to new shooters.

    As I've gotten older and can't focus as well on close-in objects, I've started wearing reading glasses when trying to shoot with any kind of precision.

    When I'm wearing reading glasses, I can't really see the target at all...just a fuzzy blob where it should be.

    But I can shoot WAY better being able to focus clearly on the front sight even though I can hardly see the target at all.

    It does seem a bit counterintuitive at first, but the why really isn't that complicated when you think about it.

    You weren't really asking for an answer so please feel free to ignore the rest of this comment if you aren't interested in the mechanics of it.

    The reason that it's so important to focus on the front sight is because the sight alignment is a much finer adjustment than your point of aim.

    If your point of aim is off by, say, one inch, but your sights are aligned properly, you're going to miss the bullseye by one inch.

    If your point of aim is perfect on the bullseye, but your sights are misaligned by, say .075 inches. Assuming a sight radius of 5 inches (pretty generous in this day of compact guns) and a distance of 10 yards, you'll miss your bullseye by about 5 and a half inches.

    Because misaligned sights are not consistent. you'll be off in different directions pretty much each time, which will result in a group of somewhere around 11 inches...whereas, if your sights are aligned properly, but your point of aim wanders by a couple of inches, you'll make a four inch group.

    Granted our theoretical 11 inch group would be about 8 inches at 21 feet (generally accepted as typical self-defense range), which is good enough for "minute of badguy" (and is why I don't worry about the reading glasses unless I'm shooting for precision) but it sure won't win you any e-postal match or IDPA bragging rights.

    Our eyes aren't perfect measuring instruments, but they are good at spotting differences. If you're focusing on the front sight, concentrating on keeping the tops of the front and rear sights level and the same amount of gap between both sides of the front sight in the rear notch, you'll most likely be within a couple of thousandths of an inch from perfectly aligned pretty much every time.

    But if you're not focused on the front sight, especially during the trigger squeeze, your sights could shift as much as an eighth of an inch without you noticing...which, at any kind of distance, means you just missed the paper.

    As an added bonus, with practice, you can call your shots. This is something I've become very good at with rifle shooting. Somewhat less so with pistol, but the principle is the same.

    When you're focused on the front sight, you will see every little waver and wiggle of the sights. If you keep your eyes open throughout the shot and stay focused on the sights, you can get a "flash image" of the sight alignment as the shot broke.

    With practice, you'll know when your sights were aligned slightly high left (for example) and you'll be able to call those shots.

    When you know what your sights are doing during the shot, you can better analyze what's causing the problem. Is it that your grip is shifting as the shot breaks? Maybe you're breathing isn't quite right? Are you flinching?

    If you know what you're sights are doing as the shot breaks, you'll be able to figure out what's causing it...which is half the battle toward fixing it.

    So, as you found out, although every instinct screams out for you to look at the thing you're shooting at, you'll shoot much more accurately and consistently if your vision is focused on the front sight.

  4. SailorCurt - Two things.

    1. Thanks for the explanation, it's helpful.

    2. Multi-focal contacts are AMAZING things.

  5. Shorter version: Good shooting! Keep up the good work!