correct-sight-alignment
Copyright 2009 Brasstard.com

This is the first installment in a multi-part sighting techniques tutorial. This section is intended to help give some visual aid to new shooters, or to those who are teaching someone else to shoot. The goal here is to give viewers a better understanding of a correct sight picture, and to point out some potential pitfalls to avoid…

The image above describes a correct sight picture for standard, aimed shooting (we’ll cover point shooting in upcoming chapters of this series). Close your “weak” eye and use your dominant eye to focus on the front sight. This will leave the rear sight and the target slightly blurry. As you press the trigger to the rear, make sure the sights stay aligned for the entire duration of the pull. As the trigger breaks and the cartridge fires, maintain your focus on the front sight so you can quickly realign for your next shot.

If you do not align the sights properly, the following results will occur…

high-sight-alignment
Copyright 2009 Brasstard.com

Front sight is too high… correct high impact points by lowering the front sight so it is on the same plane as the rear sight.

low-sight-alignment
Copyright 2009 Brasstard.com

Front sight is too low… correct low impact points by raising the front sight so it is on the same plane as the rear sight.

left-sight-alignment
Copyright 2009 Brasstard.com

Front sight is too far to the left… correct this by centering your front sight in the middle of the rear sight notch.

right-sight-alignment
Copyright 2009 Brasstard.com

Front sight is too far to the right… correct this by centering your front sight in the middle of the rear sight notch.

DRY PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

The best way to learn proper sighting technique is with some dry practice. First, make sure your gun is unloaded, and remove all live ammo from the immediate area. Find yourself a safe place to aim, such as a thick external wall made of bricks and/or concrete, the side of a bookshelf full of books, or into a thick earthen berm. Next, choose a target in the safe area to take aim at (note: your neighbors cat is not a feasible target). Now begin practicing with some slow, smooth trigger pulls while maintaining a proper sight picture. Make sure you are not flinching or otherwise moving the gun before, during or after the trigger breaks.

Dry practice as often as you have time to. I usually do it for about 15-20 minutes per session, 2 or 3 times per week. Dry practice is a crucial exercise for developing your accuracy… perhaps even more so than actual shooting. Without the concussive recoil of live fire practice, you will be able to see and correct your mistakes much easier. Once you get used to maintaining your sight picture throughout the trigger cycling process, you will be making bullseye hits like a pro. So keep up the good work, happy shooting and stay safe.

Pistol Sighting 101: Aimed Shooting

8 thoughts on “Pistol Sighting 101: Aimed Shooting

  • January 15, 2013 at 09:58
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    This is the best training aid I have used for instructing young shooters. Able to show the sight picture to them. It has more of an impact to them by seeing. Grip and hold can be practiced and improved on. Getting the sight picture in the head is a big problem.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2012 at 06:38
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    I was always told not to dry fire any guns. Has this philosophy changed?

    Reply from Admin:

    Jim,
    It is not quite that cut and dry. Some guns should not be dry fired, such as many rimfire designs and certain older revolvers, some of which have the firing pin attached to the hammer (pre-transfer bar era). However, most modern centerfire guns can and do get dry fired thousands of times without issue.

    Reply
  • October 2, 2011 at 07:56
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    Can you include site pictures for firearms with peep sites?
    I am still not 100% on the site picture for a peep site.. Thanks

    Admin:
    I will see what I can come up with for you in the near future.

    Reply
  • April 24, 2011 at 19:19
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    By far my favorite blog on shooting so far. Many many thanks…I’ve a question regarding aimed shooting. I’ve often been told keep BOTH eyes open and focus on the front sight. Easier said than done. What I’m seeing is TWO rear sights, and TWO targets. As a right-eye dominant shooter, I use the left set of gun sights and aim the front sight at the target image on the right. I’d like to know your thoughts on Aimed Shooting with both eyes open. Again, many thanks!

    Reply from Admin:
    Hi Ed,
    Thanks for the words of support, and I am glad the blog has been helpful. There are many different approaches to the 2-eye method, but the one that I found to work best for me is the one that I covered here. It entails keeping both eyes open, but focusing on the target, not the sights. It can be a bit foreign at first, but becomes very natural with practice.
    Best of luck.

    Reply
  • January 26, 2011 at 08:10
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    Great tutorial. I salute you guys…

    Reply
  • January 6, 2010 at 16:36
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    Excellent! Very helpful to me, a new shooter….

    Reply
  • December 30, 2009 at 17:06
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    KPB,
    Excellent points… perhaps a segment on grip/trigger form would be a nice installment in the future. Thanks for chiming in.

    Reply
  • December 30, 2009 at 14:25
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    Greetings,
    Both articles – Aimed and Point Shooting carry very useful, practical information. I would like only to add the importance of the grip technique. Appropriate grip, including the placement of the strong hand’s web, contributes not only to more accurate and consistent aiming but also to the reliability of the cycling especially in the case of the semi-autos.
    Thanks again for the excellent tutorials.

    KPB

    PS Dry-practice is indispensible!

    Reply

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