Sight picture vs. sight alignment.


April 22, 2005, 09:06 PM
I know it's in bad form to perpetuate a thread once it is locked, but in another thread I was asked a perfectly legitimate question and it deserves an answer.

Please explain to us how you get perfect sight picture when you can barely see the front sight.

It is entirely possible for middle aged shooters who suffer from presbyopia to do reasonably well with a softer sight picture. For me, a perfect sight picture is seeing what I need to see to make and call a shot. The sight picture can take many forms. While perfect sight alignment is nice, it is not necessarily an ingredient of perfect sight picture.

For example, if I see the sights are misaligned, but I know the alignment and reationship of the bore to the target surface are accetable for making the shot, I'll break the shot. If the sight lifts from the spot (or in some cases the outline of the slide) without disturbance, the shot is good. In my case, I do not have a crisp sight picture because of convergence issues with my eyes. I have both vertical and horizontal prisms in my glasses, but I still see ghosting of the sights. Not having sharp visual focus on the sights is not necessary as long as I can accurately read the relationship of the bore to the target face through a combination of visual inputs and kinesthetic awareness of my index.

For people who can see their sights with clarity, it is not necessary for the sights to be in perfect alignment to make the shot. An example would be if the post is centered in the notch, but the top of the post is a tad bit higher than the top of the rear sight. If the "front sight high" picture first appears slightly below your line of sight as the gun is presented, the sights are indeed in alignment, so you can break the shot with the pistol still in motion during the extension. If the front sight is too high at full extension, but the top of the sight is at the bottom of the A box (IPSC) at a distance where experience shows us the shot will strike within an acceptable area, break the shot. It is worthwhile to puposely misalign the sights in practice at various distances in order to learn what degree of alignment is required to make the shot. You have perfect sight picture when seeing what you need to see to make and call the shot with certainty (that Kodak moment), but you may or may not have perfect sight alignment.

Some folks refer to the visual inputs that allow us to read where the shot will strike as visual acceptability. It is important to learn what kind of sight alignment and sight picture will result in an acceptable hit. Knowing what is visually acceptable allows the processing of visual inputs at a high rate of speed and allows the shooter to immediately break the shot when the visual requirements for making the shot have been met.

Processing the visual inputs before breaking the shot is often times referred to as visual patience. Misses typically occur when I don't have the visual patience to wait until I process the required visual inputs. That or I just screw up the fire control. :)

How one defines perfect sight picture, visual acceptability, etc. is a personal thing and it comes with experience. Each person is free to develop their own frame work for understanding and developing techniques that support the fundamentals of shooting. What is important is for us to allow our vision to control our shooting. I hope that clears things up (no pun intended).

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Zak Smith
April 22, 2005, 11:53 PM
Want to explain focus while you're on a roll?

April 23, 2005, 12:21 AM
Want to explain focus while you're on a roll?

Ummmm, well...not really. :D

Zak Smith
April 23, 2005, 12:28 AM
BE threads on focus:

April 23, 2005, 10:29 AM
Ankeny - very nice response, thank you.

I understand the principles of sight picture, sight alignment, and visual focus as you are describing them in your post above. For the most part, I train to elements you are talking about, but in a different fashion and from a different perspective.

For example, you said,
"For example, if I see the sights are misaligned, but I know the alignment and reationship of the bore to the target surface are accetable for making the shot, I'll break the shot."
"It is worthwhile to purposely misalign the sights in practice at various distances in order to learn what degree of alignment is required to make the shot."

From my perspective, we are going to the same place, but getting there by different method. My technique is built around index, not around sight alignment. I primarily concern myself with the relationship of the bore to the target (index); not the sights to the target (sight alignment). For me the index determines the shot placement; the sight alignment (if I even see the sights) is merely confirmation (and sometimes refinement) of the index. The two are forever related, and we both seem to take them into account, but I think we use them from different perspectives.

For the record, my response to "you're tellings us they don't train, but get results..." is that I never said they don't train, I said they train differently. I know they trained hard to get those results; I've trained on the range with D.R. and Daniel, and will be doing so again in another week.

Our miscommunication appears to be more a matter of perspective, differing terminology, and perhaps inadequate explanation. I hope it will not continue. Shoot well.

April 23, 2005, 07:53 PM
It took a lot of words to say the obvious, a perfect sight picture any where on target is a hit with good trigger control. Any thing else is a guess. Indexing a handgun to target is great at minimal range and/or tons of practice. As we age sights fade, but must be brought into focus for really good, consistant hits, period. IMHO

April 23, 2005, 10:36 PM
It might be obvious, but it isn't easy. Then again, I am talking about shooting at a pretty good clip. Like a five second El Presidente or a 1.2 second Mozambique Drill.

In this drill ( I use three different types of focus.

April 24, 2005, 08:50 AM
Ankeny, can you elaborate a little on the three types you will use in that drill?

In my own shooting I think I would use two as it appears to be about 10 yards, two COM and one to the head. COM I would use a softer sight focus for speed and a little tighter on the head shot to insure a good hit, but I have a lot to learn. Any insight is appreciated.

April 24, 2005, 10:23 AM
On the first shot I'll use a target focus and break the first shot as the slide appears in my peripheral vision. At about the time the shot breaks, I have pulled my eyes back to the sights and will be looking through the gun as it lifts. On the second shot I'll be looking "through the gun" and see the sights superimposed on the target as I break the shot, but I'll be on the front sight pretty hard as the gun goes into recoil. I can see the upper plate perhiperally through out the entire drill so I just ride the front sight to the plate and break the shot with sights in alignment.

The point is, there are many ways to shoot even this simple drill. Shooters with a well defined index could scoff at the description I gave and just look at the target. I see a lot of people who over estimate the range at which the can index or "point shoot". They do fine at 7 yards, but will miss that upper plate at ten yards. The eyes are the fastest part of the human body. On this drill, vision is not necessarily the limiting factor. The split is in the low teens and the transition is in the upper teens. My ability to manipulate the gun is the limiting factor, not the visual a point.

Guys with well trained vision can actually see a fairly traditional sight picture on all three shots, and call the shots fairly precisely, while shooting the drill in under a second and a half. Flexmoney, a regular contributor on Glock Talk, Brian Enos' forums, etc. comes to mind.

April 24, 2005, 01:34 PM
Ankeny, I've tried it a couple different ways, but I can't get your link to open, so I'm not entirely sure what drill we're talking about. HSMITH said, "10 yards, two COM and one to the head." so I'll assume that's pretty much it.

I have a well defined index, know quite a few others who do as well, and I certainly wouldn't scoff at the types of focus you described for shooting that drill (I would hope others wouldn't as well). Given your description and my assumption on the drill, I believe I would shoot it almost exactly the same as you did. My only difference would probably be less, "hard on the front sight" as you put it, following the second shot; I would probably continue to look over or through the sights instead.

At close range, let's say 7 yds or less, I rarely even look for the sights. I may look over or through the sights if I get my gun up that high, but I'm not normally looking for them. At mid range, let's say 8 - 15 yds, I will normally have the gun at full extension, and will certainly look over or through the sights. I can still look at the target, but at 15 yds I can't make small groups without coming back on the sights a bit. At long range (beyond 15 yds), I can usually look through the sights at first, but have to focus on the sights to hold a decent group.

Island Beretta
April 24, 2005, 01:37 PM
as I read this thread (good posts, Ron!!) my mind flashed back to how I have evolved as a shooter from one focus (classic) type- 3 dots middled and aligned with FS sharp and everything else blurry to one where all I need is to see the FS somewhere (usually on target because of a developed platform/index) and by feel know that the sights are alignment and the gun is on target and ready to fire again. the journey still hasn't ended...

All stages in my transitions were seen as the stage but I was always mindful of Enos's advise that we mustn't create limitations for ourselves. Once we have the skills then if we step back and allow it to happen the body will do what is necessary to make the shot. e.g. for the drill Ron showed I would only be able to tell you what focus type was used after I have finished shooting it and seeing what my body did.. iow once you create the intention the body will do!! Not that I couldn't have said I will do it this way (conscious shooting) and still be successful but the other way is soooo much better... ;)

April 24, 2005, 04:57 PM
Thanks for the insight Ankeny. I was thinking along the same lines as you, but it seems I would look for a little more of the sights on the first shot than you would. I don't fully trust my index yet.......

"splits in the low teens" at 10 or so yards on steel MAYBE but I can't get out of the high teens on paper and stay in the A at that range, from what I can see in the vid you are solid A on both shots. That is some pretty darn good shooting in your vid.

April 25, 2005, 04:27 PM
Other than the cool factor, monster splits really don't have a whole lot of value, lol.

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