Target vs Hunting method of Sighting -aka lollypopping


July 19, 2009, 08:47 PM
Greetings all - I'm interested in how to 'properly' use handgun sights for target shooting and occasional hunting.

First time poster, long time reader/lurker.

I recently acquired a S&W 29 44mag with the 8 inch barrel. Its my first 'real' handgun beyond 9mm autos, and I'm immediately fascinated with the prospect of long range target shooting. I do reload, so its exciting to have a new adventure. I've been a long time shotgun and rifle shooter.
However, in searching for some appropriate aftermarket sights for this endeavor I realize that there are two different methods for using any iron sight.
'Target' as I know it means aligning your sights at the bottom of your target - aka 'lollypoppin' I'm told.
'Hunting' meaning you would align your sights so the point of aim covers your intended point of impact.

Which is best, and why?

I have always used the 'hunting' method - but am curious if I can be swayed the other way. Thanks for any thoughts.

If you enjoyed reading about "Target vs Hunting method of Sighting -aka lollypopping" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
July 19, 2009, 09:06 PM
Lolly-popping works best when you have a known distance to the target (bullseye shooting) because its a very repeatable aiming point that allows you to more easily accept the "wobble" in your sight picture. However, the sights are zeroed further away from the actual path of the bullet with a 6 o'clock hold than they are with a POA=POI zero.

For multiple distance shooting (hunting), zero the sights for POA=POI @ 25 yards, and you'll be very close throughout the usable range.

If you plan on shooting longer than that, figure out the trajectory of your round, and zero it to a distance that gives you the greatest usable range. An example: say a rifle zeroed @ 50 yards is good all the way out to 50, but leaves the round dropping a foot or more out to 200. Zero the same rifle @ 200, and its never further than a few inches above the point of aim out to 200, with it only a few inches below a bit further.

David E
July 19, 2009, 09:12 PM
First of all, as a matter of clarification, your S&W has an 8 3/8th's" barrel, not 8"

Second of all, what's wrong with the factory sights? Aside from replacing the red ramp with a blaze orange insert (presuming it has a ramp insert) there isn't much need to replace it. Try it for awhile before going to the expense of different sights.

Now, as to your question. "Lollypopping" works well when you know what the exact distance is and your background is white, as in Bullseye/target shooting. They have their sights adjusted to a 6 oclock hold will put the rounds into the center of the black, a couple inches higher than your point of aim.

Aligning black sights on the black bullseye makes it harder to be precise in your aiming, but silhouetting the black sights against the white below the bullseye makes it easier.

The problems are, when hunting, you simply won't know the exact distance to your target and very seldom would the target itself be white.

It's better to have the Point of Aim (POA) and Point of Impact (POI) be one and the same. For a .44 magnum, you may want a zero of 1" high @ 50 yds. This should put you into the vitals at least out to 100 yds with a dead-on hold. (this depends on your load, etc)

July 19, 2009, 09:16 PM
use your "hunting" method

zero so that your front sight laterally bisects your desired point of impact at your selected range

David E
July 19, 2009, 09:17 PM
'Hunting' meaning you would align your sights so the point of aim covers your intended point of impact.

I would disagree with this definition. to ME, it means that 1/2 the bullet width would strike above the front sight.


July 23, 2009, 11:58 AM
I'm with David, although it doesn't hurt to have the bullet hit so that the hole sits right on the top of the front sight. It's personal preference. I just don't think there should be an arbitrary distance between the POA and the POI.

"Lollypopping" is a Bullseye trick. The purpose is to give the sight a clearly visible POA, since the targets don't have center dots. All you see is a black circle on an off-white background, and you want to hit the center of the circle. So, some guys sight in so they can put the sight on the edge of the black circle, so there's a very consistent and visible POA, and the bullets hit the center of the target (a few inches higher).

If you think that this makes no sense at all when you're not shooting Bullseye, IMO you're absolutely right. Unless you are shooting at a specific regulation target with a certain black circle, what can you aim at? The answer is simple: nothing.

Use the "hunting" method. I use it for Bullseye, too. I like to build habits that work consistently, when I train for a sport or other activity. Unless you do nothing but shoot Bullseye, you're building habits that don't serve you all that well IMO.

Same goes for 60/40 or 70/30 Trap guns, and bird hunting. 70/30 is the clay equivalent of "lollypopping". Want to miss a lot of birds in the field? Use a competition Trap gun at the range for a while.:)

David E
July 27, 2009, 04:06 AM
I never cared for the Straight Eight sights for the exact reasons you cite. I prefer that only the front sight have the tritium insert.

July 31, 2009, 04:35 PM
Thanks for all the feedback. Just for background information, I received the gun without a rear sight as it had been removed in favor of a miserably low quality and damaged scope. So, I'm buying a new sight one way or the other.
The front ramp has been replaced with a blaze orange one, but it is not at all marked, and I'd like have a ramp with notches so I can accurately judge holdover for longer range shooting.
Oh, and as for the barrel length...yep, it is 8 3/4. But that means it's 8" too :)
I do think that I'll continue with the 'hunting' style - its what I know and I would like for any 'known distance' shooting skills to transfer over to hunting application as well, where distance will not be precisely known.
Thanks again for the feedback.

July 31, 2009, 04:40 PM
For longer hunting ranges there is no way to use the "cover the target" style.
And I wouldn't own a gun that shot that way.

A 1/8" pistol sight covers up a whole lot of real estate at 100 - 200 yards, let alone further.
Enough so you couldn't see a coyote or deer hiding behind it.


July 31, 2009, 04:40 PM
As I wrote, I might like to have the bullet impact like it's just sitting on top of the front sight. That way you can see where you're going to hit, but you also know exactly where it is.

That isn't "6 o'clock" or "lollypopping" in the way that dedicated target shooters do it.

July 31, 2009, 04:43 PM
I agree.


Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2009, 02:47 PM
The first method (bullseye resting on top of the front sight) is generally called the "6 o'clock hold." The second method (top of front sight bisecting the bullseye) is generally called the "Navy hold" since the Navy pistol team favored that method.

For a gun dedicated to bullseye shooting, the 6 o'clock hold is almost certainly the best. For other uses (hunting and self-defense) the Navy hold is best -- but the front sight should not cover the target. The bullet hole should appear directly above and touching the front sight when you re-aim.

August 1, 2009, 03:45 PM
i had never heard of having the front sight "covering" your target until the raise in popularity of 3-dot sights.

i've heard this called "driving the dots"

August 1, 2009, 08:17 PM
"Shooting the Dot" is really about combat pistols zeroed at 25ish yards, while shooting at 3-7 yard targets. The dot will be the point of impact (or close enough to it), so instead of looking for the tip of the front blade to be aligned in the notch and even with the rear, you just put the front dot in the notch, or between the rear dots, and press.

Its a very imprecise but quick way to shoot targets. So, it works for close up, but for any distance you look for the edges of the actual iron sight.

If you enjoyed reading about "Target vs Hunting method of Sighting -aka lollypopping" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!