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The Finer Points of Iron Sights Aiming

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by dubious, Feb 28, 2007.

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  1. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    Ideal conditions for the elbow.

    Ideally, your left arm will be looped up in a sling and pulled tight under the rifle. How tight? Lots of competitive shooters have pulled the sling swivels loose from the rifle stock. Yep, that tight. That's why they wear padded shooting jackets. You and I won't normally need that, just loop up snug.

    Whether you use a sling or not, keep the elbow under the rifle. With quite a few rifles, I actually rest my elbow on my ribcage when I can't use a sling (muzzleloader or High Power offhand position).

    When you do have a "field expedient" rest to use, keep your actual elbow off of it. Rest the back side of your upper arm, if possible. For the same reason you put your elbows outside your knees when shooting from sitting position, it minimizes wobble instead of amplifying it.
     
  2. AndyC

    AndyC Member

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    An open apology to LHB1:

    I owe you an apology; I was completely out-of-line by taking offence at what you said about focusing on the front sight.

    You see, the funny thing is that I actually agree with that technique in almost every instance - I know for a fact that one will shoot more accurately that way.

    However, I also need to explain my perspective a bit. I know that people's eyes focus on the person who is the threat, be it on the street or during war - it's just human instinct. Granted, one can try to train this away and sometimes be successful - it depends on the individual. I prefer not to fight against this instinct but to embrace it - but doing so comes with a caveat.

    If someone is experienced enough with firearms to be able to subconsciously pick up the sight-picture while being focused on the threat, in practical terms one is able to be effective. In other words, even while focused on my target, I know when my sights are aligned - I shoot where I look (as can most of those who compete in high-speed shooting sports for example IDPA/IPSC with iron sights).

    If one is not experienced, this technique is useless, perhaps even dangerous, so for those folks I used to train, I discovered a way for them to get extremely quick, center hits at fighting distances. I won't get into it here, but essentially it uses the front sight as a gross indicator while focused on the target.

    The question is, how much pinpoint-accuracy does one need in a fight? Personally, I want as much as possible without sacrificing my ability to see what the threat is doing. Personal example - I was swamped one evening by 4 men and I managed to disengage from them; while backpedalling I drew the CZ75 I carried in those days and aimed at the leader who was struggling with the safety-catch of his FEG (Walther PPK-clone) pistol. I didn't want to pull the trigger unless I was absolutely given no choice, and while I was groaning inside my head ("No, damnit, don't make me shoot, don't make me shoot, if you get that safety off and you raise that weapon I'm going to have to drop you") I was totally focused on what he was doing. I needed that focus in order to know when to shoot, whereas if it had been a front-sight focus, that man would be dead today.

    I have so much more to say on this subject but I'm becoming long-winded and boring; it's also easier to demonstrate than type out. In short, use the front-sight wherever possible - my point is that it won't always be possible unless one has almost superhuman self-control and even then, there is the likelihood of missing critical information, so I prefer to prepare accordingly.

    No hard feelings on my side - again, I apologise for taking offence and coming across like a d*ckhead.
     
  3. Afy

    Afy Member

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    What about non aperture sights?

    The U or V rear?
     
  4. LHB1

    LHB1 Member

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    AndyC,
    I appreciate the thought and kind words. Whether you were right or wrong, one indication of a man's character is the ability to admit it when he thinks he has done something wrong. You certainly measure up by that standard. No hard feelings on this end either. We don't have to agree on every detail as long as we can agree to disagree. If you ever get down to Houston, give me a call and we will go shooting at the local outdoor range.

    Good shooting and be safe.
    LB
     
  5. AndyC

    AndyC Member

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    Good deal ;)
     
  6. Caimlas

    Caimlas Member

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    Here's what I do:

    For aperture (standard M16 blade):

    Align the top of the blade with where I want to hit, and just look through the aperture, with my eye as close to the aperture as is physically safe. I used to prefer blade/notch sights, but now prefer aperture, as my eyesight isn't as good as when I was 12 due to all the time I spend on these damn computers. :)

    For open (V, U, etc.):

    I've got focal depth problems, so I've got a difficult time lining them up due to one or the other being blurry, but generally I'll try the same approach as with pistols (stated below). If that's not possible (blackened sights are difficult for me to align without colored marks on them to give me relational perspective), I'll generally stick the front blade above the rear just enough to give me a noticeable signature (and adjust the sights appropriately on those rifles) to let me know I've got it centered - otherwise the front and rear blur into each other too much.

    Pistol:

    I line up the sights so there are 3 dots in a row, and then look at/focus on the target with the sight 'line' out of focus; focusing on the front post just obscures my vision of the target - and for self-defense, I see this as dangerous. I can hit bowling pins with regularity with my Taurus PT111 @ 25 yards doing this. (Though I'd like to get competent at point shooting - something I'll have to work on.)

    Shooting stance:

    I just point my body at the target and then move the gun to my shoulder and don't 'muscle' it into place. Method of support varies depending on the specific longarm: sometimes I'll use a sling; sometimes I'll prop my elbow on my ribs; sometimes I'll hold the rifle on the handguard, and sometimes I'll hold closer towards the receiver/in the front of the magazine well. It all depends on which technique gets the best stability and balance for a given rifle. Left arm is generally at a 45 degree angle to the body unless my left arm is resting on my ribs, in which case it's pulled in a bit more for a more central support - whatever feels natural, basically.

    Breathing:

    Where I'm trying for a smaller group, I'll moderate my breathing. Three deep breaths, and on the third breath I'll exhale only to the point where it's comfortable to hold it for several seconds, steady my shot while slowly exhaling, and take my shot when my lungs are at about a quarter total capacity, or right before exhaling would become uncomfortable. I don't hold my breath for more than 3 or 4 seconds all told, per shot. If I can't make it in that amount of time, my body will start getting a little shaky. I'll take a breather and then start over.
     
  7. James T Thomas

    James T Thomas Member

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    an example pic

    Please refer to the post by "hardhit777;" My new Garand!"Pics on p.2.

    The third and fourth frames down depict a sight picture with the shooter's focus on the rear sight, and then with the eye focused on the front sight blade. The rear sight in that one is out of focus; blurry, as is the target -the wall.

    This is as it should be.

    Not a fine point, but fundamental that some have incorrect.
     
  8. hardhit777

    hardhit777 Member

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    He he, I'm glad my pictures are good for something other than looking at:) Here I'll post the pic. in this thread too. It took me about 20 tries to get this picture. This is the correct site picture you should see through the sites on an m1 garand. Rear site fuzzy, front site in focus, and the target blurry.
    [​IMG]

    HH
     
  9. AStone

    AStone Member

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    A (sight) picture is worth a billion words

    I've got nothing to offer except support (keep it up!),
    a general comment or three, and a couple of questions.

    I've been subscribed to this thread for a few days, reading for as long as my mind will allow (trying to visualize the advice that some are offering in words can be really challenging; sometimes makes my head hurt :eek: ).

    (HH, your picture is worth a billion words. ;)
    I hope to see more images in this thread in coming days and weeks.)

    I'm motivated to read, though, because I just recently bought the first center fire rifle I've owned in years, and it has iron sights: a Marlin 336.

    My first trip to the range with Mr. 336 was ... um, a humbling experience. I did fine at 25 yds, mediocre at 50. At 100 yds, I was able to keep shots on a 12" paper target, but little more. (Not bad for 56 year old eyes and a new rifle, I guess, but still, not what one might hope for.)

    So, the experience motivated me to start considering sighting options. (Actually, I've been researching options for months in advance of buying the rifle; that experience just accelerated and refined the process.)

    I've fancied a scope. (I have a Leupold VX-1 2-7X-28mm rimfire scope on my 39A, and like it for squirrel shooting.) I've especially been looking at scout scopes, like a Leupold scout, for the 336.

    But the biggest part of me wants to keep some irons on it, even if only as backups.
    I've been focusing on apertures and ghost rings.

    Since the 336 is going to mainly be a deer rifle, mostly for < 100 m, instead of a target gun, I'm leaning towards ghost rings. In fact, I ordered a set of XS ghost rings earlier tonight. I don't rule out a set of Williams FP later. I may also decide to go for that Leupold scout, or even a more traditional Leupold.

    But for now, my focus (so to speak) is on the irons.

    I understand one thing quite clearly: it's all about the front sight. (Unless the target is carrying a gun, then perhaps one may wish to spend more time focusing on the target and merely point shooting, as with a shotgun.)

    However, I'm still trying to understand the following:

    • What, exactly, is the optimum relationship between the front sight and the target?
      For example, should the target be "sitting" on top of the front post, or be covered by it?
    • What is the definition of "sight picture"?
    OK, informative thread here.
    I'll keep reading.

    Thanks for all the advice.

    Nem
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2007
  10. iamkris

    iamkris Member

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    I use these charts in the Basic Rifle courses I teach for understanding sight picture. I made them up in PowerPoint and saved them as .jpg
     

    Attached Files:

  11. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Kris,

    This one is one of those images worth a billion words.

    It pretty much says everything I needed to know.

    Thanks a billion.

    Nem

    [​IMG]
     

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  12. g5reality

    g5reality member

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    Kris,
    Yes Thanks. great illustration of proper sighting.

    hardhit777,
    Nice Picture
     
  13. revitup

    revitup Member

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    Wouldn't sighting the way that's described above be affected by bull's eye size and distance from the target?
     
  14. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    Distance and size.

    Distance is a non issue, every sight in is for a particular distance. A rifle sighted in at 50 yards will impact differently at 200 yards. You just need to find the optimum sight-in distance for your rifle and load. That goes for .22 rimfires, AR's, .30 caliber bolt actions and everything else, too.

    Bullseye size does make a difference. Make the bull as small as you can see if your interested in shooting anything but paper with the rifle. I use a 2" red bull on a black background at 100 yards. For scoped rifles, I use a 1".

    Folks who shoot strictly paper often use NRA targets and the rifle will shoot seriously high if you shoot at anything else. They put the post at the bottom of the black and get center hits, several inches above the top of the post.
     
  15. hps1

    hps1 Member

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    Thanks to Kris's excellent illustration, for your hunting rifle, I would sight in, using his "pumpkin on a post" to hit "point of aim" (bullet strike would be at 6 o'clock on the bull) or perhaps 1" high of POA @ 100 yards. The 1" high sight setting would extend the 30-30 point blank hunting zero to perhaps 150 yards. In the field, just put the top of front sight where you wish to strike the target.

    http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=54556&d=1173338065

    Having long passed your youthful 56 years of age;), I do not hesitate to recommend either an aperature rear sight or a scope. Count your blessings if you are still able to see "open" rear sights, and, for that matter, a post front sight at 56 YOA. IIRC, I could still do so at that age, but not long after.

    The aperature rear can be sized to sharpen your front sight, but beware of getting the hole too small, especially on a hunting rifle. Merit makes an adjustable aperature which is infinately adjustable as to opening size. Remember, your best hunting oportunities usually occur in poor light, so err on the large size and, when the sights are no longer useful, don't resist adding optics.

    Regards,
    hps
     
  16. AStone

    AStone Member

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    This thread continues to offer great advice. I hope it becomes a sticky some day, or at least gets included in a THR suggested reading list.

    I, too, still think of myself as "youthful". (With hard driving dance music, I can still dance circles around 20 somethings, for example. :D It's only the eyes that are beginning to feel less "youthful".)

    Having said that, yes, HPS, I'm definitely considering all the options, and do realize that the system will evolve as I get older. A scope of some kind is on the back burner for now, but not at all out of the picture.

    As I mentioned above, I ordered a set of XS ghost rings yesterday. Not aperture sights in the traditional sense, perhaps (i.e., not like Williams FPs), but still moving in that direction. I thought I'd try them first as replacement for the buckhorn open sights on my 336.

    {Added by edit: this thread has been very helpful in terms of learning how to properly use those new sites (and traditional buck horns as well if I ever use such sights again.}

    If the GRs don't lead to desired results (or even if they do), I'll still try a set of Williams PF next (or something like the Merit's that you recommend).

    After that, I'll go to a scope, either scout or traditional. (I'm even considering getting a set of either GR or FP's set up, and learn how to use them effectively, then mount a scout scope on for primary use with the GR or FP as back up.

    I'm just going to play that by ear after some work with the modified irons.

    Thanks! :)

    Nem
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2007
  17. NASCAR_MAN

    NASCAR_MAN member

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    hardhit777,

    Thanks for posting the sight-alignment photo: it perfectly demonstrates how the rear sight will be slightly out-of-focus.

    Now...if anyone thinks Hardhit777's photo is just a failure of his not to use the proper f-stop, I would like to refer you to illustration 3-4 of the Army's Basic Rifle Markmanship Manual which show a drawing of just such a sight picture and demonstrates the rear sight is going to appear blurry.

    Focus of the eye. A proper firing position places the eye directly on line with the center of the rear sight. When the eye is focused on the front sight post, the natural ability of the eye to center objects in a circle and to seek the point of greatest light (center of the aperture) aid in providing correct sight alignment. For the average soldier firing at combat-type targets, the natural ability of the eye can accurately align the sights. Therefore, the firer can place the tip of the front sight post on the aiming point, but the eye must be focused on the tip of the front sight post. This causes the target to appear blurry, while the front sight post is seen clearly. Two reasons for focusing on the tip of the front sight post are:

    Only a minor aiming error should occur since the error reflects only as much as the soldier fails to determine the target center. A greater aiming error can result if the front sight post is blurry due to focusing on the target or
    other objects.

    Focusing on the tip of the front sight post aids the firer in maintaining proper sight alignment (Figure 3-4).


    http://www.scribd.com/doc/3602236/united-states-army-fm-239

    As always: Front Sight...Front Sight.

    Thanks.

    NASCAR
     
  18. rrlemon

    rrlemon Member

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    It has been a while since anyone has commented on this thread. Here goes. This is in reference to PedalBiker's use of Peep sights. I too like peep sights and use them but I am far sighted. So putting the sight close to my eye only fuzzes it out completely. So, what I have done is to mount the sight base in the forward set of scope mount holes and remove the aperature. It is something like a Ghost ring. It works well for me and might for others with less than perfect eyesight.
     
  19. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    Welcome to THR!

    This thread's over 6 years old, however. Instead of resurrecting it, I'm going to close it and ask you to start a new one; it'll be far less likely to veer off course because of some earlier post that's no longer relevant.
     
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