Competitive Shooting

Use Your Sights…

A shallow focus shot of a male shotting a gun at the gun range

…except for when you don’t have to. In marksmanship classes and training, we constantly preach to use your sights, because aiming at the target is the way to get accurate hits.  But in practical shooting, you’ll reach a point of diminishing returns where the sights actually slow you down on your way to getting fast hits on a target.

For example, take a look at the image on the left – obviously you can’t tell whether or not I’m using the sights on the gun because you can’t see my eyes.

And you couldn’t tell my looking at the target either, because the round that just exited the gun was a down zero hit. This goes back to the practical shooting adage of “see what you need to see”, which to un-zen it means you see exactly as much of a sight picture as you need to get the hit. In the case of the situation at left, I didn’t need a sight picture at all to hit a wide open paper target three yards away, so I just extended the gun and pressed the trigger and sent a round of Federal .45 ACP into the down zero.

That hardest part about it however is learning to shift gears – shooting with a minimal sight picture at 3 yards and then going to a proper sight picture to hit a steel plate at 15 yards on the same stage. To get used to this, I’ll set up a simple drill that I can do on a single lane range using a standard IDPA practice target.

Take a 3×5 index card, and cut it in half. Paste the two halves on opposite sides of the IDPA target, those are now T1 and T2.

The “Down Zero” of the IDPA target is T3.

On the start signal, draw and fire two shots at T1, two shots at T2, and two shots at T3. The trick is to be able to accelerate when shooting a “T3”, because it’s a large 8 inch circle and you won’t need the kind of sight interface to hit it that you will need to hit the half-index cards. You don’t even need the IDPA target, really – the whole drill can be done with a paper plate and the index card.

I usually shoot it at 5 yards, because at that distance I need to use my sights to hit the half-index cards, but not to hit the down zero.

Use this practice drill to get used to switching your focal length from the sights to the target.

You can also mix it up and shoot the big target first, or second to change the pace.

But most importantly, head out to the range and give it a shot!

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1 Comment;

  1. I know you werent using the sights. look at the angle of the pistol in relation to the target. Everything else you said is spot on though

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