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Rating: 36 votes, 4.89 average.

Sighting in for Dummies

Posted 06-30-2010 at 10:45 by Butch
Updated 04-02-2011 at 22:38 by Butch

Select a target that gives you a specific, repeatable point of aim and is easy for you to see without having to focus your vision on it, this is important because your visual focus needs to be on your sights….not your target, a 25 yard bullseye pistol target works well. It does not have to be posted at 25 yards, 15 or 20 yards works fine if your ability to shoot a group isn't (yet) up to doing it at 25 yards.

Aim at the bottom edge of the black, a ‘six o’clock hold’. That way you know exactly where you are aiming as compared to trying to shoot into the non-specific ‘middle’ of a the target……a *specific* point of aim makes it easier to shoot accurately.

Your sight alignment should look rather like this:

Using a six o’clock hold, your sight picture should look rather like this:

I say ‘rather like this’ above because you are trying to look at three different items at three different distances, the front sight, the rear sight, and the target, but your eyes can not focus on all three at the same time, only one of the three can actually be in focus, the other two will be a little blurry. The one you want to focus on is the front sight.

Now you need to fire three to five (or maybe even ten) rounds on the target in a reasonably accurate group. In other words, fire all five rounds using the same sight picture so all five shots hit the target in basically the same spot/area….in a group.

The group does not have to be especially small, but the tighter the group, the more accurate the sight in.

Here is a 25 yard pistol target (B8) with a decent five shot group fired on it, and black sights superimposed over it to show a good six o’clock hold sight picture.

Note that the center of the group would be just to the right of the ‘middle’ shot, and that the center of the group is pretty well centered above the top edge of the front sight. That tells me that the sights are pretty well on for windage (left/right adjustment).

Also note that the group is just above the top edge of the front sight and not centered in the targets scoring rings. This is how we want it to be, we are not shooting a bullseye match, we do not care about the scoring rings. If we were sighting the gun in to used in a bullseye match, we would want to raise the rear sight to make the rounds impact in the center of the target.

There is a small space between the top edge of the front sight and the bottom of the group, but that’s OK, more shots added to the group would tend to round it out some (put the bottom edge of the group closer to the top of the sight) and most ‘fixed’ sights can not be readily adjusted tighter than that anyway.

- If that same group was an inch to the left of where it is, the rear sight would need to be drifted a little to the right.
- If the group was to the right, the rear sight would need to be moved to the left.
- If the group was below the top edge of the front sight, a higher rear sight would be needed.
- If the group was higher, a lower rear sight would be needed.
- If the group is 4 to 8 inches low and/or left (or right) of your point of aim, you need to go read ‘Trigger Control for Dummies’. J

Continuing to shoot groups with bullseye targets in this manor will make you a better shooter, shoot smaller groups, and thus allow you to make finer sight adjustments….and that will allow you to shoot even more accurately.

No, you don’t use a six o’clock hold on all targets, after sighting in the gun, a center hold is most often the way to go, if you use a six o’clock hold on a bad guy, you’ll hit him in the foot!

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  1. Old Comment
    Butch, I talked to you on a thread, and you referred me to your blog. These have been alot of help, thank you. If I ask you stupid questions, I apologize ahead of time, lol. Feel free to tell me to shut up, I won't be offended at all, but I really want to become a better shooter and you're about the only person who's offered any advice.

    A six o'clock hold means aim at the 6 o'clock position of the black section of the target right? What if I were to take round orange stickers and place them on the target and aim for those instead of aiming for 6 o'clock? Generally when I go to the range, I just take my own paper/targets and place bright orange stickers on them. It turns my 1 target paper into a 9 target paper, lol.

    Last weekend at the range I was consistently a few inches low on my target.... no left or right, just low. Part of it was my trigger control, no doubt about it, but I wasn't noticeably flinching, (I dry fire every day for a few hours, and at the range I took a .38 revolver with me, had a buddy load 2 spent rounds and 3 live, and stayed steady the entire time, and practice it 5 times). Perhaps I was anticipating the recoil, so I pushed a bit? I think I may pick up some dummy rounds and work on it some more.

    Thanks again for the help, and sorry in advance if my questions bother you.

    Posted 10-21-2011 at 17:13 by cmndrJOE cmndrJOE is offline
  2. Old Comment
    If you want to figure out how far to move the rear sight, you do this:

    Divide the distance in inches that the center of your group is off center by the distance in inches you are shooting at. Say you're off 3" at 25 yards. There are 900 inches in 25 yards. So, 3 / 900 = .00333. Now, multiply that by the sight radius of the firearm. On my Glock 19 that's 5.75", with aftermarket sights. So, .00333 x 5.75 = .01915". That's how far you need to move your sight.

    Of course sight moving tools, or in my case mallets and job-made punches, don't have vernier scales on them. So this information can't normally be applied directly to the sight. What I do is set my caliper to the result I get and just eyeball the gap to get a good idea of how far to move the sight. I also mark the starting point on both sides with a very sharp pencil so I have some idea of how far I've moved the sight. By comparing the distance between the side of the sight and the pencil mark on the slide to the gap in my caliper, I can get pretty darn good results.
    Posted 11-25-2012 at 13:50 by dhgeyer dhgeyer is offline

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