by B.B. Pelletier
The best sights for training are the aperture rear and globe front with inserts. These sights are nearly as accurate as optical sights and impart quick success to student shooters. Sporting sights are much more difficult to use and can slow a shooter’s progress by months or years. An aperture sight is much more difficult to see incorrectly, and there is much less subjective judgement required to make it work.
Most inexpensive target rifles come with inexpensive sights that must be accounted for when teaching. The Daisy 5899 Receiver Sight is a good example. It’s made of plastic, so when adjustments are made they don’t always go where you think they should. Veteran shooting coaches advised my team to watch which direction we were turning the adjustment knobs; and, if we ever had to reverse directions, it was best to go three clicks in the new direction before counting the clicks. That took the slop out of the mechanism. Other inexpensive aperture sights are similar in quality, and the same rule should be used.
Front sights – post
The traditional front sight insert for beginners is the conventional post. It is the most difficult of all inserts to master and really shouldn’t be used with new shooters unless there is no other option. It requires the greatest amount of subjective judgement to use correctly. Very few modern competitors feel comfortable with this type of sight.
Globe and post front sight requires centering the top of the post in the rear aperture and positioning the bull exactly on top of the post. This takes skill and practice.
Front sights – ring
A better front insert is the ring sight. All the shooter has to do is center the bull in the ring. For many years, this was the top sight insert, until the floating ring came along.
The ring sight is much easier to use. All the shooter does is center the bull in the ring.
Front sights – floating ring
The floating ring is now favored by most competitive shooters. The ring “floats” in the front globe without visible support. All it is is a round piece of transparent plastic with a ring drilled in the center. Recently, this sight was made even better by making the ring adjustable in size and thickness. The principal advantage to the floating ring sight is that it lessens the chance of shooting at the wrong bull, because it’s possible to see all the bulls while sighting on just one.
The floating ring has no support to get in the way of seeing the entire target
Should you let a student close the non-sighting eye?
This has long been the cardinal sin in target shooting. I was taught to NEVER close my non-sighting eye, because the extra effort to close it would cause strain in a match. I have also heard that by keeping the non-sighting eye open, the shooter allows more light to enter the eyes and therefore sees the sights clearer. I don’t know what the truth actually is, and I have seen some pretty good shooters who closed one eye, but it is considered correct to keep both eyes open. Shooting glasses have blinder attachments to lower the distraction.
I didn’t get to triggers as promised in part 4, so I’ll cover them in a later post. I will also do a separate posting about open sights and how to use them. It won’t be part of this series, but you’ll see how difficult it use to use open sights correctly.