Learning to shoot with open sights: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Edith has been after me to write this report for over a year. I’ve been researching it and believe I can do it some justice, but this is a large topic. And it’s a fundamental one — like learning to shoot a handgun one-handed.

I’m going to make the case that the scope sight has destroyed the potential of more shooters than anything else. Not that scopes don’t work, but that they work too well. It’s my opinion that every shooter who is able (and that’s a lot more people than are willing to admit it) should first learn to shoot with open sights; because in doing so, they learn the fundamentals of breathing, trigger control, follow-through and perhaps many other basic components of accuracy as well.

History
There are several ways to go about this, and I’m going to present it in sort of a chronological sequence. The first guns had no sights at all, but that was okay, because they also were not at all accurate. Trying to aim one of them was almost a lost cause. I’m referring to the early hand cannons.

I see these guns coming to auction on Gun Broker from time to time, and the dealers sometimes list them as “target guns.” What a joke! These guns have wide, flared cannon-type muzzles, no sights and are the antithesis of a target gun. I think people list them that way because they have no notion of how a gun works, and the words they choose are for effect, only.

The first sights were nothing but reference points on the muzzles of guns. Sometimes, it was a raised bump at the top of the muzzle, and other times it was a groove or notch — just something the shooter could refer to when aiming the piece. The bead on a shotgun barrel is very similar to this kind of sight; and for the accuracy potential of the guns that had them, they were sufficient.


The simple bead is all the sight a modern shotgun gets. In essence, a shotgun is much like a musket of old.

The Kentucky rifle ushered in a new type of sight that, while not exactly new on the Kentucky, was certainly made famous by association with it. I’m referring to the low front blade that stood one-eighth inch tall or less and the wide rear vee that was equally low. These sights are so vestigial that they always look worn out to me, yet they’re capable of remarkable accuracy.

By the way, the term “Kentucky” is back in vogue for the types of American long rifles made from 1730 and afterwards — they have long barrels of relatively small caliber. Revisionist historians have tried to shove the title “Pennsylvania” down the throats of shooters and collectors for the past 60 years because most famous of these rifles were made in that region and not in Kentucky, which is just where they were carried and used. The term Kentucky rifle was originally used in Daniel Boone’s time because he explored the Kentucky region and both he and those who went with him carried this style of rifle. It was further popularized in a song during the War of 1812; and although it referred to a group of men in that song, rather than to their firearms, the name stuck.


The fine front sight blade on an early Kentucky rifle is so low that it appears to be worn out. It gave a fine aiming reference to good eyes.


An early Kentucky rear sight is a wide and shallow vee.


The early sights on a Kentucky rifle were low and fine. They gave a very small, sharp sight picture that resulted in extreme precision when good eyes were used.

Most shooters who see these primitive sights today think they’re not capable of accuracy, but history is full of anecdotes that prove otherwise. One of the more famous stories is the shot made by Daniel Boone during an Indian attack, when Boone shot a sniper in the forehead at a measured distance of more than 200 yards. It was a first-shot kill, and was apparently not considered to be that special, given the remarks that were made at the time.

A shooter with good eyes could “draw a bead” using as much or little of the front sight as he chose. Once a person became familiar with his rifle, sighting this way became second nature.

Paper targets found in the possibles bags of shooters prove these old rifles with their simple sights could often group their shots in one inch and less at 100 yards, though 60 yards was far more often the distance for a marksmanship contest. Because wood planks were the preferred targets of the 1700s through the 1860s, not too many original paper targets survive, though the older guns were often still being shot when paper targets came into widespread use after the American Civil War.

Kentucky windage
The term Kentucky windage stems from another special way the earliest type of sight was used. While the sights were often mounted on dovetails that could be moved left and right, it was much easier for the shooter to simply use a sight picture that compensated for the necessary windage. In other words, hold the rifle so the front sight appeared at different places on the rear vee. Since the need for windage changes with both the distance to the target and the wind, this is a very flexible way of doing it. The very fact that the term is “Kentucky” windage proves, yet again, that the popular name for the rifle was Kentucky and not Pennsylvania.


By holding the front sight to one side of the vee in the rear, the shooter controlled how far to one side the bullet went. This is called Kentucky windage.

Not made today
You’re not likely to see this early style of rifle sight today. The problem is that when Kentucky rifles are made new today, the makers almost never select the early primitive sights described here. Instead, they either use sights that are appropriate to rifles made at the end of the black powder era or they use sights that are even more modern, in the belief that they’re better and more appreciated by the customer. Perhaps they are, but only because the customer has little or no experience with the early, very primitive Kentucky sights.

Sights mature
The sights most often seen on guns we call Kentucky rifles are not the early Kentucky style, but the later plains rifle sights that most muzzleloading rifles had from about 1820 onward. The front blade is taller than the traditional Kentucky blade described above, and the rear sight is taller with a more of a buckhorn design. Many of these later sights are adjustable, or they have features like folding express leaves of different heights.

The American Civil War did much to mature open sights, but not the sights on the military guns. However, the civilian models evolved quite a lot — starting around this time; by 1875, they were as advanced as they would get for another 75 years.


After the American Civil War, front sights grew in height and gained some form like this one from 1867.


This post-1860 rear sight has two leaves for two different distances. Notice that the shallow vee has become a notch.

They also started to branch off into sporting sights and target sights. The sporting sights became more like the style that had been called target sights before 1860, while the target sights evolved into units capable of the greatest precision.

The driving force for this rapid advancement was a worldwide interest in target shooting. It exploded onto the American scene when, in 1874, the U.S. decided to accept the challenge of the Irish National team for the championship of the world. No one expected the Americans to make more than an honorable showing; but when the smoke cleared on the Creedmore rifle range, they were the new world champions!

The target sights they used were one of the special advantages they brought to the field, having increased in precision half an order of magnitude just for this match.

In the next report, I’ll show you how the sporting open sights continued to evolve plus what happened to the target sights.

56 Responses to “Learning to shoot with open sights: Part 1”

  • flobert Says:

    Love it! In fact, I’m putting my own doodles in my blog, inspired by yours.

    Wonderful explanation of the fine bead and shallow vee of the old Kentucky rifle.

    Indeed they work great with good eyes. And the problem once you pass 40, is the good eyes. A big help can be some kind of a peep-hole, you can actually stick on one your glasses, my first eye-peep was made out of a piece of folder spine, that hooked over the top of my glasses, it was black, and I’d look through the peep hole in it to clear up the sight picture to shoot.

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      flobert,

      I’m still waiting on a draw program, but I had to use doodles once more.

      The peep sight is coming, as I consider peeps to be part of the open sight category. They probably aren’t, but they are very closely aligned with the next timeframe in sight development that I think they have to be included.

      B.B.

  • J-F Says:

    Very good blog idea indeed Edith!
    I got an early birthday party (as no one is ever available on my birthday) and got a bunch of airgun related gifts, an MTM Predator, spare mags for my Tanfoglio Witness 1911, Sig P226 and GSG 92, the 9th edition of the Blue Book of airguns AND a Kimar 760 air rifle that I wanted because of it’s lightweight, shortness, smoothness AND lack of ways to mount a scope and even if it was possible it would look too goofy.

    These report are coming at exactly the right time for me!

    J-F

    • Steve Palincsar Says:

      Never having heard of the Tanfoglio Witness, I googled it and found a recall notice for serial numbers between AE00000 to AE70000. http://www.tanfoglio.it/eng/usa-market-safety-notice.php

      • J-F Says:

        Thanks for the notice but I was refering to this Tanfoglio Witness 1911: http://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/Tanfoglio_Witness_1911_Pistol/2534

        Having dealt with Palco Sport (the distributor for North America) and Cybergun I don’t think they would send out recalls.

        The front sight fell out on mine and Palco was of NO HELP at all AND Cybergun didn’t even take the care of replying to me. Palco sent me to a bunch of online airsoft retailers that NO parts for the pistol.
        A friend had a valve problem with is as it was under warranty he contacted Palco and they made him wait and took their time always telling him it would soon be resolved, they took enough time answering him for his warranty to expire (over 3 months) and were of NO assistance once it was gone.

        If only I was in the US I would have ordered it from PA and would have had a good chance at getting service.

        J-F

  • Tom @ Buzzard Bluff Says:

    “I’m going to make the case that the scope sight has destroyed the potential of more shooters than anything else. Not that scopes don’t work, but that they work too well. It’s my opinion that every shooter who is able (and that’s a lot more people than are willing to admit it) should first learn to shoot with open sights; because in doing so, they learn the fundamentals of breathing, trigger control, follow-through and perhaps many other basic components of accuracy as well.”

    And a hearty “AMEN” issues from the ‘Amen corner’! Not to mention “Hear! Hear” and “Right on”!

    One of my biggest gripes is seeing new shooters debating scopes when they don’t know how to shoot without them! Even my 72 year old eyes can still see well with a peep. Yet I see 21 year olds writing that the 1st thing they do is replace the ‘inaccurate’ open sights with a 12X scope.

    What happened to pride about being able to shoot without crutches? Tom

    • /Dave Says:

      And yet another “Amen” was heard from the amen corner……

      First scope I had, I put on a Crosman 760 Power Master. I patiently adjusted that scope by shooting and then moving the cross-hairs over to the pellet strike. And shoot, and adjust again. And repeat, and repeat, and repeat….. Ad nauseum… Next day, more of the same…

      As a kid, I didn’t know about groups. I thought guns were like lasers. Only affected by gravity… I often wondered why my buddy would out shoot me all the time with the same model of gun with open sights. I just knew the scope had to be better! I eventually went back to open sights (as I’d learned on), and shot much better. :-)

      /Dave

      • B.B. Pelletier Says:

        /Dave,

        Without knowing it, you participated in an exercise in futility that Dr. Joseph Juran used when he taught senior executives of corporations that were trying to turn themselves around. The “shoot — adjust — shoot again” scenario will carry you off-target faster than any other single act.

        Like you, I once thought that a scope was all the answer I needed. I wanted a scoped Daisy BB gun so bad it hurt when I was a kid, because I just knew that scope would help me hit the target.

        Little did I know… ;)

        B.B.

        • Vince Says:

          I was desperate for a scope on my Slavia 619, given how it was, like, a zillion times more accurate than my Daisy 1894.

          I wound up trying to fabricate one – using the tube from a cheap swimming-pool snorkel and the lenses from a set of toy binoculars pulled from a box of Capt’n Crunch serial. My plan was to tape it securely to the gun. I made crosshairs by scratching them into one of the lenses.

          The biggest challenge was getting the crosshairs AND the target to be in focus at the same time. I finally succeeded, sort of… but the target image was both upside-down and shrunk rather than magnified.

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Tom,

      It’s obvious you and I agree on this topic. But what astounded me as I researched this topic was the fact that this has been going on since about 1870! Many shooters back then were using scopes and several shooting matches were prohibiting their use in sanctioned matches. Writers were discussing the benefits of good clear optics for “tired” eyes that hadn’t yet reached 40.

      And if we follow this a little farther, benchrest shooting starts to encroach upon offhand shooting in the 1870s and eventually all but replaces it.

      Sadly, I use scopes most of the time and shoot off benches almost all the time. So it’s do as I say — not as I do! Only with my Ballard am I shooting with peep sights and holding true to at least some of the old ways.

      B.B.

      • cowboystar dad Says:

        Totally agree.
        I grew up on open sights and graduated to a diopter when I was 14 and started a junior marksmanship program.
        That was 40 years ago.
        The Hawke I put on the Slavia this summer was the first scope I’ve ever owned.
        The boys have been shooting iron sights since their Red Ryders and will continue to do so until they are proficient with them. Even the Savage, which comes with a scope will primarily be ‘my’ gun (mine….mine,mine, mine ;-) )
        I’ve told them that if they prove to be as safe with the Savage as they are with their pellet guns that next year at Christmas they will each recieve a Ruger .22…with iron sights!!

      • Robert from Arcade Says:

        I will say this, it is a fact that scopes are the better tool for any small game hunting ,especially for our relatively low powered airguns on small game, where shot placement is paramount. I will confess that my 50 plus year old eyes do need the scope to ensure clean dispatch on small game beyond very short ranges in the dark tight cover I hunt in. I can use irons for big game ,but there is a very big difference in hitting a nickle sized mark at 50 yards than a softball sized one. I will also say that a fixed 4-6X scope of good quality( one that costs maybe like 2/3′s of the cost of the gun NOT including mounts) is better than a cheap 3-9or 12X variable that you see so often adoring the casual hunters gun.

        • Mike Says:

          You may want to give “Red Dot” sites a try. They are very, very fast at close to middle range especially on moving targets.

          Mike

          • Robert from Arcade Says:

            Mike: Thanks but I have, starting with Weaver “Quick points” years ago. Actually , lately since I’ve noticed my eyesight changing on almost a daily basis. I’ve embraced the scout scope concept . Very fast and to me anyway , less bulky than the red dot gizmos.

            • /Dave Says:

              Robert,

              If your eyes are changing that fast, you might want to get your blood sugar levels checked. My eyes got wacked out like that when mine got unstable, and I know that BB mentioned the same in a blog last spring when he came back from being sick. Also, 2 other friends of mine, both diabetic, had the same problem. Can’t hurt to check…

              /Dave

              • B.B. Pelletier Says:

                /Dave,

                That is exactly what I thought when I read that statement. When you have diabetes you urinate a lot more than normal to get rid of the excess sugar. That dehydrates the body in unusual ways. The eyeballs are mostly fluid and when they loose just a little they change focus.

                After my diabetes was diagnosed and I stated taking insulin it took about two months before my eyesight returned to where it had been before.

                B.B.

            • twotalon Says:

              Using FP10 by any chance ? If so, then STOP.

              twotalon

  • Robert from Arcade Says:

    I agree with the idea that all shooters should learn to shoot open sights and I hope some will take the advice that will be presented in this series. The problem that I see with open sight use is that manufacturers aren’t putting them on their guns, nor do most even provide a place or means to install them. Front sights that can be used to do good work are a particularily tough problem to obtain for any of the more popular airguns. Factor in the fact, that GOOD open and receiver sights are more expensive than even the mediocre chinese scopes ,and it’s a hard sell. Most of today’s average shooters will not even spring for a GOOD scope or mounts, even for a expensive gun. They are very gun proud , but when it comes to spending on good ammunition , or sights they are cheapskates. Another problem is that we have been ravaged by this mindset of “tactical”. It has unleashed the scourge of fiber optic crap plastic open sights and other gadgets that are impossible to do good work with , beyond rolling cans at 20 yards.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Tom,

    That’s a good reflection. The buffalo hunters wanted scopes and those that could afford them used them, but cowboys and military did not. Sport vs survival!

    I note that shooting with open sights did last longer in certain parts of Tennessee, North Carolina and in the hollows of West Virginia. You are probably right.

    B.B.

  • kevin Says:

    The era of instant gratification.

    I learned to shoot with a remington 550. No way to scope that semi auto .22. I still have that gun and it’s still accurate.

    I’m a firm believer that everyone should learn to shoot with open sights. I’ve been helping kids at my fishing club learn how to shoot. The remington 550 is one of the guns that frequents these range visits with new shooters. These experiences have taught me several things. Kids today don’t have many places to shoot and don’t seem to have the time or desire to be afield with a gun when TV, video games, soccer, etc. compete for their time and interest. Kids, in general, today want results quickly. Shooting with open sights can be taught rather quickly (search for B.B.’s article on Teaching Kids to Shoot. It’s great) but is not as repeatable as shooting with a scope.

    In my opinion, one of the toughest things to learn and teach is consistent cheek pressure on a stock to shoot well with open sights. I have kids that attempt to shoot with open sights while their chin is on the top of the comb and others that mash their face into the comb with their head canted so badly it hurts my neck to watch. A scope eliminates much of this contortion but I would like to stick with open sights with these newbies. Most kids get bored and/or frustrated when they can’t consistently hit even big targets with open sights. I think they need a better teacher.

    kevin

    • Robert from Arcade Says:

      Your mention of teaching new shooters with your open sighted Remington 550 brings to mind a thought on the RF rifle that most folks don’t notice. One is , although many go for fire power, and the instant gratification that you mention that the popular RF rifles of today(and yesterday) provide. Many don’t realize that a rifle designed to fire various lengths of ammo from a magazine is a fussy beast. Run some different brands of .22 ammo through various .22 magazines on different guns, and bullet damage that effects accuracy can often be seen. Not all .22 ammo is created equal but most don’t care. A idea like this is lost on folks who won’t shoot enough, because as you say, there is to much competing for their time. The same can be said for airguns and the several factors that affect accurate shooting. It could be argued though, that if a kid gets good results from using a scope at the begining, maybe he or she will be interested enough to explore iron sights and the finer points of shooting guns. So fun and results are important and what you are doing will probably kick start a few into being better shooters.

      • kevin Says:

        Robert,

        You make some excellent points.

        When I hand one of my guns to a shooter it’s sighted in and it’s usually loaded with the ammo that’s most accurate in the gun. Lot of work has already gone into that gun but it’s invisible to a new shooter.

        I know of few of these kids now have their own rimfires as a result of introducing them to shooting with my guns. It’s disturbing to me that so few kids today are taught to handle guns responsibly. Seems that our next generation of shooters begin shooting as teenagers today and are only interested in firepower first, cool tactical looks second and accuracy is a distant third if even a consideration.

        Maybe just getting these young kids interested in shooting today will be enough to encourage them to explore the infinite details of ammo, sight options, techniques for accuracy, etc. in the future. I hope so.

        kevin

        • Robert from Arcade Says:

          Kevin
          Exacty , what you are doing helps the sport . Let them get their feet wet , ingrain the safety aspects , then let them learn. Some will always only want to know how ,but some will search out the why of it too.

  • Vince Says:

    Ironic that the whole “forget the open sights, use a scope” philosophy is making such headway into the springer world and that so many are being sold with no opens at all (or even provision for mounting them).

    Now I know that cheap optics from China has made it so that a passable 4×32 often costs no more than mid-grade open sights. But still – given a strong springer’s predilection for BREAKING scopes and the relative ease with which scopes can be damaged through dropping or mishandling… the owner of a scope-only springer could easily find himself without ANY way of sighting his gun.

    Which means, of course, he has to then buy a new scope. And.. uh… oh, wait a minute… NOW it makes sense…

  • Victor Says:

    B.B.,
    You know my feelings about open sights. I’ve always preferred them over scopes, especially aperture sights.
    Victor

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Kevin,

      It does! I think he’s priced it a little high because he doesn’t want to sell it.

      As for being stocked by Gary Goudy — that is a fact that has emerged since I owned it. When the Beeman’s sold it it was just a nice stock.

      B.B.

  • BG_Farmer Says:

    BB,
    You are doing good work here. I like the explanation of Kentucky windage (and it goes for elevation also). Once someone gets the hang of it, a scope (or an aperture) feels like a handicap, but that assumes they shoot the same rifle with the same sights regularly for a good while (also a good thing to do). When my grandfather taught me how to shoot (he was in his late sixties at the time) using his rifle, we didn’t change the sights between us, we simply found which sight picture worked and used it. That is an even more important skill for a Kentucky, since the sights are fixed for windage (except physically moving them in the dovetails) and elevation is adjusted by filing down the front sight.

    I’m curious what Kentucky that is: it looks like an octagonal to round barrel with a full stock? I would have guessed a smooth bore buck and ball (aka smooth rifle), given the sights and that type of barrel. I think you might have overdone the width and shallowness of the Kentucky rear sight in the drawing (and that may have been on purpose): What you show is very close to an express sight. Most Kentuckies seem to have a notch of some sort, with a v-, u- bottom, or a flat bottom, possibly a v-profile to the whole notch, but they are narrow and shallow (“fine”) to minimize error. Just because it might confuse someone in the picture, there is a larger “hollow” cut out of the vertical section usually with a spherical section: In the center of this is where the notch is filed. The purpose of the hollow is to shade the notch and provide a thinner cross-section in which to file the notch so that it was as clear as possible. Also, the top of the rear sight is rarely flat or square and can have a shallow vee shape or very short posts projecting above the horizontal at the sides. These projections help “locate” the sights quickly and can be used as additional aids in elevation. Looks simple, but there was a lot of refinement on those old sights! One bit of trivia is that the front sights are much lower than the rear sights relative to the barrel flat (not the bore) in many cases because the barrels were often swamped so that they flared at the breech and muzzle and were thinner in the middle. On the utility of these sights, I shoot essentially every week with a very low “silver” front sight (after trying two or three variations on the theme). About the only drawback is that late in a match, the barrel will often heat up enough to show “heat waves”, but not too bad, and on most originals, the barrels are so thick that they would have had to shoot quite a bit before it became an issue.

    Anyway, great article — I hope more people will use open sights because of it. The excuse of aging eyes is in most cases a weak one, as there are modifications to sights which can make them usable for any age or vision status. I know 70 and 80 year olds who still shoot open sights to 50 and sometimes 100 yards, and they do just fine.

    • BG_Farmer Says:

      Forgot to add as another example of subtle refinement, the “vertical” portion of the rear sight is often tilted back to minimize glare. This John Armstrong rifle (built as percussion, but with characteristics of the flint era) has good pictures of the front and rear sights, if you scroll down, for anyone who is interested in seeing more:
      http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=5565.0

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      BG_Farmer,

      The first rear sight pictured dates from 1790-1810, or so. Same with the first front sight. The rifle is a flintlock that’s been converted to a percussion and its full stock has been cut back to a half-stock. The work was done early in the percussion age — probably around 1840 or so.

      I don’t have access to a real original Kentucky rear sight with the shallow Vee I drew, but I have seen several of them. They are always on the older Kentuckies that date to 1760 and before and have just a single trigger. There might have been a small notch at the bottom of the Vee, but I don’t remember it. It seemed to me like the bottom of the Vee was also the bottom of the rear sight plate.

      B.B.

      • BG_Farmer Says:

        BB,
        It looks like a full-stock to me, as the muzzle cap is visible under the front sight, indicating that the fore stock runs to the muzzle. What am I missing?

        • B.B. Pelletier Says:

          BG_Farmer,

          You’re right. My bad! I looked at too many photos when writing this report.

          B.B.

          • BG_Farmer Says:

            BB,
            No problem. The slots filed in some rear sights are exceedingly fine, but I think they are always there or at least have never seen a Kentucky rifle without a filed slot; of course, I might have missed several thousand :). I suspect that the V-profile in the top of the sight when present may have been used as a modern express sight at times when appropriate, but precise, esp. long range, shots would have required (some reference to) the fine slot, if you start thinking in terms of MOA’s.

  • lloyd Says:

    BB,
    Your second paragraph bemoaning the fact that scopes have have eliminated some important fundamental lessons in shooting (similar to the way spell-check has hampered learning proper spelling and grammar) really hit home. I remember as a kid using the neighbor’s Daisy model 25 with the flip-up peep sight and thinking what a major advance it was over the notch rear sight.
    More recently, I loaned my “loaner gun”, a Gamo 1000 with bug buster scope to a friend who’s son was working on his marksmanship merit badge in scouts. After they had the gun a few days, the father related to me that his son had told him that with the scope it, “almost feels like I’m cheatin’.” Out of the mouths of babes.
    Lloyd

  • twotalon Says:

    Open sights ?
    I kinda miss them on my HWs. They make a good backup in case of scope problems.
    My eyes don’t let me use opens as far as I used to. Then there are times that a scope gets to be a real problem…like up close. You can’t see crap through a scope up close.
    Good case….
    One time I ran into a chuck so close that all I could see through the scope was blurry hair. Hopeless. I looked along the side of the barrel and let a round go. Considering what I was using, there was no problem with exact shot placement. Not really needed. I think I burned some of his fur off.

    twotalon

  • twotalon Says:

    Off topic…

    OH JOY !!!! The Gurney’s seed catalog has Thai reds !!! No rice dish is right without them. Fried rice, sweet and sour. Oh yeah. Mixed with fish sauce on the fried rice.

    But the waiting will kill me. Can’t plant until the middle of May. Can start them a month or two earlier.
    My first experience with Thai reds was in Bangkok. Put red and green chopped Thai peppers in fish sauce on beef fried rice. A dash of flour fine brown pepper and salt. Really made me sweat. The Thai waiters and taxi drivers at the hotel kept mopping the sweat from my forehead. They were impressed.
    A G.I who “can do” Thai food is cool in their book.

    twotalon

    • kevin Says:

      twotalon,

      You just made my mouth water.

      There are times that all I want is Thai food. We’re really fortunate to have several good thai restaurants within a short drive. My rule is that if it doesn’t make me sweat it’s not good. I really like their peppers and curry since it can add any level of heat without masking subtle flavors like chicken or coconut.

      Thanks.

      kevin

  • nowhere Says:

    It just occurred to me… maybe the management at Diana feels the same way about open sights. It would certainly explain why they make it so difficult to get a scope to stay in one place on their rifles!

    What I really wanted to put on my HW-30S was the old style Weihrauch target rear sight but they aren’t available anymore. I put a Leapers scope on it and it works well but I have also considered trying one of the “sport” aperture rear sights that are available (Beeman, Williams etc.).

    • kevin Says:

      nowhere,

      Although the 11mm Weihrauch rear diopters aren’t made anymore they’re not difficult to find if you’re willing to look. Much more common than the 13mm.

      gunbroker, brads classifieds, the yellow classifieds, ebay, etc. have them frequently. Sets sell for $130-180 regularly (depending on condtion) and the rear diopter only sells for about $25-$35.00 less.

      kevin

  • Seven Says:

    BB, I have recently aquired a gamo hunter 220 that is one of the sweetest shooting springers I have ever seen, I suspect it may be tuned. The open sights are very accurate, but I am running into an issue. I was going to install a scope, but it seems gamo did not put a scope stop hole in its reciever. Have you ever encountered this? No raised rail, just reciever with dovetail grooves machined into the top. If so, do I drill one or is there a better fix? Thank you.

    • Vince Says:

      The easiest thing to do is to slide the scope mount as far back as possible, it will stop when it comes to where the groves end. And you should really be using a scope mount with a total of at least 4 clamp screws, whether 1 or 2 piece. They do grip much better.

      You can also try a separate clamp-on scope stop like this one, which you can also butt up against the back of the rails:

      http://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/Beeman_Scope_Stop/688

      Putting a stop hole into the tube is not a good idea. You’d have to take the gun apart to make sure you cleaned out any debris from drilling and to debur the inside of the hole. And if the stop pin protrudes into the tube at all (which it might, considering how thin the tube wall is), it’ll probably interfere with the piston when it slides back during cocking.

      The last option is to install a bolt-down stop that doesn’t get removed. Again, the gun will have to be disassembled for cleaning and deburring, and also to make sure that the end of the screw (inside the tube) is ground down flush with the inner tube wall.

      A 220 does not have a horrible recoil, so you should be able to resolve your issue without drilling any holes.

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Seven,

      You can drill a stop hole, but as Vince advises, that means disassembly. What about using a BKL mount that holds by clamping pressure, alone?

      When BKL was made elsewhere they didn’t work, but all the mounts that I have tested from AirForce work under the most severe recoil. Give them a try.

      B.B.

  • Beazer Says:

    Perfect timing, thanx B.B. & Ms. Edith.

  • Seven Says:

    The bkl mounts don’t require a stop pin?

  • Seven Says:

    BB.
    I looked for the bkl mount that you reviewed on pyramyd air but they did not have that specific one. (adjustable elevation) Do you know where I can purchase one? Thank you.

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Seven,

      If you want one today, you should contact AirForce directly and buy from them. This is a new product that hasn’t gotten into the Pyramyd Air system yet.

      Call 817-451-8966 to order.

      B.B.

  • andy Says:

    Great write-up BB, thank you for such thoughtful articles. I shoot old Crosman pellet guns, 140′s, 180 and 150s (and our favorite 160 clone from across the sea). I only use the iron sights, but I mostly plink, maybe 2 pests from the garden a summer. For me, it feels much more satisfying to hit the target with the open sights and off-hand, than with a scope..this is just me, and I do understand the importance and usefulness of scopes in many settings. You mimicked my sentiments when you said that the open sights will teach you proper breathing and control, its kind of like…learning to drive on a manual transmition.

    I wonder, do the Irish still take pride in their marksmanship? Just curious

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Andy,

      Well, an Irishman was the recent world champion in field target, so I guess the answer is yes.

      B.B.

  • Peter Gutierrez Says:

    Gee Whiz, maybe I am missing something but this article has nothing to do with learning how to shoot with open sights???

    Rather, it is a historic piece that has very little if any relevance to the article title. I was hoping for some basics on grip, stance ( one arm, Weaver, Isosceles ) trigger control, sighting in- with adjustable open sights, value of safe dry firing, etc. I own and shoot a Beeman P-3 not a Kentucky long gun relic???

    With respect but disappointed,

    Peter G

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