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Education / Training The basics of shooting: Part 5

The basics of shooting: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • I can’t use open sights — my eyes are bad!
  • Bad eyes
  • The point
  • Fire Direction Center
  • So what?
  • Eye dominance
  • Sight with either eye
  • What can YOU do?
  • Exercise
  • What’s the point?
  • Pistols and scoped rifles — not such a problem
  • If you really can’t see, use a scope
  • Effect on accuracy?
  • Summary

Today we look at the subject of eyes and eyesight as it relates to the basics of shooting. This is a tough subject and I’m sure there is a lot more than I will address. I’m not an eye doctor, so everything I say today is based on my experience, or on the little research I’ve done.

I can’t use open sights — my eyes are bad!

Yes there are people who absolutely cannot use open sights. I estimate that of those who make this complaint perhaps 5-10 percent of them are correct. Today I want to talk about the others — the ones who just won’t try because they think it’s too difficult.

Bad eyes

In 2010 I was in the hospital for 3-1/2 months with acute pancreatitis. I coded once — a code blue with a crash cart and lots of doctors and other people. My blood pressure was 35 over 25 and they said they were loosing me. I said to somebody there (my eyes were closed and I couldn’t see anyone) that 35 over 25 was pretty low and he responded, “Hey! You shouldn’t be conscious!” Then I was out for three days and when I woke up I hallucinated for the next two weeks. Then they sent me to a different hospital.

At the different hospital I had a young doctor who refused to give me a transfusion when my hemoglobin dipped below 7.0. I told my wife I couldn’t see anything, nor could I concentrate on anything. She found out about the low hemoglobin and the doctor holding back (a nurse told her) and demanded I be given a transfusion. I immediately had two units, followed by a unit per day for the next two days. I also got a different doctor. I was in a teaching hospital and saw 6 young doctors every day, but nobody did much of anything for me. I was fed through a tube in my arm. Reader Kevin knew how bad it was but most readers were kept in the dark.

When I was discharged from that hospital I went home with a feeding tube still in my arm. It remained there for another two months.

The point

My point in telling you all of this is, when I went home, I still could not see very well. My eyes had dehydrated and took six to eight months for them to return to normal. How could I continue writing this blog? My friend Mac helped me a lot in those days but I had to get back to shooting again quick.

I used powerful reading glasses to see the front sight. When I did I was able to shoot again. I might not have been at my peak, but I was certainly okay.

Fortunately I knew something that the people who won’t use open sights apparently don’t believe. You don’t have to see the target very well to hit it! All you need to see clearly is the front sight. Please bear with me on this because there is more to explain before I tie it together for you.

I am aware of this sighting situation more than most folks because I was a 4.2-inch (107mm) mortar platoon leader in the Army. My guns shot at targets 3,000-5,000 meters away — targets the guys at at the guns never saw. Our fire was directed by forward observers (FOs) who watched the target through binoculars that had a mil-reticle in them. They were excellent at determining their range to the target and measuring how far left and right of it (in mils) the mortar shells impacted. And, let me tell you — when a 4.2-inch mortar round explodes, there is no problem seeing it!

Fire Direction Center

My Fire Direction Center (FDC) knew where the FOs were. They also knew where the guns (mortar tubes) were, so when the corrections were called in to the FDC from the FOs, they calculated them from the FOs’ viewpoint, and then shifted their calculations around to the gun’s viewpoint. They then calculated what kind of elevation and windage changes each tube needed to make (each was unique) to hit the target.

Each gun (number one gun through number four gun) would make the traverse and elevation corrections, though only one tube was firing at the time. Once the corrections were made to their gun sights, the gunners looked through their sights and aligned them with their aiming posts that were about 40 feet in front of them. There were lights on the aiming posts for night operations, so they made their vertical crosshair split the light lenses in their centers. Then they leveled their guns until the bubble in the level on the gun’s sight was centered again.

When that tube (the one that was firing) got on target, and that happened within three shots at the max, we conducted a fire mission (we fired for effect) with 2 to 4 tubes — depending on the target. A fire mission is a certain number of shots fired from a certain number of guns. Downrange it is called a barrage. If you are in the place where the shells are landing it looks and feels like the world is blowing up.

One time during a fire mission we dropped a shell down the tank commander’s hatch (we shot at obsolete but real US tanks on the ranges at Grafenwoehr, Germany) and blew the turret off the tank! The division commander, a two-star general, was watching this with my forward observers and was highly pleased.

So what?

Hey, BB, I’m not a mortar tube! Why tell me how they adjust their sights? I shoot pellet guns.

I told you this because you adjust your sights in exactly the same way and for exactly the same reasons, whether you know it or not. The mortar tube’s aiming post is their front sight and it’s about 40 feet away from the gun. Their target may be 5 kilometers away and the gunners can’t even see it. Yet they can hit it consistently because they don’t worry about it. They concentrate on the aiming post. That aiming post is their front sight.

Your eyes are your forward observers and your brain is your fire direction center. It tells your hands how to adjust the front sight (by adjusting the rifle or pistol) to hit the target that SHOULD LOOK BLURRY to you. Nobody can focus on both the front sight and the target. The front sight is where you should focus.

I have taught dozens of people to shoot this way and it ALWAYS works. My best students are women and children who have no prior experience with shooting. That’s because they listen to everything I say, then they try to do it the way I tell them from the start. My worst students are 20 to 40-year-old men who come to me already “knowing” how to shoot. They have so much to unlearn!

Eye dominance

Okay, the front sight issue is out of the way. Now, which is your dominant eye? Keeping both eyes open, look at a spot about 10-15 feet from you. A spot on the wall is good for this. Looking at that spot, hold your hand at arm’s length and stick up your thumb to cover that spot.

Now, wink one eye closed or cover one eye with paper and watch to see whether the thumb seems to move away from the spot. It doesn’t matter which eye you cover. If the spot remains in the same place, uncover that eye and then cover the other eye to see whether your thumb seems to move.

For me the thumb covers the spot when I cover my left eye. But when I cover my right eye the thumb moves to the right. It moves about as far as my eyes are apart. That means my right eye is dominant. If it moves the other way — well, you figure it out.

What if the thumb doesn’t move regardless of which eye is covered? That means both eyes are dominant, and I guess that person can sight with either eye. I seldom encounter that situation, though I know it does exist.

Sight with either eye

While I am right-eye dominant, I can sight with my left eye. It doesn’t feel comfortable, but I can do it. However, there are people who find that incredibly difficult to do. My wife, Edith was one who couldn’t do it. So airgun maker Gary Barnes made a special offset scope mount that allowed her to shoot a Barnes Ranger precharged pneumatic.

barnes ranger
Gary Barnes made this special offset scope mount so Edith could sight with her left eye while shooting right-handed.Those two outriggers adjust independently and the scope rings swivel to align with the scope tube in any orientation.

Besides the trajectory correction she also had to make a correction for the sideways offset of the scope. So, shooting at different ranges was a challenge. But BRV was a bullseye game that was always shot at the same distance, so that’s where she competed.

edith shooting
Edith competed in BRV with a .177 Barnes Ranger PCP rifle.

What can YOU do?

You have options if you are what is colloquially known as odd-eyed dominant — a right-handed person with left-eye dominance and vice-versa. First, you might be able to learn to shoot with the other eye. I can do it, though I don’t like it. But when my left or non-dominant eye looks at sights I find it best to cover the dominant eye somehow. And I said cover — not close the eye by winking. I have an exercise to show you why winking your non-sighting eye doesn’t work.


Poke a hole through a piece of stiff paper or card stock. Let’s make it around 1/4-inch or 6.35 millimeters in diameter. That’s roughly. Don’t sweat the measurements! I used the awl on my Swiss Army knife to poke the hole and it’s not very round.

hole in card
The hole doesn’t have to be precise. Even something as rough as this will work.

Now, keep both eyes open and cover your non-sighting eye. Bring the hole in the card up to your other eye about 3/4-inches away and the hole will appear to remain fully open. Then, close your other eye by winking and watch the hole shrink in size. The edges become blurry and you notice them closing in. The more you wink the smaller the hole becomes. That is what happens when you sight with one eye and close the other one by winking! Don’t do it because it makes the light through the peephole or through the rear sight notch decrease dramatically. Use an eye patch if you must, but keep both eyes open.

What’s the point?

The point is — don’t close your other eye when sighting. Train yourself to leave it open, because closing it by winking or squinting just reduces the amount of light that comes through your sighting eye.

Okay, that was option one — use the other eye. Option two is to shoot from the other side, i.e. a right-handed person shooting left-handed. I find it easier to do that with a rifle than a pistol. Some folks have no trouble doing it either way with both rifles and pistols. Those folks have already figured all of this out and they are waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

The last thing I recommend is getting a special gunstock or sights or a trick scope mount like I show above. They are just as difficult to live with as the problem they are designed to correct.

Pistols and scoped rifles — not such a problem

With pistols or when shooting rifles with scopes this is far less of a problem. Close (I say cover up) the eye not being used and just use the other one. Action pistol champion Rob Leatham demonstrates this. However, notice when he switched to sighting with his non-dominant left eye it took him longer to get on target.

Shotguns are a different matter because they are not shot with sights when wingshooting. Fortunately for me this is an airgun blog and I don’t have to go there.

If you really can’t see, use a scope

I have written this report for the shooters who use poor vision as an excuse for using scopes all the time. But I do recognize there are folks who have to use scopes because they really can’t see the sights. For them there are very few options. Fortunately scopes today have reached a high level of refinement while their prices have dropped to reasonable levels.

Effect on accuracy?

This is the second part of today’s question. How does eye dominance play into accuracy. The answer is simple. It plays to the extent that the shooter allows it to. In other words, a determined shooter can shoot well with either eye. With practice comes familiarity and with familiarity comes skill. However, if the shooter constantly fights it, the problem will become an exercise in developing excuses for why he can’t shoot.


There — five parts of a report I initially thought would be over in one. Reader Bill, see what you made me do?

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

91 thoughts on “The basics of shooting: Part 5”

  1. B.B. good morning, supposing that you see this after waking up. I see this blog for years the minute is edited. It’s the time I park my car and start walking to my job, minutes after seven a.m., some thousands of miles away… And to be honest I have found some more of your topics adequate for this series, but I’m trying to bother you as little as possible.
    Thanks for all your efforts.

  2. B.B.,
    Many decades ago when I was at scout camp, I learned that I was left eye dominant though right handed. The instructor suggested that I shoot left handed. I shot better than most other beginners doing that. More recently I had pain in my right hand due to repetitive injury because of decades of using a computer mouse. I switched to using the mouse in my left hand. It took a couple of weeks before I was using the mouse in my left hand without thinking about it. To not mess up my left hand I used a left handed vertical mouse. Recently I when I shoot (left handed) it seems natural. I think that many years of using the left handed mouse may have helped me become better at shooting left handed. – Don

  3. B.B.,

    My father taught me to keep both eyes open when we would plink with a Marksman BB pistol (yes, one of those!) as we would walk along some deserted train tracks outside of town. He taught me the the technique of aiming with both eyes open, then closing one eye at a time to find my dominant eye. I’m left-handed and left eye dominant, so it worked out well for me. Still, I sometimes will shoot an air pistol with my right hand and still sight the target with my left eye. With a rifle that would not be so easy, of course.

    Incidentally, my dad was a lousy shot with a rifle, but the one and only time he ever shot a pistol was when he qualified during Basic Training with a 1911 — and he qualified Expert. I guess he was a natural.

    I remember shooting BB guns with my friends after my dad tauight me to just ignore my weaker eye, and they kept telling me I shouldn’t be able to aim with both eyes open. I’d answer with something like, “Well, I’m hitting the can, aren’t I?” :^)


  4. B.B.,

    Thank you for the article! Lots to use to teach my kids.

    About eye dominance: I have an issue when using the “spot test”. I always see 2 thumbs when trying to cover the spot on the wall. If I focus on my thumb, I then see 2 spots on the wall. Is that similar to having both eyes dominant, or is it something different? I’ve been learning to focus on the left front sight since it corresponds to my right eye, but I was wondering if I was missing another useful method to deal with my eye dominance issue.

    Thanks again,


      • BB,

        I have the same issue as Joe. My issue may arise as I am left handed, but have always shot right handed. All of my teachers were right handed. I even shoot bows right handed. I am left hand dominant though.

        I use open sights all of the time. Most of my airguns are antique and you cannot mount scopes on them. I find that for shooting at less than fifty yards I prefer them.

        For those of you who have the same issue as Joe and I, if you are shooting right handed focus on the front sight and shoot at the right object. If you are shooting left handed focus on the front sight and shoot at the left object.

        Over the years I have trained my eyes to the point that when I sight, the off eye image most of the time just fades away.

  5. BB ,

    Funny You wrote this today . I took my Brother in Law shooting Sunday, His first time . He was trying to focus on everything. I told him sight picture crisp and target fuzzy and He started grouping ! This is a major mistake that most people make , the perception is the target has to be crisp also. Basically people tend to OVERTHINK EVERYTHING . The 2 most critical things in pistol shooting is SIGHT ALIGNMENT and TRIGGER CONTROL . If You master those You will shoot a pistol well . Of course rifle shooting involves other factors such as breathing and range estimation. Great article .

    • Gene Salvino,

      I must protest!
      Those are both very important but…

      Natural Area of Aim (NAA) Trumps all in pistol shooting.
      Just as Natural Point of Aim (NPA) does in rifle shooting.

      A great shooting instructor taught us that without an excellent foundation position you would never be an outstanding shooter. A practical shooting expert taught me the need to first expend an extra split second to get your body into the best possible and most balanced position before engaging your target.

      Happy Thanksgiving,


        • B.B.,

          Depends on how big the apple is!

          Seriously, are you and Gene talking benched or unrested pistol shooting? If we are talking unrested I still submit that building your position is more important than Sight Alignment and Trigger Control. I say that because if your position forces you to muscle the weapon on target you will be shaking before the Course of Fire/Match is completed.

          Of course I may not be understanding your point.


            • Gunfun1,

              I get what your saying.
              Try thinking about how most folks first learn to shoot.
              Certainly not three position or in a shoot house.
              You need to learn the basics before you jump to the advanced.
              As an example most instructional shooting programs have you go through the steps leading up to looking at the sight alignment first and long before you ever move your finger inside the trigger guard.


              • Shootski
                I remember when I got my pellet gun when I was a kid. My dad made a drawing on a piece of paper of the front and rear sight and where to place the sight on the target. And my first shooting sessions was plinking at coffee cans. Not paper. Matter of fact taught my daughters that way. And yes of course gun safety was first.

                But my dad kind of let me and my brother take on our own stance if you will. And I done the same with my daughters. He kind of pointed out things the more we shot. And again what I have done with my daughters.

                I can tell you this right now that I hold guns different than most people when they shoot. And even different when I shotgun shoot compared to rifle shooting.

                Heck look at the different techniques that the old west gun fighters used. I think it’s more of a individual type thing. The way a person shoots that is.

                Hope I’m making it clear about what I’m trying to get across. Maybe not. But there’s more to it than what meets the eye. If you know what I mean. Literally.

                • Gunfun1,

                  You only get to know you are breaking the rules if you know what the rules are in the first place. Adapting whatever we do to our strengths and weaknesses is FUNdamental!


                  • Shootski
                    How do you know what you don’t know.?

                    Don’t get me started on rules. Remember I have done alot of different racing throughout time. One famous saying is “you ain’t cheat’n if you don’t get caught.” You probably don’t know about the Mopar pro stock team that got caught using nitrous oxide when the bottle blew up in the pits between rounds because the bottle got to hot from being hidden in the oil resivor for the dry sump oil pump.

                    What I’m getting at is we learn and progress as we go. Of course there are rules and words written but we have to do it to see what really does or doesn’t work for us.

  6. It must be very hard to predict where a moving enemy will be with the long flight time of a mortar round.
    Coordinating an effective rolling barrage on targets you cant see means you have to depend on the process?
    I would imagine this weapon system gets upgraded with squad level flying F.O’s, drones?
    As if the hospital bills aren’t scary enough! Luckily, they fight for all of us, especially for those who cannot do so,
    bad eyes or whatever it may be.

    • 1stblue,

      Don’t forget Naval Gunfire Liaison Officer (NGLOs) as well as USMC AGLICOs (Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company) they do notary too! I’m certain the Air Force has something too but never worked with them.


  7. B.B.,
    That’s a really cool picture of Edith using that offset scope, and all I can say about the “Bad Eyes” write up is thanks be to God that you are still here to do this blog for us!
    I have to use one contact in my right eye to see near things, and my left eye does the distance seeing; it took me two weeks before my brain learned to integrate these images; but now I keep both eyes open and my brain automatically switches from near to far or far to near as I look at an object. When I went to the doctor to have my contact lens adjusted, I took my pistols with me, and explained that I needed to have the contact set so that I could focus on the front sight of a rifle or pistol. The doc was cool on that, and made sure I could do so. I have learned to shoot open sights, receiver (“peep”) sights, and scope sights all with both eyes open. As you have said, it’s all about focusing on the front sight! Thank you for yet another great report. =>
    Take care & God bless,

  8. Shootski ,

    This is true but sometimes in practical shooting You cannot get a optimal stance , Yes it is critical , especially for low light and more instinctive shooting . I shoot isosceles and weaver just depending on the situation . When I started shooting it was weaver and then my Friend taught me the isosceles stance. You have to b e able to adapt to the scenario.

    • Gene Salvino,

      I get where you are coming from now.
      “The practical is not the perfect of formal competition.” My practical instructors other favorite.
      We needed to have this conversation over some coffee, at the range/shoot house, or afterwards over something more stout.


  9. I got to say after reading today’s report that I’m glad I grew up on a farm. I can’t even say all the different situations I had pesting and hunting. And I might as well throw in plinking.

    Try getting a stance when you got two of your buddies throwing up old oil cans at the same time and trying to hit them before they hit the ground with a semi-auto .22 rimfire. There’s no muscle control or stance there. Some might call it instinct shooting. I call it adapting to a situation. And with both eyes open.

    • Shootski
      Yep that is the basics of aligning the front post and rear notch to the target.

      Now what about part 2? The 1/2 second stance. I think that’s what started this conversation with everybody.

      • Gunfun1,

        I don’t believe I ever said a 1/2 second. What I said was, “…need to first expend an extra split second…”
        that means a VERY SHORT amount of time in my calculations. I was talking about practical (real World) shooting at that point and not formal target shooting. An aimed (of some style) shot from the most stable position you can get to even in combat/defensive shooting is better than spraying rounds at the vicinity of your target. It takes a great amount of practice/training in shooting simulators, Virtual Gogle, shoot houses, and shoot towns to get good at it. Practical Shooting ranges are mostly for fun competition that has some skill progression value in the real World but until your targets are shooting back at you it is not much more than a game.

        Don’t get me wrong any correctly done shooting is of value to build skills and have more fun. Since the more we hit what we take aim at the more FUN we are having.


        • Shootski
          Shooting at a range is alot different than shooting at home or out on the farm.

          We was taught to shoot as kids because it’s what kept food on the table plus pesting around the barns and chicken coops and such.

          Trust me I didn’t go to no training school and I definitely can shoot . What can I say. Tell’n the truth.

          • Gunfun1,

            I’m certain you are. Some learn better in more formal training and some can get what they need all by themselves. Some never get it no matter how they choose to try and learn to shoot or anything else. Learning to shoot as kids, as you and I did, is totally different than learning to shoot as an adult. We were lucky! I’m here to learn about the new and the old of airguns even as an old guy. I try to share what I have learned during my soon to be sixtyfive years of shooting and still, thank God, learning more every day about airguns and shooting. New airguns, ideas, and methods are everywhere.
            Keeps a person young!


            • Shootski
              Definitely agree that it was good to learn as a kid. And your right some will never get it no matter what. Reminds me about when we would set up a car for drag racing. And mind you these were both the same cars. I would tell a person everything I did to my car and they would do the same to thier car. Guess what they still was never as fast and quick as I was. That’s just how that works.

              And as you say about getting older. I’m still learning too. The way I see it is if I’m not learning then there is something wrong.

    • I should have said the second link is some really dense information about the eye!
      It has lots of exercises to help us all SEE BETTER in ways that must of us are never taught!
      It has information on how we really SEE as opposed to how we perceive vision; most of you will be shocked by the information. So read a bit and check out the impact on your shooting and just plain seeing this wonderful World we live in. It goes to B.B.’s first comment in ” I can’t use open sights — my eyes are bad!” at the beginning of today’s Blog, you probably can and should see better than you do! The linked article should help a lot!


      • Thedavemyster,

        Your welcome. It is! I learned to scan during flight training to keep the bug splat on the canopy from turning into a B-52. But, this particular article has even better information about eye exercises and practices that really do make a difference in how well we see to shoot and in general. I’m looking for something at least as good on the topic of natural NIGHT VISION and will share when I find it or wind up writing it myself.

        Happy Thanksgiving!


  10. B.B.,

    I will have to go back through this series carefully. I have seen more than one thing that I know will be useful.
    I never tire of seeing the ingenuity people bring to a goal, using available resources where money or other things may be lacking (like unable to legally import air guns?). I posted before of a lad in South America who constructed his own PCP.
    I don’t think the one in this video uses as much compressed air, though. It is actually a multi-pump. Notice the open sights.
    Here is one from Cambodia, an ingenious muzzle loader that uses ball ammo. This channel has more than one how-to video. I don’t see any kind of safety on the first one. The second one does use a bolt action to cock the trigger.


    I hope you have a very good Thanksgiving.

  11. B.B.,

    When I played the video of Tyler reviewing the Airforce TexanSS Big Bore Air Rifle she asked me if it was a potato gun. I had to admit it looks like on in profile.


  12. Good Evening all,…

    I read the article this morning and all of the comments. Takeaway,… if I shoot opens,… get the front sight in focus and aim at the “blurry” target. Got it. If I am dual eye dominant,…choose the “correct” blurry target. 😉 I am left eye dominate, shoot left, always have,…. and am totally right handed by the way.

    I sat on this this topic all day and pondered. Conclusions? 1) I have limited time to shoot 2) I do not intend to own a bunch of air guns 3) I prefer to shoot rifle over pistol 4) I am a perfectionist to some degree. Less so?,.. the older I get. But then again,…. maybe not? 😉 Ok,… definitely not! 🙂

    I want (everything) to be in “exquisite” focus. I want to see it all. I want Nat hair precision. That is what I want,.. at least for now.

    Good article,…. Chris

    • Chris,

      Then you had better go with a scope. I have amazed people with what I can do with an open sight air rifle that was made in 1906. The thing is though, I have learned that air rifle and enjoy shooting it more than any other one I own. It takes desire, drive and motivation. Open sights have been around a lot longer than scopes.

      • RR,

        0% argument here. Remember,…. it is best when “going in”,… KNOWING what you want. Did I at the start? Nope! I do now,… for where I am at (now). I know!

        All thanks to this blog and the great posters here. 🙂


      • RR,

        I suppose that if I had a 1906 vintage like you have,… that would (be) my motivation. In fact,.. if at a gun show,… I would be attracted to that type of item even before all of the newer stuff. I have always been attracted to vintage items and fine craftsmanship.

        For now,.. I will stay with what I have and try to do my very best with it. Man!,… I need to be retired already! 😉


        • Chris,

          LOL! I wish I was retired myself. I have a few years to go yet.

          Do you think I knew what I was doing and what I wanted when I started down this road? No. It has been and has continued to be a learning experience.

          Thanks to the “Great Enabler” the antiques just happened into my world and I was hooked. They are actually well suited for most of the shooting I do. I am really not much interested in purchasing but one more air rifle. I will end up with a real nice .22 PCP and I will consider my “collection” complete.

          This does not mean I wish to stop learning about the others. That is half the fun.

          • RR,

            You know me well enough by now to know that I am always inquisitive and always open to learning/exploration as well. Of course, learning and exploration is one thing,.. while putting it into actual use/practice is something else.

            The only actual open sighter I have is the Red Ryder. While practical enough,… I think that I could spit bb’s with better accuracy. 😉 I actually did shoot it a fair bit when I first got it, along with the 499. The 499 is like cutting with a laser while the Red Ryder is like cutting with a hammer and chisel.


            • Chris,

              I myself really like peep sights. I have a Model 99. It is not as accurate as the 499, but is close.

              I just bought an older Feinwerkbau rear aperture to put on my grandson’s HW30. I think he will be impressed with what he can do with it then.

              You should save up your pennies and get your hands on an HW30, HW50 or even an HW95. Sometimes you can find a real good deal on a used one. Usually they are very well taken care of. Mine was. The one I picked up for Blake was like new and even in the original box with all the papers.

              • RR,

                I love the peeps on the 499. And,… that is not even a good set of peeps. bb on bb at 24′ if I am doing my part. A fast, very casual 10 shot group might be 1/2″ at very worst. I can’t say enough good about the 499.


        • Chris
          If you read RidgeRunner’s advice about getting a hw30 or hw50. I have a real nice black laminate stock hw30 I’ll sell for a good price. AoA is the only one that sells them from what I have seen. But go to thier website and search it. Or if you are interested. Let me know and I’ll text you a picture so you can check it out on your new smart phone. 🙂

          • GF1,

            I will pass for the same reasons I mentioned before. The Synergis might be one. Waiting to see the long-er time customer reviews and to see if there is Gen. 2 in the works. No rush on anything at this point.


            • Chris
              Maybe. I’m not holding my breath. But we will see that’s for sure.

              And the hw30’s are excellent German break barrel’s. Another one of the guns that every air gunner should own once in thier life. And of course there is many other quality springers out there. Anyway thought I would ask. And have a good Thanksgiving.

  13. Is it just me?

    I remember when I would place an order with PA and if I would do such before 2 PM it would go out that very same day. Now if I place an order, they might create the shipping label the next business day and it might go out the business day after that.

    I’m a thinking that PA has gotten a little too big for their britches. Their customer service is starting to sink into mediocrity.

    • RR,

      I can not say that I have noticed anything,…. but then again I do not order all that often either.

      Not that it has anything to do with your justified? observation,…. but I think that everyone these days is fully expecting the (second) they hit,… “place order”,…. they expect said product to show up on their front porch 10 minutes later. Mmmmm? I can say that I am never in that big of an hurry for anything. Again,… just my 2 cents worth of an observation.


      On “mediocracy”,… yea,… that ain’t good for any company. Stay out front. The customers will sing your praises and do all the sales for you. In case no one has noticed,… it is not to hard to “sing”,… or trash a reputation these days. What?,…. like it takes all of 10 seconds? Maybe not so good,.. but I do not think that anyone can argue it either.

    • RidgeRunner,

      Did you place your order over the phone or the On-Line Store?

      I haven’t noticed a substantial slowdown in my PA ordering process time as recently as two weeks ago.

      Take two asprin and read this:
      “Sure, you could find some of our over four thousand items at other stores, but let’s not jump the gun. What does a big box store cashier know about the proper scope for your airgun? What does an online store named after a Brazilian river know about hunting with .50 caliber airguns? Our airgun experts are here for you with over 200 years of experience to help you find the right airgun and the right accessories for you, all at affordable prices.

      If you have questions, contact our courteous and knowledgeable staff by email or call us at 844.797-4640. If you’re not happy with your purchase, or if an airgun purchased from us is defective, you may return it to us within our 30-day return period. Need a repair? We are an authorized airgun repair station for top brands such as Air Arms, Air Venturi, Beeman, Benjamin, Crosman, Eun Jin, Evanix, Mendoza, Seneca, Sam Yang, and Weihrauch airguns. Please contact us for further assistance today!

      Stay Safe and Keep Shooting!”

      I think you are coming down with something.
      Could be a bad case of Black Fridayitis!


    • RR
      I made a order early Monday morning and thought the same. My order didn’t go out till today.

      I remember they at one point in time had something in place that if it didn’t go out the same day you got something. It’s been a little while back. I even searched it this morning and didn’t come up with anything.

      • GF1, Chris and Shootski,

        Once upon a time in a far off land, there was an airgun company that had a stated policy that if your order was placed by 2 PM it would ship that day, whether by phone or online. This included Saturday.

        Well, that airgun company is still in a far off land but the time is now. I place my order on Saturday morning and receive a response to my order on Monday evening. I then receive confirmation that my shipping label has been made on Tuesday. Today it is actually on the way.

        No, they no longer state how fast they will get your order out. Also, there is nothing that I am going to order from them that I “need”. I was just making an observation that PA has made a name for itself in the airgun world and is now the 800 pound gorilla.

        • RidgeRunner,

          B.B.’s Comment below is interesting. Companies that have a order que problem often throw up their hands with the excuses that they can’t hire temps because they slow things down because they aren’t fully trained and also make more mistakes which the regular employees need to take valuable time to fix. So what is a company to do? I have a friend who owns a bakery and they face the seasonal issue so they train a tiger team with members that can do multiple tasks: like order taking, stock pulling, shipping, and issue resolution. That tiger team moves from crisis/overload point boosting ability to undo backlogs…good companies can’t just increase order takers and then hope for the best. Oh, the bakery also brings back folks who retired recently to do training and fill in part time during the known holiday/seasonal crunch hours.

          GOODWILL IS a slippery commodity! You can loose it in short order (pun intended) or by getting rid of a relatively cheap policy that knocks of a percentage of gives you a shot of Bullseye bucks if you have order fulfilment issues. I think PA needs to look at their Operations Leadership in an After Action meeting in January and see if what you experience is substantially the case for customers along with figuring out how to eliminate the loss of GOODWILL it always causes.

          Good Luck on your order!
          Good Luck to PA in getting a great solution to this issue for next year!


          PS: That Tiger Team is part of a Continuity Of Operations Plan for year-round disasters that strike companies way to often and result in business failures! They get better pay and/or bonuses for the added responsibilities. Also their are lots of folks that have good Airgun knowledge that read this blog; some of them could probably be convinced to work part time and be far easier to train on specifics than Joe or Jane off the street!

        • Hi RidgeRunner and Everybody ,

          Thank you for being a customer. You are correct in that Amazon has changed customer expectations in the USA, and we all (myself included) are expecting same day shipping all the time, every day.

          During off-season, Pyramyd AIR provides that level of service.
          During high season we are seeing delays on certain orders.

          We do publish expected delivery date right in the checkout and you should be able see that before placing the order. Please let me know if you are not seeing that!

          What we are doing about it as a company? Hiring more people, bringing in more automation. Both are not easy or quick to achieve for a small company like ours, but we are getting there.

          Thank you, once again for being a loyal customer.

          • Val
            I order alot from PA. And yes I do see the expected delivery date.

            I guess next question is what if it doesn’t happen by that date?

            I guess why this is all ringing clear today is because I made a order early Monday morning because I was hoping I would get my order as soon as possible. Basically to have for the holiday weekend after turkey day.

            Long story short I even paid for the bit quicker shipping. So I was watching my emails to see if the order shipped. And to throw this in. We shoot when we get together for the holidays so I wanted the gun to get here at least after Thursday. My other gun failed I just got from another company so it went back Monday morning. Basically I was playing the money juggling game to place my order with PA. I have the money but I didn’t want to have two fires burning at once.

            So I made the order. Then I knew a PA sale code was coming but I went ahead and made the order just so I would receive it on time. That being what I just explained. I lost out on a substantial savings just to get that order shipped. I almost cancelled it and reorderd with the discount code but I didn’t.

            I know I probably shouldn’t of brought all this up But that is what went back and forth Monday morning before I placed the order. What I was waiting for was FedEx’s tracking number to say it wouldn’t make it till next Monday. Then I would be out the little extra shipping money I spent plus not have the gun for the kids and adults to shoot this weekend.

            So see it’s not like we are just making a order and expecting a longer delivery date and happy when it arrives sooner. Correct info at check out to order shipped would be appreciated. And a true arrival date corresponding with your delivery date you say from the carrier.

            Hmm maybe this really is more complicated than it seems.

            • You are 100% right. We strive to show correct ship dates. Can you post your order# and I will report back to you to let you know exactly what happened? Otherwise, you and I will keep theorizing about what might have happened 😉

              • Val
                My order is suppose to be here Friday from what the tracking says with FedEx. And that’s what it said when I ordered.

                But read my comment at 12:53 pm and you’ll see what was going on with me Monday morning.

                The whole problem is I didn’t get any info that the order was shipped until late Tuesday afternoon. When I order from places that tracking number is my order confirmation. That tells me everything about my order. I’m sure you can see what I mean.

                Oh and by the way if I give you my order number can you give me the 15% off and free shipping over $99 from the email discount on my order Monday morning that happened about 20 minutes after I placed my order.

                That’s the savings I was talking about. And yes I bought a fairly higher dollar gun. So it would of made a difference. So do you want my order number?

                • As far as promised delivery date – I am glad we estimated it correctly and that you will receive the product on the date we promised. That’s a huge relief for me. I do understand how frustrating it can be to wait for that tracking number. Believe you me 😉

                  As far as your order number – of course. It’s part of the policy. If the sale is announced and your order was placed prior to the sale being announced, we give you credit. I don’t know the exact number of days that is the cut off, but Eric can confirm what it is exactly. @Eric?

                  • Val
                    I know all of the things about the company is a concern for you. And a relief too. 🙂

                    And I really didn’t know that there was something in place like that. And here is my order number.

                    If you refund the difference I’m very greatfull. Really. If you don’t I’m not going to loose any sleep. I will still order from PA.

                    And once you see the order number info. You may remember or not but we have talked in the past about PA jobs. I don’t think we talked directly on the phone but I did talk to a lady at PA that was the personal lady and thoughts got exchanged.

                    Anyway. Thanks for taking time from your buisy day to share important info on today’s blog.
                    Thank you.

                  • I’d be glad to take care of the extra 5% for this order. Typically if you are within 30 days we can do this, though I will take this opportunity to let everyone know some of the sales we have going on this week and especially during black Friday can only be taken advantage of while they are active so don’t miss them!

                    I appreciate all of the feedback and want you all to know we are reading it and we are listening. We begin staffing up for the holiday rush all the way back in August, but unfortunately people are a very fluid resource with a mind of their own so what you want to do and what you can achieve do not always line up perfectly.

                    What is important to us is hiring quality people that you can count on to get your order right or be empowered to take care of any issues you might come across, and we will never settle for just a warm body, our customers expect more than that!

                    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

                    Eric Wilson – Director of Customer Experience

                    • Eric
                      Ok thanks. I’ll be watching to see. Oh and that 15% code was for free shipping also. I paid like $15 shipping for the standard ground shipping.

                      Anyway thanks again for all the information.

  14. Everybody,

    I have watched the discussion about late shipments for a long time and now I have something to say.

    Are you not aware that this is the busiest time for retail in the year? There are many TIMES more orders coming in now than any retail company typically gets throughout the year.

    If a company typically ships 1,500 orders each day, at this time of the year they are faced with 5,000 orders a day!!! They cannot add people to increase their shipments because new people slow things down. They don’t know stuff and are prone to make mistakes.

    I have had orders from other online stores get accepted and I have been told they were being prepared for shipment, only to be told three days later that the things I ordered were out of stock!!! That just happened this morning. Why? Because even the software these businesses have in place cannot keep up.

    It’s the holiday season and people have turned to online buying in greater numbers than ever before. Sometimes success is harder to cope with than failure.


    • BB
      It’s happened in past months also. Not just right now.

      And I’m sure it is biusy right now. But biusness is biusness. Since we’re going on about this now in my opinion a business should plan ahead for this. I know UPS does. They know it happens every year at this time and they have a reputation to up hold. Don’t know if FedEx does that but I’m thinking they do. Heck the department stores add staff for holiday work.

      And sure hiring in temporary work does cause some problems but smart company’s say if they want the job they have to go through a short training course before they actually start on the job and get paid.

      Don’t see how that wouldn’t be understood by a company especially now days with all the competition out there. As the saying goes. “You snooze you loose” maybe not right now but I’m willing to bet sooner or later.

      If you want to be world class you got to step up the ball game. It’s just the way it is nowdays.

      Here’s another thing. So they normally bring in 1500 orders each day and now 5000. You would think they would start a month ahead of time during the holiday season and spend a little money to get the extra help trained and ready since thier income increases almost 5 times for the next month or so. Surely they ain’t that greedy with thier money. And as it goes another saying. “You got to spend money to make money”.

  15. This has been quite an informative and entertaining post, for someone rebuilding his mediocre shooting skills after a retina detachment and subsequent cataract surgery, both affecting the left eye. Thankfully, the dominant right eye is still intact, except for myopia. The tips, suggestions, and workarounds from B.B. and everyone else commenting are very useful and appreciated. At the next range session, will try to concentrate on the “blurry target aiming system” when pistol-shooting. Also, suspect things will go better by wearing plain shooting non-prescription glasses and setting aside the prescription bifocals.

    Of course, could do what my visually-impaired friend did and install a laser sight, which, despite his legal-blindness status, puts him on a par with at least a slightly above average pistol shooter. We’re talking firearms here. The laser sight may be overkill or not that practical for airgunning. Before I forget, do not underestimate the importance of staying fit and in good health so you can enjoy shooting fun to the max. B.B.’s experience in hospital reminded me of the importance of staying out of those places at all costs! I have friends and family in the medical field, with whom I’ve shared this sentiment, and none of them have disagreed with it.

    So, on that note, good health to all of you, continue to pursue your interests passionately, have fun, and Happy Thanksgiving – or be happy and give thanks.

    • FawltyManuel
      I wear my normal prescription glasses every day when I shoot. And they are bifocals. And I (don’t) use the bifocals when I shoot. And yes a I’m a firm believer in shooting with both eyes open.

      And the open sight shooting also applies to rifles. Not only pistols. The sighting ends up working out the same. And I shoot rapid fire most of the time with my open sight guns. But I can just about focus on the target now as well as the sights. I can keep the front post and target fairly focused and the rear notch trys to be unfocused. It’s almost like I’m looking over the sights at the target if that makes any sense.

      And yes keeping fit does help with shooting.

      Oh and I have used lasers on my air guns out at 50 yards or so and in. You know how we have to use hold over or under with scopes. Wait and see what happens with a laser. Your laser will only hit at your sight in distance. In closer or out farther will not hit if you put the laser on the target. You will be high or low depending on the distance.

      Let us know how it goes if you do get a chance to mess with the things you mentioned. Fun stuff is all I can say. 🙂

      • Your comments/suggestions are much appreciated. 99.99% of my shooting experience is with firearms; we’ll see how things go when I start carefully and deliberately treading the waters of air gunnery. Regardless, going to keep at it because the shooting experience is too much fun to give it up without a fight.

        Happy Thanksgiving!

        • FawltyManuel
          I’m pretty sure the more you start messing with air guns the more hooked you will be. I have shot both firearms and air guns over the years and love it all.

          And Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

  16. OK, OK, OK!

    Hey, I was not really complaining about my order with PA being late, etc. What I was saying is their shipping policies have most definitely changed over the years as they have grown. As a company grows in size, it can become more unwieldy. Gone are the days of your order shipping the same day it is placed.

    • Hi RidgeRunner and everybody, have not changed shipping policies, at all. We are still striving to ship the same day. We do not promise it online, instead we show a conservative expected delivery date during the checkout that assumes that we ship your order the day after you placed it.

      This way if you receive it a day early you are only pleasantly surprised.

      My hope/expectation is that by Q2 of 2020 we will not have that artificial padding in the checkout either and we will be able to ship 99% of our orders same day.

      Stay warm, and Happy Thanksgiving!

      • Val
        What does slow up the shipping process? Is it to make sure the bank clears it. Because I know that happens pretty quick after the order is placed.

        Where I see the delay (sometimes) is in the picking and packing the order. Sometimes it happens fast. Sometimes not. Could that be where things get held up?

        Then you wait and wait and finally it says your order has shipped. Maybe what is happening is when your sending information to the shipper it’s not confirmed till they receive the info and you receive that info. So on your end you keep showing the order is being picked and placed. I think at one time you use to say your order has shipped and we will give the tracking number when it’s received. Maybe I’m wrong but that’s what I remember.

        Not trying to stir the pot so to speak. But to figure out why it don’t get boiling sooner. If that makes any sense. Maybe it’s really the info your sending the customer because of the shipping info you receive. Maybe it isn’t your fault. That’s what I see anyway. Sometimes it happens fast and sometimes it don’t. That be the order to ship time notification.

  17. Gunfun1,

    No delays between us and the carrier. Once shipping label is generated, as a customer you are notified about it via email with a tracking number within 30 minutes. One thing that can happen during busy season is that we pick/pack till 6pm, carriers pick up at 5pm at the latest, so for an hour there orders may have been packed, label generated, tracking number emailed to you, but the tracking will not show product moving until the next day. That could happen.

    Legitimate reasons that can cause delays in processing order on our side are service purchases (installing scope, sighting it in, even a simple 10-4-10 test) may delay your shipment by a full day. We state that very openly and account for that during the checkout when we publish the expected delivery date.

    Reason above services can delay your order is because besides picking/packing the order is routed to go to Tech. Deparment. Now imagine something wrong is found with the airgun, or scope, or both, then a new airgun needs to be picked and routed to tech. department, etc. etc.

    As far as UPS and Fedex being prepared for busy season. Normally they are, yet even those 2 large behemoth do not provide transit guarantee during Christmas. That’s right both companies will NOT refund any money if they are late delivering the product that was shipped through their networks during this busy time. I am not using it as a defense, I am just pointing out that when volume quadruples, it’s hard to guarantee 100% satisfaction all the time (can’t staff for that). Again, not using it as an excuse, I am just recognizing this as part of doing business, and am looking to make it as close to 100% as possible.

    Thank you!

    Sorry, everybody, I did not mean to hijack Tom’s today blog post, which I read with a cup coffee and learned something new today (yet again!)

    • Val,

      I really do appreciate your explanation of shipping issues. I do understand how that can be quite frustrating at times as you really have no control of all the parts. I myself have yet to have a bad shipping incident with PA. I was just noting that it had been some time since I had noticed the same day shipping guarantee. I do understand that with the coming holiday seasons it can be very difficult to make any shipping guarantee, much less that day.

      All should note that I refuse to go near “The Mall” after the middle of November until after the first of the year. I just try to order well ahead of time. 😉

  18. Friend Tom,

    Your blog intro about your harrowing hospital experiences brought back horrible memories. We all prayed.

    Edith and I communicated multiple times each day. My good friends Dr. Hamilton Lokey, Dr. Bruce Waring and Dr. Jan Gray were very helpful with advice which I shared with Edie. Edith was so devoted to you and your care. One of the best looking pit bulls I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting to know.

    Hard to believe that was 9 years ago. Have a great Thanksgiving. We both have a lot to be thankful for.


  19. Very interesting!

    I’m near-sighted and have a Marauder that I haven’t used in way too long and always shoot with a scope with my glasses off (can’t see at all well, but through the scope everything is sharp, so it’s cool).

    But – I recently picked up a Gamo P430 pistol in a store basically on a whim. Had heard some good things about WRT what you get for 40 bucks and it’s fun to shoot. However, my problem is that with my glasses on I can see the target (about 30 feet away) but the sights are totally out of focus. With my glasses off, I can see the sights clearly (enough; if too close, it gets fuzzy again. I’m at that age lol).

    The target was taped to a cat litter box backed with backing on it (makes a decent cheap pellet trap) and while almost every shot is somewhere on the box, very few of them are on the paper, and none were near the center.

    What would you recommend I do? On the bottom of the P430 is what they call in the description a tactical rail, but what goes on there? A laser sight or something? Would that be the best solution for me, so that I could zero the laser sight at 10 yards and plink away to my heart’s content?


    • bounder08,

      Welcome to the blog.

      What would I recommend? First, don’t rely on that Gamo pistol to be accurate. A Beeman P17 costs even less and is much more accurate.

      And second — shoot at a reasonable range or distance. Start at 5 feet. Yes, I said 5 feet! I have lots of reports on this subject, but start with this one.



    • Bounder08,

      I had a Beretta 92FS air pistol and had a laser on it. It was awesome! 1″ or less at 24′, rested. You won’t be using the open sights, but your accuracy should improve immensely. Keep us posted if you try one.


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