Air Venturi Dust Devil Mk2 Frangible BB: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Dust Devil
Dust Devil Mk2.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The first and best test
  • Test strategy
  • Crush test
  • Test 2 — close impact
  • What have we learned?
  • Hard target test
  • What does this tell us?
  • One last test
  • Summary

Today we look at the frangible properties of the new Dust Devil Mark 2 BBs. Remember — these are the only Dust Devils you can buy and the box does not say Mark 2. But the BB I am testing is what you can buy and all that you can buy!

The first and best test

What I show you today is the first time I have tested Dust Devils at all. I did shoot the Mark 1 Dust Devils against a concrete floor with nothing remaining and no bounce-back, and at the 2018 NRA Show where Pyramyd Air always runs the airgun range, Dust Devils were the only BBs fired and there was not one bounce-back in perhaps 10,000 shots. Today I will take it several steps further. read more

The boogeyman in the sock drawer

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

• The sock drawer
• Are today’s children more mature?
• Deny, deny
• Explain everything
• Let them make their own mistakes
• What can you do?
• A program that works
• Things to consider
• A shooter training program

Although she may not remember, Edith asked me to write this blog some time ago. What do you do with guns when there are children in the house?

I’m not going to lie and tell you there’s one right answer. That would be foolish, because children have differing personalities, just like adults. Some are curious and others are cautious. Some seem to seek out the wrong paths instinctively, while others are wise beyond their years.

Every parent and guardian has to first take the measure of the children under their control, plus the possibility that visiting children might tread beyond the threshold that your children respect. And this is a challenge because parents and guardians are just as variable as children. I won’t run through all the possible combinations of children’s and parents’ personalities. What I’ll do is give you a simple rule — don’t trust nobody with nothin’!

The sock drawer
When I was growing up in the 1950s, parents kept things in their dresser drawers if they didn’t want their children handling them. Children were not allowed in the parents’ bedroom without permission, so those places were sacrosanct. Children back then knew that, of course, which made the parents’ drawers treasure chests to be explored at all risk. This is where the personalities came into play. Some kids stayed out of their parents’ drawers because they were told to. Others sought them out at every opportunity. Having a “rule” about access was as thin and foolish as the government explaining why a tax increase is going to benefit everyone. And the children saw right through it! They still do today.

Are today’s children more mature?
Today’s children are fundamentally no different than children were 200 years ago. They’re certainly more exposed to the rudeness of life, but at their cores they’re the same curious people they have always been. And there are various ways of dealing with this.

Deny, deny
One method of protecting children is to avoid mentioning the taboos altogether. The thinking is that if they never hear about it, they will not have the opportunity to be attracted to it, possibly making wrong decisions with dire consequences. This is applied to everything from sex to liquor to fire to firearms. And, because of the varying personalities mentioned before, sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. But when it doesn’t work, the chances for disaster are huge! Get the wrong personality and vice together, and they bond instantly.

Explain everything
In this approach, the parent explains everything to the child — in detail. It works with some kids and not with others because of those personalities. Again, both the parent and the child are factors that cannot be overlooked. When it works, it works very well. When it doesn’t work, it often stimulates curiosity that leads to problems.

Let them make their own mistakes
“Kids are going to drink anyway, so I’d rather they did it at home — where it’s safe and I can control it.” This is a bad philosophy. All it does is introduce the child to things they aren’t physically or emotionally prepared for. I saw it in my own family and the outcome was a disaster that is still unfolding 50 years later. The parents are long gone, but the kids who are now entering old-age are train wrecks that continue to inflict pain around them.

What can you do?
This is where we will part ways. What I’m about to say is my personal philosophy, and many people will disagree with it.

First — Recognize that guns are dangerous! That includes airguns. Parents cannot afford to have Playstation personalities about the sharp pointy things in life. If you have guns in the house and also young people, you need to think through a plan of safety for everyone. Edith and I have a lot of guns in the house, and some of them are loaded. But when company comes to visit, we do things about it. The guns get unloaded and the ammo gets put away. The guns are then secured so the curious people cannot get to them. Never forget that children come in all ages! read more

New-old-stock TS-45 air rifles: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This TS-45 rifle is probably at least 30 years old, yet also brand new.

I’ve anticipated this day with great hopes, because this TS-45 rifle has the tightest bore I’ve ever seen on a vintage Chinese air rifle. I’ve owned a couple older Chinese air rifles, and they always had huge bores that every pellet wallowed in. The only one that was ever accurate was another TS-45 that I modified by changing the barrel for a Lothar Walther from Dennis Quackenbush. That one also had the benefit of an overhaul and was really a nice little plinker after all the work was done. But it didn’t have the original oversized barrel.

Through the years, I’ve heard from many owners of Chinese springers who said they had accurate guns. And always their barrels were considerably tighter than any I’d seen. Well, Lady Luck finally smiled on me, because this time it was my turn to get a tight barrel. So, I anticipated the possibility of accuracy.

Loose stock screws
Before testing I tried to tighten the stock screws. The rear triggerguard screw and the rear sling swivel anchor screw are what hold the action in the stock. Both were loose and needed tightening.

For fun, I removed the barreled action from the stock. From what I see, this would be an easy action to work on, so I may have a go at it at some future date. No promises, but if I can collect another dozen “round tuits,” I’ll have what I need to smooth out this action.

Firing behavior
I have to compare the firing of this rifle to that of the El Gamo 68 I recently tested. Both have heavy triggers and quick shot cycles with very little vibration afterward. The firing pulse is heavy and disagreeable, but I think that with the fitting of a few parts it could be made smoother.

The trigger looks simple enough and is obviously has a case-hardened sear. I can tell that by the shape of the part and its thickness. If I were to rebuild the gun, I might have a go at smoothing the sear contact area a little.

I had a gut feeling this rifle wanted to shoot, and it didn’t disappoint me. The first pellet I tried was a 7.9-grain Crosman Premier dome. I shot at a 10-meter pistol target at a distance of 10 meters (33 feet). The pistol target has a larger bull than the 10-meter rifle target, and I find it easier to see when I use open sights like the ones on this rifle.

Ten Crosman Premier lites made this 1.657-inch group at 10 meters. Nine went into 0.891 inches. This is a very horizontal group.

Speaking of the sights, I find the sights on this TS-45 to be among the sharpest and easiest open sights I’ve ever seen on an air rifle! I wish the makers of modern air rifles would put sights this good on their guns! The rear sight has a U-shaped notch that’s positioned at just the right distance from my sighting eye, so the top of the notch appears clear. And the front post is very sharp and easy to focus on. I had no trouble holding a 6 o’clock hold on the target.

The trigger, on the other hand, is appalling! It’s too heavy to measure on my trigger-pull scale, but I am guessing that it breaks at something approaching 14-15 lbs. of effort! It’s so heavy that my wrist started hurting from pulling it during the test. I’m not sure the final group I shot was as good as it could have been because my wrist hurt so much from squeezing this horrible trigger.

The first group wasn’t as nice as I had hoped, spreading out to the left as the shots increased, but it was much better than a typical old Chinese airgun would do for me. One pellet went way out to the left; but as far as I could tell, the sight picture was perfect for that shot, as well as for all the others. I used an artillery hold with the back of my off hand touching the front of the triggerguard. The rifle sits well in the hand for this hold and is light enough to feel good. Later in the series, I flipped my off hand over and rested the rifle on the backs of two fingers. That seemed to have less movement on target as the trigger was pulled.

The second pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby. I’ll usually default to this pellet in a lower-powered spring gun because, for some reason, many of them seem to like it very much. This pellet fit the bore very tight and gave the best group of the day.

RWS Hobbys made the best group of the test. Ten went into this group measuring 0.835 inches between centers.

The Hobby group was very encouraging. I started believing this rifle was going to shoot like a target rifle. The next pellet was shot with the Gamo Match, and here’s where I started to notice the heavy trigger-pull taking its toll. I can’t say for certain, but I think some of the size of this group was due to fatigue.

Ten Gamo Match pellets made this 0.845-inch group. Almost as small as the Hobby group, this one may have suffered from the fatigue of my trigger finger.

The final pellet I tested was the H&N Finale Match Pistol, but by this time there was no mistaking my fatigue. The only other time I remember feeling like this while shooting a gun was when I tested one of those $2,500 Airrow airguns made by Swivel Machine Corp. They had a trigger pull over 25 lbs. and were horrible to shoot. You can see the results of my fatigue in the vertically scattered shots, where the other three groups were good in the vertical plane.

This vertical dispersion is definitely due to the fatigue caused by the heavy trigger. Ten H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets made this 1.376-inch group at 10 meters. read more

New-old-stock TS-45 air rifles!: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This TS-45 rifle is probably at least 30 years old, yet also brand new.

Let’s look at the velocity of my new-old-stock TS-45. It’s been many years since I tested a really old Chinese airgun, so this was a nostalgic test for me. The TS-45 surprised me by being smoother to cock and fire than I imagined. The stock bolts were loose; but once I tightened them, the rifle fired quite smoothly and without a lot of aftershocks. I think that’s mostly due to the low power rather than any special fitting of the powerplant parts. Randy Mitchell did lubricate the powerplant of this rifle, but an older Chinese spring-piston air rifle needs a lot more than a lube tune to straighten up.

The non-adjustable trigger is single-stage and if you pull it slowly it releases consistently at around 5 lbs., 14 oz. You don’t want it any lighter because of the danger of this mechanism slipping off the sear while loading. As cumbersome as it is, I always put my arm in the path of the cocking lever while I’m loading, just in case the sear lets go.

Velocity testing
The first pellet I tried to test was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier — the so-called Premier Lite. I say I tried to test the velocity, but it was all over the place. The first shot went 564 f.p.s. and stayed there for two more shots. Then shot No. 4 leaped up to 750 f.p.s. And the feel of the gun at firing was more harsh, which told me it was dieseling pretty heavily. No detonations (explosions) were heard, but I suspect we were running just shy of them.

The Premier pellet fit the bore tightly, which I take as a good sign for potential accuracy. They’ll certainly be among those pellets I use for accuracy testing.

The velocity remained in the 700s for a few shots, then slipped back through the 600s to the 500s again. By the time I had fired 16 shots, we were down to 523 f.p.s.; but I knew the velocity would drop even lower than that, so I switched to the next pellet.

Next up were RWS Hobbys. They started out at 558 f.p.s. and dropped to 523 f.p.s. by the tenth shot, but the average for the string was a healthy 552 f.p.s. I suspect that number is a bit high, but it’s close to the real velocity with this lightweight pellet. Accepting it as fact gives us an average muzzle energy of 4.74 foot-pounds.

Like the Premier, these Hobbys also fit the bore tightly. They will be tested for accuracy, as well.

One nice thing about Hobbys is that they force a lot of dieseling for some reason. Perhaps, it’s due to their lightness, but I often find they’ll burn off excess lubricant when a gun has just been tuned.

The next pellet I tried was the Air Arms Falcon dome. These pellets fit the bore loosely, and I don’t have a lot of hope for their accuracy potential. They averaged 512 f.p.s., which seemed close to the real velocity. The range went from 500 to 529, so the rifle is definitely becoming more stable. At the average velocity, they generated 4.25 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Back to the Premiers
The rifle seemed to have settled down by this time, so I tried chronographing the Crosman Premiers once more. This time they were very stable at an average 464 f.p.s. The range went from 462 to 466 f.p.s., so the rifle seems to have settled in — at least as much as it’s going to for now. A crude spring rifle like this always needs about a thousand shots through it to fully break in and start performing the way it was meant to, but I doubt the velocity will change by more than 20-30 f.p.s.

At this velocity, the rifle generates an average 3.78 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. While that seems low, remember that spring guns do favor lighter pellets, and this one will probably follow that trend very closely.

So, how do I like the TS-45 so far? Well, I see a lot of pellet rifles over the course of a year, and this one isn’t the best that I’ve seen. It isn’t even in the top half. But it also isn’t at the bottom of the list. I’ve tested guns with a lot more power that I liked less than this one. If it weren’t so dangerous, this might be a nice little plinker.

The accuracy test is next, and those results will be very telling.

New-old-stock TS-45 air rifles!: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

This TS-45 rifle is probably at least 30 years old, yet also brand new.

At every airgun show there’s always one or two special things that show up. At the 2012 Arkansas show this year, one of those things was a pile of new-old-stock Chinese TS-45 sidelever air rifles. Randy Mitchell had found a pallet of these vintage guns and was selling them for $20! Now, I’m as cheap as any airgunner, but a twenty-dollar spring rifle in new condition is more than even my frugal nature can ignore.

Yes, we’ve already looked at the TS-45 in this blog. Most recently, Vince gave us a look at two slightly different variations of that model — one of which was a rifle I bought at the Little Rock airgun expo many years ago from the late Paul Landrith, a well-known airgun repairman from Arlington, Texas. It was about 15 years ago, and Paul had several TS-45s on his table.

I was writing The Airgun Letter at the time and bought most of the airguns that I tested. I’d stayed away from the Chinese springers as long as I could, but the insistent battle cry of, “Real wood and steel for just a few dollars” finally overcame my resistance, so I started testing them. I did it mostly to poke my fingers in the eyes of everyone who had asked me to test Chinese airguns; but the more I ranted about their obvious shortcomings, the more my readers agreed with me. “Yes, they’re horrible! Don’t you just love them?” It was like attending a convention of bathtub Saab 96 owners. “They’re not supposed to start every time!”

Back to my story, I was at Malvern and saw a rack of TS-45s and immediately thought of Paul Landrith and the old Little Rock show so many years before. Paul warned me that the gun I bought from him was one of those that had amputated a few thumbs during loading, and I was never to trust the anti-beartrap mechanism. Always restrain the sidelever positively, he made me promise before selling the rifle. I always did. When I sent it to Vince, I told him the same thing.

Randy Mitchell was selling piles of these new-old-stock TS-45 sidelevers at the Arkansas airgun show.

And here was another cache of new-old-stock TS-45s, at the show that succeeded the Little Rock show. The clincher came when Randy Mitchel said to me, “These rifles remind me of Paul Landrith!” Apparently, there are many airgunners who dealt with the kindly man and remember him fondly.

So, I bought the gun, more as a reminder of the past than as an airgun project. But after examining my new-old rifle and comparing it to the two in Vince’s report, I see that this is a third variation. It resembles Vince’s beloved “Pointy” more than the other rifle he also tested, but it has small differences. What the heck; this one might shoot as well as Pointy, too, and then wouldn’t I be happy?

The rifle I’m testing for you is a .177-caliber sidelever spring-piston air rifle. From comparison with Vince’s rifle, I would have to say this one might be the earlier model — or as Vince guesses, another one made for export. Since the only writing visible on this rifle says MADE IN CHINA, plus the numbers on the rear sight, I’m inclined to go with the export-model theory. This rifle lacks any Chinese characters or the mountain logo found on the other two rifles on which Vince reported.

Randy has stripped this rifle and lubricated it with the correct grease. He also removed the anti-beartrap device parts from some of the actions, and I got to choose if I wanted them in the gun I bought. Since they’re notorious for failing, I elected to get the rifle without the anti-beartrap, and I’ll be restraining the cocking lever every time I load. That’s how I always did it with my other TS-45, and that’s what I advise all owners to do, as well.

To safely restrain the sidelever during cocking, tuck the sidelever behind your arm, as shown in the photo below. Never put your fingers into the loading port unless the sidelever is restrained this way. If the gun were to slip off safety, the lever would smack into your arm. It would hurt, but your arm would stop it from allowing the sliding compression chamber to cut off your fingers.

The sidelever is safely restrained by my right arm. My right thumb is loading a pellet into the breech. If the sear slips, my arm will stop the lever and the sliding compression chamber from closing on my thumb.

The TS-45 is a vintage airgun made in China and does not have the same safety mechanisms found in similar spring-piston air rifles made today. If you fail to restrain the cocking sidelever while loading, as the photo shows, the gun can slip off its sear and send the sliding compression chamber forward with enough force to amputate your fingers during loading. This is a known fault of these rifles that’s easily addressed by this safe loading procedure.

I know that most of our readers are careful shooters who pay attention to warnings like this, but I’ve also witnessed enough people who act before thinking. I feel it’s necessary to emphasize this warning. It’s the same kind of warning as not loading a muzzleloading rifle with the muzzle pointing at your head. It makes perfect sense; and if you follow it, you won’t have a bad accident. But there is danger, and you need to be informed.

The rifle
This is a single-shot rifle that’s a whisker shy of 40 inches long. It weighs 7 lbs. on the nose. The barrel is 18 inches long and is fixed in the frame. The pull (length from the center of the butt to the center of the trigger blade) is 12-5/8 inches, which is short for an adult.

The metal has not been finished in any detectible way beyond tumbling with a black oxide finish, so the least critical description is a matte black finish. But there are a couple scuffs and scrapes that show this rifle in no way received any special handling at the factory. The finish is 100 percent, however, as befits a new gun, though not all Chinese airguns of this era have that.

The stock is a single piece of blond pallet-grade hardwood. It has been shaped on an industrial sander and has a smooth outer surface that’s covered with a clear synthetic finish. The internal inletting was done by a rabid beaver and resembles the rough sort of folk carving an Appalachian woodsman might do with a dull hatchet. The butt is protected by a blackened steel plate that’s larger than the wood and is one of just two metal parts on the gun that have a smooth finish. Apparently, the punch press is kept fairly clean of metal chips. The other shiny part is the end cap that houses the sidelever pivot point. It shows signs of being hand-finished.

The sights are a hooded round post in the front and a rear ramp that’s adjustable for elevation, only. It has the button lock that Vince likes on his Pointy rifle, but the rear notch is laid back unlike any other other TS-45 I have seen. The rear notch is U-shaped and very well-sized to the front post. I’ll be able to take good aim with these sights.

The front sight is typical of a Chinese post sight, like the one found on an SKS rifle.

The rear sight adjusts for elevation but not windage. The rear notch slants backwards more than others I’ve seen. Notice the sidelever latch lock that takes so much pressure to unlock! read more

Single mom teaches children to shoot – Part 6

Single mom teaches children to shoot – Part 6

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Well, today mom is going to start the kids shooting actual pellet guns. We did that in Part 4, but in Part 5 we got back to the schoolroom training again, so I’m going to pretend that the kids haven’t touched off a shot yet.

She decided on the Daisy 953 for her boys and each boy has his own rifle, so the sights can be left set where he needs them. She bought the separate Daisy 5899 receiver sight for each rifle, figuring that if the boys wanted to go farther with this she could always upgrade.

Since mom is by herself, she will let one boy at a time shoot, while the other boy stands behind the line and helps her. This will make the sessions last longer, but the benefit will be a more rapid development of responsibility in both boys. That’s because the non-shooting boy will have to learn to subordinate his thoughts and desires (and his talking) while his brother shoots. If mom can’t get cooperation like that, she can always end the session early.

These are seven-year-old boys (referring back to Part 1), which is a little young for this, but each parent will have to decide that for themselves. Children mature at different rates, and I can’t set an absolute limit; however, we’re on the young side of formal training. That’s not to say a parent can’t have a lot of fun with kids much younger than this; but in that case, the parent is in complete control all the time. In the formal teaching scenario, we start putting trust in the children.

Since these boys are so young, we’ll let them rest their rifles on a rest while they shoot. Maybe next year, they’ll be able to try some prone shots, but right now everything is off a rest. Mom will probably have to pump the rifle for them. That 20 lbs. of single-stroke pumping effort is a bit much for kids this young to handle.

Step one for each boy in turn will be to sight in his rifle. We will have them take three shots at the top sighter bull of an NRA-sanctioned AR 5/10 12-bull target. (They can also use the Birchwood Casey sight-in target.) Then, we’ll call a cold line and mom and both boys will go downrange to look at the target. They’ll decide where the center of the three-shot group is, then return to the firing line; and the shooter, once permission is given by mom, will adjust the rear sight to move the group to the center of the bull. Mom will call the range hot again, and the shooter will fire three more shots at the same bull. Next, she’ll call the range cold, and once, again, all three people will go downrange to the target.

If the sight corrections were applied correctly (i.e., moving the rear sight in the direction we want the center of the group to move), the second group should be closer to the center of the bull. If it isn’t, the sights may have some slack that needs to be taken up. In other words, the sight needs to be adjusted farther than indicated by how much the group needs to move. The shooter should be recording this in a small notebook that he keeps with his rifle.

If the group has moved in the wrong direction, the shooter will record that and write instructions in front of his notebook on how to adjust the rear sight to move the shot group correctly. With 7-year-old shooters, mom will probably have to help a lot with this. The other boy is watching everything his brother is doing, so when it’s his turn he won’t have to learn all this again. Then, the line goes hot and three more shots.

This is kept up until the group seems centered on the 10-ring, which (on this target) is a tiny dot about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. If the top bull gets shot up, shift to the lower sight-in bull and continue until the rifle is sighted in. Then the shooters will switch and the other boy will sight in his rifle in the same way. Sighting in two rifles this way will probably take at least an hour. When the second rifle is done, the session will end. Hopefully, both boys will have some impression of the trigger by the time they’ve fired 12-20 shots through their rifles.

The next time they have a training session, the first thing each shooter will do is confirm their zero with the top sighting bull. If mom wants to speed the session along, she can put a telescope or a pair of binoculars at the firing line so the shooter can see his target without going forward. In competition, each shooter will have a spotting scope at his or her position and will adjust it every time they change shooting positions. For now, we don’t need to be that formal.

Single mom teaches children to shoot – Part 5

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Despite the title of this report, it’s actually written for anyone who’s trying to teach a new shooter, child or adult how to shoot. The age of the shooter is unimportant. The first four parts of this report have dealt with setting up the range, class discipline and how to conduct a shooting class. Today, we’ll get to the actual teaching.

The triangulation system
When I was a youngster, my mother enrolled me in an NRA-run course that taught me how to shoot. This was in the late 1950s, and the techniques used to teach us back then were those that had been popular both before and during World War II. I’ve researched both the modern U.S. Army and Marine Corps marksmanship syllabi and find that what I’m about to show you is, unfortunately, no longer taught — but it should be! Today’s lesson could turn out to be the most valuable teaching technique for training new shooters that you ever learn.

We’re going to teach the new shooter how to use sights through a method called triangulation. Although we’ll be using aperture sights, which are the easiest to learn and the most precise to use, any type of non-optical sight may be taught by this method. Read the entire report before asking any questions. This method will immediately reveal whether a student understands how to use sights, plus it will show the student’s level of skill in sighting — all without the use of a rifle.

Making a triangulation sighting bar
You can make a simple training aid to teach the student how to use the sights. It consists of a straight bar with open “sights” on each end. An 18″ strip of wood will suffice for the bar, and you can fashion the “sights” from paper index cards. If you’re the coach of a shooting club and plan to teach a lot of kids, it might be worth the effort to mount real sights to the bar, though that isn’t necessary. Simple card-stock sights taped to the bar as shown in the drawings will work great. If you cannot find a piece of wood to use for the bar, a long ruler works well as a substitute. The dimensions of this training aid are not precise and critical, as long as it’s made reasonably close to what’s described here.

Poke a small hole through the rear “sight” for the student to peer through. The front “sight” is just a square post. Fasten both front and rear sights so they cannot move during the exercise, as repeatability is important. Place the sighting bar on a box so the student can use the sights without touching or moving them.

The instructor stands or sits 33 feet away and holds a black bullseye target against a large white piece of paper that’s attached to a wall or a large box. In the center of the black bullseye, a small hole has been made for a lead pencil to poke through to mark on the white background paper.

Conduct of the exercise
The student looks through the sighting bar and tells the instructor how to move the bullseye target until it’s positioned perfectly against his sights for a 6 o’clock hold. It’s important that the sighting bar does not move during the exercise — only the target, as adjusted by the instructor. When the sight picture looks right, the student tells the instructor to mark the target and the instructor makes a mark on the white background paper by pressing his pencil through the hole in the center of the target.

Repeat this exercise three times and there will be three pencil marks on the white background paper. The closer these marks are to each other, the better the student has adjusted his sights. This gives both the student and the instructor an excellent idea of how well the student understands the sight picture.

The results you want
What you are looking for is three dots on the background paper in the form of a triangle. A good result is if the dots are all within one inch of each other. Don’t be surprised if they are within one-half-inch of each other. The closer they are, the better and more precise the student is seeing the sight picture.

But if the dots are several inches apart, the student is not yet seeing the sight picture correctly. They may not understand all that is required of them in the exercise, or they may not appreciate the precision they are expected to achieve. Also, this could be an indication of a vision problem. Once you determine the problem(s), you can run the exercise again until they get it right. When the student can place three dots close to each other, they will instinctively know how the rifle sights should look, and you can rule that out as a problem area.

A simpler, faster way to begin
You can avoid making the sighting bar if you want to by simply using the rifle itself. Simply rest it so the student can see through the sights without touching or moving the rifle. This will be more difficult because of the stock, which is why the bar was created, but it is possible. However, many people don’t like the idea of being downrange with a rifle pointed at them, and the sighting bar makes it unnecessary. I think the sighting bar is a much better training aid that takes only a few minutes to create.

Style of the sights doesn’t matter
Don’t worry if your rifle’s sights don’t look like the sights I’ve shown here. You can make them any kind of style you desire. Just cut them out of card stock and color them black to help the student define the sight picture. If you plan to use open sights with a rear notch, be sure to allow enough room behind the rear sight so it appears reasonably sharp to the student when aligned with the front sight. And remember to tell the student that the front sight is what they must focus on. Both the rear sight and the target will appear slightly out of focus when they sight correctly.

I have wanted to share this technique with my readers for years, but I always held back because I felt it might be too difficult to follow. I hope this report has made it clear and that this exercise helps your students learn how to use open sights as it once helped me. One week after completing this exercise successfully, I was shooting five-shot, dime-sized groups at 50 feet from the prone position, which was the first position the NRA taught.