One of the primary ingredients of good marksmanship is proper sight alignment. You can’t hit your target if you’re not aiming properly. It’s really that simple. Sight alignment is crucial.
The first thing I do in my marksmanship classes is test for eye dominance. If you’re a right-handed shooter, you should be right-eye dominant. You want your right eye to remain open when you shoot. But there are some people who are right-handed and left-eye dominant.
How can you tell? Point at something with your strong hand (right if you’re a righty, left if you’re a lefty) and at the same time close one of your eyes. If you pointed your right hand and closed your right eye, you are cross eye dominant — and that’s the first thing we need to fix. It’s as simply as buying an eye patch and wearing it over your opposite eye when shooting or practicing. (There will probably be pirate jokes, but hey — that’s life.)
There are three things that go into proper sight alignment: Your rear sight, your front sight and your target. When you aim a gun, all of them are different distances from your eyes, and your eyes can only focus at one distance at a time. Some people will change their focus between the sights and the target, and they just end up fighting themselves.
Your front sight is the important one, so focus on that. Your rear sight will appear slightly blurry and your target will be slightly blurry but you will be able to make them out. Your front sight should be crystal clear.
This can be a pain if you wear bifocals, as the sights may line up around that transition line. My wife has this problem, and we’ve learned to accommodate for it. Simply dropping the glasses on your nose a tad will bring them into the normal lens, or wear non-bifocal glasses.
Now you want to be sure that the front sight is in the center of the rear sight. You also want to make sure that it is level across the top. If the front sight is sitting low or high in the rear sight, you’re going to miss. Some sights have three dots, two in the rear sight and one in the front sight. You want these dots to align perfectly straight.
Place your aligned sights in the middle of the bullseye. Now with a proper trigger pull, you should hit the bullseye — assuming your sights are properly adjusted, but that’s a whole other column. And so is proper trigger pull, which will probably be next.
Proper sight alignment is something you should be practicing even off the range. When you practice pulling your weapon from concealment or dry firing, you should make sure that you are getting proper sight alignment. You should also be practicing disengaging the safety, proper grip and smooth trigger pull.
Capt. Cayle Wills is a USCCA-certified firearms instructor and gunsmith at Higher Power Outfitters (1826 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda). Contact him at 941-916-4538 or Cayle@HigherPowerOutfitters.com.