Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

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Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by mikemyers on 8/2/2017, 9:27 am

I've really gotten spoiled by the Matchdot II sight on my Model 41.  It is so easy to tell where the gun is aimed.  Yesterday I went back to the range with my Les Baer 45.  To improve accuracy, the sights have a very narrow slit between front and back as you hold the gun in front of you. It's great for aiming, but the black sights on a black target makes it difficult.  One option would be to paint (or use fingernail polish?) on the sights.  Or, to just learn how to deal with it.  I was wondering last night if people in Bullseye typically color the sights (white?  red?  yellow?) or leave it as-is until they're eventually comfortable with it.

I was wrong when I thought that learning how to shoot a .22 would help me shoot better with a .45.  The .45 exaggerated everything I was struggling with on the .22.  On the other hand, because of working exclusively with the .22, I was able to identify things that I was doing wrong using the .45, and get them under control.  At least that's what I thought until I put up a solid black B-8 target.  That's what led to the question up above.

(Not sure if it's legal or not, but when I put the B-8 targets up in my match a few days ago, I put a round piece of tan colored tape over the X ring, so I would have something easier to see to aim at with the red dot.  Since tape is used to cover holes between rounds, I figured it was not breaking any rules.)
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by robert84010 on 8/2/2017, 9:50 am

That is why a lot people shoot a sub six o'clock hold, especially when starting out. Sometimes called a small line of white. That allows you to see the front sight tip clearly, it also reduces the sight picture movement since you are not trying to hold inside the tiny black ball.
I moved to a six o'clock hold after my hold got tighter and my trigger control improved but went back to sub six when I started over after time to get my rifle distinguished badge. I should have never stopped pistol completely, it is a rough road starting over knowing where I used to be.

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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by jmdavis on 8/2/2017, 9:52 am

I will offer you several solutions and then tell you what I would do. 

1. You could paint the front sight. But I still think that you will have problems with sight alignment. 

2. You could paint the top of the slide directly in front of the front sight (from the shooters perspective) to reflect light back onto the sight. This works best with an undercut sight. I think that you will still have problems with sight alignment. 

3. You can open up the rear notch so that you can reliably center the front sight and have good sight alignment. With 73 year old eyes, even with perfect correction, I believe that you will have trouble aligning the sights with the "narrow" rear notch. It's physiology and we can either accept the limitation and work around it or try to ignore it. I do not believe that a narrow rear sight is more accurate. 

Now my actual advice and what I did last year. I opened (or had the gunsmith open) the rear notch on my Bomar by .010 on each side (.020). This gave me space to reliably align the sights and helps with tired eyes. I noted that Brian Zins Ball Gun had white paint in front of the sight to reflect the light. I tested this for myself with a white label maker sticker. It worked and it helps. I also put a scratch on the front sight and have glasses that let me reliably focus on the front sight. If the scratch is in focus, life is good. If you decide to widen the rear notch yourself you will want a "safe" file to prevent increasing the depth of the notch as well as its width. 

You cannot put anything on the target to help in matches.


Last edited by jmdavis on 8/2/2017, 9:53 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by Tim:H11 on 8/2/2017, 9:53 am

First of all - yup! I think you can't put something on the target to use as an aiming point. Not sure - will have to check the rules but I believe it's wrong. That's why there are two colors for pastors. Black and Tan. 

And your black sights are blending in with the target - my guess - is because you're aiming dead on. Typically in Precision Pistol with iron sights, we use what's called a "six o'clock hold". You're not required to. You can aim where ever you like and however you shoot best. But what's easiest is to aim at the base of the black. Try holding an equal amount of "light" or "white" both the sides of your front sight and top of your front sight - that is between the top of your front sight and the bottom of the black of the target. 

I'm sure more responses will follow here.
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by mikemyers on 8/2/2017, 10:18 am

I remember using a 6-o'clock hold years ago, and it worked great.  With a B-8 target, with a bull around 8" in diameter, I'm not sure if that is a good idea, and it will certainly confuse my brain when I'm going back and forth between steel sights and the red dot.

I had a pair of shooting glasses made with a prescription for the distance of my front sight on a 45; prescription was correct, but the lens was not.  The front sight is too close, at least on my 45.  It's fine for my M-41 with the steel sights.  I'll get a new lens made.  (I can see the front sight perfectly using my regular Progressive Glasses, but they were not made with polycarbonate material, so my shooting glasses which were, sounds like a better idea.)

I will try the white tape in "front" of the front sight, to see if it reflects light up onto the sight.  That's an easy thing to try.  Thanks!!!
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by mikemyers on 8/2/2017, 10:23 am

Tim:H11 wrote:First of all - yup! I think you can't put something on the target to use as an aiming point. Not sure - will have to check the rules but I believe it's wrong. That's why there are two colors for pastors. Black and Tan. 

And your black sights are blending in with the target - my guess - is because you're aiming dead on. Typically in Precision Pistol with iron sights, we use what's called a "six o'clock hold". You're not required to. You can aim where ever you like and however you shoot best. But what's easiest is to aim at the base of the black. Try holding an equal amount of "light" or "white" both the sides of your front sight and top of your front sight - that is between the top of your front sight and the bottom of the black of the target. 

I'm sure more responses will follow here.
Tim, I'm curious about the tape.  Yep, I have black and tan tape.  I haven't seen any rule yet that says which and when they can be used, but what you write is logical.  (For me, I'm still learning.  I usually shoot at a 1.5" bull during practice.  I guess I need to start using B-8 targets...)
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by Jon Eulette on 8/2/2017, 10:57 am

Older eyes need wider rear sight notch. Shooting at 1.5" target will lead to you looking at the target instead of front sight. 6 o'clock hold is typically best for older eyes. KISS principle is best! Don't put anything on target to aim at. Just use 200 gr lswc and shoot an X on first shot; it'll give you something to aim at with red dot ;l)
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by mikemyers on 8/2/2017, 11:17 am

Jon, maybe I'm not understanding this correctly, but for me, looking "at" the front sight isn't the most important thing.  As I see it, having an equal space on either side of the front sight, as boxed in by the rear sight, is far more important.   If my front sight is 1/4" off from the target, and everything else is perfect, my hole in the target will be 1/4" off center too.  But, with even the smallest difference in the gap between front sight and the two edges of the rear sights, the hole will be very far off, maybe a couple of inches.  

To exaggerate, if the gap between front sight and rear sight edges was 1/4", I would never know if the two spaces were equal.  The narrower the rear sight is, the easier it is for me to tell if they're equal.  Seems to me that it takes longer to get the LB sights lined up, but I can more easily tell when they're right.

The advice of a very wise person was for me to concentrate 100% on trigger pull, and leave everything else to my sub-conscious.  Keeping the sights lined up seems to be easier while not thinking about it when the gap is narrow.  

(This is easier to do on the blank white wall I often use for dry-fire practice, than in front of an 8" black bull.)
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by jmdavis on 8/2/2017, 11:33 am

Mike, 

The problem is that it is easier to lose alignment with a narrow sight than with a wider one. If there is ample space your eye will try to keep it centered. If not, it tends to get out of alignment more often. 

With the 45 the difference between aligned and unaligned can be 10's of points. But you still need to focus on the front sight, not the target.
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by STEVE SAMELAK on 8/2/2017, 11:40 am

As far as I know (which aint much) you are not allowed to mark or deface the front of the target in anyway besides shooting it.
Last year at Perry I watched a shooter get warned after he "accidentally" drop the low left corner of his target in the mud for the third time.
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by Jon Eulette on 8/2/2017, 11:41 am

Sight alignment dry firing blank wall teaches sight alignment and continuous trigger squeeze to execute good shot. Sight picture (addition of target) is really no different. Focus on the sight alignment and aim at 6 o'clock on target. Accept wobble/movement and execute shot as if no target. In otherwords don't look at the target! You can have gross error in sight picture but if sight slignment and trigger squeeze is good you will still shoot 10's. Don't over think it.
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by mikemyers on 8/2/2017, 11:42 am

I will try out what you're suggesting the next time I go to the range.   As to what's in focus, thanks to my cataract surgery and my new glasses, I can't focus on the target even if I want to.  My focus is 'fixed' about an inch past the front sight, which will be corrected.  The target has always been a 'blur', and concentrating on the gap seemed to improve my accuracy.  

Sorry, I've been using the wrong wording.  Yes, "aligned" vs. "un-aligned" is what I was trying to describe.  I'll use the better wording from now on, and yes, a tiny difference there can create a huge difference on the target.  

"Losing the alignment" is something I never thought about.  Maintaining the alignment seems easier to me with the narrow gap.  Maybe it's just the way my brain interprets all this stuff.
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by Jack H on 8/2/2017, 11:57 am

Focus hard on the front sight and stay there throughout.
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by Tim:H11 on 8/2/2017, 12:13 pm

mikemyers wrote:
Tim:H11 wrote:First of all - yup! I think you can't put something on the target to use as an aiming point. Not sure - will have to check the rules but I believe it's wrong. That's why there are two colors for pastors. Black and Tan. 

And your black sights are blending in with the target - my guess - is because you're aiming dead on. Typically in Precision Pistol with iron sights, we use what's called a "six o'clock hold". You're not required to. You can aim where ever you like and however you shoot best. But what's easiest is to aim at the base of the black. Try holding an equal amount of "light" or "white" both the sides of your front sight and top of your front sight - that is between the top of your front sight and the bottom of the black of the target. 

I'm sure more responses will follow here.
Tim, I'm curious about the tape.  Yep, I have black and tan tape.  I haven't seen any rule yet that says which and when they can be used, but what you write is logical.  (For me, I'm still learning.  I usually shoot at a 1.5" bull during practice.  I guess I need to start using B-8 targets...)

Well black tape really isn't needed in a match because when we go forward to score and repair the target it's with a new target center which covers the black. So in a match only tan tape is needed. Black tap can be used during practice if you're trying to save on targets. If shooting at a distance of 25 yards then yes you should practice using the B8 targets. That is if you're trying to practice to shoot bullseye. The B16 is for slow fire short course matches. Practice with it if you'd like to shoot a short course match some time. It can be rough target but fun. I would not however use it for timed and rapid fire practice since the black is slightly smaller I think than a B8.
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by gregbenner on 8/2/2017, 12:59 pm

robert84010 wrote:That is why a lot people shoot a sub six o'clock hold, especially when starting out. Sometimes called a small line of white. That allows you to see the front sight tip clearly, it also reduces the sight picture movement since you are not trying to hold inside the tiny black ball.
I moved to a six o'clock hold after my hold got tighter and my trigger control improved but went back to sub six when I started over after time to get my rifle distinguished badge. I should have never stopped pistol completely, it is a rough road starting over knowing where I used to be


Mike, I have exactly the same issue as you.  I also have adjusted the sight to sub 6:0clock, so there is a thin line of white.  As long as you use the same type target (in my case the B8) it works great.

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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by dronning on 8/2/2017, 1:23 pm

Perfect GAP size.  
This came from AP world and a study done on sight GAP size.  Seems that the perfect GAP size is to have the same width on both sides to be the same as the front sight blade, as it appears when aiming at the target of course.  This all goes back to your subconscious wanting to see things that make sense and the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 picture makes your subconscious happy. Next best is 1/2 the width of the blade. That would be 1/4, 1/2, 1/4.

They also said that if you use a sub 6 hold the gap below the target should match the gap on the side of your sight, again it makes your subconscious happy.  Of course as with anything your results may vary.  

Hope this makes sense.
- Dave 

I opened up the rear notch on my 22 and it made a big difference.


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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by LenV on 8/2/2017, 2:53 pm

I guess I get to give the minority report. First let me say that not only can you not put a white sticker in the center of the target you can not use any targets that have anything but a black center (they make the same size target with red or orange centers). Second, I have known my entire shooting career that I should shoot 6 or sub 6 hold with iron sights but I just can't do it. I find myself drifting back to center during sustained fire and gave up years ago trying. If you focus on the front sight. Really focus on it then you will not lose it in the black background. The bull is just something blurry behind the front sight. That's my .02.

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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by mikemyers on 8/2/2017, 3:29 pm

gregbenner wrote:
.....As long as you use the same type target (in my case the B8) it works great.

Er, that's already an impossibility for me.  I shoot at maybe a dozen different targets, and would be shooting at other things if the range allowed it.  Then there are the steel plates hanging at the end of the range, that you can shoot at.

My NRA targets are whatever is handy.  I used to practice at 15 yards, but have now changed (for the 22) to 25 yards.  My home made printed targets have some kind of bull, usually with a white circle in the middle, and a grid superimposed over the target with one inch spacing, so I can continue to calculate the CEP should I want to.  Read this link and you'll see how useful that is:
http://www.ctmuzzleloaders.com/ctml_experiments/accuracy/accuracy.html

Hmm, interesting thought - Perfect Gap Size.  I'll try to measure the Les Baer, and see what the dimensions are, while viewing the gun with my eye 24" from the front sight.
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by mikemyers on 8/2/2017, 4:09 pm

OK, width of front sight:  0.133
Spacing of opening in rear sight:  0.11

I held out the gun at something close to the distance I shoot at, while holding a camera in front of my right eye, guessing where to put things to get both the front and rear sight in the picture.  It's hard to do.  This is close to what I see when I hold the gun in front of me.  Looking back and forth between the gun held out at shooting distance, and this photo, I can't see a difference.  (Photo has been lightened to show the serrations on the rear sight.)

It's close to 1/4, 1/2, 1/4

...and just to repeat, my problem isn't seeing the gaps well enough to keep them equal, it's seeing the gaps at all.  When everything is black, I was struggling to keep them equal only because of the color black.  Shooting at a white target is no problem.



Last edited by mikemyers on 8/2/2017, 4:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by jmdavis on 8/2/2017, 4:14 pm

To get 1:2:1 with the 45, I think that you need a wider notch. Mine is wider than the front sight. I will remeasure tonight. I did the same thing to my High Standard.
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by oldsalt444 on 8/2/2017, 7:56 pm

Ah yes, aging eyes and iron sights.  What has helped me is a Merit optical device.  Using that, you can actually clearly see the front sight, rear sight AND the target.  Otherwise impossible for the best of human eyes.  But I only use it for the long line.  I still use a 6 or sub 6 hold.
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by mikemyers on 8/2/2017, 9:16 pm

I never heard of this, so did some searching:
    https://www.meritcorporation.com/how_they_work.html

I think that's for a different issue than what I've been asking about.  With iron sights, I have no desire to see the front and rear sight, and the target sharply.  Now that I know the right wording, I just want the correct sight alignment, which means seeing the front sight clearly.  If everything else is a blur, that's fine.

For that matter, with the red dot sight, some people say to focus on the target.  Others to focus on the dot.  I've been trying to "watch" the dot, but I've been forcing my brain to spend all of its time on the trigger.  



What I (think I have) learned so far, is that if I get the correct sight alignment, and if I don't mess it up while working the trigger, everything should be fine.  If the sights are aligned correctly, and if moving the trigger doesn't disturb the gun, I will be shooting to the best of my ability.

I'll add one more comment as a response here - hope everyone doesn't laugh at it too much.   :-)
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by mikemyers on 8/2/2017, 9:34 pm

The following sort of goes along with what I'm already asking, but I can only notice it with a red dot sight.  With iron sights, I can't notice it (yet).



When I first started using a red dot sight, the durn thing acted like it was drunk, moving all over the place in no pattern, just totally unstable.  Over time, the more I dry fired, the less the dot moved around.  It's been about a month now, and lately the dot has gotten to where it is almost stable, mostly staying in one location.  But, looking at it closely, it's always in motion.  It's not moving very far, but it is very hard to stabilize that last bit of motion.  What surprised me is that there seems to be a pattern to that motion.  It gets "better", then "worse", in a regular pattern. 


I typically dry fire for one minute, then rest for two minutes.  While resting, with not much else to do, I've been watching reflections in my watch, and on the glass face of my mobile phone.  There is always a way the reflection is stable for a brief time, then "wiggles", then goes stable again.  I've been trying to stop it from doing that, as I figure that's the same nervous problem that is interfering with my red dot.


Today, it hit me.  The timing of the "vibration" in the reflection matches the timing of the "vibration" of my red dot.  After timing it, it's pretty much the same as my pulse rate!  Coincidence??

If I'm not totally going off into the twilight zone here, I would speculate that strange as it seems, my heartbeat is affecting the stability of my body, and anything attached to my body (watch, phone, gun).  That led me to wondering if I could time my trigger to fire in tune with my heartbeat...    Wishful thinking - at some point in my shooting career, maybe that would eventually help.


My goal was to get accurate enough that if I was shooting at 15 yards, all my shots would be in a 2" grouping.  Since I'm dry firing, to achieve that goal, I needed to make a 1/2" diameter bullseye, and paste it on a wall around 12 feet away from me.  If my math is right, and if the red dot is now bouncing around within a 1/2" target on my wall, I would be achieving my two inch grouping at the range.


.....which now leads me to consider that since this "vibration" (not sure what to call it) might be causing the red dot to "vibrate" within half the size of my 1/2" target, my heartbeat alone would mathematically limit my accuracy with this gun to a 1" grouping.  


There will never be anything I can do to reduce what I've called a "vibration".  I prefer that my heart continue to beat, thank you.  If anything I am writing now makes sense, it maybe means that those world champion shooters who can put one hole on top of another either have found a way to shoot in-between their heartbeats, or a way to prevent the heartbeat from affecting the way their gun moves.  


All of this is just speculation.  My only real goal right now is to improve my shooting, not to do the "impossible".  Still, I'm interested in all these things, and I enjoy learning things even if I'm not able to achieve them.

(Someone can delete this response, if it's not worth considering.....)

Or, you can all hold out your watch or mobile phone in front of you, look at the reflection of a ceiling light, and see if you too can notice it "vibrate" to some rhythm.  Maybe it's just me.....



.....and added later, I am sure the exact same thing is happening with iron sights, but I've never noticed it.  The red dot is so sensitive, and clear to see, that I've been wondering about it for the past four weeks, if not longer.  With my iron sights, I get movement, but it's not the same thing.  The movement I notice, is improving, but slowly.  The red dot shows both - the "vibration", or whatever it is, and also any movement from my inability to hold the gun steady.  The two add together, but they're not the same thing.


Last edited by mikemyers on 8/2/2017, 10:08 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added a note at the end that I'm sure this is happening with all my guns, and all my sights, but I've only been able to notice it once I started paying attention to the red dot.)
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by Chris Miceli on 8/2/2017, 9:56 pm

jmdavis wrote:To get 1:2:1 with the 45, I think that you need a wider notch. Mine is wider than the front sight. I will remeasure tonight. I did the same thing to my High Standard.
I prefer a wider rear notch, I hold center mostly(pending on the range lighting) but I don't want a thin front sight. I also like a deep sight notch
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Re: Iron sights blend into a black bullseye

Post by Rob Kovach on 8/3/2017, 7:44 am

MikeMyers,

In one of the comments above you said that there is no problem for you seeing the sights when aiming in the white. 

My advice is for you to do just that.

Switch your aiming point to be a point halfway between the bottom of the black and the bottom of the target.  Just dial enough up clicks on your sight to make the rounds hit the middle of the black.  This is called "sub-six" hold and is very effective.

Dryfire the same way.

Oh, and making sure your vision isn't anywhere other than the front sight is very important.  You can perceive that you have everything aligned perfectly, but if your vision was at the rear sight, or the target, or anywhere other than the front sight--even though you thought everything was lined up when the shot broke--the shot will be more askew than if you were on the front sight and your alignment was a little off.  Your brain will still try to keep everything aligned as best you can even if you aren't looking to see where the rear sight is.
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