Another way to look at choosing between steel sights and optics

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Another way to look at choosing between steel sights and optics Empty Another way to look at choosing between steel sights and optics

Post by mikemyers on 1/12/2020, 10:15 am

Because of an email discussion I've been involved in, the other person and I got to talking about what kind sight (steel or optics) might be better for a person.  I'll describe how I see things, and you guys can tear it apart and tell me what I'm missing.

When a person gets older, his eyes don't focus up close.  This means getting a clear view of the front sight is difficult.  There are many ideas in this forum as to how to help with this, but the bottom line is the shooter needs to get "something" if he wants to see the front sight clearly.

This same shooter could buy a red dot sight, so he might be seeing the target at 25 and 50 yards clearly, depending on his vision.  Obviously, some shooters are better at this than others - I've been told that Brian's sight is so good he can clearly see an X in the middle.

Anyway, one reason for getting a red dot sight, is one's inability to see the front sight clearly.


As I see it, the shooter has a choice.  He can go with the flow, get the red dot sight, and shoot to his best ability to see the red dot and the target (along with everything else he needs to do).  

An alternative, IF POSSIBLE, is to get a pair of prescription glasses that CLEARLY show the front sight.

(I should add here, that I've had cataract surgery, so my own eyes no longer focus, but I did three sets of glasses made, one for 24" (distance from eyeball to front sight for 2-hand shooting), 30" (distance from eyeball to front sight for 1-hand shooting), and "distance", where the dot and target will seem to be sharp.)


Back to me.  I'm obviously not a Brian, I don't have "eyes like an eagle", and while I can see the dot and target very well, my acuity is limited.  I just see a large black blob.  So, crudely speaking, I try to keep the dot in the middle of that blob.

This leads me to my other option - if I can, and do, see the front sight clearly, even with that little scratch we're supposed to put on it, all I need to do is align things correctly.  In my opinion, I can see this much better than I can see the dot and target.



To me, the idea that anyone older than 50 or so should go to optics, might or might not be valid, depending on the acuity with which the person can see the front sight, compared to the target/dot.  (As a test, I went to the range with my two S&W Model 52 guns, one with the stock sights, and one with optics.  I "knew" I would do better with the optics, but that wasn't the case.  Neither had any advantage over the other.  Now I think that it all depends on a person's eyesight at a front sight, or at a target.
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Post by Aprilian on 1/12/2020, 12:13 pm

I went to a clinic with a certain well respected shooter.   His opinion was that the dot gave more feedback when starting out dry firing.
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Post by james r chapman on 1/12/2020, 12:47 pm

IMHO
First the low power handgun scope,
The the Dot, allowed the shooter to see a clear picture of the target with normal, correctable vision.
The dot, or crosshairs, visually focused on the same plane.
The choice of focus on dot or target x resulted in identical results.

Iron sights, on the other hand, required near, clear, focus on the front sight. This might require corrected lenses that left the bull blurry. Also required a variety of aiming points on the target.
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Post by Mike38 on 1/12/2020, 12:47 pm

At age 60, I have first hand knowledge about iron sights being difficult. But I still use them. Corrective lenses cures that, for me anyhow. The reason I stay with iron sights? A dot sight, to me anyhow, amplifies my wobble zone, then my brain tries to tell my body to fight it. When you fight the wobble zone, it does nothing but get worse. I don't see the wobble zone with iron sights, or at least not as much. I know it's still there, but it doesn't affect me.
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Post by Ray Dash on 1/12/2020, 3:57 pm

I fought with going back and forth using a dot and open sights and feel for slow fire I shoot better with opens but I shoot better with a dot for timed and rapid. I have been learning to ignore what the dot is doing and just concentrate on getting a smooth trigger pull. I am starting to get better but I think it's going to take some time. This is my se ond season shooting bullseye and the challenge has been great.
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Post by Jack H on 1/12/2020, 4:00 pm

It's in a way frustrating not to have 20 year old eyes that can see the  texture on the back of the front sight, and stay focused on it for a long time.  Then box the sight in the center of the rear notch with the bull as the 4th side of the box.   And to be pressing the trigger at the same time.  And have a clear head.   It helps to have ideal environment, weather, lighting, and to be in good physical condition. 

Also helping was my coach those 50 years ago who did my thinking for me.  That really helped.  Coach Miller was my conscious telling me what to do.  That is just like today with no coach, your conscious tells the subconscious what to do, and then gets out of the way.  Like "No stinkin thinkin".

I still prefer irons as long as I keep 'performance' as my goal more than where the bullets hit.  I want to see in my sights that the shot just done was a good shot.  No more.  No less.
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Post by mikemyers on 1/12/2020, 10:52 pm

james r chapman wrote:.........Iron sights, on the other hand, required near, clear, focus on the front sight. This might require corrected lenses that left the bull blurry. Also required a variety of aiming points on the target.
I'm curious about something.  With my corrected glasses, the front sight is perfectly in focus, and all that's left is how much "acuity" my eyes have, to see all the details of that sight.  As you wrote, the bull is then blurry - but over the years I've constantly been told that the bull should be blurry, and I should make no effort to see the bull better.  People that shift their attention back and forth between front sight and bull will not shoot well.
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Post by james r chapman on 1/13/2020, 5:20 am

mikemyers wrote:
james r chapman wrote:.........Iron sights, on the other hand, required near, clear, focus on the front sight. This might require corrected lenses that left the bull blurry. Also required a variety of aiming points on the target.
I'm curious about something.  With my corrected glasses, the front sight is perfectly in focus, and all that's left is how much "acuity" my eyes have, to see all the details of that sight.  As you wrote, the bull is then blurry - but over the years I've constantly been told that the bull should be blurry, and I should make no effort to see the bull better.  People that shift their attention back and forth between front sight and bull will not shoot well.
Correct.
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Post by mikemyers on 1/13/2020, 9:58 pm

Jim, that's a big part of the discussion I was having with my friend, and there is no doubt that with open sights, when the front sight is perfectly sharp, the target will be blurry.  He pointed out to me that with dot sights, the target would be sharper.

There are a lot of posts here about how to make the target sharper.  I don't get it.  With open sights, suppose one of those gizmo's made the target just as sharp as the front sight.  Then shooters would be looking at a crystal-clear front sight, in front of a target that could also be crystal clear, were the shooter to focus on it.  ......but this is exactly what we've been told NOT to do, to ONLY stare at the front sight.

I think shooters have a different choice to make when they can no longer see a clear front sight:
a) switch to a red dot sight, so the target and do are clear, or 
b) get an appropriate pair of prescription shooting glasses, so the shooter can make (only) the front sight clear.
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Post by james r chapman on 1/14/2020, 5:19 am

Correct
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Post by -TT- on 1/14/2020, 5:40 am

With open sights, suppose one of those gizmo's made the target just as sharp as the front sight.

That Gizmo is called a red dot. It projects an optical illusion which puts the dot at infinity, like the target.

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Post by mikemyers on 1/15/2020, 12:49 am

Hmm, with open sights, the red dot doesn't in any way help, as it's a replacement. It's a choice, one or the other.

I was thinking of placing one of those disks with a small hole in the line of sight, which is in effect reducing the aperture, which gives more depth of field, which in turn makes the target appear sharper.  That likely means the eye is more likely to shift back and forth between front sight and target, which reduces accuracy.

On the other hand, if someone wants a sharp target, a red dot as you noted would probably be the best way.  For people with vision issues, who cannot see the front sight as they get older, the red dot sight may be their solution.

My point isn't to say open or dot sights are "better", only to say that the proper corrective lenses (polycarbonate, of course) level the playing field.    IMHO.
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Post by james r chapman on 1/15/2020, 4:43 am

Till the battery suddenly dies during your rapid fire string!
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Post by David R on 1/15/2020, 5:58 am

I used a Merrit Optical attachment for a long time.  The  when it was not bright, I could not get any definition.  I got out of bullseye and shot sporter rifle with a 14x scope at 50 feet.    A friend gave me an old propoint.  I mounted it on my 45 using a rear sight adapter plate.  I got back into bullseye.  I now shoot 2 matches a week year round.   Most of my guns have a red dot of some type.  My scores are better than ever but for more reasons than the red dot.  I am 59.

I had a pair of prescription glasses made so I could see the front sight.  I could not walk with them on it made me dizzy.  The target was noting but a blur.

The decision was made for me.
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Post by mikemyers on 1/15/2020, 6:47 am

David, I'm curious, two quick questions, first, did you have cataract surgery, and second do or did you have astigmatism?  A third question, the prescription glasses that were made for you - did they only correct for distance, or did they correct for other issues?

(After shooting, I remove my shooting glasses and put my regular glasses back on.)
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Post by David R on 1/15/2020, 11:23 am

1. No
2. Yes
3. Made for my prescription without bifocals.   I had them focused on my fingertip with my arm full extended.    Front sight is sharp as can be.  
I can tip my head with progressive lenses for a pretty good sight picture.  Much better than the special made shooting glasses.

Red dots are not always round.   I can deal with that.

4 of my guns are milled for a red dot.

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Post by mikemyers on 1/15/2020, 2:12 pm

If I understand you correctly, you had a special made pair of shooting glasses made for you, for the distance to the front sight.  Since you say the front sight is perfect, can I assume the glasses they made for you correct for astigmatism?

So, since you're doing what I think might be just as good as, and maybe better than, using a red dot sight, which do you shoot better with, the open sights, or the red dot, and why?


Curious, when you're shooting with the red dot, is that with the progressive lenses  you mention, or with a pair of shooting glasses, presumably corrected for distance and astigmatism?
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Post by David R on 1/15/2020, 2:20 pm

I can’t shoot with irons because I can’t see them.

I shoot with dot sights wearing my everyday progressive lenses.

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Post by mikemyers on 1/18/2020, 12:29 pm

I sent Brian Zins an email, with a condensed version of what prompted me to enter this discussion.  He wrote me back, and gave me permission to post his reply here.   So, here's my question, and Brian's reply:

Mike:
I have one question I’d like to ask you.  

My eyes got fuzzy years ago, then worse, and I switched to red dot sights.  Then I got my cataracts fixed, and at my hospital here in India I had three pair of spectacles made, all polycarbonate, one with a distance prescription (for dot sights), one with a 30” prescription (distance from my eye to front sight shooting one handed), and one with a 24” prescription (same, but for shooting two handed).  Supposedly I’ve got 20:20 vision, and I know I can see the front sight clearly, including the mark I make on it.  When I’m shooting with dot sights and my distance glasses, I can see the target reasonably well, but not as clearly as I can see the front sight with the appropriate glasses.  I guess my acuity isn’t good enough - I could never see the X on a target, which I’m told you can.

So my question - even though I’m 76, is there any reason not to use steel sights?  I seem to shoot the same with steel and with optics.  Neither is “better” yet, although if I improve my trigger control, maybe I’ll be better with one or the other….     

Maybe a better question, which would help a lot of other people, if a shooter is willing to pay for the prescription eyewear, so they can see the front sight, or the target, clearly, what might the advantages or disadvantages be for each?

I read all the time why people with poor eyesight can do better by switching to optics, but if a person can see either equally well, are there any reasons why the person should switch?



Brian:
"I will answer here, you may post the answer anywhere you like. 

When it comes to vision. Everyone is different. 

Generally speaking with age most people do get an advantage out of switching to optics. However not a rule. 

Depending on eye issues and corrective surgeries results may vary. 

Point is. Whatever works best for you is what you should use. 

I have had teammates that shot great irons but struggled with dot sights and vice a verse.  

Is there a “one answer fits all” solution. Absolutely not. So many factors come into play. And any instructor who says that “for you you need to do X to get results,” is full of crap. 

Like I tell everyone in my classes.
I CAN’T SEE WHAT YOU SEE. I CANT FEEL WHAT YOU FEEL. 

This is the point where a shooter needs to listen to advice and suggestions on things to try but they are responsible for being able to make the decision on what helps them perform best. "
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