Thursday, July 26, 2018

Back To A Fiber Optic Sight

I may be the last person in the shooting sports to figure this out. But here I am.

In 2015, I changed the black front post on my SIG P226 competition gun to a fiber optic sight. I shot with that for a couple years, before going back to the plain black sight. I felt the fiber sight didn't offer enough solid mass in front of my eyes to get good sight alignment. When I switched to the P320, I actually blackened out the SIG Night Sight on the front. I've shot that way with a fair bit of success.

One of the topics of the Brandon Wright class was "target focus" vs. "sight focus." Frankly, this was a new concept to me; I've always used front sight focus for all my shooting. I also felt somewhat constrained to this sight picture by needing distance correction in my eyes. I couldn't see the sights in focus wearing my distance Rx, so I shot without the corrective lenses, which meant I saw sharp sights but blurry targets.

Brandon showed us how target focus shooting works on close targets. He also rightly derided my gun sights throughout the weekend. (All in good humor.) The opportunity to shoot Brandon's gun, while wearing my distance Rx, showed me how valuable the red fiber optic was when combined with target focus. This was an enlightening experience for me. So much so that I placed an order for new sights after the first day of class as soon as I returned to my hotel, even before I showered and went out for dinner.

This weekend I replaced the stock sights on the P320 with a Dawson Precision competition sight set with a black rear and fiber front. I elected to wait until after the Rivanna match, rather than jump into a match with an untested installation. The swap was surprisingly quick and trouble-free.

On Monday I took a trip to the indoor range to try out the new sights. My first group of 10 shots at 7 yards elicited a comment of "Show off" from the range officer, so I figured the sights were installed well. I spent the rest of my time shooting at 10, 15 and 20 yards to confirm the sight picture and point of aim. I wasn't shooting from rest but the sights seem to be where they should be.

When shooting head shots at 10 yards, it was almost breathtaking to be able to see the head of the target through the rear notch, behind the front post. My previous setup required guesstimating the head target location since it was essentially covered by the front post.

I shot some 3, 4, and 5 shot strings as fast as I could see the red dot return. I am still shooting without my distance Rx, which means I'm probably leaning more to sight focus than target focus. Even so, I am enthusiastic over the results and looking forward to getting in more practice.

I need to spend much more time getting accustomed to the new sights and to using target focus for close shooting. I'll do most of that in dry fire. I also have a much needed appointment with my optometrist in a few weeks, so eye glass changes may be coming.

Even though fiber optic sights are pretty much the standard for competitive shooting, I've never really understood how to use them properly. You can teach an old dog new tricks, and I for one, am looking forward to learning a few.

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