All too often I have conversations with folks who comment how difficult it is to see their sights so why bother. That is a lazy approach towards managing a life saving skill.

Three Degrees of Acquisition

As I see it, there are three degrees of sight acquisition. There is look at, look at intentely and look through. All three of these have one thing in common regardless of the situation. The sight system is located in your sight box. What is a sight box? It is a box at full arms extension that is about 4″x4″ in measurement. Your sight system must be in this box in order to generate a hit on target. The more precision required, the more centered the sight system needs to be in the box. Your sight box is part of the neural pathway you are developing with each repetition. You are in a sense driving the gun subconsciously to this box no matter what. This basically describes the position or location of the gun once it reaches full extension and sometimes as the gun is being extended.

Poor Sight Alignment Life

The simple part to sight management is consistently getting the gun up into the sight box. From there we break down each of the different degrees of sight acquisition. Looking at is the most common form of sight alignment. The time, distance and exposure of the target are such the degree of acuity is on the low end. I see my sight, but with minimal detail. It is enough to know the sight is lined up for windage and elevation. I typically use this degree the majority of the time when I’m shooting. Not because the target meets the requirement of time, distance and exposure, but because I’m lazy at times and can get away with some poor sight alignment. Not the best example I know, but it is the truth. If I have a large target zone, such as the chest cavity and I’m inside the 10 yard line I pretty much default to this method.

The Old Gnats Ass Hair

Then, there is the look at intently. What do we mean by intently? This means I’m looking at my sights with earnest attention. I can see the fine details of the front sight post, like down a gnats ass hair. This method of sight acquisition is reserved for targets that require a high level of precision.  I’m primarily using this method when the target is further out, generally past the 15 yard line or when the target gets small or is partially obstructed/obscured. This produces the tightest groups I’m capable of shooting, but it costs me in my attention. It requires I divert an extreme amount of brain power. However, I spend a lot of time with this method and for good reason. It is generally agreed this level of precision will have far reaching positive effects on your shooting in general.

Pushing The Speed Limits

This brings us to look through. Truthfully, this is my favorite. This method is all about speed. Generally this is driven by the time factor mentioned above and is supported by having a large target that is pretty much fully exposed. When I talk about this method I reference a flickering flame. You become somewhat mesmerized by the sight dancing in the sight box it is almost hard to miss. Another way of thinking about this while the sight is in the sight box you are technically looking through towards the target. I know I’m in the zone when I can see the rounds impacting, but vaguely make out the sights just prior to the shot breaking. I’m capable of shooting at breakneck speeds where my precision is not nearly as important.

What Is The Center Of Your Attention

The first two degrees are sight focused and the third is target focused so this is another way of considering sight acquisition. The difference to me is the degree of visual acuity on my sight. Another problem is when you practice almost exclusively with sight focus. While accuracy can end gunfights, you still have to delivery the shots hastily. Depending on the time, distance and exposure you may have to adjust the degree of sight acquisition you can generate. It’s okay to only look at your sights if you are confident in your skills. Or, you know you need to ramp up your focus because of the reduced size of the target. Then you have no time to confirm the precision of your sights only they are acceptable for the shot required.

I find it fun and challenging to put myself in these three different situations so I practice these three different degrees of sight acquisition. There is no one size fit all solution.

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. Aristotle

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