Home > Tactical Tips > Using Gun Sights Properly

Using Gun Sights Properly

Most newbie shooters think they can just point their gun at a target and shoot and hope it hits the mark. Many are unsure what the gun sights are on their firearm, or even how to use them.

Here are some tips on how to use your gun sights sighting-fundamentals-full-sightcorrectly and make your target shooting more accurate.

Usually there are two sights on a gun, a front and rear sight. By looking at the front sight through the notch of the rear one, you can get a more accurate aim. On the other hand, some experts recommend raising the front slight just a little bit higher than the rear sight to hit the target better, due to the trajectory of the bullet, which points slightly down after a distance.

For faster shooting, try this, also known as the “weapon’s silhouette,” as mentioned by Marty Hays in his article, “Sighting Fundamentals.” Marty learned this tactic from his late friend, Jim Cirillo, and wrote that this technique required…

“… the shooter to simply catch a glimpse of the back of the gun (the silhouette) of the weapon as it was indexed in the center of the target. Shooting this way is even faster than the flash sight picture or Ayoob’s Stresspoint Index, but is done at fairly close distances (2 to 5 yards). Cirillo postulated that as long as you saw the stark outline of the back of the gun and did not see the sides or top of the slide, (or cylinder if you were shooting a revolver) you had a sufficient index to shoot accurately for most close range encounters. He too, was right.” (For more information on gun sights and fundamentals, click here.)

You may not totally understand the above, but newer guns have dots on their sights, which makes it easier to try different sighting techniques, until you find one that fits you best.  Most line up the dots in a straight line and find that works better than using the actual sights.

Or, you can buy gun sights to attach to your firearm, such as the XS Big Dot sighting system. This is used mostly for hunting rifles and allows you to position a large white dot in the vee notch before shooting.

There are also laser sighting systems — fiber optic and holographic sights for use on handguns. Just do a quick search online for any of these and you’ll find there is a variety of sighting tools in all price ranges. You are sure to find something to suit your needs and your skill set.

Now, the question is, when do you really need to use sights when shooting? Less than three yards, sighting is not really necessary. Three to seven yards is where you can use silhouette sighting technique for fast shooting. If you’re practicing something like a potential hostage situation for a head shot, you’re going to want to use a post and notch sight (front and rear as mentioned earlier).

It’s when you get to six to ten yards, that you need a finer sight.  This is where you can use add-ons, such as the Big Dot sighting system.

Beyond 10 yards, using a holographic sight is recommended, although the better a shooter you are, the farther you can shoot.

First, work with the gun sights that are part of your firearm. Then, think about buying an add-on sighting system and see what works best for you. Having a gun and being able to shoot it properly are two different things.

  1. May 19, 2013 at 12:46 am

    I know that many folks don’t like holographic sights on pistols, but for what it’s worth I’m a big fan of the Trijicon RMR. Not cheap but you can’t beat the quick target acquisition and ability to shoot with both eyes open.

    • May 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Thanks for passing that info along, Chuck. Might want to try that, and send folks to your site for more information.

  2. Chuck. W.
    May 20, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    No problem. Hope you don’t mind if I leave a link to my site:


    • May 21, 2013 at 10:59 am

      Naw… Good for our readers. Thanks, Chuck!

  1. April 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm

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