Shooting Pointers

3 Preparation Season Shooting Drills: Know Your Sights

Sonja Benčina

Dec 1, 2023

In a previous Practical Pointer on Preparation Period Drills, Aiming Art focused on the shooter’s position or, to be more exact, on the inner, less perceptible movements. This time, we will divert our attention to the most important piece of equipment you use – your rifle or pistol. Old or new, a basic or an advanced model, every pistol or rifle is capable of scoring high results. An understanding of their mechanics, however, will increase the potential of the shooter actually achieving them. The single most underrated and frequently under-used item is the rear sight. It is essential that every shooter knows exactly how their sights work. Correcting your sights, also known as clicking, must become an automatic reaction after seeing where your shots land. However, the correction that one click makes differs greatly from one sight manufacturer to the other. This is why shooters must thoroughly test their own sights in training to not be afraid to click during competition. There is nothing more painful than watching a junior rifle shooter who is clearly in the 9s trying to edge into the 10s with single clicks after each shot! We have prepared 3 drills for you to try during your preparation period to develop the intuition of how much and when you should click.

Drill 1: Working 9 to 9

To have a greater understanding of how your sights work, set up a benchrest situation: sit down, put your rifle or pistol on the bench, raising it with a kneeling roll or any other material you have at hand – make it as stable as possible. Once you are sitting comfortably behind it, take a few sighting shots to zero your pistol or rifle as closely to the centre of the target as you can. When you are happy with your aim, you can begin with the drill. Pistol shooters, your goal is to first correct your sights so that you hit an exact 9.0 left and then correct them again to hit an exact 9.0 right. Try doing it in as few shots as possible. Once you hit the 9.0 right, see if you can’t hit another 9.0 left – this time in even fewer tries! Rifle shooters, begin with a 9.9 left and finish with a 9.9 right. How many clicks does it take you from one 9 to the other? How many clicks would it take you to return to the 10.9? Try it and write your findings in your copy of Shooting Notes – the notebook contains a special chapter dedicated to your settings!

A Sius target screen with four registred shots, the last two being 9.9 left and 9.9 right. There is a FWB 900 rifle on the right.

Drill 2: Everything but 10.9

This is another drill that you can do in a sitting position or, to challenge yourself more, try it in your normal shooting position. Begin with a zeroed pistol or rifle – do a few sighting shots to bring your hits as close to the centre of the target as you can. Then, set yourself various hits that you must achieve merely by correcting your sights. How many clicks does it take you to hit an 8.3 down? And in how many shots can you get there? Be brave, click away! This is also a fun competition if there are more shooters involved. See who gets to the assigned score in fewer shots – they can then select the next goal. A version of this drill is hitting these random scores not by clicking but by shading (i.e. by deliberate aiming off centre). This version is an excellent exercise for junior shooters who may be unfamiliar with the distance of various rings from the centre and are therefore afraid of hitting a “bad” shot as soon as their sight picture is not perfectly aligned, which then leads to poor triggering. Having them realise how far off centre they have to aim to hit an 8 is therefore often eye-opening for both pistol and rifle shooters.

10 Disag targets on a screen filled with very random shots

Drill 3: Click after Each Shot

Shooters often have an almost irrational fear of clicking – as if one click can ruin their group, score, and final placement. A radical drill that aims to teach you that one click does not a bad shot make is having to click after each and every shot. Have a normal sighting time, then do an entire 40- or 60- shot match, whereby you must correct your sights for at least one click after every single shot. If you feel brave, why not make it at least two clicks (one vertically, one horizontally, or both in the same direction)! While the drill will (hopefully!) teach you that nothing is lost with one click, it will also make you think about where your shots are landing and make the process of zeroing in more automatic.

Three young pistol shooters from behind, pointing their pistols towards the targets

Who knows how many decimal points have been lost through shooters being too afraid to click or simply not being used to doing it. Simple and fun drills can help the athletes master their sights and zero in on that elusive 10.9!

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