Whenever discussion of pistol sights comes up and how to aim a gun, the question inevitably arises about whether such and such sights hit (Point of Impact or POI) to the point of aim (POA). This can be a somewhat subjective thing, as everyone seems to have different expectations.
The three images above depict common sight pictures used by shooters and how to aim a gun. The first, a traditional 6 o’clock hold, is the most common how to aim a gun and accepted but is wildly inappropriate for practical shooting of any type. It is a holdover from bullseye shooting, where the distance and target size are known. The only way how to aim a gun is with a known target that could line up on an arbitrary point away from the impact area be depended upon to impact the desired area. In the bullseye context, it is obviously a very precise and visually uncluttered way to align the sights to the target.
In practical shooting (fill in whatever real world application you want, it doesn’t matter) – where target type, distance, size, etc. are unknown – the 6 o’clock hold is impractical and artificial. Use of the 6 o’clock hold is also a common excuse when a particular gun’s sights hit really high. Don’t make excuses, fix the sights.
The third image would have been something held over from fans of 3 dot sights, as discussed in my first article of this series. As you can see, the iron sights obscure a good portion of the target. If you are aiming at the 7′ tall B-27 “casual man” qual target at 7 yards, then a bit of the blue man hiding behind the sights is no big deal. Start working on harder targets, whether they be distant or smaller targets up close, and it is a losing proposition. The recommended technique on how to aim a gun is to have a POI at the center of the target when the dots are lined up would necessitate having your impact actually be quite low when using the top line of the sights. This becomes a problem when you actually want to use your sights for a harder shot.
Think bigger picture when setting up your sights.The second image is what the top shooters strive for, and your sights should be regulated to allow the bullet holes to appear where the top line of the sight cuts through the target area. I generally set up my guns to hit on POA or no more than about 1″ high at 25 yards. I find it acceptable to be able to see the impacts above the line of sight, but never want the impacts to fall below the line of sight. This setup gives the most versatility, and matching the POA and POI gives you a simple “what you see is what you get” sight picture at any distance on any target.This isn’t one of the articles that ends with “what sight picture do you like?” There is only one correct answer, and it is the same given by all the top shooters in every practical shooting discipline from tactical trainers to USPSA champions.
Now get to the range and check your sights!
To learn more about techniques regarding concealed carry check out our article on How to draw a gun from a hoslter.
special thanks to MSW for this great article.