Definition Series - Part 10: "Aiming"
by Kirk Lawson

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Expanding upon the details of Fundamentals, let's be more specific about "Aiming."

Aiming is the process of achieving the proper relationship between the target, the Front Sight, and the Rear Sight.

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[The Front Sight, farthest away from the user, and Rear Sight, closest to the user.]

Aiming consists of two components:
  • Sight Alignment
  • Sight Picture
Sight Alignment refers to the proper relationship of the pistol's front and rear sights.

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[The Front Sight properly aligned with the Rear Sight]

With Post-and-Notch sights:
  • The TOPS of the Front Sights and Rear Sights are even
  • The front post is centered in the rear notch
This is sometimes referred to as "equal height, equal light," meaning that the height of both the Front Sight and the Rear Sight are equal across the top and there is an equal amount of visible light on either side of the Front Sight as viewed through the Rear Sight, indicating that it is centered. Between the two, Sight Alignment is generally considered more critical than Sight Picture.

Proper Sight Picture is obtained when the aligned sights are put into the correct relationship with the target.

Firearms are often sighted in using either a Six O'Clock Hold or a Center Hold. The Six O'Clock Hold will have the properly aligned sights lined up with the bottom edge of the Bulls Eye (6 o'clock on an analog clock face). The Center Hold will have the top edge of the properly aligned sights lined up with the very center-line of the Bulls Eye.

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[Six O'Clock Hold]

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[Center Hold]

Sight Alignment is usually considered more critical because a misalignment of the sights will usually throw shots more off target than a slightly out of line Sight Picture.

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[Sighting Errors]

In the above image:
  • "B" has both correct Sight Alignment and Sight Picture so all the shots land where intended.
  • "A" has correct Sight Alignment but misaligned Sight Picture so the shots are slightly off.
  • "C" has Sight Picture with the target properly centered in the Rear Sight but misaligned Sight Alignment so shots land farther off.
Finally, for best accuracy, when Aiming focus your vision on the Front Sight. Both the target and the Rear Sight should be slightly out of focus and blurry. This is sometimes referred to as Front Sight Focus and may be expressed as "focus hard on the Front Sight."

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[Front Sight Focus]