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Course Outline

Sight Alignment

Sight alignment, which is important in rifle firing, is even more important in pistol shooting because of the shorter distance between the sights.

  • Typically, handgun sights consist of a square rear notch sight and a heavy square front blade sight. This arrangement is easy to align.
  • Most handguns are initially sighted-in at 50 feet.


  • At the shooting range, many handgunners use a sight picture that places the bull’s-eye on the top of the front sight, rather than placing it in the sights over the center of the target. However, hunters should hold the alignment directly over the vital area.
  • Scopes with long eye relief have become popular with handgunners and offer exact sighting for hunters. Scopes may take longer to align on a target than open sights, but they’re usually more accurate.

As you aim your handgun, follow these guidelines.

  • When using an open sight, focus on the front sight. The target and the rear sight should appear blurred or fuzzy.
  • If you are a beginner, aim at the bottom center of the bull’s-eye. This is known as the “six o’clock hold” because the location matches six o’clock on the face of an analog clock.
  • Aim with your dominant eye, but keep both eyes open. This will give you more light and better depth perception.
  • Realize that you cannot hold the handgun completely still while aiming. To reduce the amount of movement, rest between shots and do not grip the gun too tightly.
Aiming a handgun
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