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Guruís Grumblings.

The complexities of sighting.

In full bore, the sighting is something that very few can write about with any 
consistency of directions.
It is the most difficult for any coach to monitor, because no coach can really 
see what you are seeing in the sighting system.
With the Sam trainer, we can see the consistency of aiming as the groups 
shape up, together with the consistency of the aiming group centre, but this is 
all.
Generally, if you talk to the shooters around you, there is a plethora of 
opinion, as each describe both their sighting systems, and how the aim is 
reached. This often results in confusion, and in my own case, after we 
reached a computer generated series of ring sizes, based on the ring size I 
have the most consistent success with, I found that the sighting did not suit 
my vision at all. In fact, it was so big in the foresight size I had trouble finding 
any consistency of aiming because I was so far off the target.  I had a very big 
view of the surrounding butts area, and very little ability to accurately place 
the ring on aim.
This brings me to the comparison I have found among the shooters, and leads 
me to believe we cannot really advise any individual shooter on what ring size 
to use for specific ranges.  This is totally a personal preference you must find 
for yourself.
All my competitive life, I have had the advantage of very consistent aiming in 
small bore all over the world, because the target aiming mark and background 
dimensions remained the same, wherever I happened to be from Melbourne 
to Moscow. Thus I was able to develop an incredibly accurate aim, and 
develop the shade aiming techniques used by small bore shooters all over the 
world as a method of wind combat.
With full bore, the target dimensions are varying, together with the 
backgrounds of the target butts. This for me, created a totally new aiming 
experience, and a variation of aiming systems that I had trouble believing.

I have worked hard on aiming to be able to return to the shade aiming 
techniques (aiming off) that I am very comfortable with, and often use to retain 
the bull or V when I see a wind change out there.  It is fast, decisive, and very 
accurate, but very few will employ this method.  A great deal of the accuracy 
depends on the shooters ability to recognise the aiming needed, together with 
the foresight ring in use.
So, this brings me to the rings themselves, and I am astounded at the number 
of Perspex rings still in use when we have the laser cut steel rings easily 
obtainable.
The laser cut have two advantages.  The first is the total accuracy of the laser 
cut system, and the complete repeatability of the ring in the foresight tube, 
plus the fact there is no chance of any form of optical aberration. 
If you want to check the aberration factor in the glass rings, just take one, look 
at an object through it and then rotate the ring in your finger tips. If the object 
moves, then there is certainly a flaw in the optical clarity of the Perspex. The 
same applies to filters that are often used. These are often seriously flawed!
Many use the eagle eye system, and there are often problems with these, 
such as the lens working loose in the frame, and as with the Perspex rings 
subject to rain spots spoiling the aiming system.
I have also seen eagle eyes with a coating of bore solvent, mixed with dust, 
and general grime. This is just housework, and a lot more attention to detail is 
needed if you have this problem.  Get with it, and clean the eagle eye 
regularly. Gees, you donít drive (generally) with a dirty windscreen do you?

I always remove the foresight system before I clean the barrel. In fact, I 
remove the eagle eye completely from the tube, clean it with a calotherm 
cloth, and place it in itís container before I even get the cleaning rod out.

There are two schools of thought about where to put the eagle eye in the 
foresight system as well. Many use the eagle eye in front of the foresight ring, 
thus magnifying the aiming mark only, but in my opinion this has problems 
with keeping the lens clean, particularly with rain about, and in the case of late 
afternoon aiming into the sun which produces a great deal of optical shatter 
as the light passes through.
In this case, I have found that the ring size in use is almost always larger, as 
the target only is magnified.
I prefer to use the eagle eye between the foresight and the rear sight. I have 
two reasons for this.
One. The eagle eye magnifies both the aiming mark and the foresight ring, 
which produces very high sighting resolution.
Two. The eagle eye is protected because it is back from the muzzle of the 
rifle, and is also not subject to as much rain getting through, (Of course, in 
heavy rain it doesnít matter much where it is!) or any form of solvent 
penetration.
Also, because the foresight ring is in the forward part of the tunnel, it is much 
easier to change to a different ring and ensure it is correctly fitting in the tube.

I think the most hassles confronting a shooter with aiming or sighting 
problems stem from the method of aiming. This also affects very high quality 
shooters as well as the novices or lower grades.
With all my questioning of the world elite small bore shooters I have found one 
significant thing consistent with all. The point of final focus on aiming was on 
the foresight ring itself, particularly with those using the larger rings. It is 
absolutely paramount when shooting standing smallbore, otherwise you lose 
control of the rifle.
There are many that focus on the target centered in the fore sight ring, and 
those that scan the interior of the foresight ring around the ring of white 
making sure it is concentric.  Any of these methods works if the aiming 
remains constant.  It is only when something in the aim becomes inconsistent 
that problems arise.
It is purely a matter of finding what works for YOU, and developing a 
consistency of aim that develops high scores.  Aiming consistency is crucial to 
the end result. I donít care much really what method you use, because as I 
said above it is difficult for any coach, or friend to know what you are seeing in 
the aiming picture.
I do know however, that it is better to err on the side of bigger rather than 
smaller when selecting a foresight ring to use.  Sometimes a small ring will 
give you a very good sight picture, but the group doesnít appear on the target.
This can often lead to puzzlement as the sight picture looks very good, and 
the result is far from pleasing on the target. This also opens other problems 
for the shooter as they maintain something is amiss but it isnít sighting 
related.
I have seen shooters that sold quite good gear because of no results, when it 
was a simple matter of two sizes up on the foresight ring!
I also think the most dangerous facet of poor sighting techniques, are those 
that focus neither on the ring, nor the target. Aiming in no manís land it 
seems.
There is a significant factor with this, and it is telegraphed when the sighting 
picture goes "flat" while aiming, seeming to lose itís three dimensional quality.
This is a facet of "fixing" the sight picture, or staring at the aiming image while 
the trigger is operated. This is dangerous, and you can shoot a bird or an 
outer so quickly it isnít funny. These come because of a natural aiming point 
problem, which reverts to normal position point while the aim is being stared 
at. It doesnít take a lot of position movement to shoot one off the plate at 
1,000 yards when the aiming image is fixed being burnt into the retina.

I am also of the opinion that many shooters, from elite levels down to raw 
beginners, simply do not prepare their eyesight for aiming. It is a simple 
matter to drink a consistent amount of water regularly, which reduces the 
"gloopies" that dribble usually downwards while on aim.  You see these little 
hairy bubble objects floating around in your aiming picture. Drink enough, and 
they will not be there.
You also need to carefully wash your eyes out each morning under the 
shower. This can help sighting resolution dramatically.

Make sure your optics are spotlessly clean. Your glasses lens, or shooting 
frame lenses, filters and eagle eye systems need to be washed regularly and 
very carefully cleaned.  For instance, I would never buy one of the new 
fangled iris peep filter systems that are difficult to keep clean, in fact 
impossible to clean regularly.

There are a number of chemical prescriptions that affect sighting as well, and 
any prescription that has Atropine mixes should be avoided. Atropine is 
employed to open the iris of the eye so the Medical profession can see into 
the eye. Any eye drops that have Atropine included almost certainly will 
destroy the depth of field that is so important to aiming.
If you use eye drops, one of the best is "Liquifilm Tears" obtainable at most 
pharmacies.  Take a lot of care selecting the best to use.

Above all, make sure you have regular eyesight checks, particularly if you are 
approaching the mid forties in age.  Those that do have prescription glasses 
need to make sure they are regularly checked, and up dated if necessary.
Those that wear sunglasses should take them off at least 40 minutes before 
shooting, as sunglasses are really only filter systems. If you have good 
eyesight and are using the sunnies to reduce glare for driving, you must 
understand that when the dark glasses are placed over your eyes, the pupil 
expands to allow you to see. As soon as this happens the depth of field is 
reduced, which does affect the clarity of your aiming. If you have prescription 
sunnies, or the type that vary with the light source such as panchromatics, be 
careful of the light variation on the target, as the light response for these is not 
quick enough to register consistent aiming.

There are a number of good optometrists about, and one of the best is Susan 
Walton, in King St Newcastle.

Finally, one of the biggest things (I think) that affects sighting is the various 
hats that abound on rifle ranges.  A shooting hat is a functional piece of the 
shooting kit, but there are so many that blot out the light from the eyes to the 
point that once again the eyes are screaming for light, and so the pupils open 
up. Once more you lose the visual clarity because of loss of depth of field.
There are also so many employed that simply blot out all view of the rifle 
range including the wind flags!
Think about it,
Guru.
  

Last Modified -  12:11 8 Feb 2008