Sunday, July 8, 2007

From One Dunce To Another... a choice with which voters in California may be faced in 2008. See: Sheehan Considers Challenge to Pelosi. Of course the Republicans probably would not run anyone against either of these women who would truly be a much better candidate being that the race would be in one of the wackier parts of Kalifornia. Egads, just imagine her in Washington, D.C.! If her running does not bring out those in the respective district to vote for a Republican, I guess nothing would work; and being they already voted in Pelosi, I cannot imagine they would vote for a Republican. Then again, nor can I imagine someone more liberal than Pelosi in Pelosi's place - but my bet is that it would be very appealing to many Kalifornians - Great Cesar's Ghost, we are doomed!

All the best,
Glenn B

Okay, back into the swing of things - I guess...

...what with the blog I just wrote on Marksmanship and using your sights while shooting. That one took me quite a few hours to write and illustrate. As you can see by my not so to the same scale drawings, I am no graphics artist - yet I guess my illustrations give the general idea I was trying to convey.

As for my blogging, there will be more of it as usual over the coming days, as opposed to less of it as there was over the past few days. Funerals for good friends are bummers, and tend to take up lots of ones time, if not also frazzle the creative mood needed to blog. Oh well, life goes on and so do I.

Later for all of you,
Glenn B.

Ballseye's Firearms Training and Tactics 5 - Marksmanship & How To Help Achieve It Through Proper Use of Sights

Okay, so you have started off as a new shooter, or you already have been shooting for awhile, and you cannot figure out why you do not, with repeated frequency hit near or in the bull's eye. This is a problem not only of new shooters, but one that often plagues those who have been at the shooting sports for years. Often, no matter how hard they seem to try, they can not accomplish a reliable level of marksmanship. If this is the case for you, well then, it is time to start talking about Marksmanship and How To Achieve It.

First off I guess I should start with a definition of marksmanship. If you ask most firearms instructors, a hunter safety course instructors, a military firearms' instructors, police firearms instructors, they may all tell you the same or different definitions. The most common and simple of the definitions of marksmanship that they give is usually: Marksmanship is the ability to hit your target. If that is what they tell you, don't believe it. Marksmanship usually is not an ability, but rather a skill and there is a fine distinction between an ability and a skill, whereas all skills are an ability not all abilities are skills - skills are the more finer tuned of the two. Ability is often seen as a gift for doing something well sometimes learned sometimes natural, or it is described as a natural ability to do something well. Skill, on the other hand, is almost always realized to be the product learning or training, and of continued practice. In almost every case a marksman is a skilled individual; so therefore: Marksmanship is the skill you reliably use to hit your target.

Becoming skilled at marksmanship does not mean that you need to learn a lot of technical things. While physics and anatomy are involved, you do not need a degree in either. As a matter of fact you only need to learn, and then carry out, some basic things, and then practice them over and over, to become and remain a fairly reliable marksman. One of the major things you need to learn, in the actual shooting process, is proper sight picture. Overall this is the picture that you see when you have your sights aligned properly and placed on target correctly. Proper sight picture is essentially described as: the visual relationship between your aiming eye, properly aligned sights, and the aiming point on your intended target. In order to achieve proper sight alignment, you need first to be able to learn how to achieve proper sight alignment. Sight alignment is pretty simple when using both a front and rear sight, as opposed to using a bead front sight only but even then it is not all that difficult to learn - just a bit harder to develop and maintain.

Sight alignment, in essence, is the lining up of the front and rear sights of a firearm in the proper manner to assure you can then make a proper sight picture when you aim in on target. In other words you have to align the sights with one another and your eye, and the target, to give you a good sight picture. To align them correctly is easy. To get it right over and over again is also easy, but for some reason folks who shoot sometimes seem to have a problem with this. So I suggest this be one of the first things you learn in the shooting process to make yourself a skilled and accomplished marksman. Basically all that sight alignment requires with open or peep sights is that you align the front sight with the rear sight so that the front sight appears in the center of the rear sight horizontally, and so that each appears levels with the other on the vertical plane (in open iron sights) or that the front sight is centered vertically in the rear sight in a peep sight. Of course there are some variations and exceptions depending on the type of open sight, but this definition is pretty much the one you will need to know, and your instructor can tell you otherwise if your sight require a different type of alignment.

So as to confuse you least on this, I'll stick with one type of sights for this discussion. This is the square notch rear sight in combination with the post front sight. This is the type of sight usually used to illustrate sight alignment and sight picture to new shooters, as well as to reacquaint seasoned shooters with such. It is also one of the most common types of open iron sights that appear on firearms of all sorts from 22 rifles, to defensive handguns, to high powered hunting rifles, to classic surplus military rifles. The reason the sight is so popular is because it is simple, durable, inexpensive to manufacture, and it gets the job done. Below is an illustration of such a set of sights, that are aligned properly. of course, most iron sights are dark in color. I used red and black to differentiate the front sight (red) from the rear sight (black):

As you can see, there is an equal amount of space on each side of the post front sight and each side of the rear notch sight; and the top of the front post sight is at the same level with the top of each side of the rear notch sight. In order to arrive at this alignment, you need to have the sights lined up in alignment with each other, and the eye with which you aim. If you remember to do achieve proper sight alignment, you are about halfway to proper sight picture, and way along to achieving a fair amount of marksmanship. A way to achieve this is to repeatedly bring your firearm up to eye level firing position, and then to acquire the correct sight alignment. You do this over and over again with an unloaded firearm, but remembering the firearms rules of safety at all times. This is best done at a firearms range on the line of fire; please note, I do not recommend doing this at home, but only at a safe and supervised firearms range.

Once you have figured out how to consistently align your sights properly, the next step is to learn the skill of acquiring the proper sight picture. The sight picture adds something to sight alignment in that it not only includes your aiming eye, and the sights, but now includes the target. Remember I basically described sight picture as: Sight picture is the visual relationship between your aiming eye, properly aligned sights, and the aiming point on your intended target. So once you have taken up the firearm, brought it to eye level, acquired proper sight alignment, you now need to acquire proper sight picture which adds in the target to this equation. For most purposes, you want to aim at the center of mass of the target that presents itself to you. For a bull's eye target this would mean the center of the bull's eye, as it would mean the center of the target area for most "match target" type targets (as opposed to animal targets for hunting). I find this the best way overall to train to to aim at the target if you plan to later hunt, or shoot in self defense training or situations. Allow me to illustrate:
As you can see, we still have the same picture of the sights showing proper sight alignment, but I have added the blue area to represent your target. This is the type of sight picture I recommend for defensive shooting, or hunting; and it can be used for bull's eye target shooting. It shows that you have aligned your sights properly, then have aimed in at the center of mass of your target, the blue disc. (Please bear in mind that if these appear slightly off center to you, I drew them on MS paint, and are centered as well as I could do. For purposes of illustration please assume they are centered properly and not off at all unless I state they are off.) You can also practice this with an unloaded firearm from the firing line at the range; please note that I do not recommend doing this at home, but only at a safe and supervised firearms range.

Now here are some examples, via illustration of what you do not and do want to do regarding sight alignment and sight picture:
Okay so I see this came out kind of small for the captions to be read easily. The top left is improper alignment of the front sight too far left, that would likely cause you to shoot to the left, the top right is low front sight alignment which would likely cause you to shoot low. The bottom left is proper sight alignment of front and rear sight but improper sight picture (or aim point on target) which would cause you to shoot left. The bottom right is looking pretty good for a shot right on target; that is except for one thing you need yet to learn about sighting in with open iron sights. When you have the sight alignment all set up and bring the sights onto your target with a proper sight picture, you will discover that it will go in and out of focus; this is because you can not focus on a distant target, a closer front sight, and an even closer rear sight (as in closer to your eyes) all at the same time. The trick is to try to focus only on the front sight, allowing the target to blur somewhat and allowing the rear sight to blur somewhat. You will come to find you can still maintain good sight alignment and good sight picture when doing this. This is the trickiest part of sighting in properly for many shooters to achieve, although there is nothing really tricky about it. All you need to do is practice this over and over again, then when shooting using your sights, you need to remember to do it for each shot. Here is something like how your sights and target should appear to you when you focus upon them correctly:

Note how clear is the front sight (red) as opposed to the target (blue) and the rear sight (black); yet notice also that you can still see the sights are properly aligned, and that you have the correct sight picture. When you sight in like this with reliability over and over again, you will be well on your way to becoming a marksman. That is of course if you practice proper grip, proper trigger squeeze, proper breath control, and proper follow through - but all of those are for a later lesson.

All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday was a tough one....

...even though I slept on and off for most of the day. When I got home on Friday from my friend's funeral, I guess my wife thought I had been drinking too much because I went to lay down and took a nap. Truth was I had had two budwipers at the luncheon the family held after the funeral; nowhere near enough to get me sloshed or even tired, especially since I had them at least 3 hours before I drove home. No, I was just down and out, and needed some rest because I did not sleep well the night before. Then on Friday night, I did not get to sleep until about 0500 (as in 5 AM) on Saturday morning. Just insomnia, which stinks big time. So instead of doing chores on Saturday, I slept on and off all day long. Guess what, now I cannot slept tonight/this morning. It is 0200, and here I sit writing because I got bored watching old movies. Of course my wife was mad at me all day Saturday from what I could tell while I was up in between naps. I guess now she thinks even more that I was drunk on Friday and probably thinks I was hung over all day Saturday. Hard to tell what she was thinking though because she apparently was not talking to me.

Oh well life goes on. I have to be up and at em at 0600 Sunday (later this morning) and I wonder if I'll get any sleep before then; probably not since I took 2 sleeping pills at about 10PM, slept for an hour and a half and have been up ever since. Insomnia is bad when the prescription sleeping pills you have don't work. If I can stay up all day on Sunday, my guess is I'll sleep like a baby Sunday night. Lots of coffee for me today.

All the best,
Glenn B