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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Basic Firearms Part 4: Proper Sight Alignment or Sight Picture

Remember the short Basic Firearms series?  If not (it was a long time ago), here's part 1, part 2, and part 3.  Now, I'm back with another installment.  Sight alignment.  This is hugely important if you ever want to actually hit what you're aiming at, and it's really not that difficult to understand.  In fact, you can teach your children as young as 4 or 5 years old about sight picture.

Here's how it works.  Most every gun has a rear sight and a front sight.  The most common exception to this are scoped rifles.  Today we're talking about iron sights, or the sights that are built on the gun, not scopes.  Gun sights are not all the same, but they are generally variations on a few basic designs.

One type of rear sight is called an open sight.  It has two sides of some sort and a notch or space in the middle. A lot of times the rear sight looks like a rectangle with a little half circle cut out in the middle top.  Another type of sight is called a peep sight and is made of a little circle that you look through. 

Each rear sight will have a coordinating front sight.  The front sight is made to fill the space between the sides of the rear sight.  Or on a peep sight the tip of the front sight will be centered in the peep circle.  It can be blocky and square or look like a stick with or without a ball on top.  Make sense? No? That's okay. We've got pictures. 

These are all types of open sights--not peep sights.  A standard type rear sight on a rifle:

And the coordinating front sight:

Here's a fun one.  Just ignore those crazy prongy things at the sides--see it still has a notch in the middle?

And the coordinating front sight side view and looking down the barrel:

Here's a rear sight real similar to the first one--this one's on our Daisy BB gun:

But the front sight isn't metal, it's fiber optic, so instead of seeing a stick when you look down the barrel you see an orange dot.

And here is a real common type pistol rear sight.  Same notch cut out, but this one's a little wider.

And the front sight.

Now we know what a front sight and rear sight is, let's line them up. You want to put your face in such a place as to be able to see down the barrel of the gun with the eye closest to the barrel.  If you want to get a tad more complicated, this should be your dominant eye.  We'll find eye dominance in another post so then you'll know which way to hold your gun. :)  On a rifle, your cheek should be resting on the stock to get this alignment.  A handgun you just hold up where your eye can line up with the sights.  Got it?  Now you're going to move the barrel and/or your face to put that front sight right in the slot of the rear sight as you look down the barrel.  Then put your nice, lined up sight picture on your target.  Now, your brain might get confused because the rear sight, front sight, and target are all different distances from your eye so you won't be able to focus on all three at the same time.  That's normal.  You want to focus your eye on the front sight.  Like this drawing:
image from tacticalprojects.com

I took some pictures also, but I cannot tell you how difficult it is to get a picture with the sights properly aligned.  You think your eye has trouble focusing, try it with a camera!  But here are a few anyway.  This first one is with the fiber optic BB gun sight.  You can kind of see the orange dot through the rear sight.  It's a little high, so if I were to shoot with my sight picture like this my shot would hit high on the target.  You want that orange dot right in the notch so the top of the dot and the top of the rear sight all line up across the top.

Next are some shots of the pistol sights.  It was a little easier to get pistol pictures since the sights are closer together, but not so easy holding the gun steady with one hand and the camera steady with the other!  First picture the front sight is way too high.  You'll be clear off target with this one.


Here we got the front almost down where we want it, but it's a bit off to the right.  AND you want to be focusing on the front sight, but the camera didn't listen to instructions.

Oh, camera, you finally got the front sight focused in!  Too bad it's too far left and just a tad high in this one or it would be a good picture.  I only spent forever taking pictures like this and finally had to quit to save my sanity, so that's as good as it gets. ;)

It's really much easier to draw a picture.  That's what I do when I'm teaching my kids about sight picture.  I actually draw a picture.  Like this:

Okay, I had a little too much fun with that one.  But really, if you could get a head shot in that last picture instead it would sure make for nicer meat. ;)

And here's a diagram that's drawn a little more precise than mine and also includes alignment of a peep sight as the only peep sight I have right now is on my bow and no way was I going to try to take photographs of that!  Although, I don't agree with their first and third target alignment pictures.  I like to put the center point of the sight on the center point of the target.  If that doesn't hit right on the target, then I'd adjust where I place the sight picture in relation to the target accordingly.

image from www.reedstargetshootingclub.co.uk
Now, some homework.  You have to love shooting homework.  Go shoot something without a scope on it.  Don't try to hit anything too far away for starters, just get your sight alignment figured out and see how you do.  And if you already understand it, teach it to someone who doesn't.

Mystery Medication

“I was under medication when I made the decision not to burn the tapes.” - Richard M. Nixon
A year ago my wife looked inside a pill bottle and noticed that one of the pills didn't belong. It was a different shape and color and size. There was no way she was going to swallow a mystery pill. Instead we brought it back to the pharmacy to point out an error in their quality control.

If you encounter an unknown pill and want to discover what it is, the National Institute of Health has a Beta website with pills organized by color, shape, etc. http://pillbox.nlm.nih.gov/

Bottom Line

I'm not sure exactly why this website exists (except for pharmacists). What person is going to say, "Hey, I found this cool looking pill on the sidewalk? I think I'll research what it is and then swallow it."

Perhaps it's useful if you find an unlabeled bottle in your medicine cabinet? Or pills that your child/spouse is hiding?

Prepper find of the week!

Canadian TireI just love it when stores make mistakes in our favor.

I'm picking up a gas can at Canadian Tire and decide to browse their ammo section and see what might be on sale. While looking at .22LR ammo, I see 2x 500 round boxes on for .....$2.99 ea?!?

Of course, I buy both and ask if they have any more in stock. She says they have another 18, but she's not sure where they put the over-stock.

I take my find out to my vehicle and decide to go back in and buy all they have. After waiting 20 minutes, she comes back to say that not only can they not find the other boxes, but she has been told to retrieve the boxes I purchased as they discovered their pricing mistake. LOL

I'm disappointed I didn't get them all, but I'm still happy about 1000 rounds for just over $6.00 with tax. And the look on her face when I told her, "Sorry, those are mine and I have a receipt to prove it" was just priceless. ;)
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10 Must-Do Outdoor Experiences

Alaska wild "berries" from the Innok...
I think people are hard-wired to need to be in nature. Although the spouse might disagree, thinking that "roughing it" entails an el-cheapo hotel room and no mall in the area, there is something primal about being outside. Here's ten must-do outdoor experiences that everyone should have:
  1. Fishing. Everyone should catch at least one fish in their lifetime.
  2. Hunting. If you eat meat, you ought to experience how it gets to your table--from on-the-hoof to on-the-plate.
  3. Navigating overland. Whether you follow a trail or head out cross country with a compass or GPS device, wayfinding is a timeless art.
  4. Navigating over water. Whether you choose a canoe, kayak, or Bayliner, there is something timeless about traveling over water.
  5. Camping, complete with tent, sleeping bag, fresh air, a campfire, hearing things rustling around at night, etc.
  6. Backpacking. This means really getting away from civilization on your own two feet with no opportunity to call for pizza or even get back to civilization without major effort on your part.
  7. Climb a mountain. It can be a hill as they have on the east coast or a full-fledged mountain which you will find on the west coast. Hiking up to the pinnacle of a mountain where you can see all that lays below can be a surreal experience.
  8. Forage for food. It is sad that many people, and even more kids, think that food only comes from the grocery store. Actually finding your own food (from wild berries to edible mushrooms, to picking crawdads out of the river) connects you to the cycle of life.
  9. Grow your own food. Again, digging in the dirt, nurturing your plants, and enjoying the harvest is something our ancestors did for centuries and is a vital part of the life cycle.
  10. Being in the outdoors in the dead of winter. Whether you choose to go skiing, walk through newly fallen snow, or climb up an ice waterfall, exploring nature in winter is something everyone should do.
And of course, don't forget these items.
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Fire Starting Kit

A few of weeks ago I had a comment which asked about fire-starting kits.
There are numerous ways to start a  fire when needed – however there are a couple that I like and use.
My favorite method is to ignite petroleum jelly covered cotton balls within a cardboard shroud. The ingredients for this simple tool is seen below: petroleum jelly, toilet paper cardboard rolls, cotton balls, a Ziploc bag, and matches.
firestarting, fire starting kitComponents for my fire starting kit
Making the kit is easy – just a few steps:
  1. Cover cotton balls with the Vaseline and stuff them inside the toilet paper roll cardboard tube.
  2. Do another one – just in case
  3. Place both tubes inside the zip-loc bag.
  4. Place the matches or Bic lighter inside the bag
  5. Now – zip the bag up so that your kit will be very water resistant.
Cover the cotton balls with the petroleum jelly
Stuff the cotton balls inside the cardboard tube
Kit complete - 2 fire starting tubes
Now – to use your kit – simply remove a tube from the bag – tear open the tube and lay the tube & cotton balls wherever you want your fire to be. Cover with some dry tinder – and light the cotton balls.
One of the tubes is up under there
Can you say..............FIRE!!
This method really works pretty well. It is not uncommon for Mrs. Rourke to get out the cotton balls and Vaseline to start a fire in the fire pit.
Of course – lighter fluid works pretty well too. :)
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