People regularly attend my classes with red-dot sights, and have been shooting them myself some. Here are a couple observations:
- The pistol must be close to properly aligned in order to see the dot, otherwise you're looking through a blank piece of glass and wasting precious time. Developing a subconscious index is more important than with iron sights, where you can always see the front and rear sights to bootstrap the process. Practice instantly seeing the dot when you mount the gun, not just when stationary and squared up to the target, but when in torqued-up firing positions and on the move. Also when leaning around barricades and shooting with just your strong hand or support hand. Drawing to your support hand and immediately seeing the dot consistently is a very tough challenge. Dots with larger windows are easier here: it's easier to index with an SRO than with an RMR.
- It’s easy to revert to looking at the dot. That mitigates one of the big advantages of a dot—keeping your focus downrange—and also slows transitions. Look at your target and cover it with the dot.
- The dot never stops moving, which can be unnerving when making shots on tight targets. You want to get comfortable letting the dot paint the target while carefully squeezing the trigger. Shooting head shots on a USPSA target or B-8 targets at 20+ yards is great practice for this.
- On large targets, say an open USPSA target at 7 yards, you’re shooting too slow if you see the dot. You want to shoot a streak that’s tearing around the A-zone, or whatever is acceptable for your application. Don’t think of it as a red-dot sight, think of it as a red streak sight. Going fast with a dot takes some getting used to.
- Related to this, it’s easy to over-aim, looking for a stable dot on the target. This is rarely necessary. You’re not trying to shoot the letter A on the target, any hit in the A-zone is fine!
- Don’t over-complicate zeroing with slide-mount sights. It doesn’t matter as much as people think for shooting out to 50 yards. Zero at 20 or 25 yards, then see where shots go at 5 and 50 yards. Slide-ride sights have much less height-over-bore issues than Open guns or AR-15s.
- Height over bore matters when making close shots on tight targets, such as the A-zone on the head of a USPSA target at 5 yards. Test your setup at different distances to see what happens, but don't be surprised if you end up needing to put your dot above the perforation on head shots.
- A dot tells you what’s happening as you’re aiming and pulling the trigger much more clearly than iron sights. This should ramp up the accuracy of shot calling and tell you whether your target needs an additional round if something looks screwy at the last instant. Maybe the dot drifts slightly sideways on a tight partial or the streak jumps diagonally instead of vertically. Shooting with a dot, both in live and dry fire, is helpful even if you're most interested in irons.
Last edit: 26 July 2020