View Full Version : Aiming Techniques for Service Rifle/Small bore/Air Rifle Competitors

January 27, 2013, 01:32 PM
I've searched the forums, and the general consensus is "consistently use the same aiming technique" and there is no real preference between "center hold" and "6 O'Clock" aiming. I've used center hold since forever, and when I read that is what Carlos Hathcock used I was convinced that it was the best technique.

However I recently picked up the Air Rifle, and have been shooting 10 meter standing. I used center hold when I used a circular front insert (really easy, just pull the trigger when you see a fuzzy white circle), but I transitioned to a post front insert to get my eyes used to that since High Power season is almost upon us.

The front sight got lost in the target aiming black, which is a problem I've had with my service AR. So I adjusted the sights UP and then dropped the post to a 6 O'Clock hold and that seemed very helpful. Immediately it was easier to keep my shots in the black.

So, what aiming technique do you use, and why? Is there any problem associated with range changes on a High Power course with the change in size of the aiming black?

I know that a lot of shooters, Distinguished and High Master, will advise me to do what "works for me." But at this point I am still trying to figure out what really works best for me.


Old Grump
January 27, 2013, 02:18 PM
For bullseye competition I use a 6 o'clock hold for rifle pistol, large and small bore and practice that way.

For all other shooting I use a center hold.

January 28, 2013, 07:09 PM
Service rifle competition, .30 and .223 at 100-600 yards I use 6 o'clock hold (AKA 'pumpkin on a post' or 'dotting the i') for everything. I can't resolve the difference between the black of the front sight and the black of the target sufficiently to use center hold. When I try, I wind up stringing vertically from inconsistency on my hold.

For range changes on High Power, the aiming black circles at 200, 300, and 600 yards are all about 6.5 MOA so the offset from center to six o'clock hold is consistent, i.e. your come-ups will be the same for center or 6-clock hold as long as you don't change sight picture when changing elevation for range.

January 28, 2013, 10:44 PM
I'd recommend the 6 o'clock hold for high power. You can get by with a center of mass hold at short range (2-300 yards) but you'll loose the bull if you try it at 600 and 1000.

Another option for 600 & 1000 is the Navy or Frame hold. That is where you push the post up where you have an equal amount of white on the sides and top of the sight post.

This works pretty much the same as using an aperture front sight. The Target frame is a standard 6 X 6 ft at 600 & 1000 yards.

Don't try this if there is snow on the ground, the white target frame blends into the back ground.

January 31, 2013, 04:02 PM
I like 6 oclock but for the 600 I use what I call a Flat Tire. Push the post into the black just a little. Old eyes are the real problem know.
Question: What width front sight is on your rifle? Some folks like the wider battle sight over the NM size.
For air rifle I use apertures. I didn't find trying to duplicate the service rifle sight picture as effective as following the international guidelines and targets. The hold and follow through training from air rifle is first class.

February 1, 2013, 10:55 AM
Right now the front sight post is a 0.052" width, a bit thinner than a standard front sight post. I think I'd like to try a 0.072" width post to see how that feels, I have a buddy (President's 100 tab holder) who uses the 0.072" sight to cut the black in half and shoot point of aim/point of impact.


February 1, 2013, 04:07 PM
A good piece of advice it got many years ago was that no matter what size the front sight, focus on a spot in the middle of the blade. I even saw one shooter who put a very fine,barely visible, white vertical line up the middle of the blade.

February 2, 2013, 09:13 AM
I use a 6'oclock hold as well with a 0.052" front sight. I have tried the 0.072" front sight as recommended by a friend and past Pres 100 winner , but did not like it. Sight picture and set up are completely personal and should be experimented with. It takes a lot of time and rounds to properly evaluate - just don't make the switch the day of the match - trust what works for you and pay particular attention to the details and fundamentals

Bart B.
February 5, 2013, 01:33 PM
If GySgt Hathcock (bless his departed soul) really did use a center hold with a post front sight on round bullseyes, he's the only top classified shooter I know about who does. If I knew that when I shot with him at the 1971 Interservice Matches, I'd sure have asked him how he was able to hold elevation so well.

A center hold's never worked well for post front sights on round bullseyes. It causes too much vertical shot stringing 'cause it's hard to see were the middle of that round fuzzy black ball is when your aiming eye's focused sharply on the front sight post. 6-o'clock hold's easier to put at the same elevation time after time after time on the bullseye's bottom. The post typically shoots best when it appears as wide as the bullseye; windage holding errors are minimized this way.

And marking a service rifle's front sight with some other color is an external modification and ain't allowed for NRA and CMP sanctioned service rifle competition. Saw a guy disqualified in a leg match for the white dot he put on the rear bottom part of his M1A's front sight post. The front sight can be different widths, but that's all; has to be otherwise unmodified.

The above aside, many folks have painted marks on their rear sight knobs so it would be easy to tell when they were at zero; especially on the windage knob of an NM-2 half minute rear sight on M1 and M14 rifles. Someone challenged a member of the USMC Reserve Rifle Team for his M14NM's rear sight having red marks on it. The referee told the challenger that was just the same as Firm Grip being externally applied to the butt plate; another external modification that didn't matter and was not explicitely disallowed in the rules. Go figgure that out.