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Old January 6, 2000, 11:06 AM   #1
Join Date: July 29, 1999
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 72
Good day to everyone, I thought I'd just share something that happened to me at the range yesterday that I found very interesting. It involved the color of my targets and their effect on the Point Of Impact of my bullets (POI) as fired from my ironsighted 6" 586 S&W revolver. (With 158gr SWC, 4.3 gr 231, WSP primers)

At work I had created some nice big targets on 11"x 17" size paper. I made two types of targets: one had a completely black background and a 3 in white square in the middle, the second was all white with a black 3 inch square in the middle.(They were opposites of each other)

I made these two combinations because I wasn't sure which way I would prefer. So anyway when it came time to shoot (@25 metres) I was surprised to find that each time I fired on the all black target with small white square I would get all rounds in the little square, and then when I shot on the all white target with black square I was shooting about 4-5" above the square!

Maybe its just me, but I found this fascinating for some reason. There must be some kind of optical effect going on here.

What is also interesting, is that when you look at the two targets side by side, even though they are exactly the same dimensions, the little black square seems bigger than the little white square.

I don't think that a scoped weapon would be subject to the same effect. However I have no scoped guns to experiment with this. So I could be wrong.

This makes me wonder about the effect of shooting different colored targets with various backgrounds. For instance shooting at a real deer vs. paper targets (with iron sights).

This also makes me wonder if the background behind the animals will make a difference too. For instance hunting an animal with a snowy background vs. hunting in the fall before snow falls (darker background).

Has anyone else experienced a similar effect?

By the way I noticed that I got a much clearer sight picture when shooting at the all black target with small white square both at the 25m and 50m ranges.

[This message has been edited by SharpCdn (edited January 06, 2000).]
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Old January 6, 2000, 05:25 PM   #2
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Join Date: July 1, 1999
Location: Iowa
Posts: 2,135
Interesting post. I've noticed similar results myself.

When I shoot indoors, I always place a white or chartreuse 2" square in the center of an NRA 25 yard slow fire target. This target has a 5" black center area.

My groups are always better when I have a high contrast and small aiming point.

I've never tried reversing the contrast like you did, but I wouldn't be supprised if my results were the same.


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Old January 7, 2000, 01:24 AM   #3
Dan Johnson
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Join Date: December 31, 1999
Location: Albuquerque, N.M.
Posts: 10
This is something a lot of shooters don't seem to give much thought to. The color and configuration of a target can have a considerable effect, not only on where your groups print but on how large they are. This is especially true with open sights, but can also make a difference with scope-sighted guns particularly for those of us with older eyes.
I am currently researching an assignment for 'Handguns' magazine on prescription shooting glasses and will speak to the Optometrist concerning this subject. It would be interesting as a side note in the article or may be worthy of a column in it's own right.
Good Post;
Dan Johnson
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Old January 7, 2000, 02:09 AM   #4
George Hill
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Join Date: October 14, 1998
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 11,546
One thing to remember - The colors effect the shooters ability to gain his/her sight picture - not the actual point of impact...

I have suggested this to some folks - some pistols have sight inserts drilled into them With these sights you can change the inserts (the drilled - not dovetailed) by pushing out the white plastic insert and using some crayola crayons and refilling the hole with the wax of your choice. Green red and Yellow are all good choices and you can play with the colors... find a combo that helps your eyes pick up the sights better at on your usual targets. Glow in the dark crayons do not really give you night sights...

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." - Sigmund Freud
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Old January 7, 2000, 03:16 PM   #5
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Join Date: December 30, 1998
Location: Baton Rouge, La. USA
Posts: 224
One thing you might consider; I find when
shooters change targets ( and distances ) they tend to get in the habit of shooting a
round off and and then looking up at the target.This results in a slight upward movement of the barrel causing a high hit.
( as much as 12-14" at 25yds ) This may not
apply in this case. I know diffrent colors
tend to bleed out on me; esp. when shooting
brightly colored plates at 50 yds.
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Old January 7, 2000, 10:31 PM   #6
Join Date: July 29, 1999
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 72
Interesting points guys, thanks alot for your input.

The next time I go to the range I'm going to examine this effect further. I think that understanding this more will lead to much less of those disappointing shots when I shoot great groups on paper, and then miss on larger steel targets immediately after. (Different color and shape).

I hate that, I always find that very discouraging. I'm sure I've discovered something that will improve my accuracy at the farther distances.

I'm going to take a bunch of different colored & shaped targets and take notes of where my bullets are landing compared to my perceived point of aim.

I guess I am a little retentive.I know I really need to get a life. But I'm actually really anxious to see the results.

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