What Is Sight Alignment? The Ultimate Shooting Strategies Guide

What Is Sight Alignment? The Ultimate Shooting Strategies Guide

Posted by Ranger Point Team on Jul 26th 2022

Imagine, you are at the gun range for shooting with your handgun and targets in place, and you are ready to shoot but fail miserably in hitting the right target. If you are relatively new to shooting, you might relate to the scenario mentioned above.

If you are wondering - what is a proper sight alignment, and a proper peep sight picture, the difference between sight picture vs. sight alignment, and what requires correct alignment of the target, front sight, and rear sight; then this blog post is definitely going to be for you. Keep reading to know the ultimate shooting strategies.

Let’s get started without any further delay.


What is Sight Alignment?

In the context of shooting, sight alignment is one of the primary factors that contribute to hitting an accurate shot. It is very important for a shooter to aim a firearm and give the barrel a definite direction in relation to the target for the bullet to hit the center of the target.

Theoretically, to achieve the accurate aim, the shooter needs to make the right alignment between the rear sight center with the front sight aim point while holding them in the alignment of the aiming area.

To get your aiming correct every time, you need to maintain the relationship between the front and rear sight. Moreover, sight alignment and acquiring a good sight picture are two significant shooting skills you need to develop for competitive shooting and mastering lethal force encounters.

Sight alignment is not as easy as it seems, as your body will be producing fear and threat hormones. And to be as precise and as accurate even in that fight or flight situation, you need to learn some shooting strategies and tactics. There are multiple sight alignment techniques that you need to learn to stand a better chance of encountering the target. Before learning about sight alignment, sight picture, and shooting strategies; you need to know your dominant eye so let’s discover how you can identify your dominant eye.  


Image source: https://images.app.goo.gl/MBhhcFdhNYwHZZh49

Identifying Your Dominant Eye for The Best Sight Alignment:

As the name suggests, eye dominance is your one eye’s ability to see things more clearly and accurately than the other one. The easiest way to get an idea of your dominant eye is by knowing your dominant part of the body. For example, right-handed people are usually right-eye dominant, and left-handed people are left-eye dominant.

Nonetheless, there are a few people who have the cross-dominant vision - having their dominant eye opposite of their dominant hand, and then there are a few people who have “central vision.”

Sight Picture vs. Sight Alignment:

To hit the right target, you need to understand the difference between sight alignment and sight picture. So, let’s get a quick idea about sight picture and sight alignment, and a good definition of sight alignment.

Sight Alignment:

In simple words, sight alignment is the relation between the front sight and rear sight. To hit the target, your eye must create a sighting plane from the pupil of the dominant eye with the help of rear and front sights.

To achieve the perfect sight alignment, you need to get the top edge of the front sight vertically centered in the notch of the rear sight while there is an equal amount of white space on both sides of the front sight post. See the image below for reference.


Image source: https://images.app.goo.gl/ihgqGQQ1wZxC1GMR6

Sight Picture:


Image Source: https://images.app.goo.gl/FqzS4QRQamPHZRqRA

To put it simply, we can say that a sight picture is the placement of the properly aligned sights on the target. When you have the front sight post and the rear sights in alignment, all you need to do is know where to place the sights on the target to get an accurate hit.

You can refer to the picture above for a proper peep sight picture.

Sight Alignment: Adjusting the Sight

Adjusting the sight is one of the most important aspects when you want to achieve your target with the minimum shots. In most handguns, you need to adjust the rear sight to the point of impact. Move the rear sight in the direction you want the bullet to impact. For example, if your bullets are hitting to the right of the target, move your rear sight to the left.


The sight that you place on the target depends on the handgun that you are using, as there are different sights provided by gun manufacturers. However, all of the gun sights fall into the main five categories as mentioned below:

Types of Sights

  • Iron or open sights
  • Peep sights
  • Telescopic sights (scopes)
  • Reflex sights
  • Laser sights

    Iron or Open Sights:


    Image source: https://images.app.goo.gl/JZRP5zr7J33WQZmc8

    Iron or open sights is a standard sight for pistols, rifles, and shotguns. There are two types of components in this sight: front sight and rear sight.

    The front sight, also known as the front post, is located near the end of the muzzle and is usually shaped as a blade with a flat top. A shooter usually uses a front sight for aiming.

    Also known as the rear notch, you can find the rear sight closer to the back of the handgun. There are mainly two types of styles of rear sight - a square notch and a U shape - allowing the shooter to gauge elevation and windage to point the barrel as straight at the target as possible.

    Peep Sight:

    The main difference between other sights and  a peep sight is the look at the rear with a circular “lens” that you look through. With the circular lens, a shooter can get higher accuracy of the target.

    In the peep sight picture, you have to align the front sight with the center of the rear peep. The proper peep sight picture is an easier way to get the target compared to other sights. When using a rifle, a proper peep sight picture provides the highest accuracy.

    The best way to use a peep sight for rifles, and specifically a Marlin Model 1984 lever-action rifle. If you are looking for the  best Marlin 1894 sights and rifle accessories, you can get them at Ranger Point Precision Now!

    Telescopic Sights:

    Image source: https://images.app.goo.gl/d19s7xAaRSYLwTeE6

    The telescopic sight is the best choice if you are shooting at a greater distance. The telescopic sight is also known for scope. It is commonly used on the rifles of hunters, target shooters, and snipers.

    With the telescopic sight, you can see a clear and magnified view of the target to pick a particular hitting point. You can also adjust the magnification of the scope to target the longer shots. A scope contains a reticle such as a set of crosshairs that you can place where you want to target.

    Reflex Sights:

    Image source: https://images.app.goo.gl/a1c3SCLaNSWq9oUQ9

    The reflex sight is the best choice if you are targeting a short to medium distance, with a wide field of view and red dots on the reflective glass for easy aim. There are mainly three sight adjustments in reflex sight: daytime, brightness level, and night vision mode.

    With reflex sight, you can shoot with both eyes open to see the entire field of view. Nonetheless, red dot sights require a power source. These are the best sights if you are looking for more accuracy and speed.

    Going further, there are two options: Open reflex sight and closed reflex sight. As the name suggests, in a closed sight, the light source is enclosed within a protective covering to shoot in unfavorable weather conditions, while an open reflex sight helps with faster target acquisition.

    Laser Sights:


    Image source: https://images.app.goo.gl/J9RaqbUHH7a4EfzEA

    The laser sight is another best alternative to get the best possible accuracy. In these sights, the laser is mounted in accordance with the barrel to project light onto the target to get the exact idea of the target.

    There are two standard colors in the laser sights: Red and Green. Red laser sights consume less power, but they can be less effective during sunlight and daytime. Green lasers are good options for daytime shooting, but they can be a little expensive as they require more power.

    Sight Alignment Errors To Avoid:

    Hitting the right target is the motto of all the shooters, and thus you need to avoid some most common mistakes. Remember, while shooting, it’s important to have better and more precise hits than the speed. And to get that accurate target, you need to understand the relationship of the rear sight to the front sight. Some shooters can only see the notch of the rear sight in sharp focus, while the outer extremities may become slightly blurred.

    Here are some of the most common sight alignment and sight picture errors:

    Angular Shift Error:

    The angular shift error occurs when the shooter maintains the top surface of the central front sight on a level with the top of the rear sight while keeping equal light space on each side of the front sight. Angular shift error happens when the shooter locates the front sight in a different position in the rear notch resulting in a greater dispersion of shots on the target as the bullets deviate in the direction in which the front sight is positioned in the notch. You can see the image below for a better visual understanding.


    In picture 1, the front sight is too low, and thus low hit on the target. Whereas in picture 2, the front sight is too high, resulting in a high hit on the target.

    If you see picture 3, you can see that the front sight is skewed to the right and thus right hit on target. On the contrary to that, in picture 4, the front sight is skewed to the left resulting in the left hit on the target.

    Parallel Shift Error:

    Parallel shift error occurs when the arc of the movement is deviating near parallel error from the center of the aiming area. Though deflection will not lower the score as much as the angular shift error, sight alignment is a significant aspect of shooting. Here’s the visual representation of parallel shift error:


    (Need to create an image like this)

    The accuracy of the shot mainly depends on the shooter’s ability to keep correct sight alignment throughout the session. Sight picture and sight alignment are most difficult to maintain when the shooter is trying to maintain minimum movement and pressing the trigger to cause the hammer to fall. To get the best possible solution, focus on the front sight while shooting.

    Things to Keep In Mind While Shooting:

    It is easy to keep your sights and targets aligned in the initial stage, but as you keep shooting under a stressful situation, it becomes tough to keep things aligned. This happens because the shooter is thinking of his arc of movement and not the perfection of sight alignment.

    Moreover, anxiety and stress contribute to missing the target as the stationary pressure on the trigger increases while attempting to fire. When the shooter is under pressure to hit the target, he loses correct sight alignment.

    It is important to maintain the sight alignment throughout. Minimum movement of the arc and high concentration on sight alignment is the key to consistent, accurate shots, and positive trigger pressure should be involuntary.

    On average, the highest sustained concentration for an advanced-level shooter is 3 to 6 seconds, so he needs to deliver the perfect shot during this short time.


    Sight alignment and sight picture are the two most important things while shooting. Over a period of time, you’ll self-analyze and self-correct yourself. We hope you have got the required understanding of sight alignment, sight picture, types of sights, and common errors in alignment. There are many factors that may affect your sight picture and sight alignments, like eye dominance, environment, and your capacity to handle stressful situations. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the sight picture?

Simply put, a sight picture is the placement of the properly aligned front & rear sights on the target. When you have the front sight post and the rear sights in alignment, all you need to do is know where to place the front sight on the target to get an accurate hit.

What is the importance of sight alignment?

Sight alignment is a primary factor contributing to hitting an accurate shot. It is very important for a shooter to aim a firearm and give the barrel a definite direction to the target for the bullet to hit the center of the target.

What is a 6 o'clock sight picture?

A 6 o'clock sight picture is a sight picture where the sights are aligned immediately below the bullseye and aim slightly low.