a glock pistol for how to aim with iron sights hero image

How to Aim with Iron Sights

If you’re a new shooter, one of the first things you’ll need to learn is how to aim with iron sights.

Iron sights are the most basic types of sights you will find on pistols, rifles, and shotguns. Today I’ll walk you through the simple steps of how to aim with iron sights so that you’re hitting your target!

How to Aim With Iron Sights

showing the front sight and rear sights on a pistol to show how to aim with iron sights

To learn how to aim with iron sights, first we need to know our front sights from rear sights. The front sight is the notch at the front of the barrel, closest to the end that the bullet travels out of. The rear sights are the u-shaped notch that sits at the back of the gun, closest to the shooter.

a graphic of front and rear sights showing how to aim

Now that we know which sight is which, we can get to aiming at our target.

To aim with iron sights:

  1. Align the tip of your front sight with the top of your rear sights.
  2. Adjust your wrists so that there is equal light on either side of the front sight post between the rear sights.
  3. Focus your vision on the front sight post, letting the rear sights and your target be blurry.
  4. Place the tip of the front sight where you’d like the bullet to hit.
  5. Pull the trigger!

This is the classic bullseye sight picture. If your gun is sighted in correctly, and you do not flinch or disturb your sight picture, you’ll hit where you are aiming.

Once you’ve mastered the basics of aiming with iron sights, you can start using more advanced techniques when aiming. For example, when shooting a USPSA target up at a close distance, you don’t necessarily need a perfect sight picture to accurately hit in the A-zone. On the other hand, if you’re trying to hit a small target at a long distance, you’ll need to carefully aim.

Sight Picture with Iron Sights

looking down pistol sights at a target to demonstrate hard focus sight pictureWhile we’ve explained the classic way to aim with iron sights, there are actually a few different ways you can aim that are useful in different situations.

The types of iron sights sight picture are:

  • Hard Focus
  • Gross Index
  • Soft Focus

Hard Focus

A hard focus sight picture is the classic way to aim iron sights as we previously discussed. Your focus is on the front sight and the rear sights and target are blurry.

Gross Index

A gross index sight picture involves using the back of the gun as a reference point for aiming. This type of sight picture is used for shooting targets that are close to you extremely fast.

Soft Focus

When using a soft focus sight picture, your target remains in focus and your sights appear blurry. You align your sights as best as you can despite them being blurry.

Eye Dominance

Knowing which eye to use when looking down your sights can be confusing when you have cross-dominance eyesight. If you find that your dominant hand and dominant eye are not on the same side of your body, you will need to adjust your shooting technique.

One of the best ways to adjust your aim when you are cross-dominant is to simply shift the gun so that the sights are in front of your dominant eye. This will probably feel unnatural at first, but with some practice will help your shooting immensely. To learn more about how to shoot with cross-dominance vision, check out our Shooting Vision: Cross Dominance Guide.

How to Accurately Shoot with Iron Sights

the author shooting with iron sights

Once you’ve nailed your sight picture with iron sights, there are still other factors in getting your shot on target. With your sights aimed, you’ll need to pull the trigger without disturbing your sight picture. This takes plenty of practice and good technique, but once you have it down, you’ll be hitting your targets like a pro.

Now that you know how to aim with iron sights, head to the range for practice and don’t forget to pick up some top-quality targets from Target Barn!

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