Sight Alignment and Sight Picture, Getting the Basics Down

Weapon sights come from manufacturers in a variety of configurations and each sight will look different than the others. The rear sight of a weapon may be U-shaped, V-shaped, two dots or a perhaps a straight line. Some sights have small or large dots or are simple notched sights. The general concept of sight alignment and sight picture works no matter how the sights are configured. The keys to shooting your targets where you want to can be accomplished by primarily following these key concepts:

  1. Proper sight alignment.
  2. Proper sight picture.

Firing your weapon properly accurately and hitting the target means you have proper sight alignment and sight picture. Sight alignment simply means having the front and rear sights in line with your eyesight so you can shoot straight at your target. Your horizontal axis and vertical axis will be lined up. Sight picture means your target is aligned with your front and rear sights.

Start with illustration 1. In this picture, the shooter extends his arms and holds his weapon level. The shooter is not looking straight down onto his weapon. The shooter is looking straight out along the length of his weapon. He is looking through the rear sight and through the front sight. When he pulls the trigger the front sight is what he will concentrate on.


Horizontal Sight Alignment If your front sight is high, your shot will go above your target. The reverse is true as well. If your front sight is low, your shot will go below your target. You want to have your horizontal and vertical axis lined up. See Illustration 2.

Illustration 2

Illustration 2

Vertical Sight Alignment Okay, you have probably heard this before: You want to have an equal amount of light (space) separating the front sight on each side of the notch, as it sits between the rear sight. Treat your rear sight as a window that you look through in order to see your front sight. Do not look at your rear sight. Look through your rear sight. See Illustration 3.

Illustration 3

Illustration 3

Sight Picture

Okay, once you understand sight alignment it’s time to move onto sight picture. Sight picture means your target is aligned with your front and rear sights. When you pull the trigger, the resulting shot will be accurate, as you intended.


Shot analysis

The top of the front and rear sights were level. There was an equal amount of light separating the front sight and sides of the rear sight notch. This is a perfect shot.


Here are some examples of where your shot might land if you do not follow the fundamentals of sight picture and sight alignment:

There was an equal amount of light separating the front sight and sides of the rear notch, however the front sight was too high.High-Hit

There was too much light on left side of notch. The top of the front sight was higher than the top of the rear sight. The shot was too high and to the right.

High-RightThere was too much light on the right side of the front sight. The shot will be to the left of the target.Left-Hit

Keep on practicing!


Through his own hardships and frustration Mike decided to create a site to share his knowledge. He keeps meeting others who want to do the same. Out of this came Spotter Up, a website to put out information to help guide those who want to live life on their terms. He credits his early military training as the one thing that kept him disciplined through the many years. Michael Kurcina subscribes to the Spotter Up way of life. “I will either find a way or I will make one”.

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Featured photo courtesy of Rick Dombroski

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