What a Sight
I recently bought a new field gun. For reasons known only to the geniuses who specced it out, this very nice side-by-side 20-gauge bird gun came factory equipped with a small brass mid-bead and a large Bradley bead-on-a-block front sight. I showed it to some of my friends. Some felt it to be desecration of a nice gun, others thought it was just fine and might actually improve my shooting.
That started me thinking about shotgun sights in general. The accepted theory in shotgunning is that you concentrate your vision 100 percent on the target. You don't look at the front sight on the shotgun barrel the way you do when you shoot a pistol. So, if one doesn't look at the front sight, it really shouldn't matter what is stuck up there.
But it does matter, at least to me. I've tried shooting without any bead at all (it fell off one of my guns), and I've also tried those long plastic glow-worm sights. Either way, I sure noticed it. It is probably a primary vision versus peripheral vision thing. We concentrate on the bird, but we are peripherally very aware of where the barrel is. Of course, if we become too aware, we start to aim—and that means no gamebird for dinner.
It's understandable that when shooters with an eye-dominance issue shoot a pre-mounted clays sport, they might like those glow-worm sights. These sights glow brightest when the eye directly behind the rib is the master eye. This helps the shooter check his gun mount and eye alignment before calling for the bird. After lining up correctly, he then can concentrate on the bird. I know many trap shooters who use their center bead to obtain proper barrel alignment before calling. But in the field it just escapes me. I confirm my barrel alignment by the feel of the stock on my cheek. One of my hunting pals swears that the only thing that a bead on a field gun is good for is to keep the rib from getting scratched when you lean it up against a wall.
But then what about all those red Raybar sights Ithaca put on its Model 37s? If we do look for a certain bird/barrel relationship before pulling the trigger, wouldn't a visible sight be a help against a bad background where it would be easy to lose the dark smudge of the barrel? Would a glowing bead help us get more grouse as they flit through the dark pines? Or is it just best to focus 100 percent on the bird and trust that your gun will automagically follow your eyes?
What are your thoughts on this? Have you found a high-visibility front sight to be helpful or a distraction for your particular way of shooting?
That’s it for now. Boots off. Beer open.