When it comes to pistol sights, the 3 dot sight is one of the most common configurations you would come across. Several manufacturers even incorporate tritium inserts or fiber-optics into their 3 dot sight so you could aim and shoot in low light environments.
In general, shooting with a 3 dot sight is not exactly difficult, but it could take time to get used to it. If it’s your first time shooting and you want to learn how to aim a pistol with 3 dot sights, this article is the perfect place to start.
Here is a step-by-step guide about how to line up your sights and how you should use it in several different situations.
The Layout of the Average 3 Dot Sight
In usual cases, the 3 dot sight is arranged in a simple manner with 2 dots on the rear sight post and 1 dot on the front sight post.
The front and rear sights setup is often considered sufficient for basic requirements and it’s generally easy to use in most situations.
Not all 3 dot sights on the market are similar though, each sight could possess unique dot sizes and alignment gaps.
As a result, it would take a lot of practice to become acquainted with the proper sight picture or a certain set of 3 dot sights.
Adjustable models are also available if you want to adapt the sight to your own shooting style.
How to Aim a Pistol With 3 Dot Sights
Step 1: Get Into the Shooting Position
Hold the gun with your dominant hand and wrap the exposed grip with your nondominant one as support. Stand firmly with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly bend your knees.
Your arms should be mostly straight with a little bend at the elbows. At any given time, you have to remember to keep the gun away from your face.
Once you fire, there is going to be recoil, and this stance will keep your hand steady in most cases.
In order to shoot accurately, you must have a stable shooting position, so don’t ever neglect your stance.
Step 2: Aim With Your Dominant Eye
You could theoretically shoot with both eyes open, but that’s a tricky technique and requires a lot of training. In fact, shooting with both eyes open is often classified as a defensive firearm skill. It’s not so important in target shooting.
Therefore, most of the time, it’s advised you aim with your dominant eye and close your other eye.
The dominant eye tends to offer a more accurate image of your proximity than the other eye. This will considerably enhance your shooting precision and give a proper sight picture.
In some cases, your dominant eye may line up with your dominant hand but that’s not always the case.
If you can’t determine which eye is your dominant one, there’s a simple way to figure it out:
- First, make a triangular using the forefingers and thumbs of your hands then hold it at arm’s length. Next, center the triangular on a distant object and look through it with both of your eyes. Finally, close your left eye and see what happens.
- If the object remains centered, you could conclude that your right eye is the dominant eye. On the other hand, if the object is no longer in the frame, you are left-eye dominant.
This test should help you find your dominant eye within seconds.
Step 3: Align the Sight Dots and Focus Your Eyes
To ensure consistent accuracy, you have to keep the front and rear sight dots aligned. The gap between the front sight dot and the rear sight dots must be equal on both sides.
This applies to almost ALL pistols, even with Glock sight pictures.
You also need to position the sights in a way that the top of the rear sight posts is even with the front sight post.
After that, you have to choose which element to focus on. There are 3 options in total: The target, the front sight dot, and the rear sight dots.
It’s impossible to focus on all of them at once, so you have to test them all out to see which is most comfortable for you.
For defensive shooting, you should focus your eye on the target, the sights could be slightly blurred and out of focus during these situations.
For target shooting, it’s recommended to focus on the front sight, which may leave the target in a blurry state.
As we mentioned before, it’s not a bad idea to practice defensive shooting with both eyes open. Although you only need to open your dominant eye while keeping the other eye closed for target shooting.
Step 4: Choose the Point of Aim and Squeeze the Trigger
When it comes to aiming points, there are several spots available so just pick one that suits you the most.
- Center of Mass: Place the front sight head at the center of the bullseye area
- 6 o’clock: Place the front sight head just below the bullseye area
- Dead on Hold: Place the front sight head far below the bullseye area
After you pick your aiming point, all you have to do now is to pull the trigger.
However, instead of just pulling the trigger, you should concentrate and squeeze it until the pistol fires. Only apply the pressure on the front of the trigger and don’t try to guess when the pistol will shoot. Doing so could cause last-minute aiming errors. Just squeeze the trigger steadily while maintaining your aim.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you repeatedly fail to hit your intended mark, there is a good chance that your aligning is at fault here.
For example, if your hits are below the center of the target, you may have placed the front sight head below the top of the rear sight posts. If your hits are off to the right of the target, you may have placed the front sight too close to the right post of the rear sight.
Sometimes, it can also be because you can’t see your target clearly. Avoid target shooting in low light conditions if you’re still a beginner. However, if you end up target shooting in this kind of situation, having a friend use a flashlight could help and be an interesting challenge.
That’s pretty much everything you need to know about how to aim a pistol with a 3 dot sight. Quite easy to understand, right?
Knowing how to aim a pistol with 3 dot sights will let you shoot with precision in a variety of situations, and it’s an important skill any beginner should know about.
We hope that with this article, you’ll be one step closer to mastering this technique in no time before moving on to red dot sight training.
FINAL TIP: For a general guide on aiming, you can also take a look at our Guide to Aiming with Iron Sights if you’re interested.
CHANGELOG: May 2, 2022 - Added 1 new article link September 16, 2021 - Reviewed and updated article links, updated article title