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How to Use a Shotgun Bead Sight: A Full Guide for Beginners

how to use a shotgun bead sight

People that handle shotguns for the very first time often experience troubles putting the bead sight to fair use.

They tend to assume that the shotgun bead sight works similarly to pistols and rifles’ front sight, but it DOESN’T in reality.

This article contains everything you must know about a shotgun bead sight, including what it is and the way it works.

Overall, the bead sight serves a slightly different role than the standard front sight of other weapons in circulation.

Things could seem difficult initially, but once you get the basics, you should be able to use the bead sight for good results. 

Purpose of a Bead Sight

Purpose of a bead sight

Generally speaking, the bead sight of the average shotgun acts as a point of reference, used in conjunction with the shooter’s peripheral vision.

You don’t aim with the bead sight. You only have to keep it within your field of view.

Using the bead sight, you could make timely adjustments to your head’s position so the shot hits right where your eyes are looking.

For example, if you mount the gun and the shotgun bead happens to be nowhere in sight, your cheek is likely low.

In most cases, the shotgun bead sight proves pretty useful when it comes to shooting at stationary targets. 

How to Use a Shotgun Bead Sight

People familiar with rifles and pistols know that they need to keep the front sight in sharp focus while allowing the gun rear sight and the target to blur.

However, if you treat the shotgun bead sight like the front sight, your shots would land anywhere BUT the targets!

To hit with a shotgun, it’s of utmost importance that you focus on the target and let the shogun barrel become blurred on the edge of your peripheral vision.

At that moment, the bead sight should notify the shooters when they get the right gap between the target and the barrel of your shotgun.

To see our list of best red dots for shotguns, check out this guide!

Issues Associated with a Bead Sight

Bead sight on shotgun barrel

Although the bead sight is quite handy if you know how to use it, you need to remember a couple of problems.

Namely, if the focus of your eyes is automatically drawn toward the end of the shotgun every time you shoot, the sight effectiveness would dismiss.

In addition to that, game hunters that make one last swing inspection before pulling the trigger often miss their targets.

The reason behind this is simple.

As you check the shotgun’s muzzle, your movement slows down or comes to a complete halt.

For moving targets, the difference between a hit and a miss could be decided in one instance, so act wisely. 

Types of Bead Sights

Besides the barrel bead sight, a couple of shotguns available for purchase got a second bead sight called the middle bead.

The “middle” part of its name indicates the location, not because that sight is the middle of the three beads.

Most of the time, the front bead sight should be slightly bigger than its middle counterpart, and they all act as points of reference.

To use these shotgun bead sights, you need to line them up, forming a figure eight.

When the figure shape is perfect, the shooter’s eyes would be lined up down the shotgun barrel center. 

Advances in technology have also led to bead sight design developments, and one of the most notable achievements is the fiber-optic sight!

By incorporating a bundle of plastic fibers, people have produced catchy battery-free bright dots, which improve the bead sight performance.

People who often have shot against cluttered backgrounds love fiber-optic sights as they consistently deliver great visual reference points.

A glowing bead should permit you to trace a line to your targets with relative ease in low light conditions.

If you want to shoot from dusk to dawn, you should consider outfitting your shotgun with a fiber-optic sight. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Shotgun Bead Sights

Man shooting shotgun

#1 Is It Possible to Solve Eye Dominance Issues With the Bead?

Various manufacturers and experienced claim that the shotgun bead sight could correct problems caused by eye dominance on the field.

However, many others think of the bead sight as less than helpful in this manner.

As long as the gun is mounted correctly, the bead should let your master eye focus on the target without trouble. 

#2 Can I Install the Middle Bead Sight on My Own?

In most cases, outfitting shotguns with a middle bead sight is not exactly a do-it-yourself job.

To install a middle bead, you need to drill a hole and thread in before mounting the sight.

The process requires purpose design tools and a minor mistake is enough to ruin everything.

So if you don’t have the right equipment and skill, make sure to send your shotgun to a qualified gunsmith.

#3 Do I Have to Keep the Bead Sight Around?

After you manage to get a firm grasp of the shotgun, it would automatically become an extension of your body.

If you could properly mount the gun, there is no need to always use the bead. All your shots would land precisely where you want them to be!

 FINAL TIP: For more information to hone your skills in aiming, you can also read up on our Guide to Aiming with Iron Sights.

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