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Beads on shotguns – do they mean you’ll shoot better?

Do you really need one?

Beads on shotguns

White foresight bead

Fore-sight beads on shotguns come in different colours – often red or green and are supposed to help with your eye dominance. But are they really necessary? If you find them a distraction, can you remove them?

Shooting Times and Sporting Gun contributors gave their thoughts on the matter.

Beads on shotguns

“The bead on your shotgun is just a marker, not something to take into consideration when you are shooting. If you find yourself looking at your bead when you are shooting I would recommend getting a smaller one that doesn’t attract your sight or remove it altogether.

“I had a client whose bead fell out halfway round a shoot, and to his surprise he found he shot much better without it. Most of our school guns have had the bead removed – if it’s not there you can’t look at it.” (Tony Bracci of Bisley Shooting Ground)

Handy reference point?

“I once shot 50 Sporting targets with a well-worn Remington semi-auto I had borrowed for a second-hand gun test, and didn’t realise the foresight was missing until I took the gun in to the photo studio later in the day. If you are watching fast moving sporting targets properly, you don’t see the fore-sight. However, I do tend to notice the fore-sight more, and a mid-rib bead if it is fitted, on the rare occasions I shoot the trap disciplines. That could be why I shoot them so badly. I also find a fore-sight a handy reference point when shooting in very poor light, like duck flighting after dark.

“In these situations, a small white bead foresight seems to be best, for me at any rate. A foresight of any colour can always be temporarily whitened with a dab of Tippex, which you can still buy in an age when nobody uses typewriters any more.” (Mike George)

Red or green beads – which colour is best?

Are there pros and cons to the colour of fore-sight beads on shotguns? Tom Payne advises: “You can shoot without a bead so long as you have the ability to focus hard on your bird. I have used a red bead before but never a green bead; personally I prefer a metal bead, which I have shaved down slightly.

“Beads on shotguns are your peripheral vision and not to be used as an aiming device. Your main focus should be on the bird; use your peripheral vision for knowing where your gun is.

“Using a bead can be helpful, but not if your vision is constantly drawn to the end of the gun. A common mistake made by many shooters is to check their swing at the point of pulling the trigger. This causes them to look back at the muzzles of the gun and slow or stop their movement.

Beads on shotguns

Always make sure your gun fits if using fore-sight beads

So will a fore-sight bead help with eye dominance?

Yes and no. The thinking behind these gizmos is that when a gun is correctly mounted the bead aligns with the master eye allowing you to focus better on the target. The makers and importers claim that the beads help correct eye dominance problems and there are plenty of people out there who have tried them and would agree.

“On the other hand there are others who have not found it as helpful.

My view is that these foresights do have a lot to offer but they really come into their own when used with a gun that fits, and the shooter knows how to mount a gun properly in the first place.” (John Bidwell)

Can I fit a mid-rib bead to my shotgun myself?

“Are you sure a mid-rib bead is going to be really helpful? They are generally only fitted to trap guns and, at the sporting disciplines, general opinion is that you should shoot with a natural pointing action, and that you should be concentrating on the target rather than the rib. Secondly, fitting such a bead isn’t really a DIY job. It involves drilling a small hole in the rib, tapping a thread in it, and screwing in the bead.

“For this job you need a drilling machine with an accurate depth stop, and a means of holding the barrels in a machine vice without damaging them. ” (Mike George)

beads on shotguns

It’s best to leave fitting beads to the experts