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The next big thing in shooting coaching?

A few weeks ago I was having apint with Steve (from SG) and he was telling me about one of his recent hunting trips – somewhere in Sweden, I think, where he was shooting driven boar and moose.

Nothing remarkable about that, if that’s what floats your boat, but he mentioned he was using an AimPoint red dot sight on his rifle.

I was intrigued to hear that the concept of these sights was that they are non-magnifying, used with both eyes open, and that fast moving quarry is sometimes shot shotgun-style, where the Rifle has to give an amount of forward allowance to ensure the bullet is placed in the kill zone on the beast.

This got me thinking…

All normal shotgun shooting is at moving targets, you always have to give the bird a bit of lead, and ideally you shoot with both eyes open.

Could fitting one of these devices to a shotgun help novices visualise the need to be in front of the clay before pulling the trigger?

The only way to find out was to fit one on a gun and give it a go!

Before we started our test we ‘zeroed’ the sight at around 20 yards – that is, the red dot was adjusted so that it was positioned just below the middle of the centre of the spread as indicated on a pattern plate.

This is to mimic the fact that for the average shotgun the pattern is usually about 60% above the bead with the other 40% just under.

typical shot pattern.jpg

This meant that for me the actual red dot I saw in my peripheral vision seemed to be hovering about a quarter of an inch above the bead at the end of the barrel. Interestingly, unlike a typical telescopic sight on a rifle, say, these sights are parallax free so it doesn’t matter where your head is positioned on the stock.

In fact, your face doesn’t even have to be on the woodwork – if you can see the red dot, that’s where the shot stream will go.

We tackled a variety of targets in our test and the sight really came into its own on crossing type birds – especially those a good distance away.

At first I found the red dot off putting as my eye was naturally drawn to it, but I eventually managed to stay focussed on the bird and let the dot stay comfortably in my secondary plane, peripheral vision.

Interestingly, my (less experienced) fellow tester found he got to grips with using the sight almost immediately.

Going away birds, for example seemed to be a doddle – put the spot on the target and simply pull the trigger.

Thinking about it, I reckon for trap shooting disciplines this might improve your scores dramatically.

Off the top of my head I can’t remember if there’s a specific rule that says you can – or can’t – use a sight such as this when you’re shooting in a competition under CPSA rules.

Aimpoint Sporting.jpg

It could be argued that they’re not really that much different from one of those high-viz, easy-sight bead jobbies that you stick at the end of the barrels to help eliminate cross vision.

Aimpoint bolting bunnies.jpg

I’d be interested to know what readers think, and also if they would be happy shooting in a squad where one of their fellow Guns was using one of these sights.

Maybe, just maybe, these sights could be the next big thing in coaching. I emphasise the coaching side because I’m still not fully convinced an experienced shooter would benefit greatly.

I think there could be a tendency to concentrate on the red dot – almost focus on it if you like – rather than on the bird itself, and that’s something you simply mustn’t do (in exactly the same way you should never look at the bead on the barrels).

That said, even expert Guns struggle on some types of targets. How many times have I heard people say they simply don’t know where they’re missing? Loads.

This device would give the shooter a much clearer picture and understanding of how he was shooting a given bird, enabling him to make his own adjustments accordingly.

For coaching novices, though, this device gives an accurate and immediate visualisation of where the barrels are pointing and how far they have or haven’t got the muzzles ahead of the target.

It’s something to which the beginner can instantly relate.

Aimpoint in conclusion.jpg

The coach standing behind the shooter will know if the shooter was in front, behind, under or over so it should be a simple matter of encouraging the shooter to place the dot in the correct position for the next shot.

Obviously, and I should hardly need to mention this, the coach will still have to stress the need for correct stance, swing and the dozens of other factors that need to be considered to hit targets consistently.

Away from clay pigeon targets, incidentally, I’m told these sights are used extensively in America for game shooting – albeit they’re penchant for shooting turkeys and the like when they’re still on the ground couldn’t be further from our own driven pheasants!

That said, I’ve seen pictures of hunters in the States using these sights when out wildfowling so they can obviously be used successfully on winged game.

THE HR-1 micro sight we used is a self-contained unit, and you buy a separate mount to fit your rifle or gun.

It’s military background means it’s pretty waterproof and shockproof. The red dot – variable in intensity to suit the ambient light conditions – never switches off; the battery is said to last 50,000 hours before it needs replacing!

Aimpoint about aimpoint.jpg

The sights cost somewhere around the £500 mark, and if you’re interested you can get further details from the UK distributors: