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American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2010 - Page 26
BETTERSHOOTING Dave Anderson The CZ Custom Shop can provide fiber optic front sights, shown here on a CZ SP-101. E valuating changes in sights can be a bit tricky. Sometimes any change will result in a temporary improvement. It’s a variation of the “Hawthorne Effect” recognized in production studies. In one experiment, researchers established a base line of production by a group of workers, then tried increasing light levels to improve visibility. Production increased at first, then returned to previous levels. Researchers speculated the increase in production was not necessarily a result of better lighting. One theory was any change makes people more conscious of what they are doing and hence more efficient, at least until they get used to the change and revert to previous habits. I’ve known competitors to make use of this phenomenon by making some minor change in equipment a week or two before a big match. A top action shooter, long since retired from competition, once told me this was an old trapshooters’ trick. He didn’t use the term Hawthorne Effect, his description was somewhat pithier. “It’s like getting a new girlfriend after being married for 10 or 15 years. You start paying attention to technique again.” Ricardo Fiber Optic Sight Magic No More Long Range urrently the emphasis is on short/medium range speed shooting. For such shots a big, bright, front sight is easy to pick up and easy to track while engaging multiple targets at high speed. The fiber optic rod is fitted in a metal (often square-edged) housing. For the rare precision shot the top edges of the housing can be used to refine the sight picture. I’ve seen a quite a few fiber optic rods broken in practice sessions and at matches, and toughness varies with the type of housing. An “open” housing lets the fiber rod gather more light but leaves it more susceptible to impact damage. Other housings recess the fiber rod to protect it from impact. TruGlo makes an interesting sight combining fiber optics and a tritium insert, the T.F.O. Brite Site. Dawson Precision, suppliers of many high quality shooting accessories, offers a fiber optic front sight popular with many competitive shooters. The current Brownell’s catalog lists fiber optic sights from TruGlo, SDM, Novak, HiViz, Marble, Brazos Custom, Williams and EGW. Midway USA also distributes a wide array of F/O sights. A sight for sore eyes? The Edge? C urrently I see many USPSA competitors using fiber optic front sights, at all levels from D-class to Grand Master. A key element of precision shooting is a sharp focus on the front sight. Many shooters think they are focusing on the front sight when in fact they are not. I can’t see through other peoples’ eyes, but judging from results on target I suspect their focus wanders from front sight to target, or out in no-mans-land somewhere in between. I know of shooters who tried fiber optic front sights and marveled about how their shooting improved. Then when scores returned to previous levels they would revert to a black post front sight, and miraculously scores would temporarily improve again. In such cases there’s nothing wrong with their eyes or the sights, just a need to improve concentration and focus. The best way to do that is by shooting groups (25 yards at least, 50 if possible) with the pistol held over a sandbag rest to take out gun movement. Hawthorne Effect aside, fiber optic sights definitely suit the needs of many shooters. Grand Master level shooters such as Mike Seeklander, Kay Miculek and Rob Leatham are currently using fiber optics on their iron-sighted match pistols. Shooters at this skill level don’t need any tricks to maintain front sight focus. Many (by no means all) of those I see using fiber optics are veteran competitors. In some cases these brighter sights may compensate for the gradual loss of focusing ability (both range and speed of focus) which often occurs in middle age. I think shooters who have had good vision all their lives are most likely to benefit from fiber optics as they get past 40. Personally I’ve worn corrective lenses since about grade two, so ordering a special pair of glasses optimized to focus on the front sight is no big deal. Those with good vision may find fiber optics a quicker, easier and cheaper solution. Another factor is the type of shooting required at many matches these days. Back in the day it was routine to have 50-yard shots at any major match, and they were common even in regular club matches. For preciJessie Abbate uses fiber sion accuracy it’s hard to optic sights when competing beat a black post/black with her Glock in Limited Div 1. notch sight picture. 26 Lopez (Team S&W) relies on fiber optic sights for competition. C * For more info: www.brownells. com; www.dawsonprecision.com; www.hivizsights.com; www.truglo. com; www.brazoscustom.com; www. marblearms.com; www.williamsgunsight.com; www.sdmfabricating.com; www.egw-guns.com; www.novaksights.com; www.cylinder-slide.com; www.midwayusa.com WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • JANUARY/FEBRUARY2010