TECH­NIQUE: Gun sights for shot­gun shoot­ers

Shoot­ing in­struc­tor Steve Raw­sthorne takes a close look at Aim­point’s new shot­gun-spe­cific red dot sights. He’s a bit skep­ti­cal go­ing into the test – but do these have the power to please?

Sporting Shooter - - Contents - WITH STEVE RAW­STHORNE

Ihave been us­ing Aim­point sights on some of my ri­fles for years for driven boar and also on a moose hunt in Swe­den last year – they are ab­so­lutely bril­liant, and I am cur­rently ex­per­i­ment­ing with one in ad­di­tion to a scope on a ri­fle for mun­t­jac.

When Erik and Daniel from Aim­point showed me their lat­est ver­sion for shot­guns, I was in­ter­ested but scep­ti­cal. I have never been a fan of big lumps or flu­o­res­cence on the end of the bar­rel, but was pre­pared to give it a go.

For those of you who have not used one of these sights be­fore, you use them to shoot mov­ing tar­gets with a ri­fle, a sin­gle pro­jec­tile, rather than the cloud of shot we have with a shot­gun. One of the big­gest ben­e­fits is that you shoot with both eyes open, ir­re­spec­tive of eye dom­i­nance; some­how it takes care of that so that even with a fully dom­i­nant left mas­ter eye, you can shoot with both eyes open from the right shoul­der and vice-versa. I was in­ter­ested to see if this would be the same with a shot­gun.

The unit was orig­i­nally pre­sented to me fixed to the bar­rel of an over-and-un­der, around 6" from the muz­zle. I have to ad­mit, I was less than im­pressed with it in this con­fig­u­ra­tion, as it im­pinged too much on my vi­sion and dis­tracted me from fo­cus­ing on the tar­get, ex­actly the op­po­site ef­fect I have us­ing it on a ri­fle. Nor­mally, on a ri­fle, the sight, which is tiny and weighs around 100g, sits much fur­ther back, on top of the ac­tion, so I de­cided to move the unit to this po­si­tion and give it a go.

The sight comes with mounts and adapters to fit the width of raised rib, so you should not need any ex­tras; there is even a tool in the kit which al­lows you to make all the ad­just­ments. Don’t do as I did – I moved the sight while stood in a field with­out any sup­port and didn’t do it up prop­erly. Af­ter half a dozen shots, it fell off!

For­tu­nately, it is very ro­bust, de­signed to be sol­dier-proof – they are in use with the mil­i­tary and po­lice all over the world in their mil­lions. I went back to the car and fixed it prop­erly and had no more prob­lems. I set it up about 4" from the breech end of the bar­rels, I would have liked to have it even fur­ther back, but the rib on my gun was solid there and the mounts could not at­tach. Rather like a ri­fle sight, you need to zero it, which I did by sim­ply pick­ing a mark, lin­ing the gun up on it and mov­ing the dot to that point. If you are do­ing this, the ar­rows in­di­cat­ing right and up move the point of im­pact that way, not the dot. It is worth tak­ing a bit of time do­ing this at home to get it right, be­fore you go out to shoot. Un­like me.

The ben­e­fits of set­ting the unit fur­ther back were im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent. I was able to fo­cus on the tar­get, with both eyes open and af­ter less than a box of car­tridges, I stopped even notic­ing it was there. One of the great things about the tech­nol­ogy is that your head po­si­tion is not ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal – as long as you have the red dot in your vi­sion, that is where the shot goes. I

was able to fo­cus on the tar­get and see the

‘If you are a se­ri­ous com­pet­i­tive shooter, you prob­a­bly don’t need one of these units – but they are fun to try any­way’

lead I was giv­ing it in my pe­riph­eral vi­sion. Start­ing gun-down on some sim­ple go­ing-away birds, I just pressed the but­ton and shot the bird in the usual way. The red dot just floated onto it and it broke. Sim­ple!

I re­ally wanted to see how I would get on shoot­ing cross­ing tar­gets, which for me would be the real test. Would it be of any use or not? There was a stan­dard right-to-left bird over some trees, not too fast, about 25 yards out. I shot it first the way I nor­mally would, mount­ing in front and stay­ing there all the time. Al­though I was look­ing at the bird, I was aware of my lead through­out the shot, and nine out of 10 broke. Next, I tried us­ing the sight to mount onto the bird and pull away, CPSA method. I think for less ex­pe­ri­enced shoot­ers, this is where it could re­ally be of ben­e­fit, both as a train­ing aid and in the field.

Fur­ther on around the course, there was a stand with a cross­ing battue fol­lowed by a loop­ing right-to-left midi, over 40 yards out. To my sur­prise, I was im­me­di­ately break­ing both us­ing the sight, with my usual main­tained lead style. I was start­ing to like this!

I con­tin­ued around the course, shoot­ing rab­bits and some driven birds, quar­ter­ing-aways and teal. The sight was per­form­ing much bet­ter than I had an­tic­i­pated. It was an over­cast cloudy day and un­der the trees the red dot showed up well. In bright sun­light, I just had to turn up the bright­ness a bit.

I re­ally wanted to know how the unit would per­form with an “op­po­site” mas­ter eye, would it cor­rect it as it did on a ri­fle? My right eye is fully dom­i­nant. If I shoot off the left shoul­der, I have to shut my right eye as soon as I see the bird or even be­fore, when I call for it. I had a few prac­tice mounts on the left, then shot the eas­ier crossers I had started with off the left shoul­der, both eyes open. No­body was more sur­prised than me when it broke. So did six more out of the next 10. Next, I shot a few rab­bits, left to right, left shoul­der and both eyes open. Sim­i­lar re­sults. I think that if you are a shooter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing eye dom­i­nance is­sues, this could be a great aid for you, as you would not need to swap shoul­ders or close an eye.

I took 75 car­tridges out with me to shoot and en­joyed the ex­pe­ri­ence so much that I went back to the car and got an­other box! If you are a rel­a­tively new shooter or have eye dom­i­nance prob­lems, I think you could re­ally ben­e­fit from try­ing one of these units. If you are al­ready a se­ri­ous com­pet­i­tive shooter, you prob­a­bly don’t need one, but they are fun to try any­way. If it means any­thing, I have left mine on the gun and am go­ing to give it a go on de­coyed pi­geons.

The sight is much less ef­fec­tive for Steve when mounted on the end of the bar­rel

The sight is not vis­ually in­tru­sive and af­ter a few shots is hardly not­i­ca­ble

Steve also tested the sight from his left shoul­der

Sit­ting low on the rib, shoot­ers don’t have to change their gun mount or head po­si­tion to be look­ing through the unit

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