There is much discussion on the training requirements for moving to a red dot on a pistol. Yes, there is, undoubtedly, a learning curve to adopting the red dot. However, there is a great deal of misunderstanding related to what this learning curve entails. Having spent considerable time training with a dot-equipped pistol in the past several months, and having obtained a considerable level of proficiency with it at this point, I can speak to this with the direct experience of coming to it as an iron sights shooter:
The truth is, moving to a dot sight does not require a new skillset, but only requires a refinement of shooting skill that should already be happening when shooting iron sights, yet most shooters are simply unaware of this necessary refinement because we can use iron sights as a crutch. The most difficult part of transitioning to a red dot on a handgun is “finding the dot.” Most shooters will struggle, at first, to find the dot on presentation. The solution is to refine the presentation to the point that it is absolutely consistent so that the optic is aligned with the eye every time the gun comes on target.
This “problem” with the red dot is, actually, not a problem at all with the sight, but with the shooter’s presentation, and it is a problem that the shooter only becomes self-aware of after using a dot sight. This challenge is simply more pronounced with the dot because the work-around to an inconsistent presentation is not as readily available as with iron sights. When using iron sights, the front and rear sight are visible during the entire end of the presentation and the shooter can make any needed micro adjustments to align the sights. With the dot, if the presentation is not right, the dot is not in the glass of the optic at all. Therefore, irons allow the shooter to visually fix the presentation more easily than doing so with a dot sight.
The fact remains that, whether shooting iron sights or a red dot, to truly maximize the speed and efficiency of the shooting process the presentation needs to be solid so that minimal adjustment is needed at the end. Therefore, I have concluded that working with a red dot makes you a better handgunner even if you will resort back to irons, because the fine points of the presentation are more obvious, and thus worked on, when shooting a dot gun.
I believe that using a dot sight on a handgun is now totally mainstream and more and more shooters will embrace the technology going forward. I also think that irons offer certain advantages that will keep them relevant as well. I would offer that the well-rounded handgunner should get experience with both, as it will work to enhance your skill level. The actual aiming process is similar, the dot just illuminates underlying issues with the presentation. Hence, if you prefer iron sights, but spend some time with a red dot, you will go back to iron sights a better shooter.
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