I find it hard to believe that nearly a month has gone by since my last substantive post. To be honest, though, I just haven’t had much to say since I have not been back to the range since the Appleseed event in August. Work has picked up, and consumed massive amounts of my time, and I was preparing for the final comprehensive exam of my Master’s degree (which I completed this past weekend). All of the time being used up for professional purposes made what little time I had left important to spend with my lovely wife, who has been extremely supportive through all of this.
This made me think about how we should prioritize our activities. It seems that the more I progress in life, the less time I have to myself. I don’t particularly care for this turn of events, as I am a firm believer in having a work/life balance. Few people, when they lie on their deathbeds, wish they had worked more hours. Many senior officers have told me, repeatedly, that all the promotions and accolades in the world become hollow when you drove your family away in order to achieve them.
In the ICBM world, we prioritize based upon a simple model called LEWSFO, with nearly every possible contingency falling into one of those six categories (I will not bother explaining what each one means, as it is not relevant). The rules are immutable, and we do not violate the prioritization model. Ever.
In life, though, it seems that those priorities constantly shift around with personal life, work, hobbies, family, and other concerns constantly vying for top spot. These factors always seem interdependent on one another. A boss that demands a particular project be completed short notice is capable of damaging career prospects; which in turn demands sacrifice of personal time in order to continue having a comfortable personal life in the future. Family priorities will sometimes demand time away from work in order to solve problems, thereby reducing stress levels and helping work productivity. The cycle goes on and on, constantly seeking that balance.
In any case, this is a blog about marksmanship, and not life management. The end result of all of this is that I have had to do some prioritizing over the last month, and that did not include marksmanship practice. I have been involved in several discussions about the concepts, even going so far as to share advice with friends and coworkers, but I have not been actively practicing. In such times, I think it’s important that you be able to forgive yourself for the oversight. Stressing out over having to prioritize other things is not helpful mentally, physically, or spiritually. It’s OK.
The other topic I had wanted to cover last month was the concept of sight picture, particularly center hold vs six o’clock hold. At the Appleseed event last month, they had us all zero for a six o’clock hold at 25 meters with a one inch square. This is the first time I had ever used such a zero, and I rapidly came to understand its benefits and shortcomings.
I like that the 6 o’clock hold allows me to put the tip of the front sight on the hard contrast line between the white and the black. This provides a nice reference point for where to hold the sights. I do see the value of this type of sight picture for a known target size at a known distance. But the problem arose once the size of the target began changing. When we switched from shooting 1” squares to larger silhouettes, it became harder to figure out where to place the front sight in order to get the best hits. What would have happened if we moved the targets to 50 or 100 meters? It is possible to guess, of course. But guessing does not offer the greatest amount of precision.
Center hold is what I’ve always used prior to that event. I like that I can bisect a target with the front sight and know that the tip of the sight is always my intended point of impact without worrying about target size or distance. So long as I can keep track of my elevation variables, I have a good idea of where my POA/POI will fall. This is the same concept as using magnified optics. The crosshairs represent your zero, and you can adjust them as needed. I find this far more intuitive that picking a floating point over the crosshair. However, this sight picture has downsides as well. If shooting at a 1” square at 25 meters, trying to use the sights to cover up approximately half of the square in order to attain correct POA/POI seems challenging. My eyes, at least, are not so good that I can readily tell that I’m covering the proper amount of the black square with the sight versus using a clear contrast of the bottom edge.
So, in the end, I think you need to choose your sight picture method depending on your intended use and target. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. Personally, I think I will stick with center hold, as it offers me the most consistent picture across a variety of target sizes/shapes/distances.
On a side note. I am happy to say that I got my trusty Beretta 92A1 back in to proper functioning status. Last year I had ordered new VZ G10 grips for it, but ran into issues with the grip screw size. After a lot of tinkering, I managed to freeze a screw in the bushing, resulting in poor magazine insertion/removal. I’ve been relying on my FNS-9 for pistol duties ever since. I managed to get the screw out yesterday, and replace the star-shaped lock washers with some #60 rubber o-rings. This method offered the perfect amount of buffer space on the screws so that they sit just below flush on the grip, but do not interfere with the magazine. The Beretta, for all of its quirks, is my go-to pistol. I have the most practice with it, and there is just something inherently satisfying about the full metal construction. I am strongly considering sending it off to Wilson Combat to have them work some magic on it.