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Article 8 – 2018 (September)

person aiming shotgun at target range

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine, Question and Answers

Article 8 – 2018 (September)


Question: I am totally confused about what color front bead or sight I should have. I am an average clay shooter at best, but I always like to try and improve. I don’t believe there is one color that is best in all conditions, but I have been advised that a good rule of thumb is that you should have the same color bead to match the color of clay target that you are shooting at. What’s your take on it and secondly do I need a mid barrel bead?

Sam Sillipo, Moonee Ponds, VIC


Answer: This is an old chestnut that gets plenty of airtime around gun club bars before, during and after almost any competition. Let me start about the advice you were given regarding color matching the target to your front sight. It’s bad. The color of the clay you are shooting at has no relationship to the front sight of your shotgun. The front bead or sight is at best just a guide to tell you where the end of your barrel is. You certainly need to know where it is, but a better general rule of thumb is use a sight that will distract you the least so you can focus your eyes on where they need to be and that is ALWAYS on the target.

Many sporting clay ranges, use a variety of colored targets. To swap ammunition and sometimes chokes between stands is a great tactic. Changing the color of your front sight between shots would be just stupid.

The color of your front bead is just personal preference. I tried all of them at one stage or another and never really found any better than the other. Personally I like smaller sights ahead of larger ones simply because I found large beads get in the way of what you are trying to hit. At one stage I virtually shot with no bead at all and actually lost an Olympic Games Gold Medal shoot off to a guy that the first thing he would do with every new shotgun he was given was to unscrew the front sight and throw it away. He went on to win several World Sporting Championships also. I remember winning a World Cup in 2003 with the straw out of a WD40 can cut down and jammed in the thread hole on the end of my barrel. My point is simply to each their own. You need to know where the end of your barrel is in relation to the target. If a front bead of any color helps this then it is an advantage.

A centre bead however really only helps you in your pre shot set up and routine. If you are having doubts that your eye is perfectly aligned down the centre of the barrel then a mid bead will certainly help. I believe it is a great aid when “dry” mounting the shotgun in front of a mirror at home. Many new shooters struggle getting the cast perfect on their stocks therefore the correct eye alignment down the centre of the barrel is erratic thus flowing onto poor accuracy. For a novice shot gunner who is still finding their way with their technique then it is my opinion the centre bead can help fast track this issue.

To suggest this small centre bead can help in performing an actual accurate shot is dangerous. At any stage where your eye is focusing back from the target to the barrel can only lead to poor marksmanship. Clay targets in flight are pointed at not aimed upon. There is a huge difference and don’t at any stage pretend you have a rifle in your hand trying to perform the latter task. Keep it simple. See the target, shoot the target.

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