Red Dot Sights (RDS) have revolutionized the way that we shoot over the last few decades. Rifles without optics are a rarity in any setting but on a professional’s tool, lone irons are an outlier in the extreme. They simply offer too much of an advantage to ignore.

Pistol mounted optics are a little behind on that scale but closing rapidly, for the same reasons. I often say that we should have started with RDS there because (most) pistols are much more difficult to shoot. Any help we can get shows up in our results… quickly.

As we transition to Red Dot Sights there are a few things that we should take into consideration in designing our training. The good news is that none of them are difficult and in keeping with the “law of good tools,” they require less work… not more. (Which is a great segue into the first point.)


1. Work Less

As you transition, keep in mind that you should be working less. (This applies as much to rifles as it does to pistols.) I see a great number of shooters muscle their way back into a process that no longer requires them to be there. The RDS is there so you don’t have to line up irons – use it. Don’t employ your brain so deeply in the tool that you remove its advantage. When the dot is on target, shoot the gun. It’s that simple. Work less.

2. Presentation

It’s all about the presentation. This (again) applies equally to the rifle and the pistol. What we are looking for is a neutral movement of the gun to intercept a line of sight that you have already established with the target. The opposite of this is to break target focus and re-establish that line of sight through the gun. This is an inefficiency at best, and a reduction of the RDS to irons at worst. Lift the gun toward your line of sight and be ready for the red dot to tell you that you can complete the shot.

3. Eye Dominance

Consider eye dominance and adjust early in your presentation. If you are “cross eye dominant” and are struggling with your pistol mounted optic, try this: Turn your head in the direction of the weapon hand without rocking your head to an angle (like an old-fashioned rifle shooter). I usually tell shooters to keep their turn “flat” as if they were rotating just their head to look at something in another direction.

Do this as early as you can in the process. If you do it at the end of your presentation, you’ll likely break your target focus and attack the best uses of the sight. I start my draw stroke or “up” drill by turning my head (I’m right handed and left eye dominant).

4. Weapon Manipulation

Manipulations make misses. This is something I teach independent of Red Dot Sights. When we break target focus and fly (panic) through whatever work we have to do to the rifle or pistol (mag change, stoppage fix, etc.) we tend to keep that speed and approach to the follow up shots and this results in misses a lot of the time.

The reasons for this are fascinating and will be the subject of an upcoming training tip. For the time being let’s keep to the task at hand.

When we are transitioning to a RDS and a drill requires a manipulation of the weapon… re-acquire target focus before mounting or re-presenting the gun. In essence what you will be doing is aligning your manipulation process with your presentation process. This is the disconnect that causes people to “lose the dot” during these movements.

Help these tools make your job easier by letting them do the work they are designed to do… keeping you on the tasks that matter most.


Until next time, train smart.         


Author Bio

Duane “Buck” Buckner

After spending 25 years in the USCG, Duane “Buck” Buckner is now the U.S. Director of Training for Aimpoint. The Aimpoint Training Division conducts training courses for military and law enforcement agencies up to the Federal level as well as for the prepared civilian. Buck is widely known for his emphasis on brain psychology as it relates to combat and survival.


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