The Box O’ Truth – Will a Better Target Improve Accuracy with Iron Sights?

My old buddy j97531, who I will call Matt, recently had an idea for the Box O’ Truth. His question was: Will a better target improve accuracy when shooting with iron sights?

We discussed how many targets work, such as in Military Rifle Matches. They use a large circle, with smaller circles inside it to score the target. But the entire target can be as big as 5 foot in diameter, as it is shot at 100, 200, and 300 yards.

The problem is: Where do you hold and sight-in your sights to hit the bulls eye in the center of the target?

Before proceeding, I freely admit that I am no artist, but here’s my best effort.

This is how some people do it. The left target shows the front sight that has been aimed at the center of the circular target. The problem with this arrangement is that you have to “guess” where exactly the center is, as you can’t see the tiny “X” from 300 yards.

So, some shooters instead use the arrangement on the right, called the “lollypop hold”, where you place the bottom of the circle on the top of your front sight, but adjust your sights to hit the center of the target with the rounds. Of course, you will usually have to adjust your sights at different ranges to hit the center X ring.

I have been using a stamp I bought at Hobby Lobby years ago to make my targets for pistols and rifles at 40-50 yards. It is getting kind of worn out from stamping thousands of targets, but it still makes a 1 ¼ inch per side square.

Matt suggested that it is hard to center this target on the center of my front sight with a rifle. The drawing on the left shows how this small square looks on top of my front sight at 50 yards.

Matt’s suggestion was to make a square target that would be the same size as my front sight so that it would be easier to center on the front post, as shown on the drawing on the right.

He did some of his “engineer math magic” and told me his calculations showed that for the front sight on one of my AR-15s, which measured .70 with my calipers, the target should be about 4 inches square.

I also measured the front post on my M1-A and it was .55, which Matt said would need about a 3 inch square target.

I made up the targets and headed to the range this morning.

It was hot down here in Texas, only around 90, but with 100% humidity. I was glad my range has a plug so I can use my floor fan. It helps a lot on hot days.

Here’s my AR-15 I will use today. Kind of “old school”, but a fine shooter.

I was very pleased to see that the targets did indeed “fit” the front post on my sights just as Matt had predicted.

Time to get to work.

Here are the results shot with IMI ball ammo, 10 shot groups.

On the small bull, a 1.91 inch group. On the large bull, a 1.63 inch group.

I shot it again with some handloads with better bullets.

Small bull, 1.88 inch group. Large bull, 1.37 inch group.

Here is my Springfield M1-A. It has National Match sights and barrel.

And here are the targets.

Small bull, 2.10 inch group. Large bull, 1.74 inch group.

Conclusions:

1. This was a small test and I realize that I would have to shoot many, many groups to draw any firm conclusions. But these tests seem to “indicate” that the better target was easier to line up the sights and shoot well.

2. There wasn’t much difference in any of the groups, but I think that is because I am a “fairly good” shooter with lots of experience. I bet a new shooter would find the larger bull to be much easier to see and to line-up the sights.

3. The larger targets were very crisp and clear and easy to line up with the front post .

Oh well, one thing for sure……It’s fun to shoot stuff.

1 Comment on The Box O’ Truth – Will a Better Target Improve Accuracy with Iron Sights?

  1. Charles Phillips // August 25, 2017 at 8:44 pm // Reply

    Did you misplace a decimal? I don’t think your front sight post is almost 3/4 of an inch wide.

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