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An RMR Will Make You a Better Shooter

October 2, 2011

If you read the Warriortalk News blog or hang out on the Warriortalk forum, you’ve probably already heard about the truly fantastic shooting performance that a SI TSD pistol with a Trijicon RMR red dot sight mounted on the slide makes possible. Hits out to 200 or 300 yards are doable. Hitting a torso sized target at 100 is almost easy, as are headshots at 25 yards. At seven yards, you’re choosing which eye socket you want the round to go through. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if I said that you’ll shoot better with an RMR than an iron sighted gun. That’s not quite what I’m saying here, however. What I’m saying is that if you take the time to master a TSD pistol with an RMR, it will make you a better shooter even with an iron sighted pistol.

I was led to this conclusion by two recent experiences with TSD pistols:

I have always used the stock 5.5 pound Glock trigger. This was not based on some fear of liability or any of the other reasons for sticking with the stock trigger weight that are floating around out there, I simply never felt that the trigger weight inhibited my accuracy. That changed when I shot my TSD G17, particularly at longer ranges. As I concentrated intently on pressing the trigger smoothly to the rear, the trigger weight would stack up and the dot started wavering from side to side. I was still able to hit at a hundred yards, but it was obvious that the trigger weight, particularly right before the break, was having an effect on my accuracy. I’ve since installed the Lone Wolf 3.5 pound connector and there’s definitely a noticeable improvement.

The second incident that led me to this conclusion came when fellow S.I. instructor Alex Nieuwland and I were shooting our TSD Glocks the other day. Alex tested his carry load, shooting about a handspan sized group at 50 yards. When he switched to Winchester White Box practice ammo, however, he had trouble keeping it on the 3’x4’ target. We went through several different brands of practice ammo (Winchester, Federal, Magtech, American Eagle, and Wolf) and found enormous variation in accuracy at this distance.

What do trigger pull and testing different practice loads have in common? In both cases the RMR exposed existing issues with the gun and ammunition that we hadn’t been aware of when shooting with iron sights. Putting the RMR on didn’t make my trigger pull or Alex’s practice ammo worse, it just laid bare their deficiencies. It will do the same thing to your shooting skills.

Maintaining a proper sight alignment is one of the most difficult elements of sighted fire with a pistol. It is difficult to teach, and difficult to perform in practice. When shooting at long ranges (or very small targets) even small variations can lead to large effects. One millimeter of front sight misalignment will result in being off over half a meter at 100 meters. The RMR eliminates this. There is no need to align front and rear sights with the target, just put the dot on it. Eliminating sight alignment as a source of error not only makes your shooting more accurate, it also means that other sources of error are much more obvious. With iron sights an unsteady hold, improper trigger press, flinch, inaccurate ammo, or a heavy trigger may be masked by variations in sight alignment. With a red dot, these effects are obvious, both on the target, and in many cases in the visible movement of the dot as the shot breaks.

The other way that mastering an RMR will make you a better shooter is by pushing you to practice shots that you might not even have attempted with iron sights. Before I got my TSD Glock, I seldom shot beyond seven yards, and almost never beyond 25. Once I shot my pistol at 100 yards on a lark, but I wasn’t really serious about it. Knowing what a TSD gun is capable of has pushed me to put considerably more effort into my long range skills, and in making very accurate hits at closer ranges (eye sockets on photo targets in particular). Shooting at longer ranges will make even small accuracy problems evident. A flinch that throws a bullet a few inches low at seven yards might take it completely off the target at 100. Longer range shooting really demands complete concentration and close to perfect technique.

If you put in the time and practice to truly master an RMRed pistol you will eliminate a lot of small errors that were either obscured by sight alignment or invisible at shorter ranges. When you shoot a pistol with only iron sights, you will have to deal with the traditional issues of sight alignment.  However, you will retain the improvements you learned with the RMR. Your overall shooting skills will have made a giant step forward.  A TSD gun with an RMR won’t just make you shoot better with that gun, it will make you a better shooter with any pistol.

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