How to Use Iron Sights to Improve Your Aim

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If you have a weapon and you don’t know how to use iron sights, you’re missing out on a valuable tool for accuracy. The fact is, if you’re a firearm fanatic, you probably don’t need to be told how to use iron sights to improve your aim.

When you know how to use your iron sights properly, there’s really no need for extra accessories on your weapon, unless you want them. All you need is the sights adjusted and a target to shoot.

But what is it that makes iron sights so helpful in improving your aim?

What Are Iron Sights?

AcidTactical Iron Sights

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Whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably seen more than just one or two iron sights, whether you own firearms or not. Iron sights are built-on, or attached, to a firearm specifically to aim accurately.

Rifles, shotguns, and handguns come standard with built-in iron sights of different variations. Typically, they’re situated at the front, rear, or both ends, of the gun’s barrel. Typically, the rear-located iron sights form a small notch, or “v,” that you can peer down when aiming.

On the front end of the barrel, there is another iron sight. This one normally appears like a single raised “I” shaped notch. However, it can also be a small BB-shaped sight.

Both rear and front iron sights work very well in raising your level of accuracy as well as aiming speed. Knowing how to use iron sights to improve your aim will not only make you a better shooter, it will also give you a greater level of confidence with firearms and your ability to handle them.

How Iron Sights Work

Learning how iron sights work is the first step to improving your accuracy with a firearm.

Iron sights are designed specifically with superior accuracy in mind. The entire reason for their existence is to help you improve your aim. Using iron sights regularly can make you a better shot, without any doubt. But you have to know how to use them.

Without iron sights, there is more than a little bit of guesswork left when taking aim.

When your front iron sight is directly lined up with your target, it’s time to take a shot. If you miss, line your target up with the iron sights a second time and take careful aim while making adjustments compared to your previous shot.

5 Reasons You Should Use Iron Sights

With so many new and advanced version of sights available for firearms today, using iron sights doesn’t always seem to make the most sense.

However, there are more reasons to be interested than just learning how to use iron sights to improve your aim. Iron sights are also good for many other reasons.

1. Improve your aim

A close up on a rifle scope

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Iron sights are often considered an old-fashioned type of sight to use with modern firearms. Using iron sights definitely increases your ability to aim manually. Even more, it increases your accuracy with optical sights as well.

Whether you prefer the ease of today’s optical sights or the practicalness of iron sights, one thing is certain; they should improve your aim no matter what sort of sights you use. As long as they’re sighted in and that you practice.

2. Great backup for optic sights

soldier using an optical scope or sight

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Iron sights come with most standard firearms. Not everyone knows how (or wants to) to use a scope, red dot, or other optical sights. Accuracy, however, is something every shooter wants and needs.

Iron sights are already installed on your firearm and don’t need to be removed to add a scope or optical sights. So, when you remove all your other sights and accessories, you can still use your iron sights with little to no adjustments necessary.

3. Easier to upkeep than optic sights

soldier using a range finder

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Another basic advantage of using iron sights is the fact that they’re so much easier to clean and maintain than other advanced sights and scopes.

Iron sights are nothing more than raised pieces of metal, so they take practically no time to clean. Also, they hardly ever need to be adjusted once sighted in.

4. Weather (and shock) resistant

One of the reasons rugged outdoorsman love iron sights is that they’re so much more durable than other types of sights. They don’t fog up when the weather is heavy with humidity and moisture. In fact, they work in any weather.

And you won’t need to re-adjust them every time you head out to the range for some target shooting or the backyard for plinking. Iron sights are generally built-in and require zero adjustments as well as shock-proof.

You also won’t need to re-adjust them if you happen to drop your gun case or slip.

More affordable than optic sights

Iron sights, generally speaking, are also much more affordable than other expensive optical sights such as red dots and scopes. Most firearms include basic iron sights built right in as part of their design.

That said, many manufacturers produce attachable iron sights for just about any weapon.

All things considered, iron sights typically come for free (built-in). However, more advanced iron sights are available from anywhere from a few dollars to well over a hundred dollar bill.

How to Use Iron Sights to Improve Your Aim

peeping hole

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With iron sights, there are three points to consider: both sides of the rear sight and the front sight. All three must be aligned and must be on target before the trigger is pulled. Otherwise, you’ll probably miss your shot.

However, you only want your focus on the front sight. The rear sight is too close to your eye to focus on clearly.

And iron sights have many benefits. They’re much more durable than scopes, they hold their point of aim once sighted in, and they allow for a full-field view.

So, here are some sight basics on how to accurately and effectively shoot with iron sights.

Choose a target

The first step to learn how to use iron sights to improve your aim is to practice. So, first, choose a target and generally point your gun at it.

Your target may be clay pigeons, paper or steel targets, small game, or any other number of things. However, it’s suggested that you begin learning how to use iron sights to improve your aim with stationary targets.

Line up the sights

Once your target is selected, and your gun is pointed directly at it, you’ll start using your iron sights to zero in on it. You do this by lining up the target square with your front and rear iron sights.

The proper way to line up a target with iron sights is to match the area you want to hit with the tips of the front and rear iron sights.

You need to center the front tip directly in the middle of the “U” shape of the rear iron sight. It also needs to be right on point with the target.


Lining up your target is only half the work. When you line your target up with your iron sights, it’s time to focus.

Focusing on the target itself is not as important at this point, as focusing on the “I” shape of the front iron sight (inside the “U” shape created by the rear iron sight).

Make sure this “I” is directly on the part of the target you want to hit.


When the tip of both the “I” and the “U” of your iron sights is touching the exact section of your target that you want to hit, inhale, exhale, and gently squeeze the trigger.

Disciplined breathing, and “squeezing” rather than “pulling” the trigger, is critical in avoiding unnecessary misses.

Always be aware of your surroundings and never point or fire a loaded firearm in any particular direction occupied by other people. It’s essential to follow gun safety rules.

A Final Word About How to Use Iron Sights to Improve Your Aivm

Whether you’re a firearms fanatic or a shooter-to-be, learning how to use iron sights to improve your aim is a smart move. If you want to become a better marksman, this is the first step.

Let’s face it, iron sights are one of the most important accessories for firearms.

Used for centuries by the military, law enforcement, and marksman around the world, iron sights are imperative. Learning how to use them will help you become the best shot you can be.

Even if you use scopes, red dots, or some other sights, you should learn to use iron sights if you have the chance. Knowing how to use iron sights to improve your aim, and keep it accurate as possible, is essential.

Once you master the use of these sights, you might very well never miss a target. But remember, practice makes perfect.

Do you have experience/advice about learning how to use iron sights to improve your aim? If so, we’d love for you to share it with them in the comments section below.

Good luck with sharpening your aim with iron sights!

Dakota R.

My name is Dakota, Since I was a little boy, hunting has been my favorite things to do. Being outdoors meant I got to spend more one on one time with my father. I've learned so much from my dad over the years, and I hope you can learn and enjoy following my blog!

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