The Mental Mechanics Behind Red Dot Pistol Sights

The mental mechanics behind the red dot pistol sights

More and more concealed carry pistols are hitting the “optics ready” market. Some people buy a new pistol, some convert their old slide and others look for a pistol with a red dot sight installed with purchase. Is this just a trend or is it really beneficial for a shooter?

When shooting with iron scenes, it is crucial to focus on the scenes. Looking beyond them to the goal is a sure no. I’ve personally discovered that I tend to focus somewhere between the viewer and the target. My eyes wandered, and my mind pulled my focus back toward the viewer, with the subconscious’s argument ending somewhere in the middle. This results in inconsistent flyers and shots.

I’ve always found it easier to shoot the red dots, but I’ve never known why. I also didn’t know whether to focus on the point or the goal. They both seem to work and I’ve always learned to focus on the scenes, so that’s what I stumbled upon. Conversations with some of the Red Dot experts changed my view.

Experts weigh in on red dot pistol sights

Buck Buckner, US Training Director for Target, has been using the red dots for decades through his experience in the military. “If you focus on the point,” he said, “you are giving up one of its main biological advantages… focusing on the threat.”

This got me thinking. In a defensive position, it makes sense to focus on the threat at hand, rather than looking away. Focusing on the viewer makes everything else disappear. While he’s great at competitive shooting, this lack of situational awareness can make a bad situation worse. It’s no illusion that red dots are often easier to use – in fact, they are superior under stress. “It complements our biology,” Buchner said, especially under stress. They make us work less, and give our minds an easier path to a more effective solution…which is what we’re always looking for. If you have one and work as hard as you do with irons… then you’re not using them properly. Buckner also noted that simplifying the scenes leaves room for decision-making.

Buckner continued to expand the science between red dots and irons.

“Think of seeing in two different broad categories: ’emphatic signal’ and ‘subtle cue.’ Subtle cues are the things that our minds should be prompted to see, and emphatic cues are the opposite. There is something in them that attracts our eyes without the impulse to look for them. The red dots act as cues. Certain and irons act as subtle cues. We have a great deal of work to do to find irons and then create a spatial solution from them. Much more difficult than we would like to think under normal circumstances. Under stress… this exacerbates. The mind becomes simpler without Boundaries… He wants loud information that’s easy to understand. That’s a red dot.”

Threat focused or target focused?

This view is not limited to Buckner. Steve Fisher He has been a consultant to Red Dot manufacturers for several decades. He noted that red-dot pistol sights give the user less to think visually, allowing more information to be collected elsewhere. “The person using the red dot no longer has to focus on 3 to 4 things,” Fisher said. “Now only one focus.” Because irons require so much focus on the scenes, many people will shift their point of view between the threat and the scenes. Red dot pistol sights allow the user to do what is normal, look at the threat and force the dot over what they see.

While the threat focus is a huge advantage for the red dots, Fisher also noted that they allow shooting in low light and better accuracy for those with eyesight problems. On the downside, red dots require more maintenance than iron sights and can fail. The open red dots in the emitter in particular can fall victim to environmental factors.

Fisher attributes much of the current red dot’s popularity to the Internet and technological advances that are making dots better and smaller. Although there are several types and many brands on the market, Fisher prefers closed points because of their durability. It is unaffected by rain, snow, sand and mud as well as reflective scenes. This is especially important for the military and law enforcement. Which one is better/easier to shoot is largely a personal preference. “I’ve had many shooters tell me that the shut-off or tube/box emitters are easy to get the red dots because they are attracted to the center of the window. Others prefer a larger open release window.” (The latter is generally preferred in competition shooting.)

closed red dot emitter

Closed and open emitters are not the only differences in the red dot world. In fact, not all “red dots” are actually red. Not all points either, but the name stuck. In recent years, manufacturers have begun to offer green dots and various logos.

Buckner doesn’t think color is very important. “If you think about color a lot…you’re probably not using parallax to its best advantage.” On the other hand, Fisher believes that green has some benefits at indoor ranges and can make a difference depending on the shooter’s vision and shooting conditions. He also personally likes to see a blue dot.

Shooting first, technique second

These two experts also disagree on another hot topic: re-articles. Fisher noted that many shooters suffer from “point panics,” focusing on the point rather than looking at it. Supposedly, a circular reticle could encourage shooters to look through, although each reticle pattern has its own application. Buckner considers the various network articles to be a major distraction. “They tend to ‘put me back in the gun,’ he said.” “I don’t want to solve the problem there… I want to solve the problem down the range.” I think for most people to use…the simple red dot works with their biology and solves their requirements for a meaningful solution while maintaining their target focus. Returning complex articles … inherently requires looking at it and not through it.” Auto-adjustment of optics can cause a similar problem. If the dot, reticle, etc. are distracting, the shooter is drawn to the sight, not the target, which nullifies Big point feature.

Technology will continue to change and evolve, but photography is shooting. Fisher explained it best: There is no magic to them, if you have a bad show with the iron, you will have the same with the points on the pistols.” The difference comes in its simplicity when used correctly and the ability to focus on the threat at hand.

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