Sight Alignment is when the front sight is placed into the notch of the back sight. Sight Picture is when you take that Sight Alignment and superimpose it onto a target. When looking at the front sight you can see that you must center the front sight inside the space or notch of the rear sight. There is equal light or space on either side of the front sight. The top of the rear sight and the top of the front sight should be even or flat.
As you draw the pistol on a target you will be looking at the target. In real life you need to see that the target is a lethal threat. As you bring the pistol up to eye level you should place the front sight onto the center of the target. Once the front sight is in the center of the target you can now change your focus to the front sight. Just like in the picture, the front sight will be in focus, the rear sight will be blurry and the target will be blurry. If you were shooting the pistol you would pull the trigger at this time.
I know it seems strange to think of staring at the front sight and not the target when shooting the pistol. But it does work. If you stare at the target your accuracy will be poor. In real life the process happens very fast and you still see the lethal threat, it’s just blurry. As with everything in life there are different ways to do this. I am suggesting this way because it works with the highest percentage of situations that an average citizen will face. We are simply playing the odds here. Note: there is a myth that you will not be able to see your front sight during the gunfight. I and many other people have proven that to be false. I could see my front sight just fine. Train to do it and you will be able to do it if you ever get into a gunfight.
Since I’ve mentioned target several times I’ll show you the one I use. Whatever target you use at home to practice, make sure it has a small dot to aim at. You want a small target to aim at, not just a large open space.I bought a 100 bundle of 18×24 inch artist paper at Wal-Mart. I used a sharpie to draw circles using the inside of a roll of tape (3 inches) and the outside of a coffee can lid (6 inches). Total price for the target, under 5 cents. When you are new to shooting you might need a larger target, but remember this idea as you become more accurate. They are cheap and work just as well as the large bad guy targets that cost a lot of $$$.
Calibrating your sight alignment to become sight picture is not hard. I hang this target on a safe wall and stand on the other side of the room, about 15 feet away. The safe wall is a wall that if you mess up and accidentally shoot the gun no one will be killed and the only damage will be a hole in the wall. I have a brick wall on the other side of this target.
When you quickly place the front sight on the center of the target (in this case the lower center 1/4 inch dot) stop and look at your sight alignment. For most people the back sight is mostly aligned with the front sight naturally. The front sight is usually off somewhat but not too bad. You can adjust this alignment with practice so that it is almost perfect as you change your focus from the dot to the front sight. We will talk more about this when we discuss stance in a later post.
As you start shooting and your accuracy improves you will be able to experiment with just how perfect your sight alignment has to be in order to hit the target. This is a balance of how far you are, how good your grip is and how good your trigger press is. As you perfect your grip and trigger press you will notice that the sight alignment does not have to be perfect to hit your target even from 7 yards. More on this later.