A sight is a device used to line up the muzzle with the shooter’s eye so that he or she can hit the target. Sights are more critical on a firearm that fires a single projectile (rifle and handgun) than on a firearm that shoots a pattern of shot (shotgun). Shotguns usually have a simple pointing bead. Rifles typically have an open, an aperture (peep), or a telescopic sight. Most handguns have an open sight, although some specialized handguns have a dot or a telescopic sight. Read more about using
Bead Sight: Simple round bead set into the top of the barrel near the muzzle of a shotgun. Some shotguns have a second, smaller bead about halfway back on the barrel. The shooter uses the shotgun to “point” at and follow a moving object. The bead is used only for a reference as the shotgun is pointed and moved to follow flying or running targets.
Open Sight: Combination of a bead or post front sight and a notched rear sight. These sights are simple and inexpensive. Open sights allow quick sighting. To aim, you center the top of the bead or post within the notch of the rear sight and line up on the target. Open sights can be fixed or adjustable.
Aperture (Peep) Sight: Combination of a bead or post front sight and a round hole set on the rifle’s receiver close to the shooter’s eye. To aim, you center the target in the rear peep or aperture sight and then bring the front sight into the center of the hole. An aperture sight is more accurate and adjusted more easily than an open sight.
Telescopic Sight (Scope): Small telescope mounted on your firearm. A scope gathers light, brightening the image and magnifying the target, and does away with aligning rear and front sights. The aiming device inside the scope is called the “reticle.” To aim, you simply look through the scope and line up the crosshairs, post, or dot with your target. Telescopic sights are the most accurate, which makes them popular for hunting.
Dot Sight: Small device mounted on your firearm. A dot sight uses electronics or optical fibers to project a glowing dot or other mark on a lens in front of the shooter’s eye. Some dot sights also magnify like telescopic sights.
Never use the scope on your telescopic sight as a set of binoculars!