I’ve always had bad eyesight with the classic coke-bottle glasses and astigmatism but, seriously, I turned 50, and then, poof! My vision disappeared practically overnight. I could tell that I was already struggling to see my sights, but it wasn’t as obvious until I took some time off from shooting. When I got back on the range, I was really surprised how difficult it was to see anything, let alone find my front sight. This is the story of my journey with an optic and the Walther PDP-F gun in 9mm, and how that has made a huge difference in my life.
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I have to admit that when I saw the young ‘uns on the range with their fancy pistol-mounted red-dot sights, I thought, “Oh, I’m going to stay old school and stick with my iron sights forever!” However, I started considering them because so many of my older friends were raving about how putting an optic made such a difference! So, when I changed my gun to the Walther PDP F-Series (4 inch), I decided that since I had to get used to the trigger and feel of a new gun, I might as well change my sights, too. It may not be the advice I give to others (trying to master multiple new factors) but in my case, I am SO glad that I did! We joke that it’s like cheating (especially for longer distances) but, hey, you still need the fundamentals to hit anything. However, it really is great compensation for my poor eyes, and an added benefit to perfect eyes.
I tried out different options that friends had and ended up with the Holosun 507c with the green MOA which is an open reflex optical sight and I love it. I use the larger MOA circle with my regular training and reduce it to a dot for more precision work.
There are multiple aspects to using an optic that I really had to get used to. It is totally different than using your irons and even made me notice the way I was presenting my gun and acquiring my sight picture. I took Steve Fisher’s advice, “Keeping the gun flat on the presentation is the key. If your presentation is lousy with iron sights, it’s going to be even worse with a red dot. Don’t set up your sight picture with your iron sights. Focus on the target, then bring the gun up to meet your eyes. Also, don’t wait and try to over-verify that the dot is on the target. If the dot looks like it’s where it’s supposed to be, shoot!”
Go easy on yourself. Work several months on dry fire and constant practice to find the dot quickly. I am about five months into it and I am finally starting to feel comfortable with it, but I still struggle when I first get started. You will notice that it is frustrating at the beginning and it really slows you down. Again, my philosophy is that it is worth trying out new things knowing that you will not be fast at the beginning and there is definitely a learning curve.
The other thing that I am still getting used to is looking at the target instead of the sights. During a recent training, my keen FASTER Colorado instructor Quinn Cunningham noticed that I was focusing on my dot. I asked how he knew and he told me because I move my head forward and tunnel in. He put a piece of tape over the optic front window and had me shoot with it and boy, that really helped! I was able to keep both eyes open and was forced to look beyond the dot at the target. I still need a lot of reps with this to get accustomed to it but what a great training tip. What’s great is that I am finally able to keep both eyes open which was virtually impossible with my extreme astigmatism. I have to fight my old habit of closing my non-dominant eye but I’ll get there eventually!
I’m happy to report that I was able to shoot my Colorado POST qualification at 100% (as required) to pass my Level 3 FASTER CO certification. I am happy with my performance.
I think that this goes beyond a trend. I do believe that most guns, especially concealed carry, will move to having a red dot sight considering how quickly and accurately you can engage a target. It makes sense to use technology where it most helps and I will be adding them to all the guns that I use consistently. I know this sounds cliche but switching to my reflex sights has seriously been a game changer. My confidence is coming back as well as my shooting skills and I highly recommend that if you are having issues with your eyesight, switching to a red-dot sight is something to consider.
Check out Walther’s line for its fantastic PDP F-Series.