Iron sights for dummies


This will be my reflections on how to use Iron sights.

I am no professional weapons user nor am I a hunter. I am merely a paintballer who has never needed to aim on spot. In paintball the sport lies in to figure out how a spherical ball curves in the air. The first ball sets the trajectory as the second one lands on spot. Aiming has mostly been practiced into muscle memory.

As I’ve turned into mechanical game play and pump action games It has been more relevant to hit wit the first ball. Iron sights is not used as much in Paintball as it in Airsoft.

In airsoft the effective distances are somewhat greater than in paintball. Thus the the need to know of how to aim with a small pellet becomes significantly more relevant.

There are four different types of visual aid for aiming in airsoft/paintball:

  • Iron sights
  • Laser pointers
  • Red dot scopes
  • Magnifying scopes

Iron sights

Iron sights uses simple mechanics to ”Gitter” your field of vision on spot. Why these are so popular comes from the simplicity of usage. They don’t need batteries and as the scopes are apart the 3D accuracy gives superior accuracy. Iron sights preserve peripheral view better than scopes.

Laser pointers

These are not safe at any level. Even if you manage to find a sk. ”safe” laser there is no way of verifying while playing if someone’s laser actually is safe or not. All lasers affect your eye however different the wavelength of it may be. Lasers are good as they can quickly mark where the hit will land and you don’t have to waste time in aiming. Downside is the usage in day light and at greater distances the dot becomes difficult to spot. In darkness and in dust opponent can track your position in situations you don’t want to reveal your location.

Red dot scope

These are 2 dimensional and somewhat compensates for head movement and different visual angles on it.  It focuses your field of view to the scope why your peripheral view is compromised. Positive is you can easier follow your bbs as they fly close to the read dot. Without this focus you have harder time to scan wider area where the bbs fly. These can be used to block of peripheral view or played with 2 eyes open to maintain some (50%) peripheral view.

Magnifying scopes

These may or may not have read dots, at least they have cross hairs if nothing else. The benefit with these comes from you being able to identify what you are shooting at much better. Downside is the distortion and you need to practice understand how the magnification sits in your environment. In airsoft maximum of 4 x magnification is considered as useful. Greater magnification than that your bb’s can not reach efficiently. (Larger magnification can still useful as a binocular to gather Intel). In airsoft and paintball you always need eye protection. The further away this scope gets from the eyeball the more light interferes with your observation.

Summary on Iron sights

As paintballer I am no sniper. I don’t have the time to wait until someone walks into my cross hairs as a hunter waits for hours or days at a time for its prey.

Paintball is a sport where offence has natural superiority above defence. The more passive you are the more information you give the opponent. Thus the urgency of speed to preserve the element of surprise.

I need to plant the first shot as a reflex regardless if its own team or opponent. If it happens to be a opponent all is fine, you survived. If it is own team the communication failed and you gained a valuable lesson how to improve teamwork.

You simply don’t have time to use iron sight in paintball and airsoft. The distances are short enough to hit without aid.

What actually works

The reason I don’t use scopes are due to their light sensitivity and I am using masks far away from the lenses which increase the interfering light. Thes sighting also consumes too much of reaction time. (However these are valuable tools to gather information)

Red dot sight does cost some fractions of a second to sight in but that is way worth it. If your unsighted bb misses, your opponent has time to repay you the courtesy. With this small delay of read dot sighting your accuracy increases significantly.

For me red dot sights offer the best reaction time combined to superior accuracy on airsoft distances.



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