How To Aim With Iron Sights: Aiming Tips, Sight Adjustments & More!

Iron sights are a specific type of aiming system that allows a shooter to align & shoot accurately at a target. In most cases, iron sights are made from metal and consist of both front and rear sights.

But how do you aim with iron sights? Shooting accurately with iron sights requires you to get into an athletic shooting position, align the sight notch with the target and fire away!

But there is more to it than that! In this post, we will cover in detail how to aim and shoot accurately with this classic sighting system.

Step Description
1 Sight Alignment: Ensure the front and rear sights are aligned with each other and centered on the target to establish proper sight alignment.
2 Sight Picture: Focus on aligning the sights with the target while maintaining a clear and sharp sight picture for accurate aiming.
3 Correct Shooting Form: Adopt a proper shooting stance, grip, and body position to support consistent and accurate shot placement.

How To Aim With Iron Sights 101

how to aim with iron sights on a rifle

To shoot accurately with iron sights you need to align the front sight post in the center of the rear sight notch or peep. Then, focus your sights on the target & smoothly squeeze the trigger. Iron sight shooting form requires the following steps.

  1. Sight Alignment
  2. Sight Picture
  3. Correct Shooting Form

1. Proper Sight Alignment

Proper sight alignment consists of positioning the front and rear sights in a specific relationship to each other and the target. This is important whether you are aiming 6.5 Creedmoor Scopes or regular iron sights. The front and rear sights should be directly aligned with your desired point of impact on the target.

Sight alignment involves getting the front sight post in the center of the rear sight notch (also called peep). If your rear sight and front sight alignment is off then you will NOT be able to shoot with accuracy.

2. Sight Picture With Iron Sights

A sight picture is image you can see when looking through your optic. This applies to different AR-15 optics and iron sights alike.


Creating a proper sight alignment results in the creation of your pistol sight picture. By aligning both the front and rear sights with the target, the image you see is the sight picture.

The front sight post should be centered both vertically & horizontally with the rear sight peep. Once you’re aligned you now have a visual reference point to aim.

3. Bonus Tips

Creating proper sight alignment & picture is crucial for accurate shooting with iron sights. This is also important for shooting with 300 Blackout Red Dots and any other type of optic!

But there are some additional shooting techniques & principles that can improve your accuracy even further with iron sights.

  1. Create A Stable Base: Ensure a stable shooting platform by maintaining a solid and balanced body position. Plant your feet shoulder-width apart, perpendicular to the target, and make sure one foot is slightly forward.
  2. Proper Shoulder Placement: Position the buttstock of your weapon firmly against the pocket of your dominant shoulder. A loose grip will diminish your ability to control the firearm.
  3. Consistent Eye-Target Alignment: Bringing your dominant eye in line with the sights and the target. Getting dominant eye directly behind the rear sight will significantly boost your shooting accuracy.

What Does Proper Iron Sight Alignment Look Like?

proper sight picture with iron sights

Proper sight alignment means that the front and rear iron sights are aligned. But what does this mean?

The front sight should be centered vertically and horizontal within your rear sight notch. When you place your eye behind your iron sights, you should see the front sight blade directly in the center of the rear notch. Be sure to also have your eye relief dialed in to your liking!

Finally, the top edge of the front & rear sight should be level & aligned. If you meet these criteria your target sights are aligned & you’re ready to shoot!

How To Adjust Iron Sights

Adjusting iron sights is the process of moving your sight vertically or horizontally to dial in your point of aim. Consider the following iron sight adjustment options.

  1. Windage Adjustment: If your shots consistently hit to the left or right of the target, adjust the windage. In order to move the point of impact to the left, adjust the rear sight to the left, and vice versa.
  2. Elevation Adjustment: If your shots consistently hit too high or low, adjust the elevation.
  3. Test and Fine-Tune: There will always be a certain amount of trial and error when adjusting sights. Make your adjustments, test, and fine tune to perfection!

You should consider adjusting or zeroing your sights at least once per year. This will ensure your optic is always dialed in and ready to go.

Should I Use Iron Sights

Consider these pros and cons to decide whether or not iron sights are right for you. Shooters should also consider that they can use offset iron sights to benefit from red dot sights & canted sights.

Pros Of Iron Sights

Here are the benefits of using iron sights on your firearm.

  1. Durability and Reliability: Iron sights are made from steel and are very durable. It is next to impossible to damage an iron sight from regular use. However, the glass on traditional 22LR scopes can be damaged more easily.
  2. Lightweight and Compact: Iron sights small and lightweight by design.
  3. No Battery Dependency: Modern optics rely on battery power to create illuminated reticles. Iron sights are battery free and are less likely to fail you when you need them most.

Cons Of Iron Sights

Here are the downsides of using iron sights as an aiming system for your firearm.

  1. Limited Range: Modern rifle scopes have high magnification that lets them shoot accurately from longer distances.
  2. Sight Picture and Focus: Iron sights require the shooter to align the front and rear sights while simultaneously focusing on the target. This can be distracting to some shooters.
  3. Slower Target Acquisition: Having to align both rear & front sights takes longer than with modern optics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who uses iron sights?

Iron sights are used by a wide range of shooters, including military personnel, law enforcement officers, hunters, and recreational range shooters.

Are iron sights difficult to install?

Installing iron sights can vary depending on the firearm and the specific sights being used. If you haven't done it before or don't have the correct tools, it is recommended to use a gunsmith.

What is the maximum range of iron sights?

The maximum effective range of iron sights is up to around 150 - 200 yards. However, this can vary depending on the type of gun, ammo, and the shooter's skill. Remember to take your aim, establish the proper sight picture, and pull the trigger smoothly.

The Bottom Line

By now you should have a firm understanding of how to aim with iron sights. In the modern age, many shooters have choose to go with magnified optics & red dot sights. However, iron sights are still a great option if you know how to use them! Use our tips to improve your accuracy on the range and out in the field.

About the author

Patrick Howard

I have been working as a gunsmith for 20 years. Rain, fog, moisture, high temperature, or even snow are all the things a product must withstand in order to be recommended by me.

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