The Fundamentals of Marksmanship - Sight Picture
Most people start the fundamentals by talking about natural point of aim. I feel the better progression is to talk about sight picture first. Before we can establish a good natural point of aim, we want to make sure we have the proper sight picture.
Those shooting iron sights will first talk about sight alignment and then sight picture. Because we are using a scoped rifle, we don’t necessarily need to discuss sight alignment in the same way. By setting up the rifle correctly in the beginning we have, hopefully, determined a good cheek weld. This is very good first step when it comes to sight picture. However, as a tactical shooter, we might find a situation where our cheek weld is slightly compromised. The way to fix any potential aiming issues from this is to use the parallax adjustment on the scope. The parallax adjustment if set correctly will essentially turn the day optic into a red dot type scope by putting the reticle, the target and the shooter’s eye on the same focal plane. As with a red dot sight, most understand the dot does not have to be in the center of the optic for the shooter to hit the target. The red dot sight is a parallax free system; by using the parallax adjustment on the day optic it will basically do the same thing.
Proper sight picture is important. Correct sight picture means you have edge to edge clarity with no shadowing of any kind. If you find shadowing, even a small amount, it is recommended that you move the scope or move the cheek piece to line up the shooter’s eye directly behind the optic. Eliminating any angle is key. Your head should be square with the ocular lens of the scope so that your head quickly and naturally aligns to the proper sight picture. Any shadowing seen in the sight picture is a result of the eye looking at the inside of the scope tube. Building up the cheek rest or moving the scope to the eye will help eliminate this. Proper sight picture is key because that is going to tell us where the bullet is going to go.
Edge to Edge Clarity
How do we check for parallax ?
Back in the old days, most day optics had the parallax set at the factory. There was no adjustment on the scope. They usually set them around 150 yards to suit the average hunter. With most optics under 10x, parallax is not a big issue. It gets worse with magnification, so it is not uncommon to find an optic under 10x with no parallax adjustment. We are talking about modern higher powered optics with a parallax adjustment.
To check for parallax, line the reticle up on a target and move your head ever so slightly--side to side, or up and down. Don’t move your head enough to cause shadowing to appear around the edges. Use very small motions, to see if the reticle appears to “Float” on the target. A way to demonstrate this is to take a pencil tip hold it out between you and some object a distance away. When you move your head the target will move away from the pencil tip, this is parallax. But if you move the pencil tip on top of the target object so it is touching, then move your head, the pencil stays in place. We want to recreate this through the scope by adjusting the movement out.
The Fundamentals of Marksmanship are the building blocks to all great shooting, with each lesson we will reinforce the fundamentals over and over.Sniper's Hide as been creating training videos since 2009, we go into as much detail as possible and will be bringing the Online Training Lessons to the Scout Network.