An article I faith I’ve accepted since I was a little kid was that when you’re teaching someone to shoot, it’s irons first, then optics. The old school logic behind that was that if you can master shooting with iron sights, moving up to a scope is going to be easy mode for you. While I appreciate the John Wayne sentiment that drives such a thought process, we’re also in a golden age of affordable optics. Is it time for that thought process to change?
I know that suggesting teaching people with dots first then irons is tantamount to blasphemy, but bear with me here. Let’s assume for the moment that shooting, especially for newbies, is supposed to be fun. I know, I know, that’s crazy talk! Shooting is serious business, we’re training to win matches or gunfights here, there’s no room for fun! True, true, but let’s pretend this is fun. Anyway, if it’s supposed to be fun, it follows that we shouldn’t do things that frustrate new shooters. For that first range trip, you want them to walk off the range feeling like they accomplished something. So instead of teaching them all this “line up this post in between these two posts, then make sure the front one is sharp in focus and the target is blurry” – why not just say “put the dot where you want the bullet to go, then press the trigger without disturbing it.”
With the prevalence of video games, it’s also a fair bet that almost anyone you’re taking to the range for the first time is intimately familiar with concept of how a red dot works, because they’ve probably smoked countless digital fools with an aimpoint equipped AR in Call of BattleStrike or whatever.
I don’t really take newbies shooting that often, so I’m not exactly an SME on what they like and don’t like. But I’d be interested to get feedback from people who do that sort of thing, and whether or not you’ve taken this approach.