The targets you choose have an impact on how well you shoot your rifle
When we shoot, we want to perform as best we can. Bad shooting is no fun, and it makes all the money spent on ammo seem like a waste.
Shooters routinely purchase shooting benches and all manner of sandbags and rests to help them shoot better, but unfortunately pay little attention to the targets they’re shooting at.
Most often they’re dots drawn on a piece of paper with a marker or prints of a target secured from the office copy machine when no one was watching.
A big part of lining up the sights is being able to see them, and some targets make sights harder to see.
This is especially true when your target is a zebra or black bear; a black reticle can disappear on a bear and, until you learn what to look for, the right spot on a zebra seems like an ever-changing variable.
Of course, we cannot control the shapes or colors of the animals we want to shoot, but we can control the colors on the targets we shoot.
And, of all the colors a target can be, black is the worst. Unfortunately, a lot of the targets made at home or sold, have black aiming points.
White Aiming Point
Ideally you want the point on the target you’re lining your sights on to be a contrasting color, and the color that most contrasts with a black reticle is white.
If you are making your own targets, make them so that the center is white. You also want to keep the aiming point small.
Have you ever heard the saying, ‘aim small, miss small?’ There’s some truth to that.
Try shooting a group on a pie plate and then try shooting a group on a white circle that’s only about an inch in diameter.
Your eye will better find the center of the smaller circle.
Proper Target Contrast
But the other colors matter too. You need contrast between the white center of the target and the surrounding colors but when it's extreme it can be distracting.
Fluorescent colors stand out at a distance but do nothing to relax your eye, they’re too bright and vivid.
The human eye is comfortable with green because it’s the most prevalent color in nature. And, because we see blue skies every day, our eyes are comfortable with blues too.
But for a target you would not want dark green or dark blue because dark colors do not reveal bullet holes as well when you’re looking through a spotting scope.
Blue For Scopes
Quite a few years ago I was talking with Rick Thompson, the owner of Thompson Targets, about target color, and we came up with a pale blue target for optical sights.
I’m confident that when I’m testing rifles, riflescopes, or ammunition, it helps me perform my best.
This is partly because the target is easy to look at, and partly because scope reticles contrast nicely with it.
In other words, it makes aiming at the center easier. We called the target True Blue, and it’s available from Thompson Targets.
V For Irons
But during the same conversation I told Rick I really struggled when shooting at conventional targets with open sights.
With common bullseye targets you must cover half the target with the sights to hit center.
The human eye does a good job of finding the center of things, but only when it can see the entire thing. Rick told me about a target he’d designed just for open sights called the Dead Center.
This target has a large red and white V and with open sights you aim at the point of the V. I’ve found this works much better than trying to hold at the center or the 6 o’clock position on a circle or square.
This is especially true for handguns, at close range but even more so when shooting at distance with open sighted rifles.
I’m not saying you must spend your ammo money for these fancy factory-made targets.
With the price of ammo, paying 25 to 35 cents per target is not appealing.
Though in the big scheme of things, it’s not prohibitive, especially if you’re shooting better.
You can still sneak and use that copier at work, just tone down the intensity of the colors. instead of black and white, try a light grey and white.
Or, if the work copier does color, consider pale green and light blue as the contrasting colors for your white aiming point.
And don’t forget the V pattern for when shooting open sights. You could even slide the secretary and espresso and she might make your targets for you.