The sights have been called the eye of the rifle. Certainly the most powerful big game weapon would be but a blind giant without them. Proper sights for the work in hand contribute to the success of any rifleman, though the man with youthful and normal eyesight finds other problems, like holding, judging distance, and trigger pulling, much more difficult than actually sighting his piece.
The old pioneer long-rifleman had the simplest sights, consisting of a silver or copper bead and a straight bar, notched rear, often without any means of elevating, yet their work within the range of those rifles was hardly inferior to what we see to-day. It is a pretty well established tradition that in an early day a market shooter of Illinois killed one hundred and twenty deer in the month of October, firing but one hundred and fifty shots. His rifle shot bullets of forty to the pound and the longest kill was made at four hundred yards.
About the best deer shot that I ever happened to run across was a swamp-colored Arkansawyer carrying a Winchester .44 upon which he had fixed home-made sights, a front bead made from a bear's tooth, the rear a straight iron bar, wedge shaped, tapered to an edge at the top, notched, and blackened. There was no provision made for elevation and neither need there be for use in the woods. The veteran assured me that at one hundred and fifty yards he would kill his buck with a single bullet oftener than he'd miss it, and this range he seemed to consider about the maximum distance for shooting in heavy timber.
A skilled rifleman can shoot well with any sort of sights; line up two pins on top of the barrel and he will get along nicely. Nevertheless there are special sights adapted to special purposes and the province of this chapter is to point them out and tell what they are good for and why.
Rifle sights might be classed roughly as open sights, peep, globe, military, and telescope. We can dismiss the military sights now with the statement that if the reader is a military man he must use such sights as the Government stipulates whether he likes them or not. Military sights are well adapted to the purpose for which they were invented, and they will do very well for game shooting—fully as well as, but no better than, the ordinary open sight.
Askins, Charles. Rifles and Rifle Shooting. New York: Outing, 1912. Print.
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