For Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures Thursday, we will be discussing one of the primary tenants of weapons Mastery: understanding the optics and iron sights for the weapons. The reference for this discussion is the draft division standard Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction and Evaluation presentation.
To begin with, we must discuss the different types of sighting systems used. There are three major categories of Military sighting system: iron sights, reflex sights (also known as a red dot sights), and magnifying optics.
Iron sights are the basic sighting system that have been used for rifles and pistols for centuries. Iron sights consist of a rear-sight aperture, and front-sight post. To be used, the Paratrooper aligns the rear sight aperture with the front sight post. Iron sights have the advantage of being fixed in relation to the barrel, their drawback is they can be challenging to engage targets with past 300 meters due to the size of the front sight post.
Reflex sights, or red dot sights as they are more commonly known, are a collimated laser dot in the center of a tube. This dot can be adjusted into alignment with the weapon in a fashion very similar to The iron sights. However, all the Paratrooper needs to align is the dot on the target. The approved pattern of sight in this category is the M68 Close Combat Optic (CCO). The sight is designed to be parallax free past fifty meters. Parallax is the apparent shift of an object. If you close an eye, hold out a hand with the index finger pointing up and sight it on an object, when you change eyes it will have appeared to have shifted. That is what parallax is. Reflex sights are designed to be fired with both eyes open to increase the peripheral vision of the Paratrooper to other threats. The advantage of reflex sights is the removal of one point of alignment (rear sight aperture) the potential drawback is the sight runs on batteries and can potentially run out at an inconvenient time, however newer versions of the CCO offer a battery life of 500,000 hours.
The final category of sighting system we will discuss is the magnifying optic. The approved optic of this category is the M150 Rifle Combat Optic (RCO). This is the approved pattern of what is commonly known as the ACOG. This style of optic is designed to be fired with both eyes open as well. The technique of using both eyes open with a low-powered magnifying optic is called the Bindon Aiming Concept. The benefit of a magnifying optic is it allows the Paratrooper the ability to discriminate threats at distance with more precision. The drawback is, they take some training to be used for shooting at close distances (within 50 meters), and if the Paratrooper’s shot process is problematic, a magnifying optic will only magnify their errors.
So to sum up, there are three major categories of sighting system: iron sights, reflex sights, and magnifying optics. Iron sights have been used for centuries as the primary sighting system, hut are being replaced by newer technology. Reflex sights are designed for use with both eyes open and are parallax free past 50 meters (in the case of the CCO). Magnifying optics are primarily used for target discrimination, in the case of the M150 RCO, and are designed to be used with the Bindon Aiming Concept.