What Playing Tennis With My Brother Taught Me About Handgun Sights

 

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To date, I have written only one article on handgun sights, reviewing the Ameriglo I Dot Pros that are currently worn by all of my Glock handguns.  John, on the other hand, has written reviews of several different sights (see here, here, here, and here!…more to come?) as he continues on his personal sight odyssey.  John’s convoluted path and my own vacillating about how best to meet my own needs is evidence that there is no one right answer when it comes to pistol sights.

What Taking Classes Can Reveal

I knew enough, even before taking my first classes, that stock Glock plastic sights suck.  So I was ahead of the game compared with some students.  Accordingly, I started my training journey in 2013 with a Glock 19 equipped with Meprolight Tru Dot night sights (yellow rear, green front) and a Glock 26 equipped with Glock factory night sights.  In what I consider to be my first “good” class, in 2014 with Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts (see here), the limitations of these sights in shooting at speed and at distance became evident to me.

Within a few months, I found my way to a set of Ameriglo Defoor plain black sights, and used a Glock 19 equipped with these sights in several classes in 2014.  Honestly, to date, I still think that these are my favorite sights.  Although none of my Glocks currently wear them, I do keep a set on hand just in case the itch strikes again. 

However, after completing my first low-light class (see here ), I found my performance with them in such conditions lacking.  Over the following year, I continued to utilize the Defoor sights while playing around with some different concepts (front night sight only, etc.).  In the end, in early 2016 I settled on the aforementioned I Dot Pro Sights from Ameriglo.

Like many things in life, these sights represent a compromise.  Their dot-the-I sight picture works well for me and is the type of night sight I have come to prefer, providing a less-busy sight picture.  I love the big orange circle on the front sight, which seems to allow me fairly rapid acquisition of the front sight (even in the early days of using the Defoor sights, I liked to paint the top few serrations on the front sight orange to make it “pop”).  However, that big orange circle is mounted on a wide front sight, and I tend to struggle with that front sight on slower fire targets out past about 20 yards.  Likewise, while the wide notch in the rear sight works well for rapid strings at relatively close distances, when used in conjunction with the wide front sight, it makes refining the sight picture for more precise shots at distance somewhat problematic.  The dot-the-I sight picture also necessitates a slightly taller set of sights. This means that, unlike the Defoor sights, the point-of-impact of the rounds tends to be behind the dot on the front sight rather than right at the top of the front sight, which takes some getting used to.

My Brother, the Tennis Star

Hardly.  My brother always had an interest in tennis, but he did not start playing recreationally until he was in college.  Once he did, he jumped in with both feet, not unlike my own interest and journey into firearms and self-defense.  He read all he could, watched instructional videos, and practiced whenever he had time.  There is no doubt that he has gained a lot of knowledge in the skills, tactics, and strategies of playing tennis, as he now often spends his summers coaching in youth tennis leagues and camps. 

Back when he first got started, he often called upon me to play some tennis and enjoy some brother-bonding time.  However, I lacked the same enthusiasm for tennis as my brother.  I liked it and even enjoyed playing it well enough, but my racquets were both hand-me-downs from him, and I doubt I ever bought more than a single can of tennis balls in my life.  

One thing I noted about my brother on these occasions was his penchant for sharing with me his latest “improvements” (does this sound familiar to our gun-owning readers????).  Never did he say, “I’ve been working on my serve for a while.  Watch how I serve now!”  Instead, it was usually something like, “Hey, I got gamma gut strings on my racquet and it’s strung at 63 lbs now”, or, “I added lead tape to the inside of my racquet head to give it more weight and power”, or, “check out this new grip I put on my racquet.”  And then we would play for a couple of hours and he would play exactly as he always played, showing no visible improvement (sound familiar????), with me using the same old racquet and doing nearly as well (and sometimes better).  He would often change one or more variables in his gear and then not give it enough time, always moving on to the next thing in an effort to purchase performance.

My Sights

Despite some of the negatives associated with the I Dot Pro sights outlined above, I liked them enough that I decided to purchase them for all of my Glocks and then just focus on using them as well as possible.  At some point, I feel, you have to pick something and go with it (not unlike some techniques, as I discussed here).  I thought back to those tennis “matches” with my brother, and did not want to turn into a gun-owning version.  Better, in my opinion, to pick something that mostly works for you, go with it, try to master it, all while being aware of its shortcomings and trying to mitigate or work around them.

Thus, here I sit.  I am not a master shooter, but in recent months I have started to note improvement in my shooting at speed and at various distances.  I have tried to isolate a variable (the type of sights I use), focusing instead on improving the other variables like my grip, stance, trigger press, etc.  Eventually, I may discover that my skills improve to the point where I am getting all the performance I can out of these sights.  At that point, it might be time to seek other options (the fact that Ameriglo keeps tinkering with its sight designs, such as with the introduction of its newer “bold” and “FBI” sights, might be evidence that even they recognize that their fat front sight and wide rear notch may not be ideal).  Until then, however, I am going to stick with these and focus instead on MY skills rather than my gear.

As always, thanks for reading.  If you have any questions or comments, please post them below or on our Facebook page, as we always welcome civil discourse.

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7 thoughts on “What Playing Tennis With My Brother Taught Me About Handgun Sights

  1. Another great post, and relevant to me for a number of reasons. First, I just got a Glock 43 with Ameriglo GloPro (or ProGlo?) sights. I like them alot, so am looking at some Ameriglos for my G17 and FN FNX-9.

    I think I am one of the few people who actually like the stock Glock sights. I shot pretty well at the MAG-40 class I took years ago with them. Of course, I was also using a Blackhawk Serpa paddle holster, so what did I know then?

    Second, tennis! What a crappy old racket you have. But is it the arrow or the Indian? You make a good point. When I work on tennis rackets for my customers who get paid to play (rather than vice versa like your brother and me), I do try to customize them so they are well-suited to the person, but after that I really want the racket to fade into the background. The player should NOT be thinking at all about the equipment while they are playing. In a sense, I want to make the racket/strings a constant not a variable. I met Roger Federer’s stringer recently and he insisted that he is not a great stringer (i.e., doesn’t have some magic technique) but he is a CONSISTENT stringer. Every racket he strings for Federer is exactly the same which is what Federer wants. Just like in the Modern Technique of the Pistol, the pistol is a constant not a variable.

    Third, people love hardware over software. I just started a second Instagram account just for gun-related stuff and the whole things is awash in hardware and very little posting about software. In my post today about the Modern Technique of the Pistol, I noted that is is mostly about the TECHNIQUE and very little about the PISTOL.

    Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Professor,

      Thanks for the praise on the article.

      Don’t be mocking my racquet! Haha. It was free, and I’ve not played tennis in a few years, so it could be an old wood one for all I care. My favorite racquet, which I still have around somewhere, is an even older one similar to the Sampras racquet that Wilson makes/made, but so scratched up that I painted it all black, so now it looks all exotic!

      Two issues that I see you caught: one is that people love “stuff”, a.k.a. gear. Secondly, people love to tinker and don’t isolate the variable. We’re all guilty to one degree or another. I’d like to think that with age has come at least SOME wisdom, so I tend to refrain from either these days. Case in point: I got to shoot a S&W M&P 2.0 Compact a couple of weeks ago and loved it. I could have run out to buy one, but at this point, why keep chasing, especially when I’m so heavily invested in the Glock platform?

      Thanks for reading!

      –Robert

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Followed Prof Yamane over. Very well put. In the years I spent working at a range we would see regulars come in with new toys, or have us install new sights, but still shoot the same.

    It’s an easy trap to fall into, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying collecting and novelty, but for carry ability and the carry pistol, as you put so well it’s better to set aside a piece of your budget for training and practice, not “upgrades.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Matthew,

      Yep. I used to be that guy. Had an RMR on one Glock, different sets of irons on each other Glock, and even with professional instruction was not improving the way I would have preferred. I went same sights across the board and things are looking up.

      Thanks for the comment. Hope you read some more on our blog.

      –Robert

      Like

    2. I also followed the Prof. over here. It is really serendipitous that I did so, as I now have 2 great writers to follow, and both of you have pretty much the same mindset that I am coming to embrace. I am not certain, but I believe that it was Jan Libourel who first started me into the mindset of not getting so wrapped up with all of the hardware changes that so many firearm shooters like to make. He didn’t even like to do the trigger jobs that so many like to have done on a new pistol, but rather preferred to simply learn to shoot the gun as is.

      I bought my first 1911 last year, and gasp! I didn’t buy the most expensive one I could find, but rather, I bought a very inexpensive one, made in Turkey. I got it home from my FFL, and as I looked it over, I simply was amazed at the quality that they were able to put into it for a little over 300$. As I began shooting it, I learned that it is the most accurate handgun I have ever owned. The only pistol that I have ever shot that is more accurate is my sons CZ2075 Rami. That is a very accurate gun, but it was 200$ more, and is a super nice gun.

      For the 200$ extra that he spent on the CZ, I was able to buy enough ammo to break my 1911 in, and it is now a carry gun for me. I also carry a compact 9mm when the weather is hot and clothing must be lighter, but I follow your ideas about not getting into the hardware chasing game. I also am looking at going to an Appleseed shoot next spring. And I have also been in touch with a couple of trainers here in my area, and am also considering training for my handgun/concealed carry next summer. I passed the required course long age, but I am now in a position where I am able to financially afford to continue on, and so am looking to get more.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Pigpen,

        Thanks for the feedback and for sharing your story. I can still get caught heading down that rabbit hole and love to talk gear as much as the next guy, but I am trying to be more practical as I age. Some recent decisions I have made that I plan to reveal to our readers in the coming month or two will be further evidence of this personal policy.

        Hope you hang with us–and share with others–articles you deem worthy!

        –Robert

        Like

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