Know-How: Float the Dot

posted on November 24, 2017

Hunting with an iron-sighted handgun is similar to bowhunting in that the range for ethically taking game is significantly reduced from what we normally expect with a rifle. The marksmanship skill of the hunter is one factor that determines that range, and iron sights add an extra dimension to forming a good sight picture before pulling the trigger.

With an optic, all we have to do is superimpose the crosshair or dot on the target area of the animal and execute an acceptable trigger pull to achieve success. Iron sights first require aligning the front and rear sights in a specific and consistent manner. Then the challenge is to find a suitable sight picture, or the position of the sights relative to the target area on the animal, and perform a trigger pull that does not interfere with either sight alignment or placement.

Most handgun manufacturers factory-set iron sights for a sight picture that requires a 6 o’clock hold. In order to hit the center of a standard 25-yard bullseye target, the top of the front sight has to be positioned roughly 3 inches low at the bottom of the black center, hence 6 o’clock. Applying that to an animal adds stress and difficulty when time is at a premium.

A better option for hunting is a point-of-aim, point-of-impact sight picture. This is called a center hold in bullseye shooting lingo. To a hunter this means that with proper sight alignment and a good trigger pull, the bullet will impact the animal at the spot where the top of the front sight is positioned.

Another option, which I prefer, is called floating the dot. If the front sight has a dot (or colored insert) embedded in it, superimpose (float) the dot on the target area while keeping your aiming eye focused hard on the dot as viewed through the notch of the rear sight. The eye will automatically center the dot in the notch and on the target area of the animal. This method attenuates apparent sight movement on the target and reduces reluctance to pull the trigger because of perceived motion. “Float the dot, shoot the shot” is a phrase that will add new meaning to the definition of sight picture once you try it.


Hyper Raptor 410 Lead
Hyper Raptor 410 Lead

First Look: Barnett Hyper Raptor

With a lightweight composite riser and measuring just over 7 inches axle-to-axle when cocked, the Hyper Raptor provides maneuverability in tight-quartered hunting spaces.

Recipe: Venison Sausage Balls

If you’re looking for a new breakfast idea, these are quick and easy to make, and come out of the oven golden, crispy and flavorful.

Primary Lessons of Spring’s Squirrel Woods

A squirrel hunt in the spring woods rekindles memories of lessons learned long ago, when almost every dad and every son chased bushytails.

Behind the Bullet: 400 Legend

The 400 Legend takes the 350 Legend concept a step further, giving hunters a straight-walled cartridge fully suitable for both bolt-action rifles as well as the AR platform, conforming to the collective statutes set forth by a number of Midwestern states.

#SundayGunday: Chiappa Little Badger Take Down Xtreme

Get a closer look at the Chiappa Little Badger Take Down Xtreme, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

New for 2024: ALPS OutdoorZ Impact Pro Turkey Vest

The Impact Pro has all the innovative features and conveniences of the original Impact, with a series of upgrades that turkey hunters will appreciate.


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.