Occluded aiming a pistol

How to Find Your Red Dot

June 5, 2024 by Tyler Berthelsen

For many people, equipping a pistol with a red dot sight will make you a more accurate shooter. But the advantages of red dots quickly get thrown out the window when new users can’t find their dot. However, with a little bit of training and an understanding of the challenges, any shooter can overcome the obstacle and see the full benefits of using a red dot sight. 

Why Can’t I See My Dot

The biggest challenge with using a red dot is the difficulty of acquiring the dot when aiming. Whether you’ve shot with red dots for a while or just picked a new 3 Tactix EED up today you’ve probably heard or said this phrase before; “I can’t find the dot”. This is a problem almost everyone has when picking up a red dot for the first time. There’s no doubt that this isn’t a problem that would arise considering the structure of the dot. A very small illuminated dot that is projected on a small piece of glass has the potential to move around a lot and disappear when moved too far in any direction. This can be frustrating for new users and can turn them away from red dots entirely. But the solutions are there, you just need to implement them.

Dry Fire Training

Dry fire training serves as one of the best ways to improve your draw and sight acquisition. While there are many ways to practice dry fire, one of the most effective is called slow motion dry fire. This method teaches you to prefect how you draw and aim your pistol. When performing this method you should start with your pistol holstered or in a downward position. Then draw your pistol in slow motion, about half the speed you would normally draw. Pay attention to where your dot is at, if you can see it at all.

If you cannot see it, move your pistol until it comes into view. It is important to remember and resist the urge to move your head. Don’t go “looking” for the dot. Adjust your grip until the dot appears. Often times, applying a little extra pressure with your dominant hand pinky finger to your grip on the pistol will cause the dot to drop in from the top of your sight picture. 

You can also work this drill by getting in the low ready position, closing your eyes, bringing your pistol up to the target, and opening your eyes. When your process is dialed in, you should immediately be able to see your dot without any adjustments. If you can’t, make note of what you have to do to correct it and try to incorporate that into your shooting process.

Repeat this process, if you see consistency the way the dot is presented this is a good thing. Take the information you learn and start correcting your grip or aim point so you can see the dot. With practice this method will allow you to acquire the dot effortlessly. 

Occluded Aiming

While dry fire training is essential for mastering the way you draw, it lacks the aspect of focusing on your target and teaches you to find your dot. Traditionally, with iron sights you would focus between the front sight and your target. This is not the same for red dots. For red dots they are used as a reference point to where you’ll make an impact, not a main concern that you need to look for after identifying your target. They will more so mesh with your vision and you’ll see a red dot on your target.

occluded red dot shooting

Occluded aiming involves covering the objective lens of your red dot. You can easily do this with some painters tape, this won’t leave any residue on your optic. This hides the view of your target through your optic. You will still be able to see your dot projecting on the glass of your optic though. This kind of sounds like your dot has no role in the process of aiming but oddly the way our eyes work it does. Since you cannot see through your optic you will have to keep both eyes open to see your target. This also means you will have to instinctually aim your pistol. When doing this, our brain has a natural ability to merge images into one by using both eyes. This results in the red dot to line up with the target with ease, time after time. Do this exercise often and you will be focusing on your target and not “where’s my dot”. The dot will simply just align with your target and you won’t have to worry about focusing on anything but your target. 

Practice Makes Perfect

By incorporating either method mentioned above into your practice you will be able to transfer your new skill of finding your dot and target at the range or in an event you need to protect yourself. Practice does make perfect in the shooting world so you’re going to have to get out and do it. By practicing these methods often you will be able to shoot straight and never have to worry about finding your dot.