How to Use a Red Dot Sight – Step-By-Step Guide

Shooting with accuracy is essential if you want to hit your intended target. Most firearms have iron sights, but these are harder to use with accuracy. Enter the red dot sight. It’s a relatively simple device with a small light to help you point and aim your weapon.

Red dot sights are an invaluable tool for close-range and target shooting and can significantly improve your accuracy. They’re highly customizable, and most have features like adjustable mounting height and brightness. Red dots come in either an open or tubular style.

1. Get the Right Red Dot Sight 

Red dots are electronic optic sights. They provide a dot within the lens viewfinder that makes it a breeze to aim at your target accurately, and they can be used with almost any weapon. Unlike laser sights, they work by reflecting light at the lens, which shows an illuminated dot to help you align your aim directly on the target.

One drawback to red dot sights is their lack of magnification. However, you can purchase a magnifier attachment if you want to do long-range shooting. Most red dot sights are waterproof, fog-proof, shockproof, and some are even EMP-proof. Red dots can be installed quickly and are very user-friendly, which is why they’re so popular amongst shooting enthusiasts.

Reflex Sights

The most common type of red dot sight is a reflex sight. Reflex sights work by projecting light into a mirrored lens, which accurately reflects the aiming point over your intended target. Typically, reflex sights are open-style, but they’re also available as a tubular sight that will function more like a conventional scope.

If you don’t want a battery-powered dot, you can purchase a reflex sight powered with tritium. Another benefit of reflex sights is that you can use them with both eyes open, meaning they have unlimited eye relief. Using both eyes helps increase the accuracy and the visual awareness of your surroundings, too.

2. Find the Right Sight for Your Shooting Needs

If you’re worried about having a limited budget, most red dots are reasonably priced. Some red dots are available with extra attachments or mounts, so check the product description before you buy so you know exactly what you’re getting. Learning how to use a red dot sight is much easier when you have the right sight for your weapon and preferred shooting range.

3. Mount Your Sight Properly

Determining the best position for your scope can be challenging and may require some adjustment to get it in the perfect spot. When you adjust and attach your scope, keep these factors in mind:

  • If you’re mounting a magnifier, you may have to move your red dot forward to make enough room
  • Moving the red dot forward or backward will not affect its size
  • Balance your red dot correctly after mounting
  • Mounting the red dot closer gives a broader view but a limited range
  • Mounting it further away gives a shorter view but improves range
  • For close-range, you can move it closer to view more in the scope
  • For long-range, you need a larger field of view

4. Choose the Right Location for Your Red Dot

The best spot for mounting red dots is right over the receiver. That way, your weapon will be balanced, and you can hold it normally without compromising shot accuracy. Most red dots come with a Picatinny rail attachment and all the required mounting equipment. However, if they don’t, you can use everyday items like Allan wrenches or hex keys.

The rail should have a mounting point, which can also be easily tightened with a hex key or Allan wrench. It’s crucial to attach the rail correctly because it affects the accuracy of your shot. It’s recommended to use a reinforcement like Loctite to ensure it stays tightly in place.

5. Zero-In Your Scope

Zeroing-in your scope ensures that your shots will be accurate. To start, set up a target about 25 yards away since red dots are better suited for close-range shooting. If you’re using a magnifier with your scope, adjust your target accordingly.

Most firearms have iron sights, which can also help you zero-in and further improve your accuracy. If you are using your iron sights for alignment, be sure to line up the dot vertically and horizontally. It should also rest right on the middle post. When you’ve achieved this, you’re officially zeroed-in.

6. Align Your Shot Properly

If your weapon doesn’t have iron sights, secure it from recoil and take test shots to align like you usually would. Be sure to secure against recoil, because as with any firearm with an attached scope, recoil can adversely affect your shot’s accuracy.

When you think you’re aligned, try a test shot to check your precision and adjust your sights accordingly. If your shots are hitting the target where the dot’s located, you’re zeroed-in. Red dots are designed to let you simply point, aim, and shoot.

7. Determine Your Shooting Range: Close or Long?

Scopes aren’t made for long-range shooting, although they can be used for it in certain circumstances. Red dots are accurate at about 100-200 yards. If you prefer long-range shooting, you can purchase magnifier attachments that mount right behind the red dot. However, you’ll have to zero-in to use them correctly.

You can also get modular red dot scopes, known as a “hybrid.” These allow for fast switching from long-range to close-range. They’re also simple to use since they’re set up similarly to a traditional style scope.

8. Adjust for Parallax

Parallax refers to the tendency of a vertical to move out of place when aiming down sight. This is why red dots are so popular: they have a reduced parallax sight. Therefore, when you’re in view of your intended target and move your head, the dot will also move slightly, but not as much as it would if you were using a magnified or holographic scope.

9. Remember These Important Tips

A common mistake for beginners who don’t know how to use a red dot sight is they don’t trust its accuracy. However, the red dot should be the only thing you should aim with when firing. You also don’t need to line up the dot with your iron sights or any other attachment, as long as you’re accurate when you shoot.

Practice Your Shooting

Another piece of vital advice is to practice, practice, practice. Just like any other hobby, shooting requires training and commitment to get better. A great way to improve your shooting with a red dot is by regularly practicing at a shooting range or somewhere safe. Try shooting with different sized targets to improve your accuracy so you’re proficient at close- and long-ranges.

Learn About the Features of Your Red Dot

Most red dots have a brightness level adjustment, which is crucial in poor or changing light. If you’re shooting outside in the dark, you may need a brighter dot. However, don’t go too far, or your dot could turn blue or halo, which will decrease accuracy. Bright dots aren’t necessary for bright light and may even be very hard to see. Turn down the illumination to fix that.

Mount Your Red Dot in a Comfortable Position

It’s relatively easy to mount a red dot sight and adjust the height. However, avoid doing this when bringing up your weapon to shoot. If not, you may not see the target clearly if you’re drawing quickly. Keep the dot as low as possible until you’re used to it, or leave it that way permanently to improve your draw speed accuracy.

Red dot scopes are perfect for any close to moderate range shooting activities. They’re affordable, incredibly versatile, and they have unrivaled accuracy at close-range. If you prefer long-range, you can purchase a magnifier attachment to increase your range without sacrificing accuracy. Red dot sights are an excellent way to improve accuracy and have a fun and enjoyable shooting experience.

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox writes on a variety of topics ranging from reloading ammunition to gun cleaning. He has been featured on various publications like thetruthaboutguns, Sofrep & many more. Joseph is also the founder of Gunloading, where he reviews different types of reloading & firearm products available on the market.