At the beginning of each relay, you are generally allowed to have two (2), three (3),
five (5), or an unlimited number of sighter shots, depending upon which governing
body’s rules (i.e. National Rifle Association, American Single Shot Rifle
Association, etc…) are being used by the match organizers.
Sighter shots are like practice shots to enable you to refine your sight settings
for your relay before having to shoot your 10 or 15 rounds for official record score
(depending upon whose rules you are using and the format of the match you are
shooting / one day vs. two-day).
Although you may need to take more than the allowed number of sighter shots
before your first shot actually “gets on paper”, the first shot that hits
anywhere on the target is considered to be your first sighter shot.
Let’s assume that you are allowed to take three (3) sighter shots before having
to go for your record score. Hopefully, your next two shots will also hit the
target and be much closer to or even in the “X” ring than was your first shot.
But even if your next two shots were to miss the target completely, according to
the rules of your match, you would have taken your three allowed sighter shots.
At this point, depending upon the rules of the match, you may be faced with
making a decision. If the “conversion” of sighter shots is allowed, you will
need to ask yourself the following question — “Do I want to convert or use any of my
sighter shots for my official score?”.
Basically that means, according to the rules, that you may use any or all of
your sighter shot scores as your official record scores by “converting” them.
So for example, let’s say that your first sighter shot was a “7”, your second
sighter was a “9”, and your last sighter shot was a “10”. You could use any or
all of those shots as your official record shot scores if you chose to do so.
But, hold on — there may be a catch. Once again according to the rules being
used, although you may be allowed to convert sighter shots for score, you may
also be required to convert them in “reverse order”. That means that the last
sighter shot you made has to be the first shot converted, the second sighter
shot you made has to be the second sighter converted, and the first sighter shot
you made has to be the last shot converted.
In the example given above, if the rules for your match specified being able to
take three (3) sighter shots, you might choose to convert the “10” and the “9”
and use them as your first two “record” scores, but discard the “7”. That would
leave you with 13 “record” shots remaining to make your 15 official record shots
(in a 15 shot match format).
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, let’s take another example and see if your
thinking would change.
Let’s say that your first sighter was an “X”, your next sighter was a “9”, and
your last sighter shot was a “6”. Now, using the same rules that applied in the
example above, you could convert those three sighter shots in reverse order,
meaning that you would have to take the “6” first, the “9” second, and “X” last.
What would you do? Would you be willing to take a “6” in order to use the “9”
and the “X”? Or, would you discard all three sighter shots and simply start
shooting your 15 rounds for official score?
Remember, in the example given above, your shots seem to be moving away from the
center of the target rather than getting closer to the center of the target. It’s
quite possible that if you don’t make the correct sight adjustment before your next shot,
it might miss the target entirely and you would be scored with a “miss” and “0” points!
At this moment in time, it pretty much boils down to, “How confident am I that I
will be able to shoot better scores with my official record shots than I did
with my sighter shots?”.
If conditions are good (i.e. the wind is steady, the lighting conditions are
favorable, there’s no smoke in the air, etc…) you may want to discard all of
those sighter shots and tell your spotter that you are now taking your record
On the other hand, if conditions are poor or deteriorating fast (i.e. the winds
are gusting and unpredictable, it’s starting to rain, it’s foggy and hard to
see, or because there is no wind there’s a growing cloud of white smoke
obscuring your view of the target) you just may want to accept any hit on the
target and use it for your official score and be happy you got it.
Remember, one of the things that will hurt your final score is having a
miss or multiple misses on your scorecard. Even scoring a “6” is better than
having a “0” any day of the week!
By Darryl Hedges
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