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How to Use a Ladder Gun Sight

By Jeremiah Blanchard

A ladder sight mechanism is characterized by its unique ladder-like design, with a vertical post resembling the legs of a ladder and a horizontal slide resembling a ladder step. The ladder sight found its way onto the barrels of rifles during the 19th century as rifles advanced in range of fire and accuracy. A ladder sight was typically used on carbine rifles, capable of shooting distances of more than 300 yards. All calibrations on ladder sights are different, corresponding to the weapons' respective range capacity. Some are marked from 100 to 600 yards, while others may be marked from 200 to more than 1,000 yards. Today, optical scopes are the favored sight mechanism of most shooting enthusiasts, however, ladder sights are still in use today on some weapons; though the simplistic design has changed somewhat, the overall concept is still incorporated with the ladder sight.

Step 1

Calculate your estimated distance to the target area. Sit in a comfortable shooting position.

Step 2

Flip the ladder sight into an upright vertical position. Some ladder sights have a locking mechanism to hold the sight in place; if so, push the lock into position. This helps keep the sight upright and on target after recoil.

Step 3

Slide the horizontal bar into the correct position based on your estimated distance calculations. If attempting to shoot at 500 yards, slide the bar up to the 500-yard mark. The top of the bar will meet the line corresponding to 500 yards.

Step 4

Aim just above the horizontal bar, through the aperture formed by the ladder sight, keeping your eye on the target downrange. Fire one or two shots and check the points of impact for accuracy.

Step 5

Adjust the ladder sight for windage. If your initial shots landed to the left or right of the bull's-eye, adjust accordingly. Slide the upright ladder to the left if you need to fire more to the left to be on target, or to the right if needing to move right. Basically, if your shot landed to the left of the target, adjust your ladder sight to the right. Do so in small increments until your shot lands on target.

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