Hunting and long-range shooting are outdoor activities that require precise accuracy and judgment of environmental factors. One of the most important tools for achieving success in these outdoor activities is using a rifle scope. However, even the best riflescopes have limitations in terms of target identification. This is where the use of a spotting scope comes into play.
By using a spotting scope in conjunction with a rifle scope, hunters and shooters can greatly improve their ability to identify targets, judge environmental factors, and ultimately increase their shooting accuracy. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using a spotting scope with your rifle scope and why it’s a tool that should not be overlooked by anyone serious about hunting or long range shooting.
- A. Explanation of Spotting Scope and Rifle Scope
- Straight Spotting Scope
- Angled Spotting Scope
- B. Types Of Spotting Scopes
- C. The benefits of using a spotting scope with your rifle scope
- Other benefits
- Tips For Choosing A Spotting Scope
- Proper Usage and Maintenance Tips
- How do I choose the right spotting scope for my needs?
- Can I use a spotting scope without a tripod?
- Can I use a spotting scope for stargazing?
- What is the difference between a straight spotting scope and an angled spotting scope?
- How far can a spotting scope see?
- Can a spotting scope be used for birdwatching?
- Can I use a spotting scope for target shooting at a shooting range?
- Do all spotting scopes have adjustable magnification?
- Can I use a spotting scope to spot bullet holes in a target?
- Are spotting scopes compatible with smartphones for digiscoping?
- How do I choose between a straight spotting scope and an angled spotting scope?
- Are there any accessories that I should consider purchasing with a spotting scope?
- Can a spotting scope be used for archery spotting or bowhunting?
A. Explanation of Spotting Scope and Rifle Scope
A spotting optic and a rifle scope are two important tools hunters and shooters use to improve accuracy and precision in aiming at targets.
A rifle scope is an optical device mounted on top of a rifle, which magnifies the target and aligns it with its barrel. The shooter looks through the scope to get a better view of the target, which makes it easier to aim accurately. Riflescopes come in different magnification levels, and a higher magnification power can give a better view of what the target looks like.
On the other hand, a spotting scope is a high-powered telescope used to view distant objects. It is a portable, handheld device that magnifies the target, allowing the shooter to get a better look at it from a distance. Spotting scopes are particularly useful in long-range target shooting and hunting, where targets may be difficult to see with the naked eye.
The primary difference between the two devices is that you can mount a riflescope on the rifle to provide a close-up view of the target, while the spotting optic is handheld and provides a long-range perspective. However, both tools are essential for hunters and shooters who must make accurate shots at a long distance.
Take a moment to picture yourself as a hunter perched on a hillside, trying to catch a good glimpse of your prey. However, you don’t have a superhuman vision. Fortunately, you have a riflescope at your disposal. With this device, you can aim and fire more accurately because you can magnify your target. However, how do you find your target if it’s far away or partly hidden? This is where a spotting scope comes in handy.
Think of a spotting scope as a telescope on an all-purpose level. This handy tool lets users get a closer, more detailed look at their target, even if it’s hundreds of yards away. With a spotting scope, you can identify your target, check for antlers, and even count the number of points on those antlers.
Now, imagine combining the powers of a rifle scope and a spotting scope. You’re a superhero now, able to see targets with crystal-clear image quality, even at a long distance. This combination gives you all the information you need to make a clean, ethical shot without taking unnecessary risks or guesswork.
So, to sum it up, a rifle scope is like your trusty sidekick, while spotting scope is your superpowered ally. Together, they make an unstoppable team, helping you hit your target precisely and accurately.
Straight Spotting Scope
- Straight barrel design
- Eyepiece aligned with objective lens
- Better for quick spotting and moving targets
- Ideal for ground-level observation
Angled Spotting Scope
- Angled eyepiece at a 45-degree angle
- More comfortable for extended use
- Better for elevated targets
- Preferred for birdwatching or wildlife observation
B. Types Of Spotting Scopes
When we talk about spotting scopes, there are two main types: straight spotting scope and angled spotting scope. The difference between a straight scope and an angled scope lies in how the eyepiece is positioned in relation to the objective lens.
Straight spotting scope
A straight spotting scope is designed with a straight barrel, which means that the eyepiece is in line with the objective lens. This makes it easier to quickly locate and follow moving targets, as there is no need to adjust the angle of the scope. It is also easier to use a straight scope when observing ground-level objects, such as looking at plants.
On the other hand, an angled spotting scope has an angled eyepiece positioned at a 45-degree angle to the objective lens. This makes it more comfortable to use for extended periods, as it reduces neck and eye strain. It is also easier to use an angled eyepiece when observing targets at an elevated position, such as when viewing birds or wildlife from a hilltop or tree stand.
Angled Spotting Scope
Angled spotting scopes are preferred by hunters and birdwatchers who need to observe targets at different angles and elevations, as they offer more flexibility and comfort. However, straight spotting scopes are still popular for their simplicity and ease of use.
Choosing between straight spotting scopes or angled spotting scopes depends on personal preference and the intended use. Both types have advantages and disadvantages; the best option depends on the user’s needs and preferences.
C. The benefits of using a spotting scope with your rifle scope
1. Improved Target Identification
A spotting scope is a high-powered magnifying tool that hunters and shooters use to get a closer, more detailed look at their targets from a distance. By using a spotting scope, hunters and shooters can identify targets more accurately and make more informed decisions about whether or not to take a shot.
A spotting scope can help identify targets by providing a closer view of the animal’s physical features, such as its size, color, and movement. This can help hunters and shooters identify the species of the animal and determine whether it is a legal target.
Spotting scopes can also help hunters identify the gender of the animal. For example, by using a spotting scope to examine the antlers or horns of a deer, hunters can determine whether it is a male or female, which can be important for hunting regulations.
In addition to identifying the target, spotting scopes can help hunters and shooters identify potential obstacles or hazards in the area, such as other animals, people, or buildings. This can help ensure that hunters only take safe and ethical shots. Combining a spotting scope with a rifle scope provides a complete view of the target, increasing the chances of a successful shot.
Importance of accurate identification for hunting and long-range shooting
Precise identification of targets is extremely important for:
Hunting and long-range shooting should always be done ethically and responsibly. This includes ensuring that the target being shot at is the intended game animal or target. In addition, accurate identification of the target helps prevent the accidental shooting of non-target animals, which is important for conservation efforts and responsible hunting.
In many jurisdictions, some laws and regulations dictate which animals can be hunted and under what circumstances. Misidentifying a target can lead to legal consequences, fines, and even the loss of hunting privileges. Accurate identification of targets helps ensure compliance with these laws and regulations.
Misidentifying a target can also pose a safety risk to hunters, hikers, or nearby individuals. Therefore, it is important to ensure that only the intended target is being shot at to avoid accidental injuries or fatalities.
2. Increased Shooting Accuracy
When using a rifle scope alone, it can be challenging to accurately judge the distance to the target. However, by using a spotting scope, hunters and shooters can measure the distance to the target and adjust their rifle scope more precisely. This results in greater accuracy and more successful shots.
How does a spotting scope improve shooting accuracy?
Spotting scopes offer high magnification power, allowing shooters to see their target more clearly and in greater detail. This level of detail can help shooters identify the exact spot they want to aim at, leading to more accurate shots.
Spotting scopes are typically mounted on a tripod, providing a stable viewing platform. This stability can reduce shaking and movement, allowing shooters to focus on the target without being distracted by hand tremors or other movements.
Spotting scopes can view targets at much greater distances than a rifle scope. This allows shooters to view the target from a safe distance and make more informed decisions about the shot rather than having to rely on guesswork or assumptions.
Examples of shooting scenarios of improved accuracy
Using both a spotting and rifle scope together can improve accuracy in a wide range of shooting scenarios. Here are a few examples:
When shooting at long ranges, it can be difficult to see the target clearly with the naked eye or with just a rifle scope. By using a spotting scope to identify the target and a rifle scope to take the shot, shooters can get a more detailed view of the target and make more precise adjustments to their aim.
Hunting in dense cover
When hunting in dense cover, identifying game animals and making accurate shots can be challenging. Using a spotting scope to scout the area and identify potential targets, hunters can make more informed decisions about where to aim and when to take the shot. You can then use a rifle scope to take a more accurate shot.
Shooting in low-light conditions
It can be difficult to see the target clearly when shooting in low light conditions, such as at dawn or dusk. A larger objective lens diameter scope will allow more light transmission and a brighter image for better target identification.
3. Better Judgement of Environmental Factors
Spotting scopes can also help hunters and shooters judge environmental factors like wind direction, temperature, and lighting conditions, which can affect the accuracy of their shots. By using both tools, hunters can get a complete picture of the environment and make better-aiming decisions. The following are some environmental factors:
Wind can cause bullets to drift off course, making it difficult to hit the target accurately. Spotting scopes can help shooters identify the direction and speed of the wind by observing the movement of objects in the wind, such as grass or leaves. You can use this information to adjust the aim and take more accurate shots.
Rain or fog
Rain or fog can obstruct the shooter’s view of the target, making it difficult to take accurate shots. Spotting scopes can help shooters see through these obstructions and get a clearer view of the target. Also, spotting scopes have waterproof or fog-proof coatings that can ensure the scope remains clear even in wet or foggy conditions.
Light can affect the shooter’s ability to see the target by creating glare or reducing visibility in low light conditions. Spotting scopes with a larger objective lens diameter will have better light transmission. Additionally, spotting scopes with adjustable eyepieces can reduce glare and improve visibility in bright light conditions.
4. Greater Confidence in Shooting
By having a complete view of the target and the environment, hunters and shooters can feel more confident in their ability to take accurate shots, even under difficult conditions. This can lead to better performance and more successful hunts. You may not be confident enough to take a shot if the target is too far away or if you cannot see parts of the environment. A spotting scope takes that away and boosts your overall confidence.
Importance of confidence in hunting and shooting
A shooter’s confidence in their ability to hit the target directly affects their accuracy. When a shooter feels confident, they are more likely to take the shot, aim carefully, and hit the target. On the other hand, a lack of confidence can lead to hesitation, which can negatively impact a shooter’s accuracy.
In hunting, safety is always a top priority. When a shooter feels confident in their ability to handle their firearm safely and responsibly, they are less likely to make mistakes or take unnecessary risks that could put themselves or others in danger.
Spotting scopes can be used for various purposes. You can use them for birdwatching, wildlife observation, and even astronomy. By investing in a high-quality spotting scope, shooters can get more use out of the tool beyond their hunting and target shooting activities.
When hunting or competitive shooting with a group, having both a spotting scope and a rifle scope allows shooters to work together more effectively. For example, one person can use the spotting scope to identify targets and guide the shooter using the rifle scope. This can be particularly useful when hunting in groups or participating in competitive shooting.
Tips For Choosing A Spotting Scope
The magnification power of a spotting scope determines how much closer you can see faraway objects. Higher magnification means you can see more details, but it also narrows down what you can see in one go. For example, a spotting scope with 60x magnification will make objects appear 60 times bigger than what you see with your eyes alone. Think about what you want to use the spotting scope for, like birdwatching or looking at targets, and choose a magnification that fits your needs. If you want to see fine details on birds or faraway targets, go for higher magnification. But if you plan to scan large areas or watch moving animals, it’s better to have a wider field of view than extreme magnification.
Objective Lens Size
The objective lens is the front lens of the spotting scope, and its size affects how much light the scope can capture. Bigger objective lenses let in more light, which makes the images brighter and clearer, especially in low-light situations like sunrise or sunset. A larger objective lens also works better when you use higher magnifications. However, keep in mind that bigger objective lenses make the spotting scope heavier and bulkier. So, think about whether you need more light or want a lighter and easier-to-carry spotting scope. If you’ll be using it during the day or in bright conditions, a smaller objective lens will do. But if you want to see well in low light or want really bright images, choose a spotting scope with a larger objective lens.
The optical quality of a spotting scope affects how clear and accurate the images are. Look for scopes with good glass and special lens coatings that reduce reflections and let in more light. High-quality optical elements, like ED glass or phase-corrected prisms, make the images sharper and more vibrant. They also help reduce color fringing and show the colors correctly. A spotting scope with excellent optical quality will give you clear, sharp, and lifelike images of what you’re looking at.
Field of View
The field of view is how much you can see through the spotting scope at a specific magnification. A wider field of view is better when you want to look at things that move quickly or see a large area at once. It helps you find and track targets more easily, especially if they’re moving. When thinking about the field of view, consider how you’ll use the spotting scope. If you want to watch fast-moving animals or need to see a wide area, go for a wider field of view. But if you mostly look at still subjects or want high magnification for details, a narrower field of view is okay.
Durability and Portability
When choosing a spotting scope, it’s important to pick one that can handle outdoor use and is easy to carry around. Look for spotting scopes that are tough and can withstand rough treatment and the weather. Make sure they are waterproof and fog-proof, so they won’t get damaged by rain or moisture. Also, check if they are designed to be shock-resistant, so they won’t break if accidentally dropped. This way, you can use the spotting scope without worrying about it getting damaged during your outdoor adventures.
Some spotting scopes allow you to change the eyepiece. This feature gives you the ability to adjust the magnification or choose the right eyepiece for different viewing situations. You can switch between eyepieces to zoom in or out, depending on what you want to see. Consider if this flexibility is important to you, as it can help you adapt the spotting scope to different conditions.
Check if the spotting scope comes with a way to mount it on a tripod or if it has a compatible mount. Mounting your spotting scope on a tripod provides stability, reducing shaky images and making it easier to observe distant objects or for longer periods. It’s important to have a steady setup to have a clear view and prevent strain on your arms.
Price and Budget
Determine your budget for a spotting scope and find one that offers good quality at a price you can afford. High-end spotting scopes may have better optics and more features, but they can be expensive. However, there are also mid-range options that provide decent quality and durability without costing a fortune. Consider your needs and how often you plan to use the spotting scope. Think about what features are most important to you and find a spotting scope that fits your budget while still meeting your requirements.
Proper Usage and Maintenance Tips
To make sure you’re getting the best performance from your spotting scope and rifle scope combination, here are some simple tips to follow:
- Learn How to Focus: Take some time to understand how focusing works on both scopes. Practice adjusting the focus so you can quickly and accurately aim at your target.
- Use a Stable Support: When using a spotting scope, always put it on a stable tripod. This helps prevent shaking and ensures a steady view.
- Keep the Lenses Clean: Regularly clean the lenses of both your spotting scope and rifle scope. Dust, dirt, and smudges can affect the image quality. Use a lens cleaning solution and a soft microfiber cloth to gently wipe the lenses. Avoid using rough materials that could scratch the lenses.
- Store Properly: When you’re not using your scopes, store them in a safe and dry place. It’s a good idea to use protective cases or covers to prevent any damage. Keeping them free from dust and moisture will help maintain their performance.
How do I choose the right spotting scope for my needs?
Choosing the right spotting scope depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors like the intended use (hunting, birdwatching, etc.), the desired magnification range, objective lens size, durability, and budget. It’s also helpful to read reviews and compare different models before making a decision.
Can I use a spotting scope without a tripod?
Yes, you can. While it is possible to use a spotting scope without a tripod, it is highly recommended to use one for the best experience. A tripod provides stability, reduces shaking, and allows for longer periods of comfortable observation. It ensures steady viewing and prevents fatigue from holding the scope for extended periods.
Can I use a spotting scope for stargazing?
Yes, you can use a spotting scope for stargazing. You don’t necessarily need to set up huge or expensive telescopes before you can enjoy the sky views at night. However, spotting scopes are primarily designed for terrestrial use, so they may not be optimized for extreme astronomical observations.
What is the difference between a straight spotting scope and an angled spotting scope?
The main difference lies in the positioning of the eyepiece in relation to the objective lens. A straight spotting scope has a straight barrel design, with the eyepiece aligned directly with the objective lens. An angled spotting scope, on the other hand, has an angled eyepiece positioned at a 45-degree angle to the objective lens. The choice between the two depends on personal preference, comfort, and the intended use of the spotting scope.
How far can a spotting scope see?
The maximum distance a spotting scope can see depends on factors like the magnification power, atmospheric conditions, and the size of the target. Generally, spotting scopes can provide clear views up to several thousand yards or even miles, depending on the conditions and the quality of the scope.
Can a spotting scope be used for birdwatching?
Yes, spotting scopes are commonly used for birdwatching. Their high magnification power allows birdwatchers to observe birds in greater detail, even from a distance. Spotting scopes provide clearer and more detailed views compared to binoculars, making them ideal for birdwatching enthusiasts.
Can I use a spotting scope for target shooting at a shooting range?
Yes, spotting scopes can be used for target shooting at a shooting range. They are valuable tools for spotting bullet holes on targets, assessing accuracy, and making adjustments to aim or scope settings. Spotting scopes with higher magnification and good image quality is particularly useful for this purpose.
Do all spotting scopes have adjustable magnification?
No, not all spotting scopes have adjustable magnification. Some spotting scopes offer fixed magnification levels, while others have a variable magnification that can be adjusted to zoom in or out. The availability of adjustable magnification depends on the specific model and brand. When choosing a spotting scope, consider whether you need the flexibility of adjustable magnification for your intended use.
Can I use a spotting scope to spot bullet holes in a target?
Yes, spotting scopes are commonly used for spotting bullet holes on targets. They provide high magnification and clear views, allowing shooters to assess their accuracy and make necessary adjustments.
Are spotting scopes compatible with smartphones for digiscoping?
Yes, many spotting scopes are compatible with smartphones for digiscoping. Digiscoping involves attaching your smartphone to the spotting scope’s eyepiece to capture photos or videos of distant objects. To ensure compatibility, look for spotting scopes with adapters or dedicated smartphone mounts specifically designed for digiscoping.
How do I choose between a straight spotting scope and an angled spotting scope?
The choice between a straight spotting scope and an angled spotting scope depends on personal preference. Angled spotting scopes are often more comfortable for extended use, as they allow for a more natural and relaxed viewing position, especially when observing objects at higher elevations. Straight scopes may be more suitable for quick and straightforward observations. Angled scopes are easier to share among multiple users, as people of different heights can adjust the eyepiece without much hassle. Straight scopes are better suited for individual use. Angled scopes can be advantageous when scanning or tracking moving targets, as you can maintain a better line of sight without adjusting your body position.
Are there any accessories that I should consider purchasing with a spotting scope?
Yes, several accessories can enhance your spotting scope experience. Some common accessories include Tripod, Digiscoping Adapter, Carrying Case, and Lens Cleaning Kits.
Can a spotting scope be used for archery spotting or bowhunting?
Yes, spotting scopes can be used for archery spotting or bowhunting. They are useful for observing targets, assessing arrow placement, and identifying games at a distance.
Mike Hardesty is a published freelance gun writer. He also possesses specialized expertise in rifle scopes With dozens of articles and reviews published in Pew Pew Tactical, Snipercountry.com, and TTAG (The Truth About Guns), Mike is considered a firearms expert. His special area of expertise is handguns.
Mike is a long-time shooter. He has been punching paper targets, taking deer and other game and shooting at competitions since about 1975. Other related pursuits include reloading and bullet casting. He currently reloads for over 10 calibers, both handgun and rifle. His reloads, particularly for 9mm, were in great demand during the height of the ammo shortage among family and friends. He donated hundreds of rounds to informal shooting sessions. He was quoted as saying “I do not sell my reloads but I sure will help my guys shoot ’em for free!”. He has a few cherished firearms that he has inherited or otherwise procured — those are his favorites.
He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from Indiana State University in 1974-1975.
He’s a firearm experts and is the founder of mhardesty.com.