A spotting scope is a remarkable instrument loved by nature observers, hunters, and bird watchers because it allows you to see details more clearly and have a more unobstructed view of your subject from a great distance. While these are true, many hunters and shooters are still unsure of the requirements in terms of objective lens size, magnification, optical quality, and other spotting scope features necessary for a good hunt. And so, on this post, we will focus our discussion on how to choose a spotting scope for target shooting.
Target shooting is a sport which uses different types of ranged weapons such as bows and portable guns like rifles, handguns, and shotguns. If we are talking about a more serious outdoor activity compared to bird watching and hunting, then a spotting scope is what you need. It is designed to view objects at sea or on land, or any scenery from a long distance. So, what do we need to look for a spotting scope? Let us find out!
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How to Choose a Spotting Scope for Target Shooting: Everything That You Need to Know
When searching for a spotting scope, you would normally see different numbers, and you might wonder what do they mean. The first set of numbers usually refers to the zoom feature or the magnification like 20x to 60x or 25x to 75x. The second number pertains to the objective lens diameter like 50mm or 80mm lens. While there are a lot of things that can affect your view of the target, there are factors that are within your control.
Magnification: Higher or Lower?
The ideal magnification for long-range target shooting is 20-60x or higher. They say bigger is better; however, that is not always true for magnification, although it may sound enticing if you can see a view 60x larger.
In fact, an improved glass quality can give you a better optical performance even with a lower magnification. An increased magnification, on the hand, can provide you disadvantages such as decreased field of view, degraded image quality, and reduced brightness.
Additionally, the quality of an image decreases while the magnification increases. Generally, dry climates and high altitudes favor high magnification, while low-altitude, humid, and wet climates discourage it. The atmosphere will limit the details that you will be able to see from great distances, while it will allow you to view large objects like ships from a distance. But, again, there will always be a drop off in the quality of an image as the magnification increases.
Objective Lens: Larger or Smaller?
You will get better image quality and see more details with larger objective lenses. However, you should keep in mind that a smaller quality lens is always better than a larger lens with mediocre quality, and you must never choose size over quality. External lens coatings and prism correction help in protecting the glass and enhancing light transmission.
When choosing the ideal lens size, you simply need to consider if you prefer a lighter and smaller spotting scope or one with better image quality. A larger lens will allow the scope to have better light-gathering capability, making the images clearer and brighter. However, it also means heavier and larger spotting scopes which are even more costly.
Design: Straight or Angled?
- Straight Spotting Scopes
Straight spotting scopes are ideal for range use. They are also recommended if you are focusing on a subject while lying on the ground as it will allow you to point and shoot while keeping your head down.
- Angled Spotting Scopes
Angled spotting scopes provide more versatility especially if you have other outdoor activities. They are more suitable than the straight ones for most activities because they are easier and more comfortable to use for extended periods. They are also more convenient if you need to have others look into your target by sharing your scope. Additionally, there will also be no need to adjust the position of the spotting scope now and then after setting it up. Attaching a camera to an angled scope is easier compared to a straight one.
Eyepiece: Fixed or Zoom?
Better optical performance can be obtained from fixed eyepieces because they provide a larger view, and a brighter and clearer image compared to zoom eyepieces.
If your hunting includes digiscoping or photography of some sort, then you should go with the fixed eyepieces to get excellent image quality. On the other hand, a zoom eyepiece will give you excellent shooting and hunting tool to locate, zoom in, and scan for details.
Most shooters and hunters prefer eyepieces with plenty of eye relief since they do not wish to have their eyes positioned close to the eyepiece when they shoot. Interchangeable eyepieces will give you the option to change power ranges to suit different activities, although this means you have to pay a bit more just for the eyepiece alone.
After detailed research and discussion about how to choose a spotting scope for target shooting, we can say that there are a lot of factors that need to be considered when looking for the right tool.
Aside from the features and points discussed above, there are still other things that you need to contemplate on such as the location of your hunt, the atmosphere or the weather condition of the venue, the type of activities that you will have, and your budget, among others.
Although, you should keep in mind that when it comes to optics, you must always buy the best one that you can afford. You will never go wrong with choosing quality over cost or size. However, there may be circumstances when you would rather want a smaller and lighter tool especially if you have to travel far.
With that said, it is highly recommended always to plan ahead and consider all the factors that may affect your hunting trip. That way you get to prepare and choose the right tools that will suit the activities on your next adventure.