How To Use a Spotting Scope for Shooting

spotting scope and rifle

Spotting scopes are interesting optics used to see a wide variety of objectives. They can be used to stare at the stars, watch birds, observe nature, and shoot. Yes, to shoot! Shooting at long ranges often involves a variety of optics including spotting scopes. They are traditionally very powerful, yet compact optics enough for the perfect day at the range.

 

Why Use a Spotting Scope For Shooting?

spotting scope in the field

Spotting scopes are used for a number of shooting tasks. From competition to sniping, you need a high-quality tool that provides bright, clear images and powerful magnification. This type of scope can even be used to check your target for holes and track your hits.

Shooters can also use their spotting scope to observe weather conditions downrange. Some conditions, like wind, will be different at 500 to 1,000 yards away. This device allows you to see dust blowing in the wind, trees moving, and other prime views to make wind calls!

In a tactical scenario, a spotter will use a spotting scope to provide corrections to the shooter, observe potential threats, and monitor downrange weather conditions. In a hunting scenario, spotting scopes are used to find game. The close, clear view allows you to confirm species and gender.

Spotting scopes are perfect for setting up a stalk and allowing the hunter to scout an area ahead of time. When the time comes to pull the trigger, you can be sure you are doing everything in your ability to make a humane kill.

 

How to use a Spotting Scope for Shooting

Step 1: Getting into Position

A proper position is always important for an accurate shot. It is also critical in how you use a spotting scope. You have to set up in a manner that facilitates accurate firing as well as scope use. This typically means one of two things: a seated position or a prone position.

 

Step 2: Adjust the Distance

Once you get into position, you need to adjust the spotting scope a comfortable distance from you. You need to be able to transition to the spotting scope from your rifle in a means that doesn’t screw up your shooting position. This ensures you don’t screw up a good stable firing position between shots.

 

Step 3: Mount

The spotting scope needs to be tripod mounted. They are very powerful, even at the lowest power. Any slight movement, even hand tremors, will throw you way off target. Attaching the scope to the tripod can be done at home, but setting it up needs to be done after you find your position.

You need to get into position to decide where to set the tripod, as well as height.

 

Step 4: Adjust the Magnification

Once the tripod is in place, adjust the optic to the most favorable position. Adjust the magnification until the picture is clear. If you want to see small holes in big targets, take the time to get on target. If you are observing weather and wind, you don’t have to be right on the target. Instead, you may want to focus on a tree blowing in the wind, tall grass, or dust patterns.

 

Step 5: Adjust Your Focus

shooter looking through spotting scope

Once the magnification is set, you need to dial your focus until the area you are observing is crystal clear. Focus is an easy adjustment and a very necessary one. Take your time, and make sure you have the clearest image possible. This helps reduce strain on your eyes and allow you to look downrange much longer than usual.

 

Why A Spotting Scope and Not Binoculars?

Some folks might wonder why they can’t just use binoculars. In some situations, binoculars will certainly work. Unfortunately, binoculars are much lower powered than spotting scopes. That means they can’t zoom into long ranges like spotting scopes can.

This also makes it much harder to see smaller details in targets, such as bullet holes. A spotting scope can do that. Binoculars can show you the grass blowing behind a target. A spotting scope can get you in deep and show you in detail how hard it’s blowing and in exactly what direction.

 

men with spotting scopes and binocs

 

When tripod mounted, a spotting scope stays on target. You usually just have to lean over and take a peek. No need to set your rifle down to use this optic. Just peek over, look through it, and get back to shooting. Binocular use requires you to lay down your gun.

In tactical scenarios, you’ll often find teams using both binoculars and spotting scopes. The spotting scope will always be near the rifle because it provides the necessary power. The power of this type of scope allows the user to easily recognize a potential threat all the way down to exact facial features! In a war zone, you need clarity to be decisive.

Hunters can pick and shoot the largest animal in a herd. They can also find animals trying to be stealthy. Animals are good at camouflage, and trying to spot one through the brush can be hard. You can zoom in with the power of a spotting scope.

Binoculars are still great optics that have their place. However, the spotting scope is king when it comes to long range targets. A pair of binos may work if you are 25 yards away and trying to spot tiny holes in a black target.

Let’s be real though, serious shooters use serious tools. It’s hard to get more serious, and more useful, than a spotting scope. The ability to use this product at the range and in the field will make you a more effective and more accurate shooter. Never underestimate the power of good optics!

How To Use a Spotting Scope for Shooting
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Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes

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