There are all kinds of spotting scopes out there – scopes for bird watching, hunting, and of course, target shooting. We’re going to talk about what makes the best scope for target shooting, which features you should consider and how to pick the highest value model.
First you’ll need to understand what the numbers in scope’s name mean before we get any further. The first numbers (20x, 25x, and such) state the magnification features of the scope in question. Depending on what type of target shooting you’re interested in, you should decide for a scope with appropriate magnification.
Smaller magnification lens scopes are usually used for ‘rapid action’ shooting, such as hunting smaller game for example. Bigger magnification is basically best for ‘sniping’ targets at the longest ranges possible. Medium magnification is a compromise between the two.
Smaller magnification scopes are easier to work with whereas high-magnification lens scopes require quite a bit of time to set up and are sort of rigid in terms of mobility.
The size of the objective affects a great number of things. First, and most obvious aspect that they influence is compactness and portability. Target shooting and hunting are usually accompanied by appropriate gear, and more often than not people end up buying scopes with a huge objective lens and have to leave certain items at home simply because it takes up too much space.
If you’re not bothered by storage space (for example, if you have a car with a huge trunk), we can continue on to the next thing you ought to consider.
Sometimes people opt for bigger objective lens scopes without considering the quality of the lens in the first place. Take note that the price of a scope is determined based on all the pieces it is comprised of, and simply because your model has a huge objective doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll actually get a clear picture.
On the flip side, the bigger the objective is, the more details can be seen. In this respect, large objective scopes are normally used for target shooting.
There are several types of spotting scope designs with the two main groups being straight and angled.
Angled scopes are great when it comes to versatility. They are substantially easier to use than straight scopes as you can actually adjust some of their features to better suit your style of shooting. They’re more suitable for shorter tripods, and due to their easy customization they’re perfect for situations when you’re sharing a scope with a buddy or two. Angled scopes are generally used by hunters.
There are a couple of disadvantages of angled scopes, though. They’re more difficult to fit into regular backpacks (due to their design), they’re harder to use at downhill angles, and they tend to fog up faster.
Straight scopes are typically used for target shooting. They provide the benefits of rapid target acquisition, they’re more compact, and basically, they’re a bit simpler in general.
The last factor you’ll need to consider is the eyepiece. Generally, there are two types of eyepieces – fixed and zoom eyepieces. Both are great for target shooting, but it’s up to you to decide which one suits you better.
Fixed eyepieces provide improved optical performance as they allow a better FOV (field of vision) and somewhat clearer images in comparison to the other type. This type of eyepiece is generally preferred by people who utilize digiscoping technology (and generally everyone who is taking pictures while using their scope) simply because of superior image quality.
Alternatively, you can use a zoom eyepiece. This type of eyepiece is generally superior for target shooting (although this is not a rule) because it helps with faster scanning and zooming in on the target (thus the name).
Another factor to consider when choosing the eyepiece is how much eye relief it can provide. Since target shooting involves plenty of ‘shooting’ (as opposed to hunters who shoot only when they’ve locked in on the prey), you’ll need a lot of eye-relief if you wish to avoid getting black-eyed.
By now you should already have a clear vision of what kind of a scope you want for your target shooting sessions.
If you’re a beginner who’s still practicing on the 10 yard range, a scope with smaller magnification is good. Long range – bigger magnification. Alternatively, if you’re constantly shifting between ranges, a medium magnification scope is best for you. You’re probably better off with a fixed scope than with an angled one.
Lastly, if you’ve managed to find all of the aforementioned qualities in one scope, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s fixed or zoomed. If you do have the luxury of choosing, though, a zoom scope is superior for target shooting.