When I started dreaming about acquiring my first hunting rifle as a teenager about 30 years ago, many of my hunting teachers and mentors suggested that I didn't need a scope for it. "You've got young eyes", they said, or "You won't be shooting at anything more than 100 yards away."
|Some rifles come with scopes, something the author says is a good idea.|
Looking back, I now realize that most of the advice that I received from these "old timers" wasn't so much about being practical as it was about the fact that they felt I should be doing things the way they did when they were my age. It's true that scoped rifles used to be in the minority around these parts for a long time. Sure, much of the hunting in the north woods, particularly for deer and bear, is thick bush where long shots are uncommon, but part of the reason that scopes were not commonplace was simply because a lot of hunters were still a bit leery of them in regard to durability, and certainly some early models had some issues. But scopes have come a long way in the last 30 years, and durability is really no longer an issue even with modestly priced scopes.
And I was stubborn. Having long dreamed of following in the hunting foot prints of famous outdoor writers such as Jack O'Connor, I wanted to do everything like they did, and they seemed to have scopes on most of their hunting rifles. I did not rest until I'd convinced my grandfather that the brand new Ruger Model 77 .30/06 he had just given me had to have a scope atop it. After much research, I settled on a Redfield Widefield 2-7x. I still hunt with that rifle, and that same scope still adorns it.
I've acquired a few more rifles since then and, with just one exception, they all have scopes on them. In fact, I also have a crossbow, two muzzleloaders and a couple of shotguns with scopes as well. For me, scopes should be standard equipment on just about any long gun today, and there are plenty of reasons for this.
The biggest reason is that a scope does what the human eye simply isn't built to do: it puts your sights and your target all on the same sighting plane, meaning IN FOCUS. With iron sights, it's physically impossible for the human eyes to simultaneously focus on the rear sight, the front sight and the downrange target. Having everything in sharp focus obviously makes precision shot placement a whole lot easier.
Although not all scopes have it, magnification is also a huge benefit to precision shot placement, particularly at long distances. (I also appreciate it when sighting in at the rifle range.)
A good quality scope also gathers available light, allowing you to see well enough to shoot during the half-light of dawn and dusk when big game is most active and iron sights can be nearly useless.
Given these advantages, it's no surprise to me that not only are scopes now the norm rather than the exception in most hunting areas of North America, but that the trend is toward larger scopes with ever-great magnification.