Since rifle hunters are farther away from their game than shotgun hunters, sights are extremely important. There’s no point in having a long range rifle if you cannot aim it accurately. For that reason, many hunters spend as much money on a good sight as they do on their rifle.
The most basic style of sight usually comes already installed. It is an iron sight. The shooter aims by gazing at a post on the end of the barrel. He adjusts the rifle to center the post in a notch or peephole in the rear sight. The iron sight is simple and sufficient for short range shooting. Telescopic sights also called scopes, are used for hitting more distant targets. The scope is a metal tube which contains lenses to magnify the image of the target. Hunters looking through a scope will see a reticle.
This I simply a network of lines permanently labeled on the lens. He adjusts the rifle incrementally until the image of his target is within the “crosshairs” created by the reticle. Scopes come in different magnifications from 1x up to 12x. They can either have fixed or adjustable magnifications. While valuable for their ability to provide a variety of perspectives, adjustable scopes can also waste a hunters valuable time with frequent adjustments and even cause him to lose sight of the target altogether. While sights are an absolute necessity for long range accuracy, they are not always durable and require extra time and concentration to properly use. Scopes can be used in place of binoculars, or “glasses.” However, this is a potentially dangerous practice. It is easy to forget that a deadly weapon is attached to a scope, and potentially endanger distant innocent animals or people. After all, a hunter should never point his weapon at something he isn’t prepared to shoot.
Thanks to countless variables in every rifle, the hunter must always adjust all of his settings to ensure that he hits what he sees. This is done with a process known as sighting in. The traditional method of sighting-in is known as rough-sighting. The shooter fires at a close target through his sight. He makes incremental adjustments to his rifle, sights, or scope until he hits the bull’s eye. Moving further back, he repeats the process. If done properly, the rifle will be accurate at any range. Rough-sighting is a tedious process, but good practice for the meticulous patience needed on the hunt.
Once the hunter has chosen the right scope for his hunt and had it properly adjusted, he must learn how to use it properly. To aim, he should place his eye no closer than three inches from the scope to allow for recoil. This is a very important practice to remember afield, and should be practiced in a safe environment. Taking a scope to the eyeball could be dangerous as well as embarrassing. At the very least, it will spoil a good hunt. To shoot, the hunter should first establish a stable position. Ideally, he will find a stable object on which to lean.
The next best approachis a prone position. This is when a hunter lies on the ground, chest down, and tilts his head in the direction of his target. If the terrain makes lying prone difficult, a hunter may choose to sit. By resting both elbows on his knees, the shoot is able to establish good stability. Kneeling is another popular option but provides less stability.
The least effective approach is the offhand position. There is very little to steady the shot in this position. However, it only takes a moment to aim and fire. Hunters should practice all of these positions in a safe environment until they become second nature. Taking valuable time to stop and consider how to aim could cost the shot of a lifetime.