Spotting Scopes for Range Use
At the Range
Why a Spotting Scope
Precision shooting or a desire to extend your effective range, it’s almost synonymous with shooting steel. A quality spotting optic is one of the last pieces of range equipment on everyone’s list, however it should quite honestly be one of the first. Especially when shooting with a buddy. The ability to spot hit and misses and make accurate wind and elevation corrections saves ammo by making every shot count.
Suggested Spotting Scopes
A lightweight composite chassis paired with Silver Coated prism and Fully Multi-Coated lenses. Performs well outside its price point compared to competitors in this category.
Ares G2 UHD
One of the most versatile spotting scopes in Athlon’s lineup. UHD extra-low dispersion lenses and a compact chassis with an optional ranging reticle eyepiece.
An apochromatic lens system further increases contrast, sharpness and color definition. Ideal for extreme distances, heavy mirage, or difficult to locate targets.
Get a Good Tripod
Get the most out of a spotting scope by using a stable tripod. When looking for a small puff of dust from a near-miss or identifying where the target was hit, a stable tripod will help the spotter make accurate calls. A sturdy tripod will eliminate the spotting scope from shaking in the wind.
When looking for a tripod, there are two main options for the head (head the tripod mounts). A ball head and a fluid head. There are pros and cons to both.
Pan/Tilt Head: A pan/tilt head is limited to several axis movements. (top image). This style of head is typically easier for a novice to use, and quickly find their target through the spotting scope.
Ball Head: This style of head (bottom image) will have an infinite range of motion in terms of panning and tilting, not limited to 2 or 3 axis of adjustment. these are more compact, albiet a little harder to align than a pan/tilt head.
With either of these options, keep weight ratings and attachment systems in mind. A common trend is to mount an Arca rail system to a firearm to mount the rifle to the tripod, further extending its use when shooting from unconventional positions.
Straight Vs. Angled Eyepiece
There are two common configurations for spotting scopes that are used regularly for birding. A straight eyepiece is one that directs the light path straight back towards the user. An angled eyepiece directs the light path up at an angle. Most angled eyepieces are at a 45 degree angle. There is no right or wrong answer here. Much like a pan/tilt head vs. a ball head, many shooters have their own preference for roughly the same reasons. However, shooters usually find that a straight eyepiece can be easier to track and locate targets while an angled eyepiece provides more comfort for the user. The angled eyepiece is also a better option if multiple people are using the same spotting scope as there is less adjustment of the tripod required.
Several models of spotting scopes utilize a ranging reticle to help accurately identify elevation and wind corrections. These can also be used to determine the distance of a target by estimating the target size against a MIL-based reticle. The Athlon Optics Cronus Tactical UHD and Ares G2 UHD 15-45×65 (optional eyepiece) also feature a graduated ranging system for torso sized targets.