Spotting Holes

I can see two, maybe three camps of thought on what a spotting scope is for but first I’ll point out that we all probably agree it’s a good tool for getting your sights lined up. But once that’s accomplished, the divergence of opinion begins.

Specifically, once your sights are lined up, do you still need a spotting scope?

The three camps of thought I have in mind diverge when you call your shot but it lands elsewhere. The scope is where you’ll see that this has happened, and it’s this recognition that takes the next step where things begin to diverge.

In other words, once you see that you’ve messed up, now what?

One camp would say you obviously didn’t follow your shot plan. That is, the shooter’s shot plan is developed to the point where, if followed, the shot always goes to the right place. Hence, the value of the spotting scope to those in this camp is as a tell-tale. It says that the shooter is not mentally focused and following his/her shot plan. The banner slogan in this camp might be, “All Hail the Mighty Shot Plan!”

Just down the road is the second camp. When the scope reveals that a shot landed somewhere different than the call, occupants of this camp would say that the shooter did something wrong and — here’s the difference — now’s the time to analyze and correct. In this camp, the shot plan isn’t yet bullet-proof (sorry, couldn’t resist). It is still being developed. In this camp, every shot remains an opportunity for a learning experience and the spotting scope is the tool that tells the shooter, “Oh boy, look at this. There’s something to learn here!”

The third camp — I hosted some beginner-relatives at the range a while back and they come to mind — is the group where, after each shot they would look in the scope, were generally mystified (and annoyed) at the results but, on rare occasion, they would suddenly shout, “Bullseye!” For them, the spotting scope was a source of entertainment.

They grin at the mysterious bullseye and say, “Hey, I’m gettin’ pretty good!”

And then resume blasting away at the berm and the target frame.

As we ascend the Bullseye ladder, we experience all three camps, some longer than others. And over a long competition, I sometimes find that my tent has been moved because although I’d like to say my shot plan is perfect, in reality it’s still a work in progress.

I kidded John Zurek one evening about his targets all being so boring with all those Xs and 10s.

“Don’t you get bored?” I asked only half in jest.

He just smiled.

Is bored is a good thing?

3 thoughts on “Spotting Holes

  1. “For them, the spotting scope was a source of entertainment.
    They grin at the mysterious bullseye and say, “Hey, I’m gettin’ pretty good!”

    And then resume blasting away at the berm and the target frame.”

    I actually think that’s an excellent attitude for shooters to have. I look at my scope and at times wonder if its some type of evil instrument that was cast out from some neither world. It works as promised by the manufacturer but only to the detriment of my scores.

  2. I just started back into Bullseye a few weeks back. I found a few guys on my team stopped using their spotting scopes. Apparently rumor had it that a certain High Master wasn’t using one, so a few guys followed his lead and put them away. I shot several matches without mine and posted some of my best scores. I think for someone like me who suffers a lot of match pressure, no scope can certainly remove some of that pressure during slow fire. It’s easy to forget that 7 and concentrate on the next 10 when you never knew the 7 was there!

  3. I just started to use a spotting scope a few weeks ago. I thought that by being able to see where the hits land, I’d be able to adjust my aim accordingly. One sure saved my bacon at a sectional match a few weeks back, when I had forgotten that my red-dot was set up for a 6’o’clock hold.

    Before I had my spotting scope, my high score was 577/600 and I was shooting consistently in the 570s…but last week, the scope didn’t help at all and I was in the 560s. This week, I found the best of both worlds: shoot five or six shots slowfire, then spot them. I actually put the eyepiece cover on the scope to reduce my temptation to check after every shot–I find that I concentrate a lot better on settling the sights this way.

    This week, I did better, shooting 574/600, and the scope really only confirmed what I already knew when a few shots broke with the dot clearly outside of the black–and I followed my idea to only check a couple times during the slowfire, which, as Ken Smith said, seemed to remove some of the pressure to perform.

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