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What Is a Rifle Scope?

A rifle scope often has various adjustments to account for distance and wind.
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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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A rifle scope is a magnification device that is attached to a gun for greater accuracy. The devices are made to use the same basic magnification technology seen in most telescopes or binoculars. Usually, there is a marking on the lens that the shooter can use to assist in aiming. The typical rifle scope will also have various adjustments to account for distance and wind.

Magnification devices like the rifle scope are actually designed to bend light. It could also be said that they are stretching images. The devices normally use a series of lenses of varying sizes that take a small image and bend the light from it so that it becomes large enough to see clearly.

The average rifle scope is equipped with several extra adjustments that let the shooter increase his accuracy. For starters, there is normally a ring that can increase or decrease the level of magnification. Depending on the shooter's distance from his target, he may also want to raise or lower the scope vertically, which can often be done with a dial. Small horizontal adjustments are generally made to account for wind speed in different directions.

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The rifle scope has been around since the 1800s, and it was originally used mostly by military sharp shooters. Eventually, the scopes became very popular among hunters as well, although there were some barriers to overcome. The early rifle scope had some reliability issues because of a tendency to fog up in damp weather. The scopes were supposed to be airtight, but they really weren't sealed very well. Many hunters also felt that they made the sport of hunting less fair to the animals.

Over time, the reliability of scopes improved, and hunters varied their opinions on whether it was really fair to use them. In general, many hunters decided that scopes were actually more humane because they decreased the chances of animals suffering painful wounds that didn't kill them right away. The view that scopes are unfair remained among some hunters, but it was greatly decreased.

Some rifle scopes are made with more advanced technology that allows them to do additional things. For example, there are rifle scopes equipped with night vision technology. Another example would be scopes equipped with laser rangefinders, and these allow the shooter to more accurately estimate the distance to his target, which can be crucial for making adjustments.

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