Have we lost our marksmanship roots?.....are scopes crutches?


July 22, 2005, 10:03 PM
American Children once were skilled in the art of penmanship and spelling....today it's sloppy handwriting, keyboards and spell check.

As shooters have we also become too dependant on scopes and "dots" only to loose our open sight skills?

..... :( guess "wetting the front sights when fix'n to do some serious shoot'n" is a thing of the past.....

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July 22, 2005, 10:07 PM
I use scopes and red dots - primarily because of old eyes. When younger never had any probs with iron sights tho did prefer aperture/ghost ring set-ups best on long arms.

I do think even so - a good scope on a quality rifle will add accuracy potential - maybe turn a MOA rifle into 1/2 MOA - some may disagree. I am just glad to have these things! :)

R.H. Lee
July 22, 2005, 10:10 PM
Our firearms are more powerful and accurate, optical devices are part of the evolution of the entire system, allowing us to use that power and accuracy.

That said, I still appreciate a rifle with iron sights.

July 22, 2005, 10:13 PM
What matters, more than any sighting system (unless you're getting downright anal retentive), within 300 yards on deer-sized game, is consistency, wind and terrain reading, and technique.

FWIW, I shoot benchrest, and I get downright nuts about scopes.

July 22, 2005, 10:15 PM
I'm hardly 16 years old, and I've been called "Grammar Nazi" before. I guess it's because I got really annoyed when reading people's papers in school (something our teachers did; made us read other people's material) and getting angry when I see things such as "lol" and "omg", as well as "you" being replaced simply with "u", on top of the vicious "2" in place of too, to, and so on. :uhoh:

When it comes to shooting, I personally don't care for using a scope. It's just not my thing I guess. Sure, red dot sights are nifty, but just isn't practical for use by people such as myself...I doubt I'm going to have a need for rapid target aquistion, and if a bad guy comes-a-stormin' into my home, I'll use my trusty Mossberg if it ever comes down to me acutally having to use a weapon to defend myself - and I hope to God it doesn't come to that.

July 22, 2005, 10:21 PM
yeah, we've lost our skills with buggy whips too

and dang if i can find a doctor who knows how to use leeches either

July 22, 2005, 10:22 PM
Scopes do not make shot groups smaller.

Scopes do not affect hold, trigger squeeze, breath control, or follow through.

Scopes only make it easier to see a still target, but in fact make it more difficult to see a moving target.

Scopes are not "marksmanship crutches."


July 22, 2005, 10:25 PM
Scopes, Lazers, etc are excellent tools with a place and purpose. I still think basic sighting skills are important because you should never count on technology. Batteries go dead, components fail, scopes get banged up. It's nice to know how to do it without them.

As I teach my children to shoot, I start them with the basics that includes iron sights.

July 22, 2005, 10:26 PM
What hillbilly said. The scope in no way affects marksmanship.

July 22, 2005, 10:27 PM
I dont see how it matters eith way, If you are profiecient with both sights and scope it matter not. Use the tools you have, dont disregard them becuase there just not "The good ol way".

July 22, 2005, 10:30 PM
C'mon! I can barely afford the rifles, now ya wan' me t' buy 'scopes, too? :(

July 22, 2005, 10:33 PM
Our firearms are more powerful and accurate, optical devices are part of the evolution of the entire system, allowing us to use that power and accuracy.I belong squarely on that bandwagon. For fun, I use iron sights (just so I can say "I shot such-and-such at X range with iron sights"), and because it's cheaper. Or, for rifles where the accuracy wasn't the prime thing it was built for (SKS anyone?). With modern sporting guns, often times there is no sight system (like on some modern remingtons, or other such things out of my price range). On my rifles where I feel that they are more accurate than I, even with the iron sights provided, then I will mount a scope, in order to maximize the efficiency of each shot (something that is, to me, fun). I might be the oddball for this, I dunno. To each their own. (Oh yeah, for the most part I target shoot, so my aim doesn't need to be quick).

July 22, 2005, 10:34 PM
I have to admitt, I was very intimidated by the iron sights on my M14S, but after a little practice I have become downright awesome, even if I do say os myself. A lot of the guys I shoot with also use irons only for combat shooting.

I still like optics on my hunting rifles, although I use fixed 6X or 4X, the only other scopes I have are on my long range guns and they are very specialized.

chris in va
July 22, 2005, 10:37 PM
I had a red dot on my Ruger 22/45 for a while, but got bored with it and went back to the really nice target sights. Much more fun.

I'd probably like it better if the dot didn't cover half the target...

Taurus 66
July 22, 2005, 10:41 PM
Scopes enable us to go where iron sights will not. I do not hunt ... well ... at least not yet, if you know what I mean. :evil: There may come a day where I must reach out to 500+ yard distances. I would like a really nice accurate, low light gathering scope to assist me. If the scope malfuntioned or became damaged, it could be easily removed and the iron sights below it would already be set for 0 - 200 yards.

rust collector
July 22, 2005, 10:46 PM
I composed a little poem for this occasion:

You can shoot what you can't see
but not with any regularity.

Yes, I can handicap myself any number of ways by using antique rifles, shotguns or bows, but a. I like being able to see where my projectiles are landing and what lies beyond my target, and b. even a prairie dog deserves a humane kill.

Yes, I have quite a few guns around that do not wear glass, and every huntsafe student of mine learns how to use iron sights just as my kids learned to drive with a manual transmission. Primitive has its place, but the optics add to the fun for me and my aging eyesight.

Greg L
July 22, 2005, 10:56 PM
Optics are good to a point. If you don't have the foundation to build the house off of however....

With my Scout Troop it is single shot .22s with iron sights. You HAVE to reaquire the sight picture after every round. We do want to get them some really good sights but for now the "pumpkin on a post" method is getting them in the general ballpark.

For my guys I would rather that they learn without any enhancements and then work up to it fwiw.

July 22, 2005, 11:24 PM
Scopes do not make shot groups smaller.


I shoot benchrest. If you scope is allowing deviation, either via paralax or via the internals moving around with recoil, your groups _will_ gain enough size that you won't win. Charlie Hood whipped up a nifty little dealie that fits on a sight rail, and holds two scopes. You sight both in on the same spot, then fire a hot recoiling load.

Then you move the rifle back into battery. Did one of the scopes change position?

Then you fire a shot using only the right scope. Then the left.

If the holes are in different spots, you have a problem.

Some folks are taking perfectly good $500 scopes, and essentially gutting the adjustment, to "freeze" the scopes - turning 'em into something on the order of Unertly's external adjustment scopes. Arnold Jewell (yup, that Jewell...) has been making adjustable rings.

This isn't likely to affect most of y'all, but I get into it.

July 22, 2005, 11:25 PM
I read that the photo of Sgt. Alvin York you posted was an exaggerated publicity shot.

I use peep sights, scopes and red dots, like them all and have done good shooting with each. I can't do as well with open iron sights on the barrel now, due to eyes that are older than they used to be.

Standing Wolf
July 22, 2005, 11:32 PM
If I could still see iron sights, I'd shoot them.

July 22, 2005, 11:32 PM
i do not think that we have so much lost our "roots" in iron sights, scopes have just become more affordable and less complex so now a wider range of people are able to use them, bringing their rifles and shooting skills to their full potential.

July 22, 2005, 11:39 PM
95% of the shooting I do is with iron sights. The only scoped gun I have is a 10/22 that I put together specifically to shoot an event that required optics.

July 23, 2005, 12:18 AM
"...I got really annoyed when reading people's papers in school..." MSGT9410, good for you. It's nice to hear from a high school student who knows that proper spelling and grammar is important. The Queen's English gets raped on every forum I post on. Makes me crazy. Using proper spelling and grammar gives credibility. Improper use of the Queen's English makes you look like an illterate twit. If your teachers accept papers with 'u', 'lol', etc, they should be fired.
"...in place of too, to, and so on..." However, it's to, too and two. Not 'and so on'. Sorry, I'm on your side completely, but just couldn't resist it. Snicker.
As to the question at hand, there's no question that a scope allows you to see your target better and, therefore, allows you to place your shot better. And there's also no question that the cost of a good scope has come way down while the quality of the optics has gone way up. Old eyes, hunting at dusk or dawn, some long range shooting matches, sure, but not every rifle needs a telescopic sight.
I really don't understand why anybody would want to scope an SKS, an M1 Carbine or any other carbine. Screws up the balance. Screws up the balance on most milsurp rifles, ruins their value and most of 'em just aren't meant to have scopes. Why buy an as issued No. 4 Lee-Enfield, K98 or 1903A3 if you want a scoped rifle? Or spend the money for a sniper version of a milsurp.

Sharps Shooter
July 23, 2005, 12:19 AM
Yeah, one might consider my scope a crutch. But then you'd have to consider my bifocals a crutch too. Not to mention the cane shaped shooting stick I rely on when I'm hunting because after years of hiking up and down mountains my knees got to hurting. So what? Lord willing, I'll still be up there on the side of a mountain trying to put a venison in the freezer this fall. I'll be the hunter with all the "crutches." :D

July 23, 2005, 01:06 AM
I got really annoyed when reading people's papers in school

It should be peoples', possessive of a group, not an individual

Sorry, I couldn't resist! :D

If there is an easier way out, most people will take it. I use a holosight and irons. My eyesight is still good (corrected) but I prefer the ease of the whizbang. I can still fall back on the irons however. I do about 50/50 in my shooting.

You can't turn back the technology machine. People used to churn their own butter and build their own homes. Now you have 15 varieties of butter and not-butter...and homes have thermal-this and engineered-wood-that, Digital photography made everyone capable of photomanipulation whereas film photography took much more skill and knowledge to correct and photomanipulate.

Many scopes provide something that open sights won't--magnification. Scopes provide the ability (on certain firearms) to hit targets a mile away...at minimum it increases the range compared to the naked eye. I don't think one can see a target a mile away with the naked eye, let alone hit it with a firearm using open sights. Yet, it doesn't exactly make it easier because with the addition of a scope, one has to learn how to mantain it, zero it, operate the turrets and whatnot.

It adds a new dimension of complexity to the firearm...it doesn't necessarily make it the lazy way out. It offers the ability to gain an edge in longer distance shooting. Why not take advantage of it if you need that ability? To scold them is silly!

I really don't understand why anybody would want to scope an SKS, an M1 Carbine or any other carbine.

Why do some people put 4' tall wings on 4-cylinder cars? I don't understand either but its great that people have the freedom to do weird things I'd never try :D

July 23, 2005, 01:20 AM
Have a friend, learned his shooting in the Marines. Very much better than average shot years ago. Problem is he cannot really see sights anymore. But won't admit it. Has a firm stand, "I can shoot better with sights than I can a scope." Well quite simply it can't be true.

And while he once shot exceptionally well with open sights, he doesn't anymore. Shoots a bit, complains he can usually do better etc. etc. I feel he probably could shoot darn close to as good as ever if he simply fixed his optical problem with a scope. You cannot aim if you cannot see your aiming device.

I feel his philosophy against scopes, and that real marksmen don't need them quite a shame. If he just got himself a decent scope, even a 4x or heck a 2.5x he could make out the crosshairs and put hits on target likes he knows he should. Even if he doesn't like crosshairs, he could get one of those post reticles.

I don't know where this prejudice that people using scopes are displaying lesser marksmanship comes from myself. It certainly isn't from the results possible. Quite simply it makes no sense.

Double Naught Spy
July 23, 2005, 01:29 AM
Are scopes crutches? Of course not. They are simply a better sighting system for longer range shots. Dot sights are simply faster target aquisition sights for closer distances.

As for getting away from our roots, you have to remember that our roots are in guns that did not have sights. The earliest long guns carried into battle and early cannons had no sights. So our roots are in indexing along the barrel and point shooting.

Oh, and according to the picture, we are apparently using other 'crutches' today that we didn't use in the past. We have gotten away from black powder muzzle-loaded single shot to breech load cartridge-firing guns that include a several options in shooting (single, semi, and full auto) with 1 to many rounds carried onboard.

July 23, 2005, 03:50 AM
I take pride in shooting over iron sights, that's the way the Corps taught me and that is what I am comfortable with.

I will never need batteries or worry about scope glare with iron sights, and I can shoot with both eyes open.

But truthfully, I don't look at scopes as a crutch.

I personally have always had trouble using telescopes and binoculars, and I have trouble getting the right amount of eye relief on a standard rifle. That has made me less interested in scopes. I have trouble firing 10 shots in between cease fires because I can't see through the scope, it magnifies my movement, and I can only take getting punched in the face so many times before I get tired of it. But that is my personal issue, not the scope's fault. So for me, scopes are not worth the hassle.

But if I could comfortably use a scope, I would.

And reflex sights just make all kinds of sense to me.

So, while I love open sights, I think scopes are a great thing for everybody else.

And my vision won't always be perfect, so I gotta learn to use them eventually.

July 23, 2005, 05:49 AM
It should be peoples', possessive of a group, not an individual

Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Maybe you should have resisted.

Nouns such as people, that are plural in themselves, take a singular possessive form: people's, women's, children's, etc.

However, that spelling of "acquisition" caught my eye--but I'm not going to pick on a 16-year-old whose writing is far better than the average adult's.

(Sorry for the digression.)

July 23, 2005, 11:19 AM
Well at least I try, and besides - North Carolina schools are ranked like 48th in the Nation... :neener:

July 23, 2005, 11:44 AM
A scope is just one part of a total delivery system...when the only question is simply...to hit your mark. Scopes are an option and options are not a loss, but a choice.... your ability is always directed by your choice.

Jon Coppenbarger
July 23, 2005, 11:48 AM
I use scopes when hunting big game as in low light and just plain being able to see what exactly you are shooting at is a very important thing.

Am I better with a scope than irons sights?
Depends on what I am doing at the time I would guess.
I would use scopes for hunting, bench rest and a few other things as if you do not in most cases you are seriously handicaping yourself.
Now I am off to the the national rifle championships for a week on wed. and scopes are not allowed during the cmp week and if they were I know they would not win anyway as proven last year when the NRA allowed a scoped class. ( the scores were beaten by both match rifle and service rifle open sights in those 240 shots also).
In competitions its easy to see the difference as you take a very good rifle shooter with open sights and let him shoot the scoped equipment guys stuff ( The same exact as he does) and you are going to be a hell of alot closer than taking the scoped bench rest guy and letting him use your equipment in a xtc service rifle match.

July 23, 2005, 09:15 PM
Right now, all I have are iron sights. IMO, they're cheaper, harder to break, don't shift zero with temperature (enough to notice, anyhow), and are much less expensive than scopes. ;)

Also, nothing I own would benefit from a scope--but even when I had my modified Swede mauser, I was constantly disappointed because it had no provisions for irons. :(

Personally, I think that only using irons requires more skill than using glass.

July 23, 2005, 09:22 PM
Personally, I think that only using irons requires more skill than using glass. AND - halfways decent eyes! :D

July 23, 2005, 09:30 PM
Well, I concede that--especially on one point. My eyes are toric, and thus most rear-aperature irons look egg-shaped. :scrutiny: :uhoh: My contacts don't counteract this completely, so...

So I like a challenge :D

July 23, 2005, 10:18 PM
With many current rifles commercially produced there isn't the option to just go with open iron sights as they are made without them. You have to use a scope or other sighting device of some sort.

A scope helps with longer shots by providing better shot placement. This is good for hunting or precision target shooting. However, for most firearms activities, open sights really aren't that bad. I've used both for hunting and have been successful with standing shots at 100 yards.

What I can say is that with the rear apeture-front blade sights on my M-1 Garand are much more resistant to abuse than the variable power scope on my 12 gauge slug gun. I also don't have to worry about fogging them up like the scope.

I will say that some open iron sights are easier to line up and use for precision work than others. I have seen some examples of good ones and bad ones and I know which kind I prefer if I can't use a scope.

July 23, 2005, 11:15 PM
I like iron sights, but open sights are an abomination. I like aperture sights.

Ky Larry
July 23, 2005, 11:29 PM
I like a standard transmission in my vehicles. My wife likes automatics. We can drive each others vehicles but prefer our own. The differences don't make either one of us a better driver. Different strokes for different folks.

July 24, 2005, 12:26 AM
I had a red dot on my Ruger 22/45 for a while, but got bored with it and went back to the really nice target sights. Much more fun.

Me too. Scopes aren't just fun for me. The only gun of mine that is scoped is my deer gun. I had an SKS and my pistol scoped, and neither are anymore. Most of my guns are milsurp, too, they'd ruin the feel of the gun.

If God wanted me to shoot it, he'd have given me the eyes to see it :D

Nah, they are no more crutches than tools. If they make people better, I'm all for it.

July 24, 2005, 08:07 AM
So, are prescription glasses for losers too? :uhoh:

July 24, 2005, 10:32 AM
if scopes are crutches call me tiny tim

Quintin Likely
July 24, 2005, 10:52 AM
Since I've started shooting highpower, I've got a newfound respect as to what iron sights can do. I don't necessarily think of scopes as a crutch, since I've seen hard guns do miracles with scoped and iron sighted rifles.

July 24, 2005, 11:53 AM
Now because of vision problems, but even when I was (much) younger I shot WAY better witha scope...My buddy have some nice aperture sighted gun, and I can shoot OK with those, but only out to 100 yards or so...I wouldn't even try a shot at a deer(let alone anything smaller) at 200 yrds without a scope, with at least some magnification...

To each their own, but I certainly don't consider a scope to be a "crutch"..

July 24, 2005, 12:11 PM
If a scope is just a crutch, why does every sniper rifle I've seen have one?

July 25, 2005, 12:29 PM
Look at a majority of the rifles being manufactured today. Synthetic, sightless hunting rifles. About the only way to get iron sights on anything between a .270 and a .375 is to go with a lever action "brush buster" that has a reputation of being a short distance rifle. I think it is more the reputation and manufacturing than the actual want and need.

July 26, 2005, 08:00 AM
When I first started shooting, over [groan] 35 years ago, I could consistantly hit a 12-0z soda can at 75 yards with my iron-sighted Nylon 66.

Now, I can't even SEE the soda can @75 Yds. :eek:

Closest I can find to the "Binocular-eyed" smiley...

July 26, 2005, 08:30 AM
I had a student in class the other day tell me that we need to get laser sights for the M9 Beretta. I about fell on the floor with laughter. I then sternly told him that if he is unable to shoot with iron sights, a laser (NINJA Hi-Yah) was only going to make his shooting worse.

As for me I only have scopes on the weapons that need it. My 7mm RemMag and so on.

Control Group
July 26, 2005, 10:39 AM
I'm hardly 16 years old, and I've been called "Grammar Nazi" before.

Sure, red dot sights are nifty, but just isn't practical for use by people such as myself
Subject-verb plurality agreement, anyone? :neener:

Yeah, just like everyone else, I couldn't resist. Apologies and whatnot.

In any event, I wouldn't go so far as to call scopes crutches unless someone can't hit a target at 25 yards without one. A scope allows a shooter to do things that iron sights don't: reliably hit targets at long ranges. Much though I respect modern snipers, I don't think anyone can "reach out and touch someone" from 2400 meters over iron sights (at least not intentionally). Whether or not a scope is a crutch depends, I think, on the shooter.

That being said, I, personally, don't care for the idea of using scopes. This goes hand-in-hand with my having no real interest in modern rifles; I like bolt-action rifles with wooden furniture; preferably ones that saw action in at least one World War.

(OTOH, when it comes to pistols, I'm into the "tactical tupperware"...go figure)

July 26, 2005, 10:51 AM
Bogie, I stand corrected.

I should have written:

for the vast majority of shooters, scopes do not change group sizes. But for benchrest shooters who consider shifts in their group sizes that are measured in tenths of an inch to be significant, they can change group size.

But then again, with the benchrest standard, stray gnat farts can significantly change group sizes.


July 26, 2005, 11:12 AM
I don't mind scopes, but I do think they can be somewhat of a crutch as it eliminates the need to practice the fundamentals of sight picture and sight alignment needed for irons.

July 26, 2005, 01:13 PM
If you can't hold the gun steady, it don't matter what kind of sight/scope/thingy you use. You won't be able to hit no target anyway you look at it. :D

July 26, 2005, 01:25 PM
I probably shoot 75% of the time with iron sights and when I scope a firearm, it's the best glass I can afford, almost exclusively Leupold. I have found that using a scope when teaching a newbie about breathing and trigger control helps to exagerate his/her movement and cause the student to concentrate on these two aspects of the shooting discipline. So, no, I don't consider them crutches. Rather, they are tools to be used in the appropriate circumstances, like using a hammer to drive a nail instead of a rock.

July 26, 2005, 03:45 PM
I think a scope's got a valid place now that they're somewhat rugged. Still, it's nice to be able to shoot irons so that you don't have to be embarrassed when the opportunity comes along.

What I think is laughable are the legions of guys that don't have a prayer at making a shot without a bench and sandbags.


July 26, 2005, 04:24 PM
When I shoot three gun, no scope, when I deer hunt in Arkansas, no scope, when I deer hunt in West Texas I use a scope. I think it depends on what you are trying to do more than anything else. For quick sight picture, irons work best for me, if I have all the time, or a really long shot, a scope is better for me. YMMV, don't try this at home, etc...:D

Byron Quick
July 26, 2005, 04:38 PM
Until I was in my early thirties, my vision was 20/10. I seldom used a scope

About ten years ago, I shot a doe while she was running as fast as she could.
AK-47 clone and iron sights.

I don't know if I'd try that shot today with iron sights. Right eye is 20/30. Left eye is 20/50. Right eye dominant.

I can see movement and hit that movement further than I can identify that movement. In swamp bottomlands, often all that you can see is indistinct movement without optics. My binoculars and scope give me a much wider range of possible shots and positive target identification.

I've been in the swamp bottomland many times and could see a deer...but not through the iron sights. I won't hunt bottomland without a scope anymore.

A large part of using a scope or not depends on your eyes. For positive target identification while hunting, a pair of good binoculars will allow you to take many shots that otherwise you would be forced to forego due to lack of identification.

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