Hunting Optics 101

Innovation and production in the optics industry is no longer moving at a snail pace. Not only have hunting optics moved far from the traditional iron sights, they have actually bounced into a new and futuristic age of technological advances. We now live in an era where telescopic sights, binoculars, and even cameras have received modern-day makeovers that have greatly improved the primitive adventure for hunters like you and me. From rifle scopes to range finders and spotting scopes to red dot sights, here is your guide into the hunting optics you have to choose from.

Sights vs. Scopes

While scopes and sights may be similar in function and purpose, there are definitive differences between the two that you should be aware of. And while these differences aren’t always black and white, there are some types of optics that often float between the two categories. Sights use a system that requires alignment to enable you to get an accurate point of aim on a target. They usually don’t have any sort of magnification power, and if they do, it’s typically very low. Types of sights include open, reflex, holographic, telescopic, bow, red dot, laser and others. Scopes, on the other hand, are typically made with a tubular-like construction and have varying degrees of magnification power. Types of scopes include riflescopes, rangefinders, binoculars and spotting or field scopes.

Choosing Your Optic

Many people who are in the market purchasing a scope tend to fall on one end of the spectrum. They either want all of the bells and whistles for what is going to be a casual hunt or they don’t get the accessories they really do need for a week-long excursion. Knowing what optics you will need can be determined by your activities and needs. A generic guide to follow is that general shooting and hunting will be best with a low powered optic, whereas wildlife observers or serious distance hunters may want a more powerful optic.

Rifle Scopes

In today’s target shooting and hunting world, rifle scopes are a common accessory. Although they have moved far from the classic iron sights, rifle scopes can be mounted to not only rifles but handguns and shotguns too. From either variable and fixed vision optics to night vision scopes, you can improve your game with another set of eyes to help you make your shot.

Red Dot Sights

Using a reflective mirror-imaging optical system, a red dot, or sometimes green, appears through the lens parallel to the firearm barrel for close range or fast shooting. You may want to consider a red dot sight if you’re looking for an accessory that’s popular among the military, competitive speed shooters, and even waterfowl shotgunners.


These optical units provide accurate distances so that you never miss your target again. These days, laser rangefinders are a necessary tool for target shooters, bow hunters, rifle shooters and even, yes we’re saying it, golfers! Keep in mind that range finders can also include angle compensation or bullet drop features that allow you to adjust for elevation changes before you take your shot. More importantly, they help you to zero into the exact location of your prey at extreme distances. Functional in most types of lighting conditions, weather, and environments, range finders can be the difference between a clean shot and a regret.

Spotting Scopes

Whether you’re just out bird watching or you’re trying to stealthily stalk, spotting scopes are the powerful optics you want. While they come in both straight and angled models, the angled construction has become very popular, along with waterproof and fog-proof features. Every optic has its own special features that are unique to each type. When researching which optic is the best choice for you and your adventures, feel free to contact one of our hunting experts or stop by Triggers and Bows for a visit and we would be happy to help you.