Want to be a better shot? Put a scope on it.
You need a scope on your rifle. No matter how well you can shoot, no matter how accurate you think those iron sights are, you need a scope.
Bold statement? Perhaps. But it’s coming from a guy who is, by his own admission, a pretty crappy shot with a rifle.
Which makes me ideally suited to give advice on accuracy. How’s that? If something can make me shoot better, it can make anyone shoot better.
A rifle without a scope is robbed of its inherent ability to reach out and touch things. I’m friends with a guy who is one of the most incredible shooters I’ve ever ran across. He can shoot a handgun like no one’s business. But when he wants to use a handgun for deer hunting, he uses one with a scope. Why? Simple. Because they’re more accurate.
In almost every instance, a scope is going to greatly extend the range of your rifle. I live in Michigan and grew up hunting the bush of the Upper Peninsula.
I hunted out of an old-school deer camp and plenty of guys carried lever-action “brush” guns without scopes. Me? I carried a Remington 870 that shot sabot slugs… and was topped with a scope.
Sure, I was hunting in an area that allowed the use of rifles. But where I hunted the cover was thick and dense. A rifle or a shotgun, it made little difference. The shotgun gave me more punch at short range and the scope meant I could put it anywhere I wanted to within 120 yards. The average shot distance was about 50 yards.
Which led the brush-gun bunch to exclaim that their iron sights allowed them to get on target faster at that distance. Hogwash. I have not encountered a situation where I couldn’t get a deer in the scope quick enough. Granted, I’m not jump-shooting deer. I’m sitting on stand and waiting them out or still-hunting. Shots can, and do, come quickly in those situations. But I’ve not had them come so quickly that I wanted iron sights.
And even if they did, I have serious doubts that those iron sights would be as accurate. Sure, you can throw the gun up quickly and get off a shot. But was your cheek down on the stock? Did you lead the deer?
There are a lot of variables in play when a fast shot is required. In all other situations, a scope allows you to thread the needle more effectively. And at longer ranges? There is no question the scope will outperform an iron sight in all but the best of shooter’s hands.
You should choose a scope that fits the terrain you hunt. If you’re hunting open spaces where truly long shots are possible, a scope with plenty of magnification is a good choice. In timbered country, a basic 3- to 9-power is a good choice.
Don’t forget to check the eye relief and choose the best optic you can afford. It’ll be brighter, sharper and last longer.