Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Eyes Have It

I've always had trouble with my rifle scopes. I "can" use them - but it seems like I am always searching for the sight picture and struggling to keep it. I say this, bearing in mind that I am still a novice, and I always just assumed I was doing something wrong. It doesn't matter which rifle I'm using - my AR or my .30-.30 - I still struggle. I have just lived with it, and assumed it was some skill that I hadn't yet acquired. It's a wonder I even finished that 3-Gun match last year. I did actually hit most of my rifle targets - it was just a struggle which ate up my  time. I have also thus far installed my optics "myself" - which has also always been a struggle, involving much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And profanity -- Lots and lots of profanity. :-D

So, this week, when a good friend offered to both install AND boresight my new AR scope, I jumped at the offer. I was so grateful, that I gave him all my spent brass, and if I had time I would have baked him cookies too!

The install went fine - because obviously it is a five-minute job when you know what you are doing and have the right 300 dollars worth of specially torqued tools. But the sight-in started out something like this:

Him: "Do you see it?"
Me: "See what?"
Him: "That triangular shaped rock over there"
Me : "Uhhhhhhhhh"
Him: "That rock on the hill, just to the right of the 50-yard target stand"
Me: "Uhhhhhhh"
Him: "Ok, look down my arm and follow my finger"
Me: "Oh that blob?"
Him: " yeah.... right... that blob ... *Sigh*"
Me: "Okay, so my distance vision is not the best"
Him: "You're tellin' me..."
Me: "Well that's what the scope is for..."
Him: " *Sigh*"

It rather went downhill from there.
I suppose I should explain at this point that I have needed glasses since I was in 3rd grade. I wore the proverbial coke-bottle bottoms until High School, whereupon I struggled with "hard" contact lenses for 4 years. Does anyone else remember those instruments of torture? Those little disks of plastic that felt like chunks of ground glass in your eyes? I finally gave up the fight when I went to college. I remained bespectacled, and intermittently tried soft lenses over the years with minimal success, until I reached my midlife crisis at age 38.

Don't laugh - Yes - you can't call it anything else but a mid-life crisis. I did everything but the red sports car. I got a divorce, applied to medical school, got a tattoo, got a second set of ear piercings, and spent some of my retirement account on LASIK laser eye surgery. That was 13 years ago. The LASIK has been wonderful, with only a few minor hitches. One of those hitches was adjusting to "monovision".

Monovision for me at the time meant surgically correcting the right eye for "distance" and the left eye for "close". Adjusting to the eye-switching thing took some time, and after a few hours doing close work, making the switch back to distance is still sometimes a little slow for me.  I never had any problems with learning to shoot handguns though, because my right/dominant eye can focus on the front sight just fine. Though my "working distance" with patients and charts and such is still fine, with age, I'm finding that that reading correction on the left eye isn't always enough anymore for very close work. So, I broke down this year and bought a pair of drugstore "cheaters" in order to complete a piece of embroidery I was working on. (Ohh, did my vanity take a hit). I also should add that I haven't had an eye exam in about 4 years. Yes, there is a reason that doctors are known to be terrible patients. We don't always look after our own health as well as we look after the health of others. Guilty as charged. :-)

All of which brings me back to sighting in the new scope yesterday.
Once the boresighting business with the rock was finished it was time for me to try to shoot. But I hate shooting seated, and I couldn't get the prop adjusted, and excuses, excuses. Then when I looked through the scope I had a hard time "finding" the sight picture (again), there was a big black "ring" around my field of view, which got a little better or a little worse depending on the power... It was the same old problems I've always had. I was able to shoot in the general vicinity of "zero", but it wasn't consistent. I also found that the longer I stared down the scope with my right/distance eye, the longer it took my distance vision with that eye to come back once I raised my head. Guypal tried the gun, and was pretty much dead-on for him. I felt like that old Bugs Bunny cartoon, "Nuttin' wrong wit Dis gun - Ehhhh, must be YOU"   LOL!

He had done everything he could, but it apparenlty boils down to the fact that I'm going to have to play with it some more. And it may have something to do with my monovision through the scope. I wish he could have waved a magic wand for me, but apparently it doesn't work like that. So I'll have to play with eye relief back and forth, and where my head is when I mount the gun. And I suppose seeing my eye doctor might help (Duh). So might shooting glasses. But my eye doctor is an older guy who has no experience with firearms. I may have to email a couple Ophtho guys I know. Surely I'm not the only one who has had problems like this.

That's life though -- Like Roseanne Roseannadanna says, "It's always something" :-)


  1. Gah! I hate eye relief problems! I can usually move my head around enough to make it work, but I hate it. Maybe you're still struggling because the scope is not set FOR YOU. Your friend mounted it, and the eye relief was perfect for him, but not for you. Maybe it will just be an adjustment of how the scope is mounted to make it work. It might even be helpful to have a gunsmith mount your scope.

    The gunsmith I used to work for was really good about positioning the scope, having the person try it out, repositioning, trying it out. Lather, rinse, repeat until it was mounted *just right* for that shooter. I'd rather spend the time on the front end, maneuvering the scope, than get frustrated every time I shoulder my rifle.

    Of course, that's just my two cents. (Besides, it makes a really good excuse as to why I must have my own rifle with my own scope mounted, instead of "sharing" my husband's rifle ;) )

    1. Oh, he knew exactly what he was doing - and I sooo appreciated his efforts. I'm just weird and hard to fit - for everything from shoes to guns. That's why I completely agree with you about having my OWN guns! :-D