I can see two, maybe three camps of thought on what a spotting scope is for but first I’ll point out that we all probably agree it’s a good tool for getting your sights lined up. But once that’s accomplished, the divergence of opinion begins.
Specifically, once your sights are lined up, do you still need a spotting scope?
The three camps of thought I have in mind diverge when you call your shot but it lands elsewhere. The scope is where you’ll see that this has happened, and it’s this recognition that takes the next step where things begin to diverge.
In other words, once you see that you’ve messed up, now what?
One camp would say you obviously didn’t follow your shot plan. That is, the shooter’s shot plan is developed to the point where, if followed, the shot always goes to the right place. Hence, the value of the spotting scope to those in this camp is as a tell-tale. It says that the shooter is not mentally focused and following his/her shot plan. The banner slogan in this camp might be, “All Hail the Mighty Shot Plan!”
Just down the road is the second camp. When the scope reveals that a shot landed somewhere different than the call, occupants of this camp would say that the shooter did something wrong and – here’s the difference – now’s the time to analyze and correct. In this camp, the shot plan isn’t yet bullet-proof (sorry, couldn’t resist). It is still being developed. In this camp, every shot remains an opportunity for a learning experience and the spotting scope is the tool that tells the shooter, “Oh boy, look at this. There’s something to learn here!”
The third camp – I hosted some beginner-relatives at the range a while back and they come to mind – is the group where, after each shot they would look in the scope, were generally mystified (and annoyed) at the results but, on rare occasion, they would suddenly shout, “Bullseye!” For them, the spotting scope was a source of entertainment.
They grin at the mysterious bullseye and say, “Hey, I’m gettin’ pretty good!”
And then resume blasting away at the berm and the target frame.
As we ascend the Bullseye ladder, we experience all three camps, some longer than others. And over a long competition, I sometimes find that my tent has been moved because although I’d like to say my shot plan is perfect, in reality it’s still a work in progress.
I kidded John Zurek one evening about his targets all being so boring with all those Xs and 10s.
“Don’t you get bored?” I asked only half in jest.
He just smiled.
Is bored is a good thing?