Scope bite, or scope eye, can happen easily when you have a scope that’s too close to your eye. That can either happen if you don’t have your shoulder firmly holding the rifle in place or if the scope doesn’t offer enough eye relief and the recoil slams the scope into your eye.
What to do to Prevent Scope Cuts
Every once in a while a shooter or hunter will not put their shoulder solidly behind the rifle and end up with the scope hitting him or her violently in the forehead. Scope cuts are an occupational hazard of rifle shooting whether one likes it or not.
The scope hitting your forehead, eyebrow or even eyeball from the recoil can lead to a lot of headaches and nasty scars and bleeding.
These scope bites happen unfortunately and they can hurt like hell. But there are ways to avoid them and take preventive measures when you know how and what to do.
Scope Mounting Position
The most important thing to remember is that the eye relief listed for each rifle scope means nothing if the scope is mounted too close to your face. This kind of eye relief is dependent on a few factors which include the length of the stock, the positioning of the rings on the mounting rail, the mounting position on the gun, etc. – How do you find the Best Types of Rifle Scope Mounts
A scope that has sufficient eye relief on one rifle might end up having a much too short eye relief on a different rifle! The recoil of the rifles can be different requiring larger eye relief on one vs the other.
It’s rather simple. If you mount a scope on a rifle with a 14-inch stock and then mount the same scope on a rifle with a 12-inch stock then you lost two inches in eye relief. That’s assuming that the scope is mounted in the same location on both rifles. You would have to position the scope forward or backward on the rail of the gun accordingly on the other firearm to get the same distance between the ocular lens and your eye.
These differences in position can end up literally causing you a lot of headaches. And, in the worst case a scar on your forehead!
Brace that Buttplate
If the scope is mounted correctly then the most often cause for a scope cut is that the shooter doesn’t brace the buttplate firmly against his or her shoulder. In many cases, this happens in stands with shooting rails.
The rail supports to prop the gun and as such the hunter gets complacent about bracing the stock. More often than not it happens when a deer or other target surprisingly shows up and the hunter wants to get off a quick shot.
Positioning of Rifle
This is probably the most common reason for hunters to get a scope bite. You are on low ground and you see a deer higher up. You lift the rifle pointing up and take the shot.
However, having to raise the rifle to point up results in the eye relief getting shortened if you don’t simultaneously adjust the position of your face. The result is that the recoil drives the scope into your forehead or eyebrow.
This happens more often than not as it’s rather uncommon that the target is always square in front of the rifle. You often have to lean one way or the other and many times at an angle that shortens the eye relief significantly.
Mostly, in the heat of the moment, a hunter might forget to adjust the position of his or her face compared to the scope. Your experience will make it easier but it’s a good idea to always remember to keep the distance and angle between the scope and the face the same.
There are a number of ways to get that telltale scar above your eye – scope bite or scope eye. The reasons are varied as pointed out above.
Probably the most common reason is that the scope itself does not have enough eye relief. This is sometimes the case with cheap scopes. So, not only for reasons of getting better optics it often makes sense to get a larger eye relief by paying a little more for a scope.
If the scope doesn’t match the rifle then the positioning ends up being wrong which can also reduce the eye relief and cause you headaches when shooting and getting the scope smashed into your forehead. Lastly, positioning the rifle correctly when taking a shot is important as pointed out before.
Taking all these factors into consideration and taking the necessary precautions will allow you to never experience a scope cut. While some think of it as more of a nuisance, it can actually be quite dangerous for your health.
Any wound on the head tends to bleed a lot and a deep cut on the forehead or eyebrow is no exception. It can easily result in a visit to the ER with a few stitches to close the wound.
Being out on a hunting trip can, in turn, result in potentially losing quite a bit of blood if it’s a long way back to catch a ride to the ER. So, better be safe than sorry and keep the scope away from your eye as far as possible.
Find high-quality rifle scopes with large eye relief by checking out our hunting scope reviews.
Image courtesy of Flickr by rosefirerising
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