How To Use A Spotting Scope – Like A Real Expert

If you’re reading this, then I can bet on it that you have an insatiable desire to explore nature. The telescope has, since the time of Galileo, been a useful tool for the task. But you’ll agree with us that it isn’t quite as convenient as a spotting scope, especially when it comes to hunting and bird watching.

But here’s the punchline, having the right tool for the job doesn’t necessarily make you a pro, and a spotting scope is no exception. Without proper knowledge on how to use it, your dream of becoming a seasoned hunter may as well go down the drain. A stitch in time saves nine, so how about we give you some tips lest you run into bigger problems out there?

The purpose of this article is to educate you on how to use a spotting scope and graduate from a newbie to a pro scope user. We’ve tried to make it as simple as possible to accommodate even those that don’t have an idea about a spotting scope under budget.

Best Place To Use A Spotting Scope

How To Use A Spotting Scope

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The usefulness of a spotting scope depends on where you hunt and the type of hunting you engage in. That said, it can be your least or most used piece of hunting equipment.

So, What’s The Best Place To Put It Into Use

Well, a spotting scope is designed for hunters operating in expansive areas. Furthermore, the powerful magnification makes it unpractical to zero in on close targets. Therefore, it plays an important role when glassing from long distances, 100 yards or more.

What Do The Numbers Mean In A Spotting Scope

Maybe you’re using a scope for the first time and wondering what the numbers mean.

Well, Let’s Educate You On That.

There are two sets of numbers representing a spotting scope. For instance, you might find the number 20-60x80. The first set (20-60) represents a variable zoom or magnification ranging from 20x to 60x. The second number (80) represents the diameter of the objective lens, in this case, 80mm.

So What’s The Best Magnification

Most scopes have a variable magnification, from as low as 15-45x to as high as 20-60x. The higher the zoom (magnification), the more detail you get. Plus, you can always zoom out when needed.

How About The Ideal Lens Size

The ideal lens size will depend on your preference. For instance, are you after a better image quality or a small lightweight scope? A lens with a larger diameter translates to better light-gathering capability, hence brighter and clearer images. However, there’s a weight penalty when you go larger. For example, an objective lens of 80mm delivers superior image quality than that of 50mm but tends to be heavier.

Straight Vs. Angled scope: Which Is Better

Scopes come in two basic designs: those with a straight eyepiece and those with an angular eyepiece. The ideal one depends on the occasion at hand. A straight scope gives a straight alignment, an ideal choice for hunters stalking game with their head down low.

An angular scope lets you peer down the eyepiece. It’s comfortable for use for extended periods and convenient to share with other viewers. Angled scopes are ideal for most applications and make for convenient camera attachment.

Tips For Setting Up And Using A Spotting Scope

One thing to remember before getting started, the following are just but generic instructions for commonly used scopes. Therefore, there’s no shame in pulling out your user manual or consulting the manufacturer where necessary.

Any Considerations Before Getting Started

There are two considerations, both of which are of vital importance. First, you need support, in this case, a tripod. One with adjustable legs proves ideal. After all, you want a support that can fit any landbound. The next thing on the list is the atmospheric condition since the weather condition affects the clarity of the vision. Make sure to make proper adjustment for heat waves, humidity, and glare. Generally, a 60-degree resolution makes a good set for the usual days.

Now Down To The Setup. Here’s how to set the scope up on the tripod:

  • Unlock the legs to extend and adjust to the required height. Clip back the levers to lock the stand in place.
  • Adjust the legs independently in the case of uneven terrain.
  • Make sure to get better stability, one with little or no shakes. In the case of a larger or heavier scope consider putting additional weight to hold it down.
  • Most tripods come with an adapter or mounting plate. Thread it into the scope and tighten in accordance with the mechanism provided.
  • A quick-release system for the tripod is a great addition where you want to quickly remove the scope.
  • Find yourself in a situation that calls for more height? In such a case, unlock the tripod extension at the neck or center column.

So, How Do You Tilt And Pan The Scope?

Locate the levers or locks on the tripod and use to unlock the tilt and pan locks. Some tripods come with a built-in locking mechanism that loosens with a twist of the handle.

NB: Never try to tilt or pan the spotting scope in itself. Always use the panhandle instead.

Now That The Scope Is In Place, What Next?

  • Expose the focus controls, eyepiece and objective lens by unzipping or pulling down the stay-on covers.
  • Locate any remaining covers and remove from the scope.

All that remains is finding your target, here how:

  • Get a sharp, clear image of the target by moving and turning the focus controls. Consider doing it while on a low magnification for the widest field of view.
  • Make sure you have enough eye relief. That said, you might consider folding down the eyecups of your glasses, just in case you have one.
  • Now scan for the target using the panhandle.
  • Turn the zoom ring to gradually increase the power once you locate your target.
  • Refocus if necessary for a sharper, clearer image.


It doesn’t take a genius to glass like a legend. With the right spotting scope and the useful tips above, you have everything it takes to make the hunt go your way. Just make sure to use the guide in conjunction with your user manual for the best results.

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