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GUNS Magazine Digital February 2011 - Page 46

T John Barsness elescopic sights have dominated rifle shooting for so long many American hunters have never even fired a rifle without a scope. This explains why so many have vast misconceptions about what are usually called “iron sights.” The most common notion is iron sights are inaccurate. Proof to the contrary occurs each year during the 1,000-yard shooting competitions for the Wimbledon and Leech Cups held at Camp Perry, Ohio. The Wimbledon is shot with rifles using “any sight,” meaning scopes, while the Leech is iron-sight only. First everyone in the competition shoots, then the top scorers compete in a shoot-off. A perfect total score, Iron SIGhTS for hunTInG rIfLeS. the reticle provides a sharp, precise aiming point—but this doesn’t mean irons are obsolete. Despite the development of modern lens coatings that repel water, iron sights work better than scopes in really nasty weather, especially when hunting in thick woods where trees constantly drop wet pine needles and leaves or dump snow all over our scope. SIGhTS, ThAT IS. combining the two stages, would be 300 points. If iron sights are so inaccurate, we’d expect Leech Cup scores to be much lower—but they aren’t. In the five years from 20062010 the Wimbledon (scope) winner averaged 298.6 points, while the Leech (irons) winner averaged 297.6 points, a difference of about 1/3 of 1 percent. Even so, scopes are normally a better hunting choice than irons. They allow us to see the animal better, and Backups Irons are also very useful backups. Despite increased reliability, scopes are the most delicate part of a hunting rifle. Most of us don’t carry a spare scope in our daypack, but if our rifle is equipped with both iron sights and a detachable scope, when the scope This old caribou bull was taken at over 300 yards with a pre-’64 Winchester Model 70 in .270, and a Lyman aperture sight. The .270 shoots just as flat with iron sights as it does with a scope. 46 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • FEBRUARY 2011

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