Who Would HaveThought?

Ancient History

Do you ever wonder if Galileo ever conceived that one day his ideas of telescopes, along with others of the era, would be used on firearms.

The earliest types of optical telescopes were refractors and it seems the first one showed up in the Netherlands in 1608.  The design and creation of these refracting telescopes were Hans Lippershey and Zacharias Janssen, both makers of spectacles, and one Jacob Metius.  Apparently Mr. Galileo happened to be in Venice during May of 1609 and heard about the invention from the Netherlands when he was there.  He constructed his own, much improved version based on his knowledge of refraction.  He then told the "media" about his invention and later made it public.  In this manner, Galileo may have bragging rights to the first invention of a refracting telescope, however it appears the invention wasn't completed until after he'd heard about what the others had done.

Not So Ancient History

It is an established fact that back and front sights produce a sharp image of either the aiming device or the target - not both, and the first  experiments to aid hunters with optical aiming aids actually goes back to the 17th century. Weapons were fitted with magnifying glasses and predecessors of telescopic sights but the first real success in this field of endeavor came in the late 1800's at the hand of August Fiedler, forestry commissioner of Prince Reuss, who built a telescopic lenses that actually worked.  And, as they say, the rest is history.

Mechanics & Equipment

There are a variety of reticules available on telescopic sights, ranging from crosshairs to very intricate designs allowing the shooter very precise estimations of range to the target. The oldest style is the wire reticule, made from metal wire and mounted in the telescopic sight's tube.  The lens, etched with an optic element is mounted in the scope's tube and is an important part of the chain of sight of the optics.  Backlighting through the ocular, the wire reticule reflects incoming light without a black contrast.  Most consider etched reticles to be superior, offering greater flexibility in the reticule lay out.  Consequently they are expensive and available on special order.

Since built-in telescopes are not usually found on firearms (outside of the military), additional equipment to mount the scope is needed.  Mounting equipment, consisting of two parts, the scope base and the scope rings, is available to mount scopes on most firearms.  There is great versatility in mounting equipment today and with the appropriate combinations of base and rings, a rifle may be fitted for several different scopes.

The Right Side of the Law

Each State has its own regulations regarding scopes for hunting.  There are specific regulations when it comes to high-powered magnifying scopes for military use.  Overall, it seems there are few restrictions for normal hunting equipment but it is wise to check the regulations in your particular State or Country to ensure you're on the right side of the law.