Spotting Scope Mount Makes For More Comfortable Target Scoring

One of the big bottlenecks in target shooting is the scoring process. Even if it’s not a serious match, it’s still important to know where holes have landed because it’s important feedback on technique and performance. One way to see hits on a target without leaving the firing line is to use a spotting scope, which is really just a kind of telescope optimized for getting a sharp view of a distant target. Usually they are mounted on tripods and optimized for seated use, but [Stephen Thone] came up with a clever hack for more comfortable use and mounting that works better for him while engaging in bulls-eye shooting from the standing position.

[Stephen] took a ratcheting bar clamp and drilled a few holes near the end of the bar. Using these holes, the spotting scope is mounted directly to the bar and the clamp grips a shooting table or bench in place of a stand. [Stephen] also put a 90 degree twist in the bar so that the clamp and scope could be oriented perpendicular to one another. The result is a quick and easy-to-use mounting solution that, unlike a tripod, doesn’t eat up precious table space. Stability may be inferior to a tripod, but it’s serviceable enough that other shooters showed up with their own versions the week after [Stephen] used his. After all, target shooters tend to be DIY types with an interest in both low-tech hacks like this one as well as higher-tech projects like rifle-mounted sensors.

15 thoughts on “Spotting Scope Mount Makes For More Comfortable Target Scoring

  1. What I really want is a hack using a pi or similar sbc using a camera to watch the target downrange and report hit and my score back over wifi to a laptop or tablet (or phone). Sort of a high tech version of the cctv style target cameras youd sometimes see in Switzerland on their rifle ranges.

    1. If considered doing the same thing. There is at least one commercial product, the Longshot Target Camera. And I see a bunch of DIY projects via the Google. I’d like to see some OpenCV integration, that will measure groups and calculate deviations and such. A friend of mine has an iPhone app that does that, but you have to walk up to the targe to take the picture. Biggest issue with the range camera that I can see is protecting them. If you’re the only shooter, not too,u h of an issue. Start adding in more people, you’re increasing the likelyhood someone is going to put a stray round through it.

      1. Protecting it is easy, we use a sloped AR500 steel plate. I have 3-4 more than big enough sitting in my garage. If your way out in the boonies slope it up, if not than slope it down (but you’ll need some way to keep it from falling over with a downward slope).

    2. Or hey, before worrying about fancy tricks, how about just getting me a picture back, without the shake and wobble a spotting scope seems always to have – particularly one at the end of a long stick? Heck, it’s even bad in benchrest shooting – one nudge on even a concrete bench, much less bumping the scope with an eye…and the picture is all over the place or even not on your target anymore (lots of oops from looking at one target while shooting at a different one have been seen). There’s also atmospheric distortion…usually called mirage. Some shooters use it to judge the wind (a major error source once you get the rest right) but there are other ways…by the time you’re shooting really small groups at 100 or 200 meters…just seeing the new hole that grazed the one big hole is a fairly tough problem. Having nothing more difficult than a comparison with the previous pic would be great.
      Trouble is, you need something better than (most) wifi for range, but LoRa would be too slow.

      1. Lora might be too slow (i dont know enough about it) but another protocol running on 900mhz might be ok. Bit honestly the easier setup is either using a big directional antenna at the base station or spooling out a few hundred yards of cable (1000m of cat5 is actually pretty cheap, especially if you pick it up surplus/used). You’d need extenders or media converters (switch it to ethernet over coax, or fiber if your camera can be battery powered, etc).

        I think the transmission back to base part would be the easy nut to crack. Pushing wifi thousands of yards usually isn’t very difficult. It’s the camera and CV setup thats out of my reach/skill at the moment.

        1. Making it practical is actually the hard part. Yes, you could use a directional antenna at one or both ends, probably the best. Remember, most shooting ranges are far from populated areas (usually considered a good thing, even the one on my back 40 is quite a trek to get to in the mountains here)…so laying out cable that will inevitably be left in the weather or worn out pretty quickly by use probably wouldn’t be the way.
          A pi can be a wireless access point – that’s fairly easy, I suppose you could get some gain by putting it in a corner reflector. A laptop to watch would only need good batteries and a sunshade (it’d have to be a really good sunshade…).
          Hooking things up for the pi to send its own webpage over the WAP, haven’t tried yet, shouldn’t be that bad?

          1. If you use a laptop or device with an IPS panel its usually great outside (but im under trees anyway).

            Remember, a good antenna creates gain “both ways” (tx/rx) so for a point to point link if the pi can hear the base station it can also talk to the base station (so one decent directional antenna on the base should work).

            The cable would be spooled if you went that route. Roll it out using a little spool cart, and then roll it up when your done. Wifi is a much easier plan imo.

            Once we get to the actual software and programming part is where it gets tough for me lol

  2. The reason people use independent tripods is so that when the people around them move, the image in the scope does not move. If your system works for you, that is great, but I don’t think it would work well for me. A camera and wifi might be fun but to be honest, that would be too much of a PITA to set up for just casual plinking.

    1. Once your scoring tiny groups at 500+ yards your usually past the plinking stage. For plinking I toss up some steel plates at the start of the session and take them down when its time to go home.

    1. Yes, thats almost exactly the thing I was talking about in Switzerland! Good find. My buddy would probably love to have that installed on his property. Now I just need to find all the money it would take! ;)

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