Standard ScopeA standard scope consists of an optical device you can look through while it is mounted on top of your paintball gun (or on the side of your paintball gun) that has cross hairs or some other figure on the transparent pane that allows you to see your target and see the crosshairs on top of it. With a properly aligned scope, what you see when you fire, will also be what you hit.
With scopes, there is considerable variation. Two major distinctions are those that have any ability to zoom as those that do not. A non-zooming scope can be as simple as a piece of clear plastic with a cross-hair painted on it. Scopes that have the ability to zoom are similar to binoculars and allow you to use optical magnification to see your target more clearly. Scopes that are designed for paintball guns can cost anywhere from a few dollars to much more. High magnification scopes with standard mounting attachments that were designed for hunting rifles could also potentially be used for paintball guns. This, though, is both unnecessary and impractical. It is unnecessary because the accuracy that the scopes provide is greater than the accuracy of paintball guns. It is impractical because the size and weight of the scopes will make the paintball gun more difficult to use. In general, paintball scopes should have no, or very little, magnification.
Red Dot ScopeA red dot scope is similar to a standard scope, but rather than a crosshairs or some other static figure, small red dot is projected by the scope on to the optic. This has the advantage of not blocking anything in your line of sight because there is no painted on image on the scope, and instead you simply see the reflection of the red light while simultaneously see what you are aiming at. A major disadvantage of this is that it requires batteries for the red dot scope to work. It is not uncommon, as I’ve learned from personal experience, to forget the red dot is on, and the next time you plan to use the equipment, your scope doesn’t work. Additionally, the scopes generally require button batteries, which can be both expensive and hard to find.
A final type of scope or sight is an occluded sight. Occluded means blocked off or closed. The way that this sight works is that a small fiber-optic receptor at the front of the sight collects light and brings it to the back of the sight near the eye. When you’re looking down the sight all you’ll see is a small glowing dot. The way to make it practical is that you open up both eyes. For example, your right eye will be looking at the small glowing dot on the occluded sight while your left eye is looking at your target. Your brain combines the images and so you see, in your mind, your target with a small dot on top of it. The advantage of using this approach is that your target is not blocked. It is, though, different from other optical sights and difficult for some players to use. Another disadvantage is that because this sight relies on ambient light, in lowlight conditions it does not perform very well. This, though, is also an advantage, as it requires no batteries. As long as the front fiber-optic light receptor is able to absorb light and project it to the rear of the sight, you will be able to see.
ChallengesThere are difficulties with sights and scopes you should be aware. The first is the challenge of sighting in the scope. What this entails is making sure that where your paintball gun is shooting matches up with what your scope is portraying. This can be difficult and often must be repeated every time you use a different case of paintballs, because of small variations between batches of paintballs. Also, for the best accuracy you must readjust your scope each time you play due to how different weather conditions affect how your paintball gun fires.
A second challenge with scopes is using them in a game. In general, players during a paintball game have little time to look through a scope, find a target, and smoothly pull the trigger. Instead, paintball games are generally much more fast-paced than what easily accommodates using scopes. Because of this, I have found scopes are generally not very useful for paintball game. It does not mean, though, they are never useful. Even if you do not find a very practical use for an actual game, many players like them for their aesthetic qualities. If you’re simply looking for something to make your paintball gun look cool or because it is something that you like, the scope may be a good investment for you.
A final challenge deals with accuracy. Paintball guns have a limited range of accuracy, and adding a scope will not increase that range. A challenge with the scope, and particularly one with magnification, is that you may be tempted to shoot further than your paintball gun is capable of shooting. When you line up the perfect shot, only to fire your paintball and see it land a few feet in front of your target, the usefulness of your scope is questioned. This can be avoided by understanding the limitations of your gun and simultaneously being very familiar with your scope. To do this, the best approach is to practice, practice, practice. The more familiar you are with how your gun fires, the better you’ll be able to use your scope in an actual game.