Your Guide to Buying Rifle Scopes for Clay Pigeon Shooting

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Your Guide to Buying Rifle Scopes for Clay Pigeon Shooting

Clay pigeon shooting is a popular sport that is performed with a shotgun. The “pigeons” are clay, orange disks which are flung into the air then fired at by the hunters below. Any type of shotgun is appropriate for clay pigeon shooting, although most people use guns that are able to fire multiple shots in rapid succession.

Clay pigeons travel at about 18 metres per second, which can make clay shooting a challenging sport. If the shooter’s aim is out by just a few millimetres the target could be missed by up to a metre.

To increase accuracy, some clay pigeon shooters like to use rifle scopes,, which are also known as telescopic sights.. They can be particularly helpful for shooters with an opposing hand-eye dominance (such as right-handed but left-eyed) or vision problems. The scope allows the shooter not only to see more precisely at longer distances but lets them line up the clay in the scope’s cross-hairs, making it easier to shoot accurately. Telescopic sights replace iron sights, which are built into the rifle and can be difficult for shooters over 30 years old to use, even if they have keen eyesight, due to a declining ability to change focus rapidly with age. Telescopic lenses allow the shooter to focus on the crosshair and the target at the same time, making the target stand out against the background.

Rifle scopes are high tech items that often cost fractionally less than the rifle itself. Looking for scopes on eBay can be an effective way to search out a good deal.

Anatomy of a Rifle Scope

Telescopic sights or scopes use the same technology as optical refracting telescopes. The power can range from 1.5x to 50x for conventional rifles, but for clay shooting a magnification value of more than 8x is unnecessary.


These are the most important part of the scope. There are two lenses on a standard rifle scope. The larger is called the objective lens. Its purpose is to transmit light back to the ocular lens, which is that closest to the shooter’s eye and contained within the eyepiece. The larger the objective lens the more light the user is able to see and the brighter the image in the scope will be.

The ocular lens magnifies the image from the objective lens so that the user is able to focus more accurately upon their target.

Most rifle scope lenses are waterproof and fog-proof, but if this is an important consideration it is advisable to confirm this with the seller when purchasing a scope on an online auction sight.


A reticle (or reticule) is a net of fine lines or fibres forming a graphic image pattern in the eyepiece of the sighting device. The ‘reticle’, traditionally a crosshair would be mounted on the gun to give an accurate aim. Telescopic sights come with a variety of reticle design that range from the traditional crosshair to more complex patterns that allow the shooter to more accurately guess the range to a target and to compensate for the effect of crosswinds on a clay.

The traditional crosshair allows for maximum accuracy however it can be quite easy to lose track of the thin dots in a low contrast environment. The Mil Dot (a cross hair with hatching perpendicular to the axes) is an increasingly popular contemporary reticle which allows the practised user to calculate for wind speed and bullet drop over known distances.

There are two main types of reticle:

  • Wire reticle - Made from metal wire or thread and placed in the tube of the scope. Less expensive option
  • Etched reticle- Etched onto a optic element or lens and considered a more refined solution and are more expensive than wire reticles.

Power Ring

Some scopes have settings that allow the shooter to alter the magnifications, from, say 3x to 9x normal vision. Scopes with this facility have a ‘power ring’. For clay pigeon shooting the distances are not usually so large that a powerful scope is required.

Windage and Elevation Adjustments

These allow the scope to be adjusted to fit the rifle. The windage alters the horizontal settings on a scope and the elevation adjustment changes the vertical settings.

The Tube

This the main body of the scope. Scopes come in either 1inch tubes or 30mm (3cm) tubes. Knowing the diameter of the tube will be vital in using the right mounting rings to attach the scope to the rifle.

Different Types of Rifle Scope

Telescopic scopes are classified by their optical magnifications and by the diameter of the objective lens.

Fixed Magnification Sights

A rifle scope that is described as 10x50 means that it magnifies the image by 10 times and has a 50mm lens. Overall, the wider the lens the brighter the image is at the eyepiece end.

On sights that have fixed magnification, the magnification and diameter should be chosen for their suitability for clay pigeon shooting, with lower figures being more appropriate.

Variable Magnification Sights

A variable sight with a zoom mechanism may be desirable to give the scope flexibility in other shooting scenarios. A variable sight allows the shooter to work in different light conditions, ranges and with different types of target. It also offers a wide field of vision at lower magnifications.

This type of scope is described technically by its minimum magnification followed by its maximum magnification and then by the diameter of the objective lens. So a variable scope may be 3–9x40.

Other forms of classification

Objective lenses on older scopes are usually smaller than on modern sights.

Older telescopic sights, often from European manufacturers, use a different form of classification that includes the power of the scope to gather light. Here, a 4x81 sight would have 4x magnification and a brighter image than a 3x70 sight. The objective lens diameter does not have a bearing on brightness in these instances, since the magnification factor also influences brightness.

Optical Elements to Consider

Field of View

This describes the width of the amount of space viewable in the eyepiece. It is measured by how many metres of horizon will be seen at a distance of 100m from the target. Generally, the higher the magnification, the narrower is the field of view. However, an overly narrow field of view should not present a problem in the lower magnification scopes used in clay pigeon shooting.

Exit Pupil

This is the size of the image viewable in the eyepiece. The diameter of the exit pupil should be the same as the diameter of a dilated iris, which is about 7mm. A larger exit pupil helps to avoid the problem of vignetting, where a darker circle of shadow obscures the periphery of the image.

The larger the exit pupil, the easier it is to place the eye in the eyepiece, which means that wider sights are less tiring than narrow ones because they allow the shooter to be less accurate about where they are placing their eye.

Eye Relief

The eye relief is a value which indicated how far from the rear of the scope the users eye must be to be able to see the complete image without vignetting. The Eye Relief on a typical scope might vary from 25mm to over 100mm.

How to buy Rifle Scopes on eBay

Once the buyer has decided on the style of scope they will need then the process of finding the exact item can begin. Go to eBay& and type into the search box ‘rifle scopes&’.

Some buyers have a good idea of the type of product they want to buy, such as ‘3-9x40 air rifle scope&’. Others might be more interested in looking at all the laser guided scopes available. Using the search feature will help you to find exactly what you want.

When searching through listings, carefully review all the data. Make sure the item matches what you had in mind. Look over the photographs a couple times. Feel free to Ask the Seller a question if you want additional details. Visit the Buying Tips page for more information.

Once you’re ready to buy, either place a Bid,, Buy it Now,, or put down your Best Offer..

Make sure you include postage in your calculations and that you know exactly how eBay and PayPal protect you as a buyer..

It’s always safest to use PayPal for transactions wherever possible, as other methods of payment such as western union can be unsafe unless you know the buyer. PayPal is covered by eBay’s buyer protection plan which automatically protects you against fraud up to the value of £500. PayPal lets you pay safely without the buyer ever seeing your card details.

Research your seller to know who you are buying from and make sure you feel confident in the transaction. If you are spending a lot of money then it might be prudent to ask if the seller has delivery insurance to make sure the item arrives in top condition.


Rifle scopes help increase accuracy when shooting clay pigeons with a shotgun.  The sport of clay pigeon shooting requires a great amount of accuracy as the object being shot is small, and the speed it travels at is very fast.  A buyer could enhance accuracy by fractions of a second by attaching a rifle scope to their shotgun.  eBay is a great place to find different kinds of rifle scopes, and by contacting the sellers for additional information can help the buyer determine which kind may be best based on needs and budget. 

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