When hunting or rifle shooting for the first time, new shooters who are not yet well-versed in rifle marksmanship can receive a painful surprise, experiencing scope bite for the first time.
Fortunately, you can prevent this by utilizing proper techniques, mounting your rifle scope security, and familiarizing yourself with the ergonomics of your rifle and optics.
This guide will explain what scope bite is and what causes it. I will also offer additional tips on how to avoid them while maximizing the use of your rifle scope.
- What Is Scope Bite?
- How to Prevent Scope Bite?
- What Are Signs and Symptoms of Scope Bite?
- How to Treat Scope Bite?
- Scope Bite Myths and Misconceptions
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Final Thoughts on Scope Bite
What Is Scope Bite?
Scope bite, also known as scope eye, eye ring, or a scope slap, is a type of injury that occurs when a rifle’s recoil causes the scope to strike a shooter’s eye, forehead, or near the nose or eyebrow area.
A scope bite head injury can happen to inexperienced shooters and veterans alike due to carelessness, lack of awareness, improper utilization of equipment, or a poor shooting position.
This injury tends to happen when you use a high-caliber weapon, such as those chambered in .308. Combine the kick of the recoil with poor eye relief, where your face is far too close to the scope’s eyepiece, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the risk of scope bite without reducing your accuracy.
How to Prevent Scope Bite?
You can avoid scope bite by following the techniques listed below.
These steps primarily involve understanding your rifle, learning to use it in a way that minimizes recoil, and practicing your marksmanship techniques until you cannot get them wrong.
Proper Rifle Positioning
Scope bite occurs primarily due to poor shooting positions, such as keeping your neck forward without a proper cheek weld. Improper use of your scope and rifle will undoubtedly lead to injuries.
New shooters must remember to keep the stock firmly against the soft part of their shoulder.
They must keep their eye a safe distance from the scope and take the time to find the most comfortable and ergonomically sound shooting positions for their safety and accuracy.
Mind the Eye Relief
Scope eye relief (also known as the eye box) refers to the space needed to avoid scope bite when shooting. Most scopes have an eye relief of between 1.5 and 4.0 inches.
The farther the eye relief, the better when it comes to scope bites. Having enough space between your eye and the scope’s eyepiece ensures that when recoil drives the scope back, you will not have to worry about your eye being in the line of fire.
An adjustable stock can also help protect a shooter by creating the furthest distance between your eye and the scope, supplementing sufficient eye relief to give you the most safety.
Steady Shooting Stance
Proper shooting position or stance provides more stability, control, and accuracy when hunting and tactical or competitive shooting. It also ensures that your body or surroundings absorb most of the recoil.
This is because correct body alignment reduces unnecessary movement that can lead to accidents or bites. When you can fire from the proper position, you maintain your safety and improve your accuracy.
Wear Protective Gear
Wearing eye protection such as shooting glasses or a brow guard can protect your eyes and forehead from recoil.
Stock can also apply as they add more space for establishing proper eye relief.
Practice Controlled Recoil
Besides utilizing proper firing techniques and a longer stock, another way to protect your dominant eye and avoid getting scope bite is by understanding the recoil of your rifle and training for it.
After all, shooters who do not brace their rifles properly can actually increase their risk of scope bite. You must train yourself to not flinch when experiencing the kick of your weapon.
Understand Your Scope
Understanding your scope is critical to securing proper eye relief, maintaining a solid cheek weld, and keeping a safer and more comfortable firing position.
Make sure to properly mount your rifle a safe distance from your face to ensure it does not wiggle out of place due to recoil and require you to have a reattached retina when the recoil kicks in.
Focus on Technique
Mastering the fundamentals will allow you to control your rifle effectively and help you avoid any injuries.
Take your time before shooting. Set your stock firmly against your shoulder pocket, as this will help you shoot accurately and keep you safe.
Accidents and misses are more likely to happen when shooters rush or panic, hence the importance of keeping calm when you shoot.
Avoid Cheek Weld Errors
A solid cheek weld is a crucial factor to remember, as this allows you to rest your neck and ensure your scope goes where it should when you shoot without hitting your brow bone.
When in doubt, you must dig your cheek into your buttstock in a comfortable yet secure way. This further ensures that your rifle scope does not fly wildly after each shot.
Be Aware of Recoil
You must anticipate the recoil of your gun without being a slave to it. This entails understanding how far back your rifle goes when it ejects the cartridge, bracing your stock against your shoulder without tensing up, and maintaining a good sight picture.
Understanding your length of pull and the amount of recoil you can generate will minimize muzzle rise and ensure that your shots go where they need to go without your scope causing injuries.
Regularly Check and Adjust
Check and maintain your scope before any shooting. Ensuring a proper mount is important to avoid scope shadow, a shadow in your reticle that impairs accuracy and will cause you to alter your position in a way that leads to scope bite.
Consistent maintenance also ensures proper sight picture and accuracy.
What Are Signs and Symptoms of Scope Bite?
You can tell when a shooter has experienced scope bite if they show the following symptoms.
A slight bruise under the brow is one of the most noticeable symptoms from a scope bite impacting your eye socket.
Besides bruising, the other most noticeable symptom would be swelling under the brow from the scope’s forceful impact.
Pain and Discomfort
There would be stinging pain from where the scope struck the shooter’s face, which can persist for a few hours unless treated.
There would be redness due to swelling or irritation from where the shooter was struck by the scope’s eyepiece.
Bleeding or Abrasions
The more serious consequences of getting struck by your scope would be larger cuts, abrasions, and bleeding.
The area where the wound is would be sensitive to the touch and can cause the victim further discomfort if left untreated.
The blow to the forehead may, at the very least, leave you with a headache, with a concussion being a more serious consequence.
Being struck on the head can cause blurriness, confusion, and difficulty focusing on an object, let alone a target, but it should disappear after a while.
The skin around the affected area may experience skin irritation and swelling, especially if your skin is sensitive to friction or pressure.
How to Treat Scope Bite?
Scope bite treatment is simple and can be carried out immediately by a new or experienced shooter. Here are the best methods for dealing with scope bite.
After getting struck in the face, cease fire immediately, clear your gun, and gently lower it to prevent further impact.
Assess the Injury
Find all abrasions, swelling, or bleeding caused by scope bite using a mirror or having a bystander or friend check your face.
Apply Cold Compress
For swelling and bruising, apply a towel-wrapped cold compress on the afflicted area to reduce swelling.
Clean the Wound (if applicable)
For cuts and abrasions, wash the injuries with mild soap and water to prevent infection before applying an antiseptic and bandage.
Take Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
You can take pain relievers at the recommended dosages for headaches and gnawing pain.
Rest and Allow Healing
For the impacted area, let it rest while avoiding additional pressure on your wounds to relieve discomfort and not worsen the situation further.
Avoid Further Shooting (Temporarily)
Give your head enough time to rest before returning behind the scope.
Adjust Shooting Position
If you continually experience scope bites, you must adjust your position and technique to avoid disadvantages like shooting uphill and at extreme angles. You must also review your shooting fundamentals.
Consult a Medical Professional (if needed)
For serious conditions like profuse bleeding, seek medical attention.
Scope Bite Myths and Misconceptions
Let us dispel some misconceptions about scope bite.
Scope Bite Always Results in Serious Injury
A scope bite will not always result in serious injuries, but it will cause discomfort that you should immediately attend to.
While more serious cases may require a trip to the nearest emergency room, minor cases may not even phase you, leaving only minor bruises or cuts.
Scope Bite Only Happens to Beginners
New shooters will likely get struck by their scope as they understand their gun, as more experienced shooters have better awareness and technique.
A shooter can avoid scope bite injuries by considering proper eye relief and rifle set-up.
While new shooters who still need to ask, “What is eye relief?” are more likely to experience scope bite, it is absolutely avoidable if you understand your weapon and marksmanship fundamentals.
Only High-Powered Rifles Cause Scope Bite
Scope bite can happen with any firearm variety. You are more likely to be struck by rifles or shotguns due to a stock that is too short, utilizing improper bracing techniques, or maintaining such close proximity to the scope’s eyepiece.
A Recoil Pad Prevents Scope Bite
Padding on your gun may reduce the force sent back with every shot, but it will not prevent scope bites that occur due to carelessness in your stance or insufficient handling of your firearm.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are the answers to some common questions people have about scope bite and its effects.
Does Scope Bite Leave a Scar?
Scope bite injuries may result in scarring, bruising, or even wounds depending on how improperly positioned your scope was or how heavy the recoil of your rifle was.
Does Scope Bite Need Stitches?
Some scope bite injuries may require several stitches in an emergency room, depending on where your scope hit you and how close your face was to the eyepiece.
Final Thoughts on Scope Bite
Scope bite is an injury that can occur when you do not keep enough distance from the end of your scope when shooting. The recoil can cause your firearm to launch the scope into your face, giving you a black eye or worse.
Fortunately, avoiding scope bite is quite simple. You can avoid injuries by buying high-quality scopes that offer good eye relief, utilizing an adjustable stock, and securing your scope to your rifle with a reliable mount.
By ensuring the reliability of your equipment and practicing your marksmanship fundamentals, you can minimize the risk of scope bite and make your shooting experience more safe and enjoyable.