After crawling into place, we adjusted our position as the sun started to rise behind the target. As every hunter knows, you never want to look into the sun. Instead, you want your prey to have that disadvantage. You want the quarry to squint if it looks in your direction.
As luck would have it, we can’t always have things go our way. Most places we hunt, be it the elk hunter in the Spanish Peaks of Montana, or the Marine Corps sniper in the mountains of Afghanistan, we cannot predict where our target will show its face every time. That means it’s time to discuss how to fight glare. We need to build a position, limit our movement, bring the scope to bear on our target. How many times have you peered through your scope to see glare so bad that you couldn’t see the target? You want to shoot, but the target is moving. It’s now or never. What do you do?
I have seen this scenario play out in combat and in the hunting landscape. On one trip, my hunting partner was having an extremely hard time. He was using my rifle (which probably wasn’t the best idea in the first place), but couldn’t get the image to clear because of a vicious glare. Once my hunting partner handed the rifle back, I was able to make the shot for a couple reasons. One, I was accustomed to how my rifle pointed. I could easily point and get close to where the target was at, but I was also wearing a ball cap. Its visor shaded my glasses. It wasn’t easy, but I had the right gear to aid in making a successful shot.
We have all heard the excuse “the sun was in my eyes,” and warned not to look directly at the sun. You may not have looked straight at the sun, but it was close enough that you felt like your retina was going to burst into flames. With a few tricks and changes to your shooting position, you should be able to eliminate enough glare to make a successful shot.
First, you could choose to only hunt at high noon, but we all know that isn’t the best time to be in the field looking for game. Second, you could hunt at night with a spotlight. I would be all for that, but it seems that it is now illegal in many areas of the civilized world. So, it appears these options won’t work. So, let’s move on to a few other ways and take glare out of the equation.
Many high-power scopes and expensive hunting optics come with a sunshade, usually a 3- or 4-inch tube that threads on to the end of a scope. At the very least, they are available as an aftermarket purchase. Sunshades work well until the sun drops low enough to light your objective lens. This is where extreme glare really comes to bear. So, have a sunshade, but be aware that you may need other anti-glare options.
I wear a cap, or hat, almost all the time when hunting. They can keep wind and rain out of eyes, but can also be used to shade the objective lens when shooting or spotting game. On occasion, I have had to use one hand to shade my eyes and a baseball cap’s bill laid over the edge of the objective lens of the scope to eliminate glare.
Sniper Observer Team
If you are working as a member of a Sniper Observer Team, or simply hunting with a friend, the discussion of shading your front lens shouldn’t start when it’s needed. Have a plan. Get the non-shooter to shade the objective lens and your eyes, as well. This will keep you from squinting and will make seeing the target a little easier.
If you are working in a tactical environment, you have to be more careful with the amount of movement. Of course, animals run away, but bad guys shoot back.
Use Terrain and Vegetation
A few years ago, I was trying to take a picture of a one-eyed great grey owl in Montana. As I snapped the photos, every frame came back with a glare or blurred image. I kept stepping closer to the owl as I fired away with the small camera, finally stepping into the shadow of a large cedar tree. And that’s when the image of the owl became sharp and clear. When hunting, you can do the same thing. Lay in the shadows to take your shot. Not only will this eliminate the glare, it will make your position a whole lot harder to be spotted.
Man nor beast do not seem to search the shadows as much as they should. When setting up a sniper position, you can also use a semi loophole, shooting close by a tree from a defilade position. This helps with shadowing, screwing up the enemy’s depth perception, camouflages muzzle flash and helps to bounce your sound erratically around the battlefield, which can confuse the enemy. But let’s get back to fighting glare.
Cover Your Objective Lens
Another trick to fighting glare is to partially cover your objective lens. You’d be surprised at how little of the lens needs to be exposed to get a crisp image. With many scopes you can have less than 25 percent of the lens exposed and not realize that there’s anything in your way. Many snipers have cut a slit in their scope cover to have the ease of seeing while eliminating a reflection off the lens that could be observed by enemy spotters. If you are a sniper, make this cut irregular to help hide your position. Straight lines do not exist in nature.
I love polarized lenses in my sunglasses. They work well in many situations, and hunting is just one of them. I also like the fact I can see into water when bow fishing where many fish would otherwise be completely invisible to the human eye.
You will also see through car windows a little easier with polarized lenses. If you’re in law enforcement, this includes fighting the glare you see if you have to look through your sights at the front windshield of a suspect’s vehicle. Polarized lenses also help with observation through house windows. It is not as noticeable as auto glass, but they help. I also like the benefit of not squinting as much and the elimination of headaches on bright days.
Get the Right Gear
Some scopes are designed from the ground up to fight glare. After seeing the inside of a cutaway Leupold scope, I was pretty sure they would be the only ones I would ever use again in a tactical situation. Like some scopes, Leupold incorporates serrations on the inside of their scope’s tube to catch glare. The serrations are cut so that if light enters from the front of the scope, there is almost no chance that light can be reflected from the inside of the scope towards the eye.
This isn’t specific to tactical scopes. Every scope in Leupold’s line is designed to fight glare. They also coat the edges of their lenses with dark material to eliminate glare at the edges of the lens. This is important because many of their scopes have more than 10 lenses. The coating keeps glare to a minimum, unless you are looking directly into the sun.
Next time you head into the field and need something way to fight glare, think back to this column and pick your poison. Get the best scope you can afford and find positions in the field to help you make the perfect shot.