Pro Staff Blog

Getting the Clear Picture by Tammy Ballew

Going from iron sights to a scope can be a challenge for many shooters, especially women. I first started hunting when I was in my 20s with a .30 caliber carbine. It had peep sights, which are great sights for beginning shooters. A peep sight makes it very easy for quick target acquisition.

The carbine had another endearing feature – a shorter stock meant the length of pull fit me perfectly. The length of pull is one of the most important aspects of the gun. It needs to be fitted to you so that you not only feel comfortable and confident when shooting, but also so that you pull the gun up to shoot the same way every time you get ready to pull the trigger.

Being able to shoulder the gun and sight down the barrel quickly and efficiently will help to hone your shooting skills tremendously. With a peep sight, you are simply looking through a small hole on the portion of the sight mounted at the receiver of your gun, following down the barrel to a V-shape sight with a post in the center on the muzzle. You merely put the post of the “V” on your target while looking through the small peephole, aligning the two.

After a few years of experience and many hours of hunting, I felt ready to move up a notch. I decided on a Remington .243 with open iron sights, which was a bigger caliber, enabling me to shoot out a greater distance. With the larger bullet came a little more recoil. Again, I wanted to choose a gun that fit me well so that when holding the gun up, I could place it securely against my shoulder and still have a clear view down the barrel of the gun through the sights.

Those iron sights were a little more forgiving, in that I didn’t have such a limited view as the small hole on the peep sight had given me. There was a small notch in the middle of the sights on the receiver and a bead rear sight on the muzzle of the gun, and so I had to line up the bead in the notch with my target. This also gave me a little more peripheral freedom to see more of what was happening with the target.

With each year of hunting experiences, my confidence level increased. I wanted to be able to shoot at still greater distances. It had also been a dream of mine to go out West to hunt elk and mule deer. And I knew I definitely needed to increase my firepower and shooting distance capabilities. To cover both of these venues, I purchased a Model 7 Remington 7mm08, in a youth model. What a great gun. It offered the punch-power I needed for taking larger game, and the go-power for reaching out at least 350 to 450 yards, plus it fit my length of pull to a tee.

This caliber demanded that I learn to use a scope with greater power and a farther distance. I started with a Tasco World Class 2.5 x 10 x 44. I was somewhat hesitant about using a scope, but with the great fit I found in the Remington youth model, I was able to place the gun solidly against my shoulder, and with the small amount of recoil in the .708 cartridge, I didn’t worry that the scope would come back and pop me in the eye.

This set up resulted in the best of all worlds. The scope enabled me to acquire my target at a much greater distance. It took some getting used to after shooting open iron sights for so many years, but it was well worth the adjustment.

The stages and levels of my gun purchases have been a lot like human development. I started with what I felt suited my needs as a beginner. The gun itself was lightweight. It fit my physical requirements. The cartridge had the knockdown power for the game I hunted. The sight aperture was easy to use, and very effective.

Moving on into early adulthood, I went with the Remington .243 – a little heavier gun, with a larger bullet that would travel a greater distance. The open iron sights allowed freedom to venture out to a greater sight picture.

As a novice adult, the choice of the Remington 7mm08 was one of the greatest decisions of my hunting career. It is one of the best all-around calibers available. But what really opened up my opportunities was the scope.  It was like finally getting a pair of glasses after years of not being able to see well.

Last year I moved into my “prime” as an adult shooter.  A friend of ours had a Winchester Model 70, .270 short mag for sale. I had been contemplating what gun to buy next, because my hunting desires had increased to bear and moose, and I knew I would need a larger caliber for pursuing that game. So we went to try the gun out, shoot it a couple times to see how I liked it. I pulled the trigger one time and told the man I’d take it.

After years of preparation, I felt ready for a gun of this caliber. What an incredible feeling. I could use this gun for everything from whitetail hunting in my home state of Missouri, to moose hunting in Alaska.  This was the gun for me.

The scope I’m using on this gun is a Burris Signature Select 3x10x40 mil dot.  I love the mil dots, because I always know where to hold on the animal at whatever distance it may be.

Talk about a clear picture.

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Kevin Paulson

Kevin Paulson is the Founder and CEO of His passion for Hunting began at the age of 5 hunting alongside of his father. Kevin has followed his dreams through outfitting, conservation work, videography and hunting trips around the world.

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