Giving Your Spyder Eyes

By Aaron Grubin - OSOK #10

Created April 8, 1999 (Originally published for the Spyder Owners Group)

Well the new season is almost upon us, and we're all trying to figure out what new mod we're gonna get for our Spyder. Some of us have chosen to add a sight to our marker, and thatís where I come in. Being an ex-soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces, a hunter, and a competitive shooter, Iíve been exposed to a wide variety of sights available. Rather than go into all the different makers and brands, Iíll just try to go over the basic types and where they work best and let you decide which type best suits your play style.

There has been some discussion on the web about paintball markers not being accurate enough to warrant sights. They say the sight is too accurate for the gun. Well, news flash. Neither are bullets. When a bullet is fired out of a gun, there is some degree of random error. The type of rifling in the barrel, the weight of the bullet the length of the barrel, the speed at which the bullet leaves the barrel, all have an effect on the accuracy of the shot. The sight, when properly used, is generally more accurate than the gun. It points in a straight line to the target. Paintball markers are the same. Make of paint, barrel type, and bolt, all contribute to the accuracy of the shot. When sighting the marker, make several shots all aiming at the same spot. This is called grouping. Setting the sight to the centre of the grouping is called zeroing. If you want to be accurate, it's the only way to do it. Get a friend who hunts to help you with this if you need to.

 

There are four types of sights I'll be covering. Telescopic, often called scopes, Open Sights, Reflective, red dot type, and Laser Sights. Each type has it's use and picking one out for your 'gun all depends on your style of play. Telescopic sights are best at long ranges in bright light. Open sights are good at medium ranges in all light levels. Well, except night. Reflective sights are good from medium to short ranges and are useful in any light condition. Even night. Laser sights are useful only at short ranges and in low light levels.

The Telescopic Sight.

Telescopic sights were designed to hit targets at long ranges. They use magnifying glasses to work like a telescope to zoom in on a target to place a shot just where you want it. Laws of physics being what they are, if you magnify an image, it will not be as bright unless the lenses gather up more light than the eye needs to see. (That's why space telescopes are huge.) The smaller the lenses, the darker the images will be. As a result, if your target is in the shadows on an overcast day, you may not be able to see them properly to tag them. The cheap little scopes they sell at department stores are fine on a bright sunny day, but in the woods, it's a different story. Because you're looking through a telescope, and lining up the cross hairs, it takes a little longer to line up a shot. But if you've got the scope set up properly, you'll hit what you're aiming at. Problem with a scope is that it's difficult to hit a moving target with one. Depending on the speed they're running at, the proper lead angle may be out of your field of vision. I'm not saying it's impossible, just difficult. Another problem is tunnel vision. I'm sure we've all experienced tunnel vision in a firefight. You're concentrating on an opposing player when his buddy comes around from the side and flanks you. Now that you're looking through a telescope with one eye shut, it's even worse. All you see is about a foot and a half or so. If you play a sniper's game, taking shots at distances most players wouldn't consider, a scope might be for you.  

The Open Sights.

There are a number of types of open sights available on the market. There are peep sights, blade sights, and dove tail sights. 32 Degree sniper sights and HI VIZ sights are also different kinds of open sights. Open sights are good for medium to close range work and I've seen them on the speedwell tournament fields. Since they don't need to amplify or magnify anything, they work in lower light levels. I've used them on military weapons in the Canadian Armed Forces all the way into the night. They're rugged and reliable. It's quick to line up a target and get a good shot off. It takes a little more skill to line the sights up, but they are accurate and reliable just the same. The overall accuracy of the sights depends on the sight radius. The sight radius is the distance between the front ant the rear components. The farther apart they are, the more accurate they are. Unlike a scope, it is easier to hit a moving target with open sights because there is no restriction to your field of view. Unfortunately, most people still have to have one eye closed to use them. Good for all general purpose play, accurate enough for one shot eliminations, and still good close in.

 

Reflective Sights.

A paintball's range is limited. Usually players are shooting from less than 100 feet. At these ranges reflective sights are excellent. For the uninitiated reflective sights project a cross, or a dot, or some little figure onto a piece of clear plastic or glass and that's what you line up with your opponent. This is the type of sight I use. They are good for medium to short ranges and in all light levels, even at night because they light up. The major bonus here is that for the majority of units, you can have both eyes open. No tunnel vision, no loss of depth perception. Since you still have both eyes open, it's easier to judge distances and you're going to have an easier time eliminating that player who just pulled your flag. Depending on the type and maker, they are reasonably durable. The one I use was made in Russia, and I've hit it several times with paint from my Spyder and dropped it. It's still lined up. You only have to line up your target, your dot, and your eye so target acquiry is easy and quick. Accuracy depends on putting your eye in the same place all the time. If you move your head around, the dot will move with you even if your 'gun hasn't. Unfortunately like most cool toys for big boys and girls, these need batteries. Most players who use sights end up with a reflective sight.

 

Laser Sights.

I can't in good conscience suggest these to any one, and I'll tell you why. Laser sights project a very bright beam of light in a very small area. If it hits a person's eyes, they can be damaged. The beam enters the eye and is focussed in an even smaller area on the retina and burns it. Arc welders call this Eye Flash and have to wear very dark lenses to work. For this reason, lasers are banned on most fields. Laser pointers have even been banned in some school districts in Canada, and if you point one at someone's eyes here in Ontario, you can be charged with assault. Now that that's out of the way, back to the practical stuff. Laser sights are best used at short to point blank range and work only in low light to darkness. Outdoors, they're a waste of time and batteries. Lasers suck back batteries like I suck back cans of Coke. (Packed a full case in my pack on exercise more than once!) If there is any dust, fog, or smoke in the air, you now have a neat little red line, pointing right to you. Forget trying to hit a moving target with one of these, if the beam is on the running player, then the ball will hit behind the player. You can't aim ahead of the person; the beam has to hit something to show up. But if the target is standing still, they're as good as out. It's fast and simple to aim. Put the dot where you want the ball to go. Unless the person is hiding behind a little grass then the beam hits that, and the sight is useless. Tunnel vision isn't a problem, both your eyes are open and you don't even need to line the 'gun up with your eye. Like I said before, they are tactically a bad idea. Front line military units the world over use most types of sights on their personal weapons except laser sights. The only ones who do are police and counter terrorist units. They're dangerous and impractical for the paintballer's purposes.

 

Chose a sight that's right for your price range and style of play. Shop around. You'll be amazed at what you'll find. Mounting the sight depends on what kind of sight you have and where you want it. Now it's all up to you. Good luck and good hunting.

 

Type of Sight

Effective Range

Useful Light Levels

 Durability

Target Acquisition Speed

Hit a Moving Target

Tunnel Vision?

  Notes

Telescopic

Long to Medium (30+ yd.)

Daylight -Dusk Overcast -Shadow

Medium Spray on the lens reduces visibility, direct hit may knock off alignment.

Slow but simple. Put the crosshairs where you want the ball.

Increasing difficulty with decreasing range.

Yes. The field of vision of the scope is all you see.

Good for the Sniper style of play. Can't recommend for speedball. I tried.

Open

Medium to Short (15-50 yd.)

All but night.

Very. Direct hit to the sight is no problem.

Good, but have to line up 4 things.

Easy (provided you can hit a moving target)

Not as bad as a scope.

Most common for hunting. Standard on lots of markers and you can even build your own.

Reflective

Medium to Short (15-50 yd.)

All. Even Night

Depends on maker, but generally  good.

Good. Only 3 things to line up. Have to keep the eye in the same place for each shot.

Easy (See above)

No, depending on maker and shooting style.

The type mounted on my Spyder. Unfortunately uses batteries.

Laser

Short to Point Blank below 15 yd.

Low light to dark, only.

Depends on maker, but generally not too good.

Rapid. Put the red dot where you want to hit.

Can't. Spray and pray. If you put the dot on the target, the ball will land behind.

No. Don't even need to line up eye.

Do Not Recommend. Banned on most fields, can damage other players' eyes, suck down batteries, any smoke or dust will immediately draw a line to you, and it's disrupted by foliage.