Creedmoor Sports has sold countless Kowa spotting scopes over our 40+ year history, beginning with the classic TSN-1 through the launch of their newest TSN-99. These scopes have been a favorite of competitive and recreational shooters due to their high-quality glass and rugged construction. We use these optics constantly while in competition, training, testing and evaluating products, or just out at the range burning powder with our long guns. Throughout this time, there is one question we get from a large percentage of fellow shooters as well as customers; “Do I need the long eye relief or zoom eyepiece?”. We have some advice to help answer that question.
Long Eye Relief: What is it and why is it important?
The long eye relief (LER) eyepieces offered for Kowa scopes do exactly as their name implies; they offer longer eye relief than other lenses. This extra eye relief offers several key benefits.
To get extended eye relief there is a trade-off related to magnification. The LER lenses are fixed power and do not provide the ability to adjust the magnification or offer the high-end magnification that the zoom eyepieces do. This lower magnification works well for disciplines where spotting discs are used or the primary intent is seeing mirage but may be less than ideal for spotting impacts.
Zoom Eye Pieces:
For those wanting to see the ragged edges of the paper that their bullets make, or shooting in the field or in a competition where target distances and sizes vary, then the zoom eyepiece may be the right choice. The zoom eyepieces give shooters a wide range of magnification and offer some benefits of their own.
The ability to adjust magnification and really zoom in on targets comes at a cost, which is precisely what the LER eyepieces offer. The zoom eyepieces have a shorter eye relief, which can restrict the field of view when wearing glasses or increased movement when in position. We’ve also seen that many shooters will inadvertently bump the scope with their glasses when looking at the target. This causes the spotting scope to move slightly and makes it harder to see the target image well.
Both eyepieces offer benefits for specific shooting situations, and both come with their limitations. Our recommendation to customers to take a serious look at your expectations of a spotting scope and what features are most valuable to your shooting. For those competing in shooting sports like highpower, f-class, or similar; the LER eyepieces are your best option and where we see the highest level of customer satisfaction. For shooters more concerned with being able to see the impact on steel targets or those spotting for events such as PRS or ELR then the zoom eyepieces are likely a better option. Of course, one of the biggest advantages of the Kowa series of spotting scopes is the ability to change eyepieces. So if you happen to need both the LER and zoom eyepieces, changing them out requires no tools and can be completed in a matter of seconds. Regardless of the route you take, we are confident you will be happy with the quality of the Kowa product line and that the spotting scope will be in your kit on every trip to the range.