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The introduction of optical sights and how they changed hunting forever

The introduction of optical sights has changed hunting forever and, certainly, for the better. But have you ever wondered how they came about? When were they first used, and how did they become an irreplaceable tool? Well, let’s have a look!

Before we delve into the history of optic sights, let’s define the device. Today, we’ll be talking about a gadget which is based on a refracting telescope with the main purpose of providing an accurate point of aim for the shooter.

Unlike many other kinds of sights, optical ones provide magnification. Nowadays, however, they also come with digital, night, and thermal vision features.

It is hard to pinpoint the exact introduction of optical sights – you see, the very first attempts were made in the 17th century. However, it is now accepted that the first optical sights as we know them today (well, sort of) were made in the second half of the 19th century by a gunsmith called Morgan James. With the help of civil engineer John R. Chapman, he developed the Chapman-James scope.

Interestingly, at a similar time, an optician and a jeweler also developed their own sights. Those models are known for their impressive magnification (20x and more). This could be considered the formal introduction of optical sights in warfare, as the American Civil War was arguably the first to be fought with the help of optic scopes.

If you transported yourself into times after World War I broke, you could start hearing of the variable optic sight. However, you had to deal with shrinking and expanding reticles while the point of impact never changed. This caused quite some problems, which stopped a variable optic sight from becoming a go-to choice for hunters.

Introduction of optical sights

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World War II saw the introduction of optical sights with additional features – not only were they more compact, but they also had longer eye relief and were more suitable for use at night.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that optical sights were first used at war – at the end of the day, many of our greatest inventions were discovered by the military. It also doesn’t surprise us that it took a while until these technologies became widely available – their comfort was far from what it is today, and the prices weren’t nearly as affordable.

It was a few years after the war, in the 1950s, when Americans finally found a way to make a variable optic sight more convenient to use. They soared into popularity in the 1960s, and soon enough, manufacturing them became easy enough for many companies to adopt it.

Since the invention of the sight, manufacturers have toyed with the idea of attaching a reflector to it and making what we now call a red dot sight. However, it took decades to develop truly the best shotgun optic sight – and it was done by a Swedish company in 1975. As it happens, other manufacturers followed suit, and now, anyone who prefers the red dot technology, has their favorite best shotgun optic sight.

At Yukon, we started making optic sights nearly thirty years ago. It makes us smile thinking of those days when we introduced our first optical sights – they were wooden observation tubes made in a basement of an unfinished residential building. It was the year 1995, however, that marked the official introduction of optical sights by Yukon – and we could say the rest is history, but even if it is, it surely is an interesting one.

A few years later, we began the production of night vision devices. It took a few years to develop the very first night vision sights, but they were surely met with lots of support – soon enough, our share of the global market of 1st generation night vision devices reached 70%!

But we didn’t stop here – we were also the pioneers of making digital night vision devices available for the civil market. Called the Ranger, it proved to be the first truly effective digital night vision scope and, subsequently, one of the most successful digital night vision devices in the company’s history.

Of course, there are good reasons why optical – and, later, digital and even thermal – sights became so popular. But we believe that the main one is precision – with a trusty, reliable and precise device, you can improve your accuracy and, together, safety and security tremendously. And, at the end of the day, that’s what always matters the most.