They work on a simple concept; to plot a straight line through 3D space (our world) you need 3 points determined. Why not two? Well I wrote like a page and half explaining it, and realized that it was kind of beyond the scope of this guide, so just trust me, you need two sighting points and a target in order to properly aim a marker.
There are 4 standard types of mounts for sights. First, the weaver rails, which are common on most military weapons, milsim markers, high-end airsoft guns, and tactical gear. A very, very similar type of rail is the Picatinny rail, which is identical except for the spacing between slots. Many accessories are compatibe between the two, basically anything which does not use the cross slots for a tighter fit. You will rarely find paintball grade gear that uses the slots, so most gear you get will be compatible.
Secondly there are dovetail mounts, which come in either 7/8" or 3/8". These are not compatible with each other. They are commonly found on paintball markers, airsoft guns, air guns, and .22 cal rifles. Adapters from dovetail to weaver are available through specialops, as well as other retailers.
Some markers do not come with either of these options stock, or come with a vertical feed. If the latter is present, you may be able to add an offset sight rail. If you do not have either of these options, look for mods/accessories to put rails on your marker if you want a sight or a scope.
Some markers come with sights, generally referred to as Iron sights, as well as other names. They are usually very basic in operation. Markers like the PGP2k1 come with fiber optic Day-Glo sights, which appear very bright and obvious in the daytime. Others use 3 pieces of plastic or metal to sight your gun. Usually there is one in the front and two in the back. Look to "Zeroing In" for instructions on how to adjust them.
Some people prefer red dot sights. Basically what these are is a circular optic, usually with crosshairs, and an LED or laser that points a red light at it, or a Day-Glow Fiber optic. You can also find them in the green variety, which is more visible during the day, but can be spotted more easily by an opponent at night (because green light travels farther and attracts the eye easier). Also, although the light is minimal, green messes up night vision more than red light. These reasons are all why tactical stuff usually has red lighting. The difference is really minimal and personal preference. The red (green) light projects onto the optic. Your job is to line up the dot with the center of the optic or the crosshair (by moving your head or your marker) and then lining up those two with the target.
Older red dot systems were not see through. The user looked one eye at the sight, which was a red dot, and looked the other eye at the target. The two would merge together in the user's vision. These are mostly outdated by the newer easier to use sights.
Work very well
Either require batteries or don't work at night
can be large
Can be fragile (glass optics)
can attract enemies
Cheap ones do not work well in bright sunlight.
Other prefer scopes. Scopes are very technical. There are many types and many different factors. First, the basics. They are similar to red dots in that you line up your target with optics. In this case, you have at least 2 lenses. There may be more inside the scope, but you only deal with the objective and rear lenses. The objective lense is what faces your enemies, the rear lense faces your eye. Each of the two has a crosshair. The type varies, I have seen some with just a vertical in one, and a horizontal in the other, I have seen the crossed crosshairs in both the front and the rear, a cross in the rear and a circle in the front, etc. See what you like. Scopes are often followed by 2 numbers in the form of AxB. In this case, A would be the magnification power, or how large something looks through the scope. A 3x scope will make objects look twice as large. a 1x will make them look the same. A 0x is impossible and the universe would collapse. The second number is the size, in millimeters, of the objective lense. Thus an x45 will have a 45 millimeter objective lense. The larger it is, the more light it captures, the more light, the brighter the image. Some things to consider when choosing an objective lense size:
1) Do you want to get shot in the face? An extremely large diameter makes a fairly tempting target, but hard to hit, thus you getting shot in the face
2) Do you have sensitive eyes? The excess light coming in can be too bright in certain conditions, which can cause eye pain.
3) How is your eyesight? If you dont see well, you may want to get a larger lense
4) When are you playing? Winter and evening games have less light, thus a need for a larger lense
5) Are you a complete idiot? If you stare at the sun, a larger lense will burn your eye out faster. It will also start a fire faster if you get lost in the woods.
6) Do you want to scare n00bs/feel like a sniper/look good? If so, get the fattest lense you can (sorry snipers, had to get one shot in )
In general, for a scope in paintball, you don't need any magnification, although 3x and less would be doable. Anything more and you're asking for trouble
Work very well
Save your butt if you're lost in the woods and need a fire (but seriously, how often does that happen?)
Generally more expensive
Fragiler (is that a word?)
Don't work well at night
You will constantly hear "LOL are you a sniiiiiiper? Can I shoot your gun?"
Zeroing in your scope means adjusting it so that where you aim is where you shoot. First thing is get your gun chrono'ed to the speed you will be shooting at most of the day. Next, find a target facing the same way you will be facing most of the day (so that wind is adjusted already if you're facing the direction you zeroe'd at). Some people zero in with no winds. I have a great sense of direction, so I do my best to factor it in. Make your distance to the target whatever your average shooting distance is. Remember this so that you can factor in for ball drop in the game, or aim lower if you're shooting much closer than usual. Steady your marker, line up your sights, and fire 5 balls with the sights exactly on target. Look at the shots for consistancy. If all the shots landed down left of the target, then you're aiming too high and too the right, so move the sight down and to the left. Repeat until they are on target. If your shots are all over the board, you are constistantly not holding your marker steady. Practice this.
Everytime you clean your marker, you will have to remove your sight. Try to put it back on in the same place so you have minimal adjustments to do when you re-zero your sights.
How to aim
With scopes and red dots, line up either the rear crosshair or the red dot with the front crosshair, and this with the target. With iron sights, line up the front sight between the two rear ones, and level. Place the three just below the target, like in the attached image. Use the same method for zeroing in.
As Tyger, and many of my lacrosse/basketball/baseball coaches have said, "practice as you play". Whenever you use your marker, zero in your sights, and use them to aim. It will make aiming in game much more natural.
Look for stuff with rubber casings and other protection to prolong its life. We have a rough sport, remember that.
Most of the stuff in the definitions section you will never need to know, and much of it isn't even available on the packaging for a particular scope. If you have the info available though, this will explain it for you, so you know what you will be getting
Most of the stuff in the definitions section you will never need to know, and much of it isn't even available on the packaging for a particular scope. If you have the info available though, this will explain it for you, so you know what you will be getting.
Exit pupil: The diameter (once again, in millimeters) of light that hits your pupil, exiting the scope. Divide the objective lense by the magnification for this number. You want 4-5mm or more for playing at dusk.
Eye relief: The distance between the eye and the scope at which the whole field of view is visible. Hold your maker as you normally would, and have someone measure from your eye to where your sight will be mounted. Look for an eye relief close to this, if you can.
Field of view: The width of the area you can see 1,000 yards away from you through a scope. Usually, smaller=greater magnification
Lens coating: Some lenses are coated with ruby, emerald, and other sweet stuff to protect your eyes from glare, excessive light, and strain. Higher quality stuff.
Lithium, CRxxx: Lithium is a chemical, CR is a type of battery that uses lithium (where xxx is 3 numbers). Its the most common type of battery used in electronic red dot sights. Commonly found at drugstores.
Solar: Sun powered, these sights use fiber optics to direct light giving a bright color in daylight. Useless at night
Windage: The way the wind affects a projectiles flight. If the wind is coming from the right to the left, and you want to compensate for the windage, you aim to the right. The ball will be blown left and will (hopefully) land on target
Image courtesy of wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Iron_sight
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This post has been edited by mattpace: 10 April 2006 - 10:51 AM