Are We Doing it Again? (A rose by any other name)

T-shirts 001 008Now I know that there are some purist that have never faltered, but most of us that are honest can look and admit that we as gun people either did or allowed this. What “this” am I speaking of? Well First we began referring to any auto loading weapon as an automatic, instead of differentiating between auto, and semi-auto. This has come back to bite us, as every gun grabber points out to the uneducated that we do not need, and should not have machine guns!

Next we started calling magazines, clips. We did that for so long that the words truly became interchangeable. In fact it went on so long that a lot of gun people didn’t even know there was a difference. Then suddenly as people tried to prove that they were the supreme authority on all things guns, they started using this misunderstanding against the lesser informed to prove their superior knowledge.

Yes yes I know some of you always knew and used the correct terms but again if you are honest you saw how wide spread these things were. I am absolutely guilty. I almost never stopped someone when they said clip. I knew what they meant and it just wasn’t a big deal. Just like automatic wasn’t a big deal till it was.

So what has gotten me all riled up? I just entered a shooting league. Of course one of the rules is “No optics”. Well my every day carry has had a Doctor III red dot sight on it for two years. I really haven’t shot anything else. In getting ready for this league I pulled the Red dot slide off and put the original slide with iron sights back on. This is when I made an interesting discovery. I cannot see my iron sights! In the last few years my eyes have started getting a little worse so I have had to go to glasses for distance and I look under them to see in closer. Looking through my glasses means that my iron sights are a fuzzy doubled blob on top of my gun. Looking without my glasses brings the sights into focus but leaves my target blurred beyond the point of distinguishing different areas. Now before you throw out the “Your front sight is in focus and your target is blurred” fact at me let me just hold you back. That is a very simplified description of a very complicated bit of visual calisthenics your eyes go through. Your eye bounces from target to rear sights to front sight and as the shooting goes on it continues to bounce and refocus as you need input. Where are you hitting (target focus)? How is your sight alignment (sights)? Refined sight picture (front sight). That visual Jujitsu will continue throughout a string of fire almost imperceptible to you. You are not moving your eye so much as it is constantly focusing. A Red dot sight works differently. You focus on the target and the dot simply imposes over it. All of your focus is down range at your target so my glasses work great.

Realizing that I am going to get hammered in this league because I have no good solution to being able to only see one or the other is what made me realize what we are doing. Forever we have been referring to anything we look through as “an optic”. It’s not!

Webbsters dictionary shows this:

Full Definition of OPTICS

:  a science that deals with the genesis and propagation of light, the changes that it undergoes and produces, and other phenomena closely associated with it.

There are a ton of other definitions about the eye but trying to Readers Digest them all together an optic device is something that bends light. Normally it does this in a fashion to either make things look bigger or closer. This means telescopic or microscopic. So the scope (telescope) on your rifle is indeed an optic. Your night vision device again is an optic. However the red dot sight on your pistol or even the one on your AR is a sight. It does not provide any magnification, nor does it project any light beyond itself. If you consider the windshield on your truck an optic then I can never convince you of this, but that is what a red dot sight is. It is a simple piece of glass used so that you can see through it and like a bug on your windshield they put a dot on it that can be seen easy and moved so that you can zero it to your guns point of impact at different ranges.

So is this little bit of information important? That depends. Do you care if people say clip when they mean magazine? Is it important to distinguish between automatic and semi-automatic? I am not expecting all the competitive shooting organizations to change how they do things this season, but maybe if those of us that do care start using and explaining the correct terminology today, then ten years from now a better informed rules committee somewhere out there wont tie the hands of a guy that doesn’t have twenty year old eyes. Feel free to weigh in on this or anything else at or on Facebook at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *