Thanks to Deadeye Dick for this idea, but before we get to scopes, here are two more handloading tips that I want to get down before I forget them.

Before I resize my cases, I clean the carbon off the necks with a metal polish called Simichrome. Then I wipe off the black ugh and throw them in the case tumbler with the fired primers still in place. This saves you having to poke pieces of ground-up corncob out of the flasholes.

If you want to do a really thorough job of degreasing, soak the re-sized shells in acetone for 15 minutes. You do this outdoors, or in the garage with the doors open. They dry off very quickly, and if you want to speed up the process even more, turn a fan on them.

OK, scopes. Because long-range shooting is now all the rage, some scope designers have made their reticles things of unholy complexity, packed with dots, lines, very small lines, squiggles and, in some cases, runes. This is due to the belief that a) the more complex it is, the better it is, and b) the people who design hunting optics have apparently done precious little hunting and intend to sell these things to people who are likewise unqualified.

The reason complex reticles are useless for big-game hunting is a) they make quick aiming impossible; b) they’re a pain in the ass in low light; and c) unless you’ve done a ton of shooting with them, you’ll forget how they work in the heat of battle.

Where they can work is in prairie dog shooting, or woodchuck assassination, where the light is good and the stakes are not high and you have plenty of time to figure things out.

The Army and Marines, who have really gotten long-range shooting down pat, still use plain mil-dot reticles. The Army’s newest sniper scope, a Leupold MK IV, employs an illuminated TMR reticle, which has horizontal and vertical dots on its wires, and nothing else.

I’ve never shot with a complicated reticle. The ones I have used are made by Nikon, Bushnell, Leupold, and Burris. The reticles are all variants on the Duplex, with and without mil dots, or with altered mil dots (the Nikon). They are all simple, and you can aim quickly with them. They also work extremely well. If you follow the directions they will get you exactly where you want to be.

But they’re not foolproof. The Leupold CDS system, in which you adjust the elevation knob for long shots, is supposed to be more or less indestructible. However, a month ago I encountered a CDS scope that some nitwit had used on a prairie dog shoot, and cranked the life out of. It was busted but good. The Burris Eliminator laser rangefinding scope is bulky, and the batteries on the one I hunted with crapped out when the temperature got down around zero. (Burris says it has a new version, the Eliminator III, that is smaller, and that it has solved the battery problem. I just got one, but have yet to use it, so we shall see.)

The one complication that I do like unreservedly is the illuminated dot in the center of the reticle. I think it’s the fastest of all ways to aim, and I’ve never had a bit of trouble with one. Also, they are the cat’s meow in poor light.