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What is a Scope Bite & How to Avoid it?

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Shooting is an enjoyable experience when you’re constantly hitting your targets and pulling off exemplary shots. However, this feeling can quickly become a nightmare if there’s a scope bite. The term scope bite is hardly something new for most shooters, but if it is new to you, then you may be among the lucky few who are yet to experience it.

Your time shooting should be spent making great shots and not nursing injuries, which is a common occurrence with scope bites. Depending on the weapon, there’s usually recoil pressure when you take a shot. Even though a lot of shooters don’t like to admit it, it is a fairly common occurrence that has affected many. In fact, some shooters refer to it as a right of passage. 

You shouldn’t wait until you’ve experienced scope bite before you learn how to prevent it. Even though you’ve had the experience before, learning how to prevent a repeat will save you a lot, and your face will thank you for it. Let’s know about it in finer detail. 

What is a Scope Bite?

What is a Scope Bite
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Scope bite, scope kiss, or whatever name it is called, is no pleasant experience. It is an injury to the face, eye, or head caused by the recoil of the weapon, which pushes the scope’s end to your face.

The injury thus caused can vary in intensity, from small scratches to the face to severe injuries to the head or eye area needing stitches and sometimes leaving big scars. And they are more common when using high-caliber weapons with a lot of recoils.

Major Causes 

Major Causes 
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Scope bites do not occur naturally. They are triggered by a variety of factors and, as such, can be prevented. Hence, you should know how it happens and what may be the cause so you know what to tackle if you must avoid a repeat of this injury or prevent it from happening entirely.

  • Eye Relief

Eye relief is the distance between the last part of the scope and the viewer’s eyes from which the user can see the full viewing angle. When you take your eye farther from this distance, the field of view you can see typically reduces. This eye relief is a major cause of scope bites.

A scope with poor eye relief will force the user to be dangerously closer to the end of the scope than needed leaving them at the mercy of the scope. A little recoil and this scope comes flying backward and into your face. The ideal eye relief is different for everybody as it depends on some features like height and even the neck length of the shooter. Taller shooters or people with longer necks will need longer eye reliefs.

  • Shooting Position

Shooting at awkward angles can leave you exposed to injury from your scope when you shoot. The position of your body and head can make it easier for the weapon’s recoil to touch your face. 

Many shooters do not know how to properly position their bodies or maybe in a rush to release their shots that they take up strange positions. Some positions make it almost impossible to keep your face away from the scope end when you shoot.

Bonus Read: How to Look Through a Scope – The Right Way

How to Prevent Scope Bite?

How to Prevent Scope Bite
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If you’re among the shooters who have experienced this embarrassing injury before, you’ll know the importance of preventing a repeat. If you’ve not experienced it before, you’re lucky, and you need to ensure it stays that way. Scope rings around your face should be avoided at all costs, and luckily it gets easier with these prevention methods.

#1. Scope With the Right Eye Relief

When it comes to eye relief for scopes, it is one of the most important factors responsible for scope injuries. With decent eye relief, you’ll be able to reduce a huge percentage of scope injuries. You might be asking what this decent eye relief is so you can target that range when buying a new scope. 

Eye relief closer or over 4 inches provides an ample amount of space between your eyes and the scope end. When you release your shot and the rifle recoils, there’ll still be room for the scope doesn’t hit your face and cause injuries. Getting a scope with high eye relief is one of the best ways of preventing such injuries when shooting.

Typically, scopes with high reliefs are proved higher than those with smaller reliefs. Bear in mind that you will still find budget scopes with great relief, so this shouldn’t put you off if you’re on a budget. 

#2. Proper Positioning

Proper body and head positioning alongside good eye relief will prevent scope rings on your face. The thing here is not many shooters know the correct way of positioning their bodies, especially with the different neck and head sizes. 

Instead of a one size fits all approach to body positioning, it is best to have markers where you can touch a part of your body. This way, you’re sure your face is positioned properly and at the right distance away from the scope.

The best way is to set up an eye box if you’re using your rifle. You can tape a pad or foam so you can feel your stock with your cheek. And in this way, you can immediately know when you’re in a decent position for shooting. You can also use your nose to touch the charging handle of your rifle.

#3. Mount Your Gun Properly

Mount Your Gun Properly
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Even with proper body positioning and good eye relief, you may still experience scope face injuries if the gun is not properly mounted. Most people rush through the mounting process, which causes injuries from recoil when you shoot. 

To avoid the bites caused by scope, you need to mount your gun the correct way. Mount the gun with a solid cheek weld and ensure the scope is mounted at the farthest possible distance on the rifle that’ll still allow you to see the full field of view.

Shooting at extreme angles, including uphill and downhill shooting, is a major cause of injuries, but mounting your gun the right way will prevent it.

#4. FireArm that Fits

At first, you might be surprised why a firearm should fit the user as it’s not clothing or something of that nature. But even firearms need fitting for the user to enjoy it. 

The firearm should fit the length of your pull. A shorter or longer length of pull will make shooting uncomfortable, which leads to bad position and ultimately scope rings. With a fitting forearm, you can brace the buttpad of the rifle on your shoulder to reduce the impact of the recoil and prevent it from injuring you. It also helps with your posture as you’re not leaning towards to away from your rifle.

#5. Quality Recoil Pad

A recoil pad is a foam, leader, or soft material placed at the buttstock of the rifle or even worn over the shoulder and held using straps. The aim is to reduce the recoil pressure and its effect on your shoulder. With a quality recoil pad, you are not only able to protect your shoulder, but your face from scope hits as the pad does its job of reducing the recoil pressure of the rifle.


Save yourself the trauma, pain, and scars of scope injuries to the face by utilizing these prevention methods. The methods can be combined and range from simple steps without any need for extra monetary investments to more advanced prevention methods. However, by practicing these methods regularly, you’ll develop a healthy shooting habit, free from injuries.

About Author

James Towndrow, a NRA-certified Firearms Instructor. During a career of 18 years had won several shooting competition including major leagues. Taking all those experience down the road, is now a successful Shooting Instructor in Texas, US.