Is it safe to shoot with ther­mal?

Sporting Shooter - - Experts -

QI am very tempted to in­vest in a ther­mal ri­fle­scope but have se­ri­ous reser­va­tions about the safety of shoot­ing with only a heat sig­na­ture for both back­stops and quarry recog­ni­tion. Are they re­ally good enough to be fully safe?

ADOMINIC HOLTAM replies: A top-end ther­mal im­ager is a big in­vest­ment but the tech­nol­ogy is ad­vanc­ing in­cred­i­bly swiftly and the qual­ity is very, very good now. I spent a cou­ple of nights out re­cently with a ther­mal spot­ter and ri­fle­scope and was amazed by how much de­tail I could ob­serve – from lap­wings crouch­ing in the pas­tures, to a mouse work­ing along a field edge, to pi­geons in the tree­tops. Time and ex­pe­ri­ence will ob­vi­ously im­prove your abil­ity to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween species – the way an an­i­mal moves, for ex­am­ple, as well as shape and size.

You might also be sur­prised at how de­tailed and tex­tured a land­scape you can make out from heat sig­na­tures: pas­ture, wood­land, fo­liage of dif­fer­ent types all have dif­fer­ent ther­mal pro­files.

How­ever, just as peo­ple can get 'lamp blind' and not al­ways be aware of what is be­hind the shot, so you must ap­ply the same rules when do­ing any form of night shoot­ing, be it tra­di­tional, NV or ther­mal. Be sure of your back­stop. Know your land and your safe shoot­ing ar­eas and if there is even a tiny amount of doubt in ei­ther the safety of the shot or the ex­act species you are look­ing at, don't shoot!

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