The Soule sight: making sense of 19th century technology.

Author:Venturino, Mike

If one piece of shooting equipment gives newcomers to the BPCR shooting sports fits, it is the tang-mounted peep sight with a Vernier scale on its side, as was commonly found on single-shot and lever-action rifles during the last quarter of the 19th century.

I know this to be true for I have taught many new BPCR shooters how to read them and had to be taught the same myself back in the early 1980s. They look complicated what with all the numbers and graduations on them. In actuality they are quite easy to read. That long staff is only a ruler most often meant to be read in 1/100", which corresponds closely with minutes of angle. The peep sight cup rides up and down on the staff, so by reading the graduations a sight setting can be repeated exactly. Also minor corrections can be made for range conditions as a match proceeds.

Vernier-style sights come in a vast array of styles, so to keep this column within a reasonable length I'll confine it to Soule-style ones. (Usually pronounced "Sool" but the actual correct pronunciation is "Soo-lay".) What makes a Soule sight different from others using a Vernier scale is its windage adjustment is done by means of a rotating drum on the sight base. Soule sights by a number of makers are the most commonly encountered types within the various BPCR games. There is short-range, mid-range and long-range versions determined by the lengths of their staffs.

How Far?

The ranges possible with the various lengths of Soule sights are not carved in stone either, because it all depends on both the ballistics of the cartridge and the length of barrel. In general, the longer the barrel the higher the sight staff must be to reach any given range, and vice-versa. In general, however, given average barrel lengths and ballistics I'd estimate most short-range sights will enable a BPCR to reach to about 300 to 400 yards. Most mid-range sights are capable of say 600 to 800 yards, and long-range sights are good for 1,000 yards and sometimes much further. Remember--all those are my personal estimates. Your mileage may vary.

The sights I have mounted on all my own personal rifles are manufactured by the Montana Vintage Arms Company. They also happen to be the most popular sights according to the tabulations of the NRA for the BPCR Silhouette National Championships held near Raton, New Mexico, every summer. They are exquisite pieces of craftsmanship cut from high-grade steel with modern CNC machinery. Be sure, however, there are other good quality...

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