Both the writer David Petzal and Richard Mann are frequent visitors here at Gunsite in our rifle classes.
I got interested in guns in the early 1950s, at just about the time that scopes were being generally accepted. They were, for the most part, wretched objects—difficult to mount, dim, and fragile, with adjustments that had a sense of humor. Rifle stocks were designed so you could use either a scope or iron sights, and they worked well with neither. Gun makers, in order to deal with scope-failure anxiety, equipped their rifles with miserable iron sights. The variable scope was regarded with extreme and justified suspicion. Prudent riflemen used fixed 4Xs.
Today, scopes are inconceivably better than what was around in the ’50s. Even the U.S. military has gone to the ACOG, which is an optical sight, after a century of iron. (The fact that we expended 250,000 rounds of small arms ammo per casualty inflicted in Afghanistan and Iraq, and had to buy it from Israel because we ran out, may have had something to do with the decision.)