Just found an interesting article in Guns Magazine (April 2011 issue - page 24) that almost describes the solution I had posed here in my original post.
The Camera Sight
An innovative use of the simple camcorder.
I have never had an original thought in my life. And if I did,
I wouldn’t know what to do with it. That is not a problem
for Chris Self of Selma, Ala. He is not only an innovator, he
has the ability to make his ideas reality.
Some months ago I reported on a
Variable Gantry Mount (VGM) built
by Chris Self. Instead of using clicks
on the riflescope or hashmarks for
holdover, the base mount has a small
handle that moves from one position
to another. The positions are aligned
by screws along the mount to which
the small handle is moved. For a biggame
rifle with a long-range, flatshooting
cartridge, you might have
10 positions, each sighted in at 100-
yard increments out to 1,000 yards.
Sliding the handle to the 10th position
takes only a fraction of a second,
and it doesn’t wear out the scope’s
internals. It works! While that is only
an example of the mount’s many uses,
Chris has had great success with it
on shooter’s competitive guns, highpowered
rifles, you name it.
As it turns out, Mickey Coleman,
a benchrest shooter, machinist and
rifle builder, whose eyesight is failing,
is a friend of Chris’. Another of
Chris’ friends has developed macular
degeneration, restricting his vision
to just a few inches. Chris Self is an
idea man and an innovative inventor.
Give him a problem and he will not
only solve it, but build it. His friends
having problems seeing got Chris’
brain churning on their plight.
Chris and Mickey found a small,
inexpensive video camera and set to
work. They located the image center
of the camera’s lens and then marked
the spot on the screen with a small
triangular piece of electrical tape.
They worked out the details of
the camera and mount for a test run.
They discovered some interesting
things along the way. The camera can
be used to shoot around corners, as
well as some fun shooting over their
shoulder, the target being behind
them. The possibilities seem endless
and an inexpensive way for some
people to resume hunting or simply to
have loads of fun.
The prototype that Chris sent me
uses Chris’ VGM mount. He built
a camera mount to fit on top of
the VGM to hold the camera and
that allows windage for sighting in.
That gave him an expedient way to
accomplish his test run. He is currently
working on another mounting system.
On A .308
Chris and Mickey had been using
the camera and mount on a .22 rifle
and were astonished at the variety of
things it would do. I wanted to see the
effects of mounting it on something
larger and chose one of my .308
tactical rifles. Mounting the VGM on
the Picatinny rail of the Nesika action
took only seconds. I gathered up some
Black Hills 175-grain match rounds
and drove to the range. I stapled
a 6" diameter bull on the backer,
wondering as I did so if it would be
difficult to sight the camera in. The
small Sony Handicam is turned on by
opening the screen. At lower powers,
I could easily see where the camera
was pointing, and I found the target
immediately. The little camera has a
60X optical zoom. At that power, the
target was very defined.
I removed the bolt and, looking
though the barrel, found that when the
triangular tape Chris had placed on
the screen was on the target, the barrel
was pointing about a foot to the left.
Chris had provided windage screws
on the mount, using them moved
the camera to center over the rifle’s
bore. Chris’ gantry mount provides
elevation and both the camera and
the bore were now on the target. The
first 3-shot group was about 3/4"
and low on the bull in the 5 o’clock
position. That thoroughly amazed
me. The rifle shoots BH 175-grain
match rounds a little better than that,
but even so that is with a high-power
scope, a very fine crosshair and using
a normal shooting technique. In this
case I was using the top of Chris’ little
piece of tape and my head above the
rifle, looking at the screen!
I readjusted the camera and shot
another 3/4" group, this time a bit above
the bull’s center. One more adjustment
and the next round centered the bull.
I sat there looking at the camera, the
bullet hole in the bull’s center and
thought about the possibilities of
this system. The first, of course, was
how this simple, inexpensive sighting
system would allow many who have
given up hunting because of failing
eyesight, to once again put meat on
the table with assurance.
Only your imagination would
restrict its use. The camera’s screen
can be maneuvered 360 degrees. Think
about the soldier wanting to keep his
body behind a bunker out of direct fire
but continue to place accurate rounds
downrange. He could lay the weapon
on the wall, tip the screen, and place
the crosshair on the target and fire.
He could, as well, fire around corners
without exposing himself. He could
have fun shooting steel plates over his
shoulder, facing away from them—he
could just have a lot of plain old fun.
I moved the rifle and camera system
to longer ranges and found I had no
problem clearly seeing targets. With
the Variable Gantry Mount, it would
only be a matter of moving the little
handle forward to each pre-sighted-in
position and voilà!
Chris thinks of his prototype
as conceptual. He is working on
providing a better aiming point,
crosshair or something similar. He is
thinking about hooking the system to
a PC to which an integrated ballistics
program could be used, and he is
tinkering with a more useful mounting
system. Knowing Chris, I am sure he
will come up with all three.
Chris and Mickey are trying to
locate camera makers that might
be able to incorporate a crosshair.
The concept works very well, and
the assumption is, the system will be
relatively inexpensive and suited for
Chris has already made a few of
these units available to sight-impaired
individuals and a group that sponsors
hunting for the handicapped.
The unit will allow people to
record their hunts, shots, whatever or
take single pictures of them. Many
cameras incorporate NVDs. Image
stabilization might prove helpful.
What are the effects of the camera on
mirage? The concept brings up myriad
questions and possible answers.
While such systems have been
introduced to the military and others,
they are often priced above the
average person’s income. What Chris
and Mickey envision will be both
affordable and useful. Chris says he
will respond to the public to produce
the mounts if there is a need. Give
him a call or e-mail him through the
website. I am willing to bet you will be
as captivated by the usefulness of the
system as I am.
Miracle Machine Works
285 County Rd. 418
Selma, AL 36701
Miracle Machine Works | Guns Magazine