Rangerexpert is audience-supported. When you buy through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission that we use for site maintenance. Learn more


How to Use a Monocular? – A Beginner’s Guide

How to Use A Monocular
Written by Dan Goldsmith
Last Update: August 11, 2023

A monocular is a compact, lightweight device used for viewing distant objects. It’s similar to a telescope but much smaller and easier to carry around.

If you’re looking for an easy way to get closer to your surroundings, then using a monocular may be just what you need!

But how to use a monocular to its full potential? Well, that’s what we’re discussing today.

In this guide, we’ll go over how to use one correctly so you can enjoy all of its features and capabilities. We’ll also discuss some maintenance tips you can follow to help your monocular perform like new for years to come!

Follow along as we dive deep into exploring the best uses of a monocular in different situations.

A Brief Introduction to Monoculars

An Overview of Monoculars and How to Use It

Unlike most optical products, the monocular doesn’t include many bells and whistles.

So, using monoculars involves little technicality requiring you to focus on a few things.

How to Use a Monocular Telescope: Beginner’s Guide

So, you’re excited to put your hands on your monocular?

Here’s how you should and need to start.

1. Getting Started with the Monocular

Count on the Dominant Eye

Look through your monocular with the eye that has the best (most powerful) vision.

Use the right hand for the right eye and the left hand for the left eye. Don’t know how to find out about your own eyes?

Well, you can learn the quick yet appropriate method of finding the dominant eye in another article.

Say ‘Yes’ to Your Glasses (If You Have Any)

Don’t worry about your nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (presbyopia) or any ocular issue that requires you to wear glasses. You need to use them too while using a monocular.

Choose a monocular with at least 14mm eye relief (the required distance between your dominant eye and the monocular for an optimal field of view).

Hold the Device Appropriately

Now, you’ll be touching/grabbing your monocular.

  • Take the device up to the level of your eye and hold the barrel near the ocular lens.
  • Your eye and the lens should be as much close as possible but without any physical contact.
  • Keep your forefinger against the brow and the elbow against the body or hold the wrist using the other hand (the one not in use) to keep it still.
  • You may also rest on your stomach with your elbows set on the ground.

Set the Focus

It’s important that you adjust the focus manually and keep working on it as long as you need to get the clearest view of your target.

Typical devices feature a ridged dial that can be rotated using the fingers.

Some models may require the user to put both hands on the adjustment component. Keep the dial rotating in all available directions until you get the desired view.

2. Eying the Target

Now is your time to trace your target, follow its movement, and refocus as needed. I’m explaining every bit of it in brief.

Locate Your Target

Don’t ignore the power of naked eyes as they’re the primary tracer of your object, if not the best, and all its surroundings because you aren’t limiting your vision or looking ahead with one eye.

So, glace your target and only then, you’re good to have the monocular. Open and use the other eye (the closed one) to retrace your target in case you lose its sight.

Follow It and Adjust the Focus

Most targets tend to move, requiring hunters/observers to follow them every second.

Don’t rush while tracking your target. Turn the head slowly (not too much) to keep an eye on it.

You can even move the entire body without changing the placement of the device to follow a target that moves much farther than the point you located it at.

Adjust and readjust the focal lens in accordance with the change(s) of the position of both you and the target.

By now, you’ve got yourself familiar with the use of a monocular, though not thoroughly yet.

There’s more to understand and apply if and while you aim at learning how to use monoculars like an ardent user.

3. Getting Advanced Education: ‘Monocular Cues’?

The term ‘monocular cues’ may sound all Greek to you, but it has a deep correlation with depth perception and great significance to how you understand the position of your target.

A monocular cue refers to what one of your eyes sees and interprets with the other closed. These cues present us with the positions of both us and the targets.

They let us know how far/near our target animals/objects physically exist from us.

Here’s a quick overview of different cues, so you can understand each of them and thus benefit from a more advanced understanding of your findings.

  • Absolute/Actual size (Even being positioned at the same point, larger targets look closer than smaller ones.)
  • Familiar size (Your familiarity with the shape/size of a target helps you assess how close/far away other objects in the scene are from you.)
  • Relative size (With two targets of apparently the same size, the target that’s actually larger than the other should look closer to you.)
  • Aerial perspective (With multiple targets in the scene, you should see the ones that are farther away from a particular one blurred or somehow hazy.)
  • Linear perspective (With two targets located to be in a parallel position, you should take that the distance of the target to your position increase as the targets meet together.)
  • Interposition/Overlap (Among the two overlapped targets, you tend to take the one to be closer that partially blocks the appearance of the other target)
  • Motion parallax (If you’re to move with multiple targets, the closer one will move faster with you than the others.)
  • Lighting and shading (Obscured/shaded targets appear farther than bright ones.)
  • Texture gradient (Assume that you’re watching a bird with colorful plumage. The colorful spots will start becoming less visible as it moves farther away from the original position you detected it at.)

Enough of science! Yeah, I understand you wished to have something more enjoyable.

But, remember, my friend, these cues are what let us gain the complete experience of a scene along with our visual interpretation of where we are in relation to what we target in the scene.

So, in a nutshell, this is how you use a monocular: 

  • Find something to look at that is around 25-50 yards away from you.
  • Hold the monocular in your dominant hand
  • Look through the lens
  • Use your other hand to adjust the focus wheel in a clockwise direction
  • Adjust until the image becomes crystal clear

Here’s a video instruction to help you understand better.

4. Read This If You Have an Infrared/Night Vision Monocular!

How to use a Night vision monocular

Modern outdoor enthusiasts in a large number tend to use special monoculars

designed to serve at night. Have you managed to get a futuristic night vision monocular?

If you already have, keep the following things in mind.

  • Your monocular encases a nearly invisible infrared light. Don’t ever look closely and directly into that light. It could impair/harm your eyesight seriously and permanently.
  • Don’t use the device in conditions privileged with bright lights which could eventually damage the image intensifier.
  • When you won’t use your device, consider using the objective lens cover.
  • You might see some bright/dark spots in the image intensifier tube of the monocular. Don’t worry. It’s a typical case.

5. The Perfect Time and Process of Using a Monocular

  • If you’re a climber, explorer, or hiker with any experience level, you can get a top-of-the-line monocular and start using it wisely.
  • Don’t use the higher magnification settings.
  • Do not remain busy with activities like driving, paddling, running, or walking while using.

How to Use a Monocular: Maintenance Tips

You might be thinking it’s a part of the maintenance process.

You’re right! But I must tell you it’s also a part of using a monocular. Follow through to learn more about it.

  • Use a strap to save the device from dropping, breaking, and wearing.

Use a strap to protect the device from dropping, breaking, and wearing when using a monocular

  • Avoid touching the scope’s lenses.

Avoid touching the scope’s lenses when using a monocular

  • Don’t forget to use the lens cap every time you’re done using the device.

Use the lens cap when using a monocular

  • Use mild, high-quality eyeglass wipes or similar solutions to clean the device.
  • No tissue papers, shirts, or cleaners with rough substances, please!

Now you have a clear idea about how to use a monocular, and how to take good care of your monocular. Hope this post proved to be helpful to people in need. Thanks for reading this far.

That’s all I wanted to inform you, and I’m happy I did. Don’t hesitate to let me know if you’ve any further questions. I wish you a happy weekend ahead!


Is It Possible to Use Filters With a Monocular?

Yes, it is possible to use filters with monoculars. Filters are available in a variety of colors and sizes, so it’s important to make sure the filter you choose is compatible with your monocular.

Can I Attach My Smartphone to a Monocular for Photography Purposes?

Yes! Many monoculars come equipped with a smartphone adapter that allows you to attach your smartphone to the monocular and take photos. This can be an ideal way of capturing close-up images of distant objects, as well as improving the magnification level of your photos.

About the author

Dan Goldsmith

Hi, this is Dan. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 30+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed.

My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

Whenever I am able to catch a moment of free time, you will find me enjoying my family or heading to the range on my motorcycle. I have enjoyed shooting sports ever since my dad introduced them to me as a child.

I like to think of myself as an outdoorsman who lives his life to the fullest. I hope you will benefit from my efforts to create valuable resources on this website. Happy reading!

Leave a Comment