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Caught in one's sights

Posted by Lewis on June 04, 2007

In Reply to: Caught in the cross-hairs posted by ESC on June 03, 2007

: : : I am searching for information on the origin of the phrase "caught in the cross-hairs." Any information on the background, origin, and first use of the phrase in print or verbally would help!

: : For starters: A deer in the crosshairs at

: I couldn't find the origin of the phrase in any of my books. I give up. Found this about the actual invention of crosshairs. Notice the disagreement about who invented them.

: 1641 Telescopic cross-hairs invented by William Gascoigne.

: A crosshair or reticle is a shape superimposed on an image that is used for precise alignment of a device. Crosshairs are most commonly a "+" shape, though many variations exist, including dots, posts, circles, and chevrons. Most commonly associated with telescopic sights for aiming firearms, crosshairs are also common in optical instruments used for astronomy and surveying, and are also popular in graphical user interfaces as a precision pointer. The crosshair was invented by Robert Hooke, and dates to the 17th century.

May be worth noting that 'optical' sights were not commonplace until long after the cross-hair had been invented. most firearms used metal sights - which varied in design, but were often a point or a groove, in pairs 'fore and aft' - one sight near the eye and the other at or near the end of the barrel - lining those two up enabled the firer to have a decent idea of the direction. it did not deal with the effect of wind or (especially) gravity over time/distance, but some calibrated non-optical sights did.
the use of cross-hairs is closely linked with either hunting or sniping - in effect the same skill - the intent of bringing down something with a single accurate shot.

so FWIW, "in the cross-hairs" is an updated version of "in the sights"