General: A night vision or thermal imaging attachment is mounted in front of an optical device such as a telephoto lens, a reflex camera or a spotting scope to enable viewing in the dark. In hunting, of course, attachments are mounted in front of a telescopic sight, allowing safe shooting in the dark. Possible designs are tube devices or digital devices.
With a thermal imaging scope, you look through the eyepiece at a display and not "directly" at the target. Therefore, thermal imaging attachments must be shot in. A clamping adapter is used to mount the attachment to the front of the scope's objective. In the settings of the device, the attachment can be adjusted in such a way that the center point matches that of the reticle of the target optics - only in this way are precise shots possible again.
Attachments are one of the more expensive pieces of hunting equipment. For an attachment with night vision technology, you should expect to pay from about 2000 euros for a new device. Good thermal imaging attachments start at about 3000 Euros, but you can easily spend 5000 Euros or more for an attachment with both thermal imaging and night vision.
In December 2019, the Bundestag and Bundesrat passed amendments to the weapons law, which changes the handling and use of night aiming technology. These changes are in force since 20.02.20.
According to §40 para 3 WaffG, holders of a valid hunting license are allowed to "handle" night vision attachments and night vision attachments for aiming aids (scopes), of which thermal imaging attachments are included. However, hunting law prohibitions and restrictions on use remain, making it a state matter whether and how attachments are used. The exact state laws also regulate, among other things, which game species (if any) may be hunted with the aid of thermal imaging devices. In most states, for example, night hunting of wild boar is allowed, but hunting of other cloven-hoofed game is prohibited.
In addition, most states prohibit the use of night aiming devices if they have an image converter or electronic amplification and are intended for firearms - this includes laser aiming devices and infrared illuminators and night vision attachments in conjunction with an infrared illuminator.
In order to protect small game, the federal states can also permit the hunting use of the attachments on predatory game, but this is regulated separately.