Sighting or zeroing in a rifle scope (sights) is simply the process of aligning the scope to point at the exact spot the gun is pointed at. Consequently, the bullet is sure to hit its target at a certain distance because, yes, adjusting the bullet path is achieved through the rifle scope and the rifle scope only.
Now that we have the ‘what’ part down, you want to learn how to sight in your rifle scope, and this article is here to help you do just that.
Sight in Your Rifle Scope in 6 Steps
1. Installing the Scope
Mount your scope on your rifle. Use scope rings compatible with the scope base, and then mount the rings tightly to the base.
2. Adjusting Eye Distance
Maintain a safe distance between the end of the scope and your eye to avoid getting ‘scoped,’ meaning that when you fire your rifle, the recoil won’t send the scope back far enough to collide with your eye, causing severe damage.
3. Securing a Stable Platform
Place your rifle on a solid shooting bench with a mount, bipod, shooting bag, etc. It can be anything as long as it’s stable
Tip: Rifle mounts are recommended for non-experts, as they can reduce recoil up to 95%.
4. Focusing & Aligning the Reticle
To focus the reticle on your scope, point it at any solid background, look away for a couple of seconds at a distant object, and focus on that. Then, look back through your scope for only a second before looking away.
It’s vital that you only look for a second because afterward, your eye will automatically start to adjust, interfering with your ability to judge.
If you find that the reticle is in focus, you’re all set. If it’s blurry, reach for the diopter adjustment on the scope (typically located at the end closest to the shooter), and twist it.
Finally, to align the reticle, adjust the scope so that the crosshairs are parallel to the adjustments.
5. Bore Sighting
If you just mounted a new scope on your rifle, bore sighting is a handy pre-shooting step.
First, the rifle should be unloaded and the barrel unobstructed. Then, the bolt of the gun should be removed before mounting it securely. Afterward, look through the rifle’s bore and center the bore’s target by carefully moving the gun.
Now, adjust the scope so that the reticle is centered on your target. For vertical movement or elevation, use the turret on the top of the scope; for horizontal movement or windage, use the turret on its side.
Tip: Using a laser bore can facilitate this. All you need to do is load your rifle’s chamber with the laser bore sight. Trace where the laser falls on your target to help you center the scope reticle on it.
6. Getting on the Paper
If you’re wondering what type of target to use, there are typically two ways to go about this: a bulls-eye target or a dedicated zero target. The large high-contrast targets, like the NRA SR-1, are great options. This model’s black center against its light background can ease the sight in.
Now, a key to learning how to sight in scope is understanding what distance to get your scope sighted in to, but there’s no definitive answer. It depends on your level of expertise. Confident shooters may opt for 200 yards.
However, we suggest starting at 25 yards for a beginner—fire three shots at the center of your target. Chances are you will miss, but don’t adjust your rifle mid-group no matter how far off you are on paper from your target.
Tip: Note that other variables exist in this equation other than rifle scope and distance, such as wind and other environmental factors.
Afterward, on your target, measure from the center of your group to the bulls-eye. Use that to adjust your scope. Typically, rifle scope adjustments are ¼ MOA (Minute of angle).
In other words, 1 click adjusts the scope enough to make the bullet impact move ¼ of an inch at 100 yards. Nevertheless, your sights are set at 25 yards, so that’s 16 clicks to move the bullet impact the same distance. You’ll find that almost every scope’s turret is inscribed with the measurement increments and the proper direction to turn it.
Having made the necessary adjustments, shoot another group at your target. Once satisfied with your accuracy and precision, you can then fine-tune your zero at longer ranges (50 yards, 100 yards, or more) and repeat.
Tip: Give your barrel a few minutes to cool down between groups because most rifles shoot at different points of impact with a hot barrel.
With this step-by-step guide, you should know how to sight in a rifle scope, from installing it to getting on paper, plus a few tips and tricks to help you along the way. And although it may seem like a handful at first, the good news is you don’t have to do it very often. Just sight in your rifle scope if it’s newly mounted before hunting season, and you’re good to go!
If you are interested in binoculars you can see the best compact binoculars for shooting and hunting.