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How to Sight a Rifle Scope – 101 guide for beginners.

How to Sight a Rifle Scope

If you want to improve your shooting accuracy, then you have to start by being a regular visitor to a shooting range. Although, going to the shooting range often to practice might not be enough to improve the accuracy of your shots. Of course, there would be some improvement, but you would still be a long way from hitting your target. To improve your shooting accuracy, you must learn and master how to sight a rifle scope. With this shooting accessory, you could either shoot like John Wick and hit all your targets or shoot like one of the Stormtroopers, missing every single shot! 

Whether you are using a bolt action rifle or some other firearm, you need to install a scope for precision. Bolt-action rifles are mostly used for hunting because they are capable of delivering a single killing shot from a safe distance, these rifles may be used to hunt a deer or larger animals, particularly big wildlife caught on a safari.

To effectively install the scope and learn how to sight it on a rifle, you need some technical knowledge. By following the simple steps outlined in this article, even a novice would be able to understand how to make use of this important shooting accessory.

Here’s what this article covers

  • What Exactly Is a Rifle Scope?
  • Why Do You need to Sight in Your Scope?
  • Major Types Of Sight
  • Different Types of Scopes
  • Aiming Better With A Boresight Tool
  • How Do You Sight a Rifle Scope and What Are the Steps You Must Follow?
  • What To Do If Your Scope Loses Zero?

What Exactly Is a Rifle Scope?

A rifle scope is also known as a telescopic sight, it is an indispensable shooting accessory that allows shooters to hit a target with incredible precision at different distances. Scopes are made up of a set of magnification of objective lenses and some kind of reticle. A scope reticle is an aid that helps to aim where your ammo should strike the target. These instruments, when used together, allow more precise shots from a longer range.

Why Do You Need to Sight in Your Scope?

Sighting in your scope is an important step toward achieving the best shot possible from your rifle. Learning how to use a rifle telescopic sight is definitely worth the time and can significantly enhance your shooting accuracy. Here are some of the reasons why you should sight in your scope:

Long-range shots – Without a rifle scope, it would be almost impossible to hit your target when you have to take a long-range shot. The powerful magnification of the scope allows shooters to aim at targets that are far away.

Better precision and accuracy — Your shot accuracy will no longer be restricted by distance. You can keep shooting accurate shots from extended range without missing a single shot.

Improve your shooting confidence – When you know you can consistently hit the target, you will find it much easier to take on challenges in competitive shooting.

Gain an edge over the competitors – Not having a scope automatically puts you at a disadvantage. The ability to use a scope is a necessary skill if you want to be ahead of your competitors.

Improved safety – If you do night hunts, a scope can help ensure you’re looking at the right target. As an extra safety feature, some scopes have night vision.

Major Types Of Sight

Whatever style of hunting you like, it is critical that you understand how to utilize your sights efficiently. Accurate shots are required for a kill, and even more essential, for a clean kill. Even a few inches off target will result in undue suffering for the animal. Some of the most common types of rifle sights are listed here.

Open Sight

This classic sight is also known as iron sights. On the rifle’s receiver is a rear sight that consists of some form of a window for you to see through;  most times it is a notch in a rectangle or a ring.  This sight does not provide magnification and cannot be easily used in low light. You can keep both eyes open when using them.

Dot Sights

red dot sight

A tiny laser beam is projected onto a piece of glass or transparent plastic to power dot sights. This dot works in the same way as the front pin in the design of the open sight – place the dot over the target and fire. Their main benefit is that, like open sights, they do not provide magnification and may be used with both eyes open. They also enable faster target acquisition since the eyes can focus on a bright light above the target rather than a dull piece of metal. They are commonly known as red dot sights.

Laser Sighting

You’ve probably seen in movies when a sniper hundreds of meters distant marks his target’s chest with a little red dot. In reality, laser sights have very limited functionality. They’re not often utilized for hunting because the laser isn’t visible in bright light or from a long distance. They are far more suitable for indoor use.

Telescopic Sights

These are the most prevalent form of hunting sights. They are also known as rifle scopes. They resemble a little tube mounted to the top of the rifle’s receiver and give magnification ranging from 1.5 to 80 times, making them extremely handy for long-range shots. To utilize a rifle scope, shut your non-dominant eye and gaze through the scope with your dominant eye. What you’ll see is a massively enlarged image of your surroundings.

Different Types of Scopes

There is nothing more crucial than finding the right scope for your rifle and being able to tune it exactly as you need. It is important to understand that the shooting circumstances can change and determine the kind of scope you would use.

There are many different types of scopes that are available that can help you increase the precision of your shots. In order to increase your accuracy at the shooting range, here are a few types of scopes to help:

Fixed Scope – Fixed scopes, as the name implies, are rifle scopes that only provide a certain range of magnification. This implies you can’t change the magnification to make it bigger or smaller than it is. Because of the limited set of lenses used in the construction of fixed scopes, it tends to be sharper than its variable magnification counterparts. This comparison is only valid when both rifle scopes have the same quality of glass and coating. Another point to note is that fixed scopes are simple to use. Before taking a shot, you would not need to bother about magnification setting,  parallax adjustment, and other additional distractions. Simply aim and shoot.

Variable Scope – Variable Scopes are designed for usage by experienced shooters. These scopes are far more adaptable than fixed scopes since the magnification can be adjusted. You can change the magnification of the objective lens based on your position, the closeness of the target, and the kind of game you’re hunting.

Night Vision Scope – Night vision scope is used to improve human sight in low-light situations. They are devices that are mounted on rifles and have one or more reticle patterns. These are also known as Starlight Scopes. Manufacturers of night-hunting scopes are always attempting to improve their products. As a result, digital night vision scopes have grown in popularity in recent years.

Tactical Scope – Tactical rifle scopes are designed for tactical scenarios. They also include the option of estimating range or changing the aim point in the scope reticle to accommodate wind drift or bullet drop.

Long Range Scope – This is a type of scope that has over 10x magnification. 

Hunting Scope – This scope is built to withstand the harsh outdoor conditions due to its weather-resistant and durable design

Competition Scope – The scopes have a very high magnification and are often used by competition shooters, they are less durable

Red Dot Scope – In a red dot sight, the main feature is the red dot that is displayed on your target. 

Aiming Better With A Boresight Tool

One of the easiest ways to sight your firearm is by using a bore sight. Most shooters establish a zero at 25 yards, while others do so at 36 or 50 yards. Bore sighting is a means of aligning the sighting mechanism of a weapon with the barrel. A bore sight’s aim is to make this operation easier. Bore sighting saves a lot of time and ammunition by bringing the scope or sights near the target. A laser bore sighter makes it very simple to sight in a rifle. The laser bore sight is designed to fit inside the firearm’s chamber. After turning on the laser, the weapon is directed at the target and the sights are positioned to aim at the laser dot.

How Do You Sight a Rifle Scope and What Are the Steps You Must Follow?

To understand how to sight a rifle scope, you need to have the right information and equipment. Setting up your scope properly will substantially improve your shooting performance. Follow these rifle scope adjustment tips to quickly enhance your accuracy.

Ensure the scope is properly seated

A scope mounting system can be found on most contemporary rifles. Your rifle might have pre-drilled holes for scopes, or it could have a grooved rail system like the Picatinny or Weaver. You must ensure that the scope mount properly fits the rings on your rifle. Certain scope rings are only compatible with specific scope bases. It is critical that these parts match.

Adjust Your Eye Distance

You can adjust the scope to make sure that you have a clean, sharp image. You might also need to fine-tune the scope to achieve the ideal degree of eye relief (i.e the distance between your eye and the scope). You must ensure that the distance between the scope and your eye is sufficient so that when you fire a shot, the recoil does not make contact with your eye. The recoil might force the gun to bounce back and hit your eye, resulting in significant harm. This is referred to as “Getting scoped.”

Get Level

A solid shooting stance would help you to properly sight the scope of your rifle. You can choose to mount your weapon on a shooting bench or use a bipod. Both methods can achieve the intended goal; however, a rifle mount can minimize recoil by up to 95% while firmly holding your weapon on target. There are several rifle mounts that are particularly built for effective scope sighting.

Reticle Alignment

Before you zero your scope, you must examine the alignment of your reticles, this is an important stage in shot preparation that should not be overlooked. Reticle Cant occurs when the crosshairs of your scope are not properly aligned with elevation and windage adjustments. A canted reticle may cause your shot to miss the target to the right or left when engaging a target at a range of 250 or more yards.

Determine Your MOA (Minute of Angle)

MOA is an abbreviation for the minute of angle, which corresponds to the minute hand on a 360-degree clock. Each minute is equivalent to 1/60 of a degree, allowing for accurate shooting angles. Setting up your zero involves many steps. It may be easier to do this in an outdoor shooting range because you will need targets positioned at several ranges and over 50 yards away. A mount is also required in order to keep your weapon steady when fine-tuning your MOA.

The crosshairs on most rifle scopes may then be adjusted in ¼ MOA increments. When sighting in at 100 yards, this corresponds to ¼ ” of movement every click. The most common MOA click values used by hunters are 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch.

Turn the windage knob or elevation four clicks to move your bullet impact one inch or one MOA at 100 yards. For every 100 yards of distance, the click value increases by ¼  inch.

Here is an incremental list of movements that are resulting from the click of a rifle scope’s elevation or windage knob at different distance:

200 yards  =  1/2 in.

300 yards  =  3/4 in.

400 yards  =  1 in.

500 yards  =  1 1/4 in.

600 yards  =  1 1/2 in.

700 yards  =  1 3/4 in.

800 yards  =  2 in.

Use Three-Shot Groups

Shoot three shots in quick succession, then record the bullet impact point or bullet hole on the target. You might want to sight in slightly higher at 100 yards and well centered at 200 yards, it all depends on you. Understanding your MOA will help you to make adjustments for your targets at various distances.

Continue to Make Adjustments

Experiment with varied distances and trials until you can steadily hit grouped shots that are extremely close to the bullseye. After you’ve mastered that, you may focus on hitting targets farther away – ensuring to account for the distance of the target and environmental elements like the wind. 

What To Do If Your Scope Loses Zero?

Mechanical difficulties, improper installation, damaged and obstructed barrels or travel can all cause a scope to lose zero. If your scope does not return to zero after firing, follow these steps:

  • Set up the scope and take your shot.
  • Hold your firearm firmly immediately after shooting.
  • Make sure your crosshairs are perfectly aligned with the bullseye.
  • Ensure you adjust the scope to align the crosshairs with your target.
  • Try another shot.

Mounting and sighting a rifle scope is a critical skill for a shooter to master. If you follow the fundamental procedures described here, you will quickly gain confidence and develop precise target shooting skills. Learning how to utilize a scope correctly is vital for every shooter who wants a more precise shot.

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