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Sighting in a Rifle Scope: How to Shoot with a Scope

Posted by Eric Patton on 8/29/2019 to Riflescopes

A gun with a mounted scope changes everything when it comes to accuracy. Most expert riflemen will tell you that a rifle optic is as important as the rifle itself. A sighting rifle takes away any guesswork in accuracies enabling you to hit your target spot on.

However, using a rifle scope is not straightforward. You can’t just buy a scope and be hitting targets the next minute. There is a lot of learning before one can understand how to zero in targets. Sighting targets with a scope is an art that one must learn. Whether you’re a hunter or a recreational shooter, sighting in your rifle is highly recommended. Zeroing in your weapon is one of the best ways to gain accuracy and hit your target at the desired spot.

What is the importance of a rifle scope?

For most hunters, their aim is to have a single shot kill. The shot must hit the target at the right spot and kill the game quickly and in an ethical manner. However, this is not possible without proper riflescope. All responsible hunters require a well-sighted rifle to have a perfect kill.

The sighting-in process is where you have to learn how to align the bore of your rifle to the reticles of the riflescope. Proper rifle scope adjustments help one know the exact place the shot will strike from a specific distance. This is simply taking away any guesswork when taking a shot. Remember, in most cases, you only have one chance to get a clear shot. If you miss, the game runs away due to sound from the shot.

While there are persons with immense talent in shooting and high accuracy levels, it is worth noting that riflescopes have nothing to do with your shooting skills. Shooting skills and accuracies are determined by marksmanship skills. Sighting-in is basically narrowing down on your target area. The only thing one requires is a rifle, riflescope, and a stable platform.

How to sight a rifle

The process of sighting a riflescope correctly can be frustrating for new gun owners. However, our steps make that process easier and simpler for you. Check out our simple steps to sighting a rifle correctly:

Get a stable Platform

Before any shooting activity, you should make sure you have a proper gun tool and a stable platform. There are several sighting toolkits out there with Torx Wrenches, screwdrivers and Allen keys for easy installation.

A stable platform for your gun is not an option but something mandatory. You can use a commercial gun rest or sandbags. There are special made rests out there with even and stable platforms to give you an edge when shooting. Most of them are affordable and keep rifles in place while allowing adjustments. Once you have the platform setup and ready, you can move to the next step.

Mounting the scope into the rifle

This is the trickiest part of gun sighting and one to do keenly. You need to check the compatibility of the scope with your gun. Look at the size and type of mounting rings and bases to ensure they are compatible with your gun. You also need to check that pre-drilled holes and grooves in your rifle are matching.

 A gun vice is usually used in mounting the scope. First, mount the bottom half rings and then place the riflescope. You can then mount the top ring and tighten the scope just enough such that you can rotate it back and forth. Once all this is done, you need to shoulder the rifle and see if there is enough eye relief from the recoil. You can easily end up with a black eye if you don’t check eye relief.


This is getting your rifle on paper through a boresighting technique. It is a preliminary procedure that takes place within 25-50 yards. A large paper acts as the target. Old school boresighting involves looking through the barrel. However, lever-action, pumps, and semi-automatic weapons need a laser bore sighter device.

This device is usually inserted in the chamber or muzzle of your gun to help align the barrel with the scope optics. You have to choose a bore sighter that is compatible with your gun.

Whether using modern or traditional boresighting methods, you should be able to adjust the scope elevation. The scope crosshairs must be brought to the same point as the target through the barrel. The entire process must be done with the gun set up on a stable platform. The aim of boresighting is to have the scope reticle centered in the direction the gun is pointing.

Testing and Adjusting with Live ammunition

You need to test your scope with live ammunition to ensure it works correctly. Since the scope is adjusted to hit a large paper in a range of 25-50 yards, it is time you increased that range to say 100 yards.

This is a crucial stage of testing the capabilities of your rifle. Go ahead and fire live bullets in three-round sets while maintaining a stable platform. A stable platform helps eliminate any human error. Shoot between intervals giving your barrel time to cool ambient temperatures. You can also be adjusting the magnification to achieve sharp and clear images.

Check the target and learn where adjustments are needed

This is where you check where your targets hit and calculate to make proper adjustments. How far did you shoot from the center? The scope is then adjusted until the reticle crosshairs are at the center. Take into account the vertical and horizontal distance of the center in inches. You can then recalculate the inches into Minutes of Angle to get the right click with turrets on your riflescope.

NB: Most riflescopes in the market feature scope adjustment increments in MOA, (Minute of Angle). A single turret click is expressed in ¼-inch at a distance of 100 yards. Read this article if you need a scope for long-range shooting.

Perform a second test after the adjustments

Once the adjustments have been made, you need to have another round of three sets to check the accuracy. Are the bullets hitting where you aimed? You can again re-adjust if you’re not getting accurate shots until everything is in alignment.


On this step, you need to fine-tune for perfect group size. This involves repeating the process several times until you get pretty close. You need to hit three shots on the same spot to ensure your fine-tuning is okay.

Generally, most modern calibers are sighted such that the point of impact is 2.5 inches above the aim point. This is the case at 100 yards and one that meets most hunting needs.

Clean the barrel and let it cool before doing the last shot

Once everything is set, you can clean the barrel and let it cool. You can then fire the last shot to confirm everything is working properly.

Final verdict

Well, this is everything you need to know about sighting a rifle. Make sure you have everything ready and working before you go hunting. The entire sighting process will probably require a box of 20 cartridges.




Date: 1/18/2021
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