Shooting Accuracy: Best Way to Sighting in a Rifle Scope

As most rifle scopes are not appropriately adjusted out of the box, the rifle owners should know how to sight a rifle scope. A skill to properly sight in or “zero” optics is very appreciated in the modern gun community whether one belongs to military operators, long-range shooting competitors or hunter`s brotherhood.

Today, a rifle scope is a must-have not only you want to shoot at long distance targets, but also for a close quarter shooting.

Commonly referred to by short as “glass”, rifle scopes allow you to see targets either at longer distances in much greater detail or as short-range optics provide the shooter ability to acquire targets rapidly in close quarter battle scenarios.

As a bonus, a rifle scope allows you to compensate for bullet drop, which cannot precisely be done with mechanical, iron sights.

In plain words, sighting in scope is the process where the rifle scope is pointed with where the barrel of the weapon is pointed. In order to avoid frustration during these additional adjustments, you have to follow a simple procedure consisting of the several necessary steps outlined here.

We want to emphasize the benefit of mastering rifle scope`s installing and sighting skills because you will gain the confidence to continue to grow your sharpshooter`s performance.

Be Sure the Scope Is Installed Accurately

Before we can start the sight in the process, make sure your scope is adequately installed with mount and rings that fit for your style of rifle.

Most contemporary rifles are equipped with a mounting system for telescopic sights in the form of grooved rail systems like the Weaver and Picatinny rail or have pre-drilled and tapped holes for scope bases.

By no means fixing the scope by hand is not enough, so you will need an appropriate Allen wrench and screwdriver to mount tightly and securely the scope and rings to the base.

Set the Level

Another critical moment is to use an extremely stable platform such as a gun vice, bipods or just sandbags. There are many types of rifle mounts designed explicitly for scope sighting.

Small tip: Whereas they can reduce the rifle kick back up to 95%, after these “controlled conditions” you have to try newly sighted in rifle scope in actual hunting position, which you usually employ.

Adjust the Eye Distance Properly

Once you are set in a steady position on a shooting bench, you will need to employ proper eye relief (ER). It means, the eye distance (ER) between your eye and the scope should be proper to see a complete a full view through the rifle scope while it is far enough to provide the recoil does not send the scope too much back to make contact with your face and injure your eye or nose, leaving a nasty bruise.

Boresighting the rifle

Before actually shooting the rifle, it is heartily advisable to bore sight the rifle. Using 25 or 50 yards target with a removed bolt from the rifle and weapon mounted in a secure rest you should aim through the barrel at the center of a target. The end goal is to ensure the rifle scope crosshair is directed where the gun is pointing.

Parallax Adjustment

Parallax is an optical illusion that increases with magnification and can throw off your shot, especially at long ranges. ( What is a Parallax Adjustment on a Scope?)

It can be corrected using an adjustment ring located on the objective bell or side-mount turret. Utilizing one of the parallax commands you can align the reticle with the targeted objective of the game animal you have the crosshairs on. ( Read out

Aligning the Reticle

Like any other human product, a rifle scope can be produced with an internal assembly problem that results in reticles being off-axis relative to the turrets. However, here we are talking about an uneven leveling of our rifle causing a “Reticle Cant.”.

A canted reticle creates a number of problems with sighting and accuracy, particularly when engaging a target at a distance of 250 yards or more. The simplest way for the hunters is to release the screws and just rotate the scope in the rings until the reticle is upright and tighten the rings.

Setting the MOA (Minute Of Angle)

Understanding Minutes of Angle (MOA) can actually be beneficial whether you’re learning to sight in your scope or trying to hit targets at further distances. The MOA is a measurement of 1 inch (actually 1.047 inches) at 100 yards and it is spreading with a range. It is shown in the table below:

100 yds.200 yds.300 yds.400 yds.500 yds.600 yds.700 yds.800 yds.

Considering the most scopes feature click values on elevation or windage knobs expressed in 1/4 inch, you should know that at various distances incremental values would be different as you can see in a table:

100 yds.200 yds.300 yds.400 yds.500 yds.600 yds.700 yds.800 yds.
1/4 in.1/2 in.3/4 in.1 in.1  1/4 in.1  1/2 in.1  3/4 in.2in.

Shoot in Three-Shot Groups

You can sight in your rifle by firing one round at target, but instead chasing single holes all over the paper, the better idea is to shoot three rounds groups, as they will show you a more accurate representation of your hold vs impact.

More than likely, the bullets won’t hit dead center on the target so following the markings on the scope make the appropriate adjustments to get your group where you want it.

After everything is adjusted, take another careful three-shot group at the target to verify that you made the correct scope adjustments. You can repeat the adjustment process and firing verification groups until you are happy with your group.

Keep Tweaking

After you sighted in your rifle at 100 yards, using the same techniques described earlier, try out different distances trying to hit targets that are further away.

If you are hunting at a longer distance, then it might make sense to adjust your scope so that your shots are hitting a bit high at 100 yards, about three inches above the center of the target.

However, many common calibers are flat shooting cartridges with almost the same zero at 50 yards and 200 yards.


As a triumphant ending of this process, you should clean your barrel, wait to cool down and then finally shoot single verification round to confirm zero.

That all may be a boring story to a lot of you, but you would be surprised at the number of rifle owners who have never learned these basics.

A quality branded rifle scope will hold a zero for a long time, but you should check your scope zero before every hunting season since the rifle is often transported in the trunks and roughly handled.

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