And while there are many important skills hunters ought to learn, knowing how to properly sight in your scope is as close to the top as you can get.
After all, even if you have the best hunting rifle and your shooting skills are generally fantastic, without being able to sight in your scope, you won’t have a very successful hunt.
Don’t worry, though: the American Gun Association has your back. Here’s our hunter’s guide on how to sight in your scope.
Setting Your Scope
Regardless of whether you’re using a high-end optic or an inexpensive scope, once you’ve mounted it, you need to make sure your scope rings are attached tightly to the base.
When you’re certain there’s absolutely no wiggling whatsoever, you can start focusing the reticle.
Start by aiming the scope toward a solid background, such as a blank wall or the sky (remember the top 10 gun safety rules). Look away for a few moments, focusing your eyes on an object in the distance.
Now quickly sight through your scope before looking away again.
The crosshairs need to be instantly sharp during that brief glance – test for any longer and your eyes will start adjusting to compensate for the lack of focus.
If there’s any fuzziness whatsoever, twist the diopter until your reticle is perfectly sharp.
Step 1: Boresighting
Once your crosshairs are properly focused, check once again your rifle is unloaded and properly clean.
Remove the bolt and mount securely downrange. Adjust your rifle’s position until you have your target perfectly centered when looking through the bore.
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Without moving the rifle, adjust the scope’s elevation and windage (left and right positioning) until your reticle is centered on the same target as your bore.
For extra precision, you can use a laser boresight.
Step 2: Rough Sighting in Your Scope
Be very particular with the ammunition you’re using in the rest of these steps: it should be exactly the same as what you’re going to be using on the hunt.
It might be small, but your point of impact will be different if you don’t pay attention here.
Start off shooting at about 25 yards, with your rifle properly supported on a stationary rest. Fire 3 shots before measuring how far off you are from the bulls-eye and making the necessary adjustments to your scope.
After making sure your barrel cooled off adequately, fire off another group.
Repeat until you’re happy with the way your scope is dialed in.
Step 3: Fine-Tuning
Now it’s time to do some fine-tuning by moving to 100 yards (or whatever distance you want to zero your distance on).
If your scope is properly dialed in 25 yards, you should at least be hitting paper here.
Once again, fire off in groups of 3 so you can make the necessary adjustments.
No matter where you want to be zeroing in, you need your windage to be dead-on. Elevation is a subject of much debate.
But as a good rule-of-thumb, for relatively short-range hunting, bulls-eye at 100 yards makes a lot of sense.
For hunting at 200 yards, on the other hand, an inch or 2 higher than bulls-eye is a better bet.