Beginner’s Guide to Sighting in a Rifle Scope at the Shooting Range

For those who are new to the world of shooting, sighting in a rifle scope can be a daunting task. However, with the right knowledge and guidance, it can be a simple and rewarding experience.

A rifle scope is a crucial accessory that can improve accuracy and precision while shooting. It is important to know how to sight in a rifle scope to get the most out of it.

At the shooting range, sighting in a rifle scope is an essential step to ensure that the rifle is shooting accurately. It involves adjusting the scope to align the crosshairs with the point of impact of the bullet.

This process requires patience, precision, and attention to detail. It is important to understand the different components of the scope, such as the turrets, reticle, and magnification, to make the necessary adjustments.

In this beginner’s guide, we will walk you through the steps to sight in a rifle scope at the shooting range. We will cover the basics of rifle scopes, the tools needed for sighting in, and the step-by-step process to get your rifle shooting accurately.

Whether you are a seasoned shooter or a beginner, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and confidence to sight in your rifle scope and improve your accuracy at the shooting range.

Understanding Your Rifle Scope

A rifle scope is an essential tool for any shooter, and understanding its parts and how they work is crucial for successful shooting.

Parts of a Scope


The reticle is the crosshairs or aiming point that you see when you look through the scope. There are different types of reticles, such as duplex, mil-dot, and BDC, each with its advantages and disadvantages.


Turrets are the knobs on the top and side of the scope that allow you to adjust the reticle’s position. The top turret adjusts for elevation, while the side turret adjusts for windage.


Magnification refers to the amount of zoom the scope provides. A scope’s magnification is denoted by two numbers, such as 3-9x or 4-12x. The first number indicates the lowest magnification, while the second number indicates the highest magnification.

Objective Lens

The objective lens is the lens at the front of the scope that gathers light and forms an image. A larger objective lens diameter allows more light to enter the scope, resulting in a brighter image.

Ocular Lens

The ocular lens is the lens at the back of the scope that magnifies the image formed by the objective lens.


The eyepiece is the part of the scope that you look through. It contains the ocular lens and may have an adjustable diopter to focus the reticle for your eyesight.


The tube is the main body of the scope that houses the lenses and reticle. The most common scope tube diameters are 1 inch and 30mm.

Exit Pupil

The exit pupil is the small circle of light that you see when you hold the scope at arm’s length. It is calculated by dividing the objective lens diameter by the magnification.

ED Glass

ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass is a type of lens material that reduces chromatic aberration, resulting in a clearer and sharper image.

Understanding the different parts of a rifle scope is essential for proper use and maintenance. By knowing how each component works, you can make informed decisions when purchasing a scope and make accurate adjustments at the range.

Mounting Your Scope

Mounting your scope properly is crucial to ensure accurate aim and shot placement. The process involves choosing the right mount, positioning the scope correctly, and using the right tools to secure the scope in place.

Choosing the Right Mount

When selecting a mount, it’s important to consider the type of rifle and scope you have. There are different types of mounts available, including one-piece and two-piece mounts, and each is designed to work with specific rifles and scopes.

The mount should also be made of high-quality material such as steel or aluminum, and it should fit securely onto the rifle’s receiver. A Picatinny mount is a popular option that provides a secure and stable base for the scope.

Proper Scope Positioning

Once you have selected the right mount, it’s time to position the scope correctly. The scope should be mounted as low as possible on the rifle’s receiver to ensure proper eye alignment and reduce parallax error.

The height of the scope rings should also be considered. If the rings are too high, it can cause the shooter to lift their head too high, resulting in inaccurate shots.

On the other hand, if the rings are too low, it can cause the shooter to scrunch their head down, leading to discomfort and poor accuracy.

To ensure the scope is level, use a scope leveling tool or a plumb line to align the crosshairs with the rifle’s bore axis. This will ensure the scope is mounted straight and will help with sighting in the rifle.

Using a torque wrench to tighten the scope rings to the manufacturer’s specifications is also important to prevent damage to the scope or rifle.

By choosing the right mount, positioning the scope correctly, and securing it in place with the right tools, you can ensure accurate aim and shot placement when sighting in your rifle scope at the shooting range.

Setting Up the Shooting Range

Choosing the Right Environment

Before sighting in a rifle scope, it is important to choose the right environment. The shooting range should be a safe and controlled area where people can shoot without any risk to themselves or others.

It should also be a place where the shooter can focus on their target without any distractions.

When choosing a shooting range, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • Safety: The range should have clear safety rules and regulations that are enforced by the staff. The range should also have proper safety equipment, such as ear and eye protection.
  • Distance: The range should have a variety of distances available for shooting, so the shooter can practice at different ranges.
  • Terrain: The terrain should be flat and free of any obstacles that could interfere with shooting.
  • Weather: The range should be able to accommodate different weather conditions, such as rain or wind.

Setting Up Targets

Once the shooting range has been chosen, the next step is to set up the targets. The target should be set up at the appropriate distance for the shooter’s skill level.

Beginners should start at a shorter distance, such as 25 yards, and gradually move back as they become more experienced.

When setting up targets, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • Type of target: The shooter should choose a target that is appropriate for their skill level. Beginners may want to start with a simple bullseye target, while more experienced shooters may want to use targets with multiple bullseyes or silhouettes.
  • Size of target: The size of the target should be appropriate for the distance the shooter is shooting from. A larger target may be needed for longer distances.
  • Placement of target: The target should be placed in a safe location where the shooter can easily see it. It should also be placed at a height that is comfortable for the shooter to shoot from.
  • Shooting bench and rest: The shooter should use a shooting bench and rest to help stabilize the rifle and improve accuracy.

By choosing the right environment and setting up the targets correctly, the shooter can ensure a safe and productive shooting experience.

Sighting In Your Rifle Scope

When it comes to shooting a rifle with accuracy, sighting your rifle scope is crucial. Sighting in a rifle scope is the process of aligning the crosshairs of the scope with the point of impact of the bullet. Here are the steps to follow to sight in your rifle scope at the shooting range.

Understanding Bore Sighting

Before you begin sighting in your rifle scope at the range, it’s important to bore sight your rifle. Bore sighting is the process of aligning the barrel of the rifle with the scope. This process can be done using a laser boresight or by removing the bolt and looking down the barrel at a target 25 yards away. Once the barrel is aligned with the target, adjust the crosshairs of the scope to match the target.

Zeroing Your Scope

Once you have completed the bore sighting process, it’s time to zero your scope. Zeroing your scope means adjusting the scope so that the point of impact is in the center of the crosshairs.

To zero your scope, start by shooting a group of three shots at a target 25 yards away. Adjust the scope so that the center of the crosshairs is on the center of the group. Then shoot another group of three shots to confirm that the scope is zeroed.

Adjusting for Windage and Elevation

After you have zeroed your scope, it’s time to adjust for windage and elevation. Windage refers to the horizontal adjustment of the scope, while elevation refers to the vertical adjustment of the scope. To adjust the scope, use the windage and elevation adjustment knobs located on the scope.

Each click of the knob will move the point of impact by a certain amount. Consult your scope’s manual to determine how many clicks are needed to adjust the scope for a specific distance.

In conclusion, sighting in your rifle scope is an important step in achieving accuracy with your rifle. By following these steps, you can adjust the scope to match the point of impact of the bullet. Remember to bore sight your rifle, zero your scope, and adjust for windage and elevation.

With practice, you can become proficient at sighting in your rifle scope at the shooting range.

Understanding Scope Adjustments

When sighting in a rifle scope, it’s important to understand how scope adjustments work. This section will cover two important concepts: MOA and milliradians, and adjusting parallax.

Understanding MOA and Milliradians

MOA (minute of angle) and milliradians are two units of measurement used to adjust a rifle scope. MOA is a unit of angular measurement, where one MOA is equal to 1/60th of a degree.

This means that at 100 yards, one MOA is equal to 1.047 inches. Milliradians, on the other hand, are a unit of measurement based on the metric system. One milliradian is equal to 1/1000th of a radian, which means that at 100 yards, one milliradian is equal to 3.6 inches.

When adjusting a rifle scope, the adjustments are typically made in either MOA or milliradians. The adjustment knobs on the scope are used to move the reticle up, down, left, or right, in increments of either MOA or milliradians. It’s important to understand which unit of measurement your scope uses and to make adjustments accordingly.

Adjusting Parallax

Parallax is an optical illusion that occurs when the reticle appears to move about the target. This can cause accuracy issues when shooting at longer distances.

To adjust for parallax, most rifle scopes have a parallax adjustment knob located on the side of the scope. This knob is used to adjust the focus of the reticle, which will eliminate the parallax error.

When adjusting for parallax, it’s important to know the distance to the target. Most scopes have markings on the parallax adjustment knob indicating the distance in yards or meters. Once the distance is set, the shooter can adjust the parallax knob until the reticle appears to be in focus and does not move about the target.

Overall, understanding scope adjustments is an essential part of sighting in a rifle scope. By understanding MOA and milliradians, and how to adjust for parallax, shooters can ensure that their shots are accurate and on target.

Practicing at the Range

Once a beginner has chosen and sighted in their rifle scope, the next step is to practice at the range. Practicing at the range is crucial to improving accuracy and developing long-range shooting techniques.

Improving Accuracy

To improve accuracy, shooters should focus on their shooting position and technique. The shooter should stand comfortably with their feet shoulder-width apart and their weight evenly distributed. The rifle should be shouldered firmly, with the shooter’s cheek resting on the stock. The shooter should also ensure that their grip on the rifle is consistent and firm.

Another important factor in improving accuracy is the use of three-shot groups. Shooters should fire three shots at a target, and then analyze the grouping of the shots. This will help the shooter identify any issues with their technique or equipment and make adjustments accordingly.

Long-Range Shooting Techniques

For long-range shooting, shooters should focus on their breathing and trigger control. The shooter should take a deep breath, exhale halfway, and hold their breath before taking the shot. This will help to steady the rifle and improve accuracy.

Trigger control is also important for long-range shooting. The shooter should squeeze the trigger slowly and steadily, without jerking or flinching. This will help to ensure a smooth, consistent shot.

Overall, practicing at the range is essential for beginners to develop their shooting skills and improve accuracy. By focusing on shooting position, three-shot groups, breathing, and trigger control, beginners can develop the skills they need for long-range shooting.

Safety and Maintenance Tips

When it comes to sighting in a rifle scope, safety should be a top priority. Here are some safety and maintenance tips to keep in mind:

Handling Recoil

Recoil can be a real concern when sighting in a rifle scope. The shooter should always keep the rifle firmly against their shoulder and maintain a solid stance.

The shooter should also be aware of the direction of the recoil and ensure that there are no people or objects in the way. Proper handling of recoil can help prevent injuries and build confidence in the shooter.

Cleaning Your Scope

Keeping your scope clean is an important part of maintenance. Dirt, dust, and debris can accumulate on the lens and affect the accuracy of the scope. To clean the scope, use a soft cloth or lens-cleaning solution. Do not use abrasive materials or harsh chemicals, as this can damage the lens and affect the scope’s accuracy. Regular cleaning can help extend the life of your scope and ensure that it is functioning properly.

Overall, following these safety and maintenance tips can help ensure a successful and safe sighting experience. By taking the time to properly handle recoil and clean your scope, you can build confidence in your shooting abilities and enjoy the sport of shooting for years to come.

Choosing the Right Scope for You

When it comes to choosing the right scope for you, there are a few things to consider. First, you need to determine what type of shooting you will be doing.

If you are a hunter, you will want to choose a hunting scope that is specifically designed for use with hunting rifles. These scopes are typically lightweight and offer a wide field of view, making them ideal for tracking moving targets.

If you are looking for a scope for tactical shooting, you will want to choose a tactical scope. These scopes are designed to be used in a variety of different situations, and they typically offer a higher level of magnification than hunting scopes. This makes them ideal for long-range shooting and precision shooting.

Another important factor to consider when choosing a scope is light transmission. The amount of light that is transmitted through the scope will determine how bright and clear the image appears. Look for a scope with a high level of light transmission if you plan on shooting in low-light conditions.

Ultimately, the right scope for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Take the time to research different options and try out different scopes to find the one that works best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to sight in a rifle scope without shooting?

The best way to sight in a rifle scope without shooting is to use a bore sighter. A bore sighter is a tool that helps align the rifle’s bore with the scope’s reticle. This tool can save you time and ammunition when sighting in a rifle scope.

How can I use a laser bore sighter to sight in my scope?

To use a laser bore sighter, first, ensure that your rifle is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction. Then, insert the bore sighter into the chamber and close the action. Turn on the laser and adjust the scope’s reticle until it aligns with the laser. Once the reticle and laser are aligned, remove the bore sighter and take a test shot at the range.

At what distance should I sight in my rifle scope?

The distance at which you should sight in your rifle scope depends on the intended use of the rifle. For most hunting rifles, sighting in at 100 yards is sufficient. However, if you plan on shooting at longer distances, you may want to sight in at a greater distance.

What magnification should I use to zero my scope?

When zeroing a scope, it is best to use the magnification that you plan on using most often. However, it is important to note that higher magnification can make it more difficult to maintain proper eye relief and can increase the effects of parallax.

Can I zero my scope at 25 yards?

Yes, it is possible to zero a scope at 25 yards. However, it is important to note that the point of impact at 25 yards may not be the same as the point of impact at longer distances. It is recommended to confirm zero at the intended distance.

What are some techniques to improve accuracy when firing a rifle?

To improve accuracy when firing a rifle, it is important to have proper form and technique. This includes proper breathing, trigger control, and follow-through. Additionally, using a stable shooting position and a consistent grip can also improve accuracy.

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