How to setup your scope (Rifle Zeroing)

How to setup your scope (Rifle Zeroing)

By: Ryan Minehart

In this article, I will give you step by step instructions on how to zero a rifle as well as personal experiences on how I zeroed my Browning XBolt Medallion Maple 30-06. First thing you need to do is install the scope onto the rifle. To do this you should first mount the base and rings on the scope. One thing I have heard and believe is splurge on a more expensive and sturdy mount so you know that your scope will be secured for many years of use. If you feel like you don’t need an expensive, sturdy mount, you may encounter more sighting problems down the road. I say this because down the line the cheaper mount can come loose and mess up your zero you previously set. Once you have mounted the base and rings, it’s time to mount the scope onto the rifle. Once you have done this you should place a torpedo level on the top of the scope to make sure it level before tightening it down.

The next thing you should do Is position the eyepiece correctly. This position is different for everyone. What I mean by position the eyepiece correctly is when you have your cheek rested on the stock you should have a sharp clear view through the eyepiece. After you have aligned the scope to allow you the best view through your scope you need to level your cross-hair. This might seem obvious to do, but some people do not know this. When you look through the scope you want to make sure that the cross-hair are perpendicular to the ground. They should be set at a twelve to six o’clock and three to nine o’clock, and if they are not then you should rotate the cross hair to achieve that position. Once the scope is in the right position, eyepiece is in correct positon, and crosshairs are positioned correctly, it is time to tighten your mounting base securely. While doing this make sure that the cross hair remains in the correct position and gradually tighten the mounting rings.

Now here is when the fun begins. This is where we get to start shooting our rifles. When you get to the range you should use a bulls-eye target to zero your rifle. The reason that you should use this type of target is they typically have lots of measurements that will let you make accurate adjustments on the rifle. As a safety precaution make sure you bring and use eye protection and ear protection. Another helpful hint that I learned the hard way is make sure you bring a lot and in mean a lot of ammo. You will have to use a lot of ammo to zero your rifle.

Before you start shooting you should mount the gun on a rest. This way will eliminate user error from the equation as much as possible. To give yourself the most accurate zero, you should use a rest specifically for that purpose like the Caldwell Zero Max Shooting Rest or RangeMaxx Zero-in Rifle Rest. I personally own the Caldwell Zero Max Shooting Rest. The reason that I got this rest was not because of how it performed but out of convenience. It was cheap and easily attainable. Once you have done all of this then it is time to shoot. You should load your gun and take three to five shots with the rifle. The proper way to shoot is having the proper stock to cheek weld and maintain the same sight picture as you usually do. Once you are looking through the scope you should center the cross hair on the center of the target. At the end of you exhale, hold for a split second, then squeeze the trigger firmly without jerking it for the most accurate shot. After your first shot you should repeat this three to five times for the most accurate first run. When you have safely unloaded, and check it twice just to be safe then you can go retrieve your target and study your shots.

Once you have seen where you have shot go back to your rifle and make adjustments using the knobs, and recheck. Each scope will have a slightly different mechanism for making adjustments, but the principles are basically the same. Once you have made your adjustments you should repeat this process. Something that I have learned is to bring stickers to cover up the pre-shot hits to allow yourself to see the new hits on the target. Another way to not have to cover up the pre-shot hits is buy a target that have four or five different bullseyes. These targets are much smaller but are made for the purpose of multiple zeroing tests. Now once you have zeroed your rifle at one distance probably one hundred yards you should zero at multiple yards. Many marksmen like to do this because it allows them to know the adjustments they need to make. Some distances you should think of shooting at is twenty yards (eighteen point three meters) and seventy-five yards, but try not to move more than fifty yards (forty-five point seven meters) at a time. The reason for that is so you keep yourself making little adjustments instead of large adjustments. When you feel ambitious you can move back to two hundred to three-hundred-yard range, but then wind will become a big factor in your shot.

Another thing I have learned throughout my years of shooting and while doing research on this topic is to move the sight toward the misses. For example, if you missed high, then you should adjust the scope to go higher. That may seem self-explanatory but some people think if you miss right you should move your target to the left, but that doesn’t help with the zeroing of your riffle it just moves where you aim. Now that you have read this “how to” zero your rifle you can go out and take what you have learned and apply it to your rifle.

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