Zeroing A Rifle Scope




The difference between an amateur and a professional is dedicated study, practice and experience. A professional also has focus with a willing mental attitude to the task he or she performs. So start out now and adopt a professional attitude to the task of handling, using, firing and zeroing in your rifle scope. We use our optics to improve accuracy so we need to realize that we are dealing with a precision instrument. Our objective should be to strive for perfection (the clinical approach). To achieve the perfect setup we need to do the hard yards and spend the time to get the results that everyone who is behind the trigger wants… One Shot… One Clean Kill.


Safety should be your number one priority in all your activities when using a firearm. So check, recheck and check again. When you are zeroing in your scope you are going to need a safe place to shoot your firearm. If you live in the city then you may have a problem. Your best option would be to join a club. Being a member of a club will not only give you a place to shoot but you will also benefit from other club members who are usually more than willing to help out by providing you with their expertise and knowledge. If you are privileged to live in the country then all you need do is select a safe area where you can fire your rifle.


To zero in your rifle scope accurately you will need a system or set up that will help you to eliminate all movement of your rifle when you fire. Forget holding your rifle in your hands. No matter what preferred shooting position you adopt you will not be able to eliminate enough movement. What you will need is a properly constructed bench rest (yes it takes time and effort). So make yourself a good solid bench rest with sand bags to support your rifle. The good thing about using sand bags is they have a bit of give and you can mould them around your rifle so the rifle is totally supported front and rear. My approach to this task is to make a cradle to hold the rifle in position and clamp it to a bench. The rifle is then locked in the cradle and is not subject to movement. It is made of heavy duty plywood with carpet so as not to scratch the stock and has a couple of adjusting screws. Simple….and effective. With a bit of imagination I’m sure you can come up with your own design that will be equally as effective. Or you could buy a shooting rest. These are available through your local gun shop and can be purchased for under $300 Mmmm…Nice if you can afford it.


You will need to Pre Zero your rifle scope. You can use your new bench rest to do this. So with your rifle snugly secured into your rest, you can now proceed to bore sight your rifle by removing the bolt and looking through the bore. What you are trying to achieve is that when you look through the bore of your rifle which is centred on a target placed at 50 yards, your rifle scope’s cross hairs should also be center to the same position on the target. You can adjust the windage and elevation screws on your rifle scope to achieve this. If you cannot remove the bolt…. you can use a small mirror in the ejection port and tilt it so you can see through the bore. Trying to find a suitable mirror is a mission in itself. (I’ll bet you don’t have one in your drawer at home) You could purchase a bore sighting device (What!! another expense) alternatively go to your local gun store and get them to do the bore sighting for you.


Another method (if you can’t find that mirror). Using your rest put a target up at 25 yards and shoot at the centre. If your first shot missed then you will need to bring your target in a bit closer. Now being careful not to disturb your rifle, adjust your cross hairs so they align with the bullet’s strike hole. If you use windage adjustable rings, make your major adjustments with these then make fine adjustments with your rifle scope. Next fire a shot at the centre of the target. It should be spot on. If you have not hit the centre of the target then you need to start again as you may have moved the rifle at some point. When you are happy with the results you have achieved at 25 yards. Now it is……Time to go hunting? NO. The job is half done.



Now set up your target at 100 Yards and fire three rounds. Observe where your bullet strike holes are and find the centre of the three holes using a pen. Rule a line between the centre of the three strike holes. You now have a triangle. The centre of this triangle is where you set your scope reticle/cross hairs to. So adjust your rifle scope’s windage and elevation adjustment screws to set the reticle to match the centre of the strike holes. Now repeat the process. Take your time until you are perfectly happy and you have achieved the perfect set up……..Time to go hunting? NO. The job is still not done now it is time to practice, practice and practice.


Not all rifle scopes are created equal so we need to identify some weaknesses in design. Most budget variable power rifle scopes due to the mechanical design have a variable point of impact (don’t be fooled…. most budget scopes including the “Big Name Brands” are like this….not that they want you to know)

OK don’t fall off your trolley at this point. There is nothing wrong with working with what you can afford. You still can achieve SPINE TINGLING SURE KILL ACCURACY by using a slightly different approach when setting up the rifle scope on your rifle and when zeroing in the scope.

I set up the rifle scope so that when it is mounted on the rifle it is already zeroed as it sits on the rifle. It takes a bit of time and you will need to use shims for adjustment (I’m assuming you don’t have adjustable rings). A good source of shim material can be found in aluminium drink cans but you may find other suitable materials for the job.

You are aiming for minimal windage and height adjustment to finish the set up of mounting the scope. Now set your variable power rifle scope to mid point between its lowest and highest power settings. Now zero the scope as above. What you have done is taken out a considerable amount of the mechanical variation in the point of impact.

By setting up your scope like this it will mean that you will still be able to achieve one shot…one clean kill. Now all you need do is….AIM TO KILL because now you have achieved…..