*The basics of zeroing in a scope*
By Grunt

OK, so you have a rifle that you want to put a scope on. The next question is ďhow do I go about zeroing my scope with a minimal expenditure of ammunition?Ē The first thing you might want to do is to make sure that the bullet is going to be on the paper. If itís not, you will have no idea what adjustment has to be made to the sights. There are 3 ways you can do this. The first way is to use a bore sight. This is basically an optical device that is mounted onto an arbor that fits into the muzzle of your rifle. It is held in front of the scope on this arbor and has a grid pattern inside it. When viewed though your scope, you can get a good view of where you have to move your sights to get it centered. Doing this, you should have the rounds somewhere on the paper at 100 yards.

The next method is again another method of bore sighting but without using the bore sight. Here you want to mount the rifle in a mount or on sandbags to keep the rifle from moving while you make your adjustments. Remove the bolt and look through the bore until you see the target downrange centered in your bore. Now with your rifle mounted so it won't move, adjust your crosshairs until they are lined up on the center of the target. Now you should be able to see the target in the center of the bore and the crosshairs are also lined up on the target as well. Keep in mind though that this will work best only with bolt action rifles or other designs where you can see straight through the barrel. Weapons such as an M-14, Garand, Mini-14 or any other type of weapon with a similar receiver, isnít going to work well at all with this method.

Both of these methods will get you on the paper at 100 yards. Now, if you donít have access to a bore sight and canít sight through the barrel from the receiver end to the target, you are going to have to go with a different method that involves actual shooting but at a reduced range of 25 yards. While you are going to wind up firing ammunition that you donít have to with the other methods, in some cases, this may be your only alternative. Once you have your rounds in the center of the target at this closer range, your sights should be very close to a 200 meter zero (though I would NOT rely on that without actually firing it at 200 meters) and be on the paper at 100 yards. Now you can make finer corrections from there.

So now you have your rifle set up and bore sighted and itís time to move out to the range. What else do you take besides your weapon and ammunition? If you have access to a bench, you might want to bring along a few small sandbags. There are gadgets out there like these varmint rests but itís been my experience that they donítí work very well at all. Most of the times I have seen group size grow using one of these things. You are best off with the sandbags that will more or less form around the weapon giving you a better base to shoot off of. If you are going to shoot prone, you may also think of bringing along a shooting mat or even your ISO mat from your bug out bag. Yeah, you can shoot without one, but it makes life a little more comfortable. Another thing to consider bringing is a spotting scope. You can get by without one and maybe your scope has enough magnification to see the holes. A spotting scope does allow better observation of the target and cuts down on having to walk back and forth to check the target and wasting shooting time.

Now you should have your weapon set up on your sandbags and is ready to fire. Making sure you are giving it your best effort for a well placed shot, fire at least 3 rounds before attempting any change in your sights. The reason for this is that you may have screwed up the first shot on target and never even noticed it. You would fire the next round to make sure you didnít flinch of otherwise do anything to effect your first shot and then you would fire your final verifying shot. OK, so now you have fired your first 3 round group and the sights are off target. Some targets use a grid to help the shooter make corrections from the firing line when viewed through your spotting scope. Other targets may need you to go downrange with a ruler or tape measure and measure how far you are going to have to move you sights. Now where do you measure the group from? The easiest thing to do is to draw a line to each hole and figure the center of that triangle to be the center of your group. Now make your dope change and again, fire 3 rounds. If all went well, your next group should be right in the middle of he target. If itís not, you are going to have to try it again until you manage to get the group moved into the center of the target. Once it is centered you are now sighted in for that range.

Thatís all there is to it. Now if you want to, you can go out to farther ranges if you feel the need. There are computer programs that tell you how much your bullet should drop at a given range, but what a computer says and what reality does generally isnít always the same. You are still going to have to fire rounds at that new range you want to re-zero your rifle for. Good luck and good shooting.


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