Skills Card: Sighting in a Rifle

No. 1 on our list of 25 things every hunter should know. Download it below, then print it out, take it home or even hunting.

Countless rounds are expended every year in the weeks and days before deer season as hunters across the country try to sight in a new rifle or new rifle/scope combination. There are many schools of thought about sighting-in, but no matter whether you begin at 25 yards or 100, there is only one way to adjust open sights or scope crosshairs correctly.

Open Sights:
Always move the rear sight in the direction you want the round to move on target. If you want to move the point of impact right, move the rear sight right; if you want the point of impact to move left, move the rear sight left. Most hunting rifles do not have adjustable front sights. If yours does, know that it is moved in the direction opposite the desired change of impact.

Modern riflescopes have internal adjustment systems wherein windage and elevation knobs move point of impact left/right or up/down. They may click or move silently, and they should be marked to explain that each graduation represents a change in reticle position that moves the bulletstrike. This is expressed in minute of angle (MOA), as in 1/8, 1/4 or 1/2 MOA per click.

If sighting-in at 100 yards with a 1/4-MOA scope, shoot a three-round group at the bullseye, then measure how far away from point of aim it prints on target. If it’s 3 inches right and 2 inches high, turn the windage knob 12 clicks in the direction marked “L,” or the opposite of “R,” if so marked; then turn the windage knob eight clicks in the direction marked “D, or the opposite of “U.” You should be close. Fire another three-round group and fine-tune as necessary.

Quick Tip: For faster results start at 25 yards. Despite the best bore-sighting, often point of impact will fall well outside the marked target. At 100 yards sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint your point of impact.

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