Get Dialed In

By Jace Bauserman

Sighting In Rifle At a Range

I remember the older gentleman telling me, “Just lean over the hood of the truck, get steady and shoot. It will be fine.”

It wasn’t fine. It was a train wreck. The lightweight 7mm Rem. Magnum was abusing my young shoulder, my shot placement was sporadic and my anxiety was through the roof. The crosshairs danced around the target, and because I couldn’t get steady, I hammered the trigger each time they floated close to the bullseye. Not good. When the session was over, I had zero confidence in my ability to run lead through the lungs of a bull elk, and didn’t want to shoot anymore.

Sighting in is an important step, and it should be a comfortable, joyful experience that boosts confidence and leaves you craving the smell of spent powder. Here are some tips to make the process headache-free.

Starting Out

Go to your local gun range or another locale that has shooting benches. I recommend bringing along a gun sled or a two-piece gun rest that will elevate the rifle and support the stock and barrel. The bench in combination with the sled or rest will let you get dead steady and zero your rifle properly.

Rifle Laying on a Table

Set a sizable piece of cardboard or plywood with a bright, distinguishable target in its center at 25 yards. I prefer a target with a bright bullseye and a one-inch grid pattern, which will help tremendously when making windage and elevation adjustments.

With your gun in the sled or rest, remove the bolt as well as the windage and elevation caps from your scope’s turrets. Adjust the rifle’s position so that when you look down the bore, the bullseye on the target is centered. Next, without moving the rifle, adjust the crosshairs so they are in the center of the bullseye. Now replace the bolt and fire a single shot.

If the design of your firearm prevents you from looking down the barrel from the breech, you can purchase a bore-sighting device or take your firearm to a gun shop to have it bore-sighted.

Making Adjustments

Next, looking through your scope, locate the placement of the first bullet hole in the target and use your turrets to move the crosshairs to the location of your first shot. For example, if your shot is 8 inches low and 6 inches right, your crosshairs will need to move up and to the left. How many clicks depends on your scope’s click adjustments. Most scopes have a 1/4-inch at 100-yards click adjustment. If this is the case with your scope, move the windage turret 24 clicks left and the elevation turret 32 clicks up. Always turn your turrets the way you want your bullet to move. It’s essential the rifle does not move during this process, and though I trust my clicks, I also like to look at my crosshairs through the scope to make sure they are hovering over my first shot.

Looking Down the Rifle

With your turrets moved and crosshairs set, fire another round. Some fine-tuning may be necessary, but your rifle should be very close to zeroed at this point.

Confirmation Confidence

Get a fresh target and place it at 100 yards, get steady, remember to breathe and squeeze. Most shooters, me included, prefer to impact 2 inches high at 100 yards. Again, adjust your elevation turret to make any adjustments to your elevation and be sure to adjust your windage turret if right/left adjustment is needed.

Once you’re feeling comfortable with the impact of each round, get a fresh target and fire a three-round group to confirm you’re zeroed in.

That’s it. Your rifle is sighted-in and you’re ready for the woods.

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