Painless Sighting In

Painless Sighting In Sheriff Jim Wilson

A couple of years ago, I joined a group of hunters just after they had arrived at their hunting camp. When I got there, they were all down at the range sighting in their rifles. They had just mounted scopes on these rifles and were trying to sight them in at 200 yards. Bullets were going everywhere, nobody knew exactly where, and everyone was getting worn out hiking that 200 yards to see if they were even on the paper. A lot of ammo was wasted that afternoon and, frankly, I’m not sure that they ever got some of those rifles zeroed. Their successful shots at game were few and far between.

It is a much easier task to sight in the average hunting rifle at 25 yards. It takes way less time, ammunition, and frustration. Simply sight the rifle to hit dead-on at 25 yards. Depending upon your caliber, bullet weight, and velocity, you will be 1-3 inches high at 100 yards and about back to zero at 200 yards.

For example, the 180 gr load in a .30-06 (@2700fps), zeroed at 25 yards, will be about 2 ¼ inches high at 100 and ¾ inches high at 200. At 300 yards it will only be @ 8 inches low. In other words, at all practical hunting ranges, the shooter can just hold dead on his target (the deer’s shoulder) and he will deliver a killing hit.

But, for goodness sakes, don’t just sight in at 25 yards and call it good. You’ve got to shoot the rifle at 100, and farther, to make the minute adjustments for windage and elevation in your particular rifle with your particular load.

One can generally get sighted dead-on at 25 yards with 10 rounds, or less. Use the other 10 rounds in the box to check yourself out at 100 to 200 yards and you are good to go. Don’t be afraid to make minor adjustments that will allow you to meet your specific hunting needs, but make them judiciously. And you can be happy that you’ve got your hunting rifle ready for the season by only shooting a box, or less, of ammo. It’s simple, easy, and almost painless.

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24 Responses to Painless Sighting In

  1. Pingback: Daily Firearms News | Gunmart Blog

  2. gold account says:

    Pisgah nailed it…zero at 25 yards with most modern centerfire rifles, of small to medium bore, and with a muzzle velocity of 2700fps, or more, and you’ll be 2 to 3″ high at 100 yards. Finish by dialing in at 100 or 200, or whatever range you prefer, but it’s best to keep your groups around 3″ high at 100.

  3. Hey there! I’ve been reading your website for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the great work!

  4. Henry Bowman says:

    I’m making this comment here only because there’s no other place on this blog to make it.

    Sheriff Jim, can you please fix your email address on your “contact” page? It bounces with “550 failed: User does not exist.”

  5. Piracetam says:

    There is no ‘sure fire’ way of telling where your Point of Impact will be at 100 yards from “dead on at 25 yards” because of your scope height,barrel angle compared to the Line of Sight and other variables (Ballistic Coexistent,actual velocity,etc). Most rifles produce an arched ballistic profile purposely and they have two point of intersect with Line of Sight ,once on the climb and once where your ZERO is at. The 243 is a relatively flat shooting cartridge,even with a 100 grain bullet,so the real thing to do is to establish your 100 yard Point of Impact and then possibly establish your Max Point Blank Range-which is normally farther than 200 yards in a high powered centerfire like the 243. I personally suggest having your rifle ZERO at 200 yards,again, the bullet/cartridge is fairly flat on the arc still, and you wouldn’t have to adjust for short shots.This works well on hunting rifles,but if this were a target rifle for 100 yards then that would be your ZERO point. I have some links for basic ballistics,243 ballistic chart and MPBR information that should be useful. The charts are just approximations, you would need a chronograph to validate the data for your specific rifle and load-or just send a few down range to see what happens.

    • LexingtonNC says:

      I think the specific frame of reference was for big game hunting purposes. If you were shooting at the middle of the shoulder and the trajectory took the bullet a couple of inches high, then likely you have actually improved the chances of a clean kill. If the goal is to put meat on the table, I think Jim is about right.

  6. Jerry Breithaupt says:

    Having some times seen folks at our range trying to sight in rifles, it’s no wonder that we have such a proliferation of deer and big game. It’s not rocket science..

  7. Johm Odum says:

    I know I am preaching to the preacher but it is also very easy to bore sight your rifle to your 25 yard target prior to firing the first shot. I have also found that by using the smallest dot possible as a target at 25 yards eliminated a lot of extra adjustment at 100 yards. Thanks for your great articles and gun pictures.

  8. Travis says:

    I always aim for right behind the shoulder, heart shot. Never at the shoulder itself, I like the roasts too much.

  9. Reed LeCheminant says:

    The best way sight in a scoped rifle involves a buddy. Shoot from a solid rest at 25 yards and return the rifle to the bulls eye after you’ve hot. Then have your buddy turn the scope dials until the crosshairs line up on the bullet hole while you look through the scope(taking care not to move the rifle). You can shoot again to test or just move to a 100 yard target. Learned this from Tom Gresham on Gun Talk radio.

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