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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26 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.

  10. Robert Langham says:

    Very good advice from the Sheriff. The game deserve a sighted-in rifle and steady shooter. I just put a new out-of-the-box scope on a service rifle. FIRST, I had sat down and read directions a couple of times. I made sure the base and rings were tight. I ran the scope knobs back and forth for elevation and windage through their range 8 or 10 times each. (Do this with all the controls.) I installed a little plexiglass disc with a bevelled hole drilled through the middle on the rear objective to ensure I always look through the center of the glass. At the range I settled in on a Natural Point of Aim and dry-fired a few times, (to get myself calibrated), then boresighted it off sandbags at 25 yards on a single black paster on the blank back of a target. Then at 100 yards I tuned it up on a small bullseye target. Next I put up a big piece of cardboard (at 100), with vertical and horizontal cross of masking tape and shot the X…then up ten minutes of clicks, (minutes, not 1/4 MOA clicks), down ten minutes, left ten minutes, right ten, from the center to check and make sure it tracked. (You might be surprised at how badly even some expensive scopes track.) A few random shots, (up six, left four, et.) Through all of this I made sure I used proper bench technique: feet flat and on the ground, natural point of aim, butt on the seat. Paying attention to breathing and trigger technique. Eye relief checked. After a little more dry firing offhand, kneeling, braced on support, unsupported, sitting, left-handed, (deer always show up on the wrong side of the blind). Back home I’m going to CAREFULLY remove the scope knobs and put the zero mark on the turrents where I ended up. (100 yards will be at 0 elevation and 0 windage.) Check all the screws in the mount and rings. Then I’m good to go. Now you know everything I know. Happy Hunting!

  11. Daniel Varner says:

    If you have a lead sled or similar device to hold the rifle steady one can zero a scoped with 1 round and the second round for confirmation. With a new bolt action or even AR with the lower removed and bolt / bolt carrier group taken out of the upper. Look thru the barrel at the target get it centered. Holding the rifle steady adjust sights to center of bull. Recheck to ensure bull is still in center of barrel. Recheck scope and adjust as needed to get to the center of the bull. Reassembly rifle aim precisely at center of bull fire 1 round. Reposition rifle so that cross hairs are on center of bull then carefully without moving rifle adjust scope to where the cross hairs are centered on the bullet hole. Re aim at center of bull and fire confirmation shot. It helps a lot if you have a second person turn the knobs on the scope as you hold the rifle steady

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