You know how infuriating it is when your shots keep missing. You line up your rifle with the target, squeeze the trigger, and it goes wide. Knowing how to use a rifle scope is an important skill to have for hunting and target shooting.
It can also be tricky to master.
Using iron sights is great at shorter ranges, but at longer ranges, you need to know exactly how to use a scope effectively. In this article, we’re going to talk you through the key techniques that you need to know.
Ready to start shooting more accurately, and hitting long-range targets with ease? Then read on!
How a Scope Attaches to the Rifle
If this is the first time you’ve bought a scope, you may be unsure of how to attach it.
Most modern rifles will have a rail system, which makes attaching scopes exceptionally easy. To attach a scope to a Picatinny rail system, you first need a mount. These are either attached to the rail system with screws or a lever and crossbar.
If you’re looking for a hardwearing scope, you’ll want to use one with screw attachments. These cannot be removed without tools, making them a little more durable.
If you’d prefer a simpler option, you can use a ring system to attach the scope. These can be attached to a wide range of rifles: if you’re unsure of which rings to use, you can use this calculator to decide.
Whether you use a mount or rings, attaching the scope is easy, with only a standard toolkit required. If you’re not confident of how to attach the scope, you can have your gunsmith do it for you.
How to Sight a Rifle
When you first attach the scope to the rifle, you need to sight it in. There are a number of different techniques employed in sighting a scope for distance and wind, and we’re going to talk you through them.
Get the Scope in Focus
This is the first and most important step. Much like binoculars, scopes need to be adjusted for your particular vision requirements.
Point the scope at a distant object, look away for a few seconds, then look back through the scope. If it’s adjusted correctly, the reticle should be in focus instantly.
This is important because you’ll need to be able to line up shots quickly. If it’s not in focus, use the diopter adjuster at the end of the scope. Keep tweaking it until it’s in focus.
Boresighting the Scope
To boresight the rifle, you need to line up the bore of the rifle with a target. When it’s lined up, adjust the scope’s reticle to line up.
This step also lets you get acquainted with the scope adjustment knobs. The knob on the side of the scope will pitch the reticle left and right, while the one on top will adjust elevation.
Test the Scope
Now that you’ve focused the scope and got it boresighted, it’s time to test its accuracy. Set up a paper target at a fairly close range, and take some shots.
Aim for the center of the target. When you know where the bullets are hitting, adjust the scope to compensate. For example, if they’re hitting to the left of the reticle, use the knob on the side of the scope to move the reticle.
When you’re happy with your first target, try shooting one at a longer distance. Adjust the scope as necessary.
How to Use a Rifle Scope: Ensuring Accuracy
Whether you’re out hunting or on the range, there are certain steps you can take to improve accuracy. These tips will show you how to use a scope for long-range shooting.
The first and most important step is to have the scope on a low magnification until you see a target. If you’re too zoomed in, and see a target at close range, you might not have time to zero on it before it’s startled. If you’ve got the scope on a low magnification, this won’t be an issue.
A target at a longer range will be unlikely to startle, so you will have time to adjust the scope accordingly.
Don’t tilt your head when you shoot. It’s tempting to try to see through scopes, but you shouldn’t be doing this. Keep your head straight and bring the scope to your eye, while keeping the other eye open and focused on the target.
This takes time to master, but once you’ve got it, you won’t forget.
The final tip is to keep your shooting posture good. The elbow should be raised to shoulder level, which aligns the scope with your eye. The additional padding for the stock also improves accuracy and target acquisition.
How to Care for Your Scope
Now that you know how to use a scope, you need to know how to care for it. These are the most important things to remember:
- Cover the lenses when not in use, or in storage. This stops the lenses from getting scratched.
- Clean the lenses with a gentle lens brush. If you need to use a liquid, use specialist lens cleaning liquid. Normal cloths can scratch the lenses.
- Keep the scope out of direct sunlight. The objective lens can magnify sunlight and burn the scope.
Using a Scope Properly Can Make You More Accurate
Once you know how to use a rifle scope, you’ll find it will make hunting and target shooting much easier. It’s a skill that takes time to acquire, but like riding a bike, you’ll never forget it once you’ve learned.
The best way to become a more seasoned shooter, with a scope or without, is to practice. Go to a range when not hunting, and keep your skills sharp.
What did you think of our advice? Got any other tips that you would like to share with new shooters? Let us know in the comments!