How to Use a Rifle Scope

Learning How to Use a Rifle Scope

Rifle owners know exactly the critical importance of how to use a rifle scope. The rifle scope, also called the “glass,” is used in viewing distant targets and the surrounding objects in a magnified manner, making them appear closer.

Many scopes are designed to approximate a bullet’s point of impact. When used correctly, rifle scopes provide accuracy and safety when shooting in the field.

The rifle scope aims to provide shooters with precise information as to where the fired bullet is expected to land. After it is mounted to the rifle, the first thing to do is “zero” the scope, which means adjusting it to different alignments to get accurate information. Essential information about the caliber of the bullet, weight, and velocity will be considered in making precise calculations in adjusting the scope to achieve maximum accuracy.

Different environmental factors must be considered, such as elevation, shot angle, humidity, windage, and wind condition (whether head or tailwind presence) in compensating for the bullet’s trajectory. The distance to the ground and the ground temperature in comparison to the air temperature will be considered in calculating bullet lift or drop.

Once parallax has been considered in making precise adjustments, the range can be compensated. Finally, the reticle of the rifle scope is placed on the intended target at your zero distance. When done correctly, the rifle scope is ready to provide accurate guidance in achieving precise targeting.

Sighting in the scope optics

Most scopes are not adjusted out of the box. Additional adjustments will be required to make it ready for use. The changes will depend on the distance, wind, velocity, ballistic coefficient, and much more. Sighting in scope requires precision and patience on the part of the shooter. The scope needs bore-sighting at 100 yards before changing the adjustments at the range. 

Bore sighting is adjusting the power scope to where the bullet would hit the center of the crosshairs at a certain distance, assuming the round has a flat trajectory. There is no flat trajectory for a shot because of gravity. Once the scope has been bore sighted at 100 yards, take a trip to the shooting range that has at least 100 yards of distance. Most shooting ranges are only for a short distance, so going to the mountains could be an alternative. During the trip, bring a portable shooting bench rest. Measure the distance accurately instead of merely eyeballing it.

Set up first a paper target at a 25-yard distance, using one that has a bull’s eye. Before taking any shots, be comfortable with the rifle and the shooting bench. Avoid having muscle tensions or movements as they could affect your target shooting. Use a rifle stand or setup sandbags to rest the gun on the shooting bench. Use cat litter bags as an alternative when sandbags are not available.

While looking through the scope of the rifle, make adjustments to where the image is clear. Usually, the level just below the maximum magnification is the clearest. Chamber a round, and with the crosshairs are over the bull’s eye, close your eyes for a good 10 seconds, then open them. If the crosshairs moved from the target, it means that you have muscle tension. Find a comfortable shooting position, readjust the rifle stand or sandbags, and keep repeating the exercise until the crosshairs do not move anymore.

Fire a shot once everything is lined up. Gently pull the trigger instead of suddenly tugging it. Then measure the bullet hole in respect to the bull’s eye and write it down.

Adjusting A Rifle Scope For Dove Hunting

How to Use a Rifle Scope

There are steps to follow in using a rifle scope. Mounting and understanding your riflescope:

1. Purchasing the needed mounting equipment

Most rifle scopes are tapped or pre-drilled for a scope base or have grooved sections to use mounting attachments. Purchase the mounting hardware that will match the design of your scope. If it needs mounting rings, get one with the correct inside diameter. Ask the retailer that sold you the scope to help you in choosing the mounting hardware. If you cannot do the mounting yourself, you can ask a gunsmith to do it for you for a fee.

2. Aligning the reticle and adjusting the eye relief

The scope has a reticle, which is the image you see on the lens, indicating where the rifle is pointed. These are often cross hairs or modified cross hairs, although there could be different variations. While the mounting is still loose, start rotating the scope until the cross of the reticle becomes properly aligned like a plus sign. When finished, adjust the distance of the lens of the scope from your eye to make sure it won’t harm when there is recoil.

Professional shooters use a 300 Blackout scope that provides better eye relief than most variable scopes.

3. Familiarizing yourself with the parts of the scope

Get familiar with the various parts of the scope. Learn what each part of the scope is called and the function it performs. A rifle scope typically has a body, eyepiece, objective lens, shoulder, and elevation knob, windage knob, and parallax knob.

4. Determining if the scope has a single or variable power lens

Find out if your scope has a single or variable power lens. Most scopes for rifles are single powered. If not sure, look for a power selector ring between the shoulder of the scope and the objective lens.

5. Assessing the magnification levels your scope provides

Determine the strength of your scope by checking the model number. Model numbers have two distinct elements: the level of magnification and the diameter of the objective lens. A “4 x 30” scope means that the image will appear four times larger through the scope than it would appear to the naked eye. The “30” indicates the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters.

Aiming and Making Adjustments:

1. Determining the proper eye relief distance from the scope

The distance of the eyepiece away from your eye is eye relief. The higher the magnification power, the closer you need to hold your eye to the eyepiece to capture a good sight picture. Be extra careful because putting your eye very close to the scope may result in it hitting you when there is recoil in the firing.

2. Establishing a good sight picture

Proper sight picture with a scope requires centering the reticle in the field of view and positioning it over your target. Your view should be perfectly centered at the end of the scope. If you see more black on one side than the other, adjust your weapon to be centered.

3. Making adjustment based on the impact of the rounds

Fire three to five shots and assess your grouping. Firing consistently with each round should impact the target in the same area. If the area is to the left of your target, turn the windage knob, adjusting to the right. If you are hitting the target too low, then adjust your elevation knobs higher.

4. Adjusting the parallax if needed

Parallax is the movement of the target as it relates to the reticle in your field of vision when you move your eye away from the center of the eyepiece. Under most circumstances, the parallax needs to be adjusted.

5. Using these tools to zero the rifle

Once you have become familiar with your scope, you will be able to zero it. To zero a gun requires a set distance, and setting up your scope to the reticle will fall exactly where the rounds hit your intended target. You can make your task a lot easier by using some tools such as a firing table or bipod. An experienced shooter will have an easy time using and adjusting his rifle scope as fast as he could to hit a moving target.

How to Use a Rifle Scope

A rifle is a firearm with a long barrel that is grooved or rifled to give bullets a spinning motion for greater accuracy at a long-range. It is different from a gun, which is a weapon with a metal tube where you fire the bullets at high velocity to a flat ballistic arc.

Rifles are breech-loaded weapons that are fired from the shoulder. The barrels of guns have grooves that cut into their walls. Rifles were initially designed as single-shot firearms but have since evolved into the modern assault rifles that can fire several rounds.

The use of rifles started in the mid 15th century, designed like muskets but with elongated bullets instead of the ball-shaped bullets. They were slow-loading and challenging to use, and producing smoke from the black powder used in shells often obstructs the user’s sight. Because of this, rifles were used primarily by sharpshooters and in hunting.

For many men, safely and adequately, firing a rifle is a skill they picked up early in life. It is common for male kids to receive a .22 caliber rifle for their 12th birthdays. Many of these kids continue using a gun into their adulthood, usually for target practice or hunting.

The Four Cardinal Safety Rules of Firing a Rifle

Following the rules strictly will keep you and other people safe, letting you have a good time firing off a few rounds.

  1. Always consider every firearm as if it were loaded – Even if you know that the gun is not loaded, still handle it as if it were loaded.
  2. Always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction – The safest direction to point a gun is still downrange as long as there are no people downrange. When indicated in a safe direction, a negligent discharge will not cause damage to property or cause physical injury.
  3. Always keep your trigger finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you have made a conscious decision to shoot.
  4. Always be sure of your target, backstop, and beyond – Always be aware of what is in your line of fire. Make sure that people and property stay out of the path of the guns firing downrange. This is especially important when firing high powered rifles as their bullets travel farther than shots fired from a handgun.

Rifle Scopes

Most rifle enthusiasts today employ some optical sighting devices on their guns. There is an excellent reason for this. Aiming with a scope does away with one-third of the elaborate lining up using the iron sights. Using metallic sights, you must line up the rear sight with the front sight and your target. With a scope, you simply have to line up your crosshairs with your target. It is a lot easier learning to shoot with a scope than using the iron sights. Since most rifle scopes magnify, your target seems to be closer and more comfortable to see, enabling you to place a more precise shot on your target.

People with less than perfect vision can adjust the crosshair focus at the eyepiece for their particular eyes for a bright and crisp sight picture. Older eyes have a difficult time switching focus from the rear to the front sight to the target without using a scope, and it becomes very frustrating. Scopes eliminate this frustration.

There are various types of scopes that you may mount on your rifle. Many shooting enthusiasts prefer to use the 1-6 scope, an excellent all-around scope that may be used for tactical situations, gun competitions, or field hunting. It is quite easy to choose the best 1-6x scope from the various brands available on the market. You can easily find the best rifle scope under $1,000 and mount it in your favorite rifle for target practice or hunting.

How to Use a Scope for Long Range Shooting

If shooting a long-range, it is vital to make sure that your zero is perfect. Small errors at 100 yards become big ones at 1,000 yards. If your zero is off by ½-inch at the 100-yard mark, you’re talking five full inches down-range.

Mounting the scope

We are not going through the process of mounting the scope, but it is essential to mention that your scope must be level with your rifle. The vertical crosshair must align with the firearm’s vertical centerline.

At close range, a crosshair that is slightly not vertical does not matter, but at a more extended range, a little misalignment will result in a lateral miss.

Zeroing your Scope

If doing mostly less than a couple hundred yards shooting, then quick methods like the “one-shot zero” and similar techniques are sound. However, tiny errors at 100 yards become big ones at 1,000 yards, making it essential to use more methodical processes. Do not rely on single-shot indicators to determine your zero status. Use three-shot groups at each step along the way, except for the initial shot at 25 yards. The use of the three-shot groups lets you find an average impact point due to the mechanical variability in your rifle, scope, and ammunition combination. It will help out also in factoring out shooter error. If three shots land in the same area, you can be confident that both you and your equipment agree.

Adjusting rifle scope for long range-shooting

Many people use the trial and error method when adjusting the rifle scope for long-range shooting. It is a common sight in the shooting range for people to fire about 25 shots and still chase the perfect settings.

You don’t have to resort to trial and error anymore because scope turrets have all the information to make an accurate adjustment on the first try. Most scopes have turret markings such as “1 Click = ¼-inch” or “1/4 MOA.”

When shooting at 100 yards, each click moves the bullet impact ¼-inch in the direction indicated. Scope measurements like minutes of angle or MOA and mils or milliradians are proportional. If you are shooting at half the distance, each click moves the point of the impact has as much.

When adjusting, you can quickly determine the number of clicks required to get your rifle on target by looking at how many inches “off” you are.

Precise Shooting With Your Rifle Scope

When shooting targets at long distances, there are some techniques to ensure accuracy. Buying a quality scope will help you in low-light shooting situations. It will also have precise windage and elevation adjustments.

It is also essential to buy quality scope rings and mounts. Lapping is a process of smoothing down the high spots of the bottom of the rings to make them align closely with each other. Misaligned rings place bending forces on the tube of your scope. A lapping kit is not expensive, costing about $35 only.

The use of red dot sights offers faster target acquisition and a better overall shooting experience than iron sights. Unfortunately, red dot sights are not cheap, coming at upwards of $400, with the high-end ones available for more than $1,000, although you can still find the best budget red dot sights only if you will be patient looking around.

Using the best spotting scopes tripod, that will give you a stable base to attach your rifle scope. Spotting scope allows you to take clear and focused images of your target at maximum magnification power.

Looking Through a Scope

Some shooters get frustrated by black clouds when trying to look through the rifle scope. There are ways of preventing that. Every scope has a quality called eye relief or eye relief distance. It is the distance from behind the lens eye piece to your eye where the scope must be placed to let you see through the scope effectively. Place your cheek against the stock; move your head in the forward and backward positions along with the stock until you get the best view of the scope. The best way is when the sight picture in the lens of the eyepiece fills up the entire glass. It is essential to position the rifle scope itself to attain correct eye relief using the head position you are most comfortable with. You can do that by moving the scope mount or the scope within the mount forward or back. This can be done if the mounting system allows it. If it is not possible to choose a new scope position, find the right spot to allow a full view through the scope.

Scope Adjustment Knobs

A scope has several adjustment knobs. On the main body tube of the scope, shooters will see two knobs for adjustments, which are usually covered on hunting scopes, and shooters will have to unscrew the cap to adjust the knobs. Most tactical and long-range hunting scopes have adjustment knobs that are exposed to the user, called target turrets, which can be used for quick adjustments in the range or field.

With the scope mounted on the rifle, the top knob is used to change elevation, either high or low. There is always a directional indicator to tell the shooter the direction that will increase height.

The knob on the right side is an adjustment for windage, which can be adjusted far right or left where the projectile will strike. The elevation and windage knobs adjust the reticle so the shooters can match the aiming point of the firearm with the cross hairs.

Most of the elevation and windage knobs have click adjustments when turning the dial. One-click equals a one-quarter minute in angle adjustment and is written as ¼ MOA.

There are other adjustments on the scope, including the power ring located at the front of the ocular bell and serves as the external knob for the magnification lens inside the scope. There is also the parallax adjustment, which allows the shooter to get the target and the reticle on the same focal plane.

Adjusting To Your New Scope

Every shooter has been there, standing in the range with a new rifle and a new scope, thinking how many rounds he is going to burn through before getting his scope ready for the next hunt. When you sight a new scope, you can use only one round instead of many, and use the rest of the bullets having some fun or improving your shot. The common belief is that you have to move the rifle barrel to where the reticle is aimed. Usually, you aim the reticle at your target’s bullseye and take a shot. Then you measure how far off your shot was, estimate the number of inches up or down, and left or right, you need to adjust the knobs. Then fire another shot to check how far you still are, and repeat. You don’t have to go through this process several times but instead move the reticle to where your rifle’s barrel is already aimed, saving you effort, time, and frustration. You can do this by lining up both the rifle’s barrel and the reticle as best as possible, aiming at the bullseye of your target. After firing, you have a bullet hole somewhere on the target. Aim the reticle back in the middle of the bullseye, seeing the bullet hole you just made on the target. With the reticle still locked on the bullseye, use the turrets on your scope to adjust your reticle to move the reticle from the middle of the bullseye to where the bullet hole is. Once you have done this, you have successfully fixed your scope to align with the barrel of your rifle, a much easier process.


A rifle scope is a vital addition to your rifle. It makes hitting your target a lot more accurate than when using the iron sights of your rifle only. There are different types of rifle scopes, which are available at various price points. There is no need to buy the most expensive one. Just buy the scope whose specifications meet your needs. Regardless of the price of your rifle scope, the most important thing is learning how to use a rifle scope and getting familiar with its adjustments so you can hit your target more accurately.