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How To Zero A Rifle Scope In Seven Easy Steps

Mounting Comes First

Before you can zero your rifle scope on your gun you first have to mount it securely. For that you can check out our How To Mount A Precision Rifle Scope Guide. As with everything in life, there’s a few ways to zero a rifle scope. This short guide will show you how to zero a rifle scope by using paper targets and shooting rounds at a shooting range.

How To Zero A Rifle Scope

How To Zero A Rifle Scope

What do you need?

To zero your scope you will need just one item that you can either make yourself or buy at a gun store or online. You have to make a paper target with a dot on it. Put the dot into the center of your paper and draw a vertical line and a horizontal line with the dot in the middle. This will help you to verify that your elevation and windage is correctly adjusted. Either you do make a target like this yourself or you buy one at a gun store. Oh yes, and you also need a shooting range. Those unfortunately don’t come online though.

You want to pick a day with no or minimal winds in order to zero your rifle scope. It’s easiest and best to start to zero the scope at 25 yards.

  1. Place the target 25 yards away from your shooting position so you have a known distance between you and the target.
  2. Now it’s important that you get yourself in a steady shooting position. Your rifle has to be steady as any movement affects your effort to zero in your scope. You can either rest your rifle on an elevated shooting platform or lay down and rest it on a sandbag or rock. Just keep it stable.
  3. Now you aim at the target and fire your first round. If this is the first time you shoot with the rifle or the rifle and scope combination then you might want to fire three shots where you aim at the target. Check that these three rounds all are within a 1 inch box or so. This will allow you to establish a starting point where you get a feel for the rifle and the scope.
  4. Based on where your rounds hit compared to the target you now want to adjust the elevation and windage on your rifle scope. Try to go in small steps to avoid that you over-compensate. Usually your scope will have two turrets to perform these adjustments. One is on the top and usually adjusts the elevation. This allows you to adjust your aiming point vertically (up and down). The side knob allows you to adjust the windage (left to right).
  5. Fire another round at the target. If you got closer to the target then you started to adjust your scope the right way. If your bullets hit farther away from the dot then reverse your last adjustments and adjust into the other direction(s).
  6. Repeat the firing and adjusting until you hit the top spot dead-center. Do not rush this step. It can take a while to get the scope adjusted and you need to have patience.
  7. You will have the scope zeroed at 25 yards when you hit the target dot consistently.

Now you will want to repeat the whole procedure with the target being 100 yards out. You should need no adjustments or only minimal adjustments to zero your scope at that distance.

The final step is to zero your scope on your desired shooting distance. If you think you might want to shoot at 200 yards when you go hunting then you should repeat the same procedure at 200 yards.

Remember that with each distance you will need minimal adjustments. Try to get a feel for the adjustments you make to zero at the different distances or even write it down. This will help you adjust when you’re out hunting and you see your game at a distance that you haven’t zeroed in your scope.

Have a look at our rifle scope reviews to find the best riflescope for your shooting and hunting preferences.