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What is Holdover in Shooting?

When you’re long-range shooting, there are many factors that can affect the accuracy of your aim. You may have noticed instances where even if you take aim properly, your shot misses the desired target. This may be a case of holdover or holdunder. 

What is Holdover in Shooting

Let’s look at these concepts in a little more detail:

What is Holdover?

Holdover refers to positioning the crosshairs of your reticle a little higher than the location of your target to balance out the impact of gravity. You’ll need to calculate the amount of holdover you’ll need, depending on the distance (and wind speed). For instance, at 200 yards, you might have a holdover of around 2 inches.

In order to check how much holdover you will need for different distances, you will need to test shots out at different distances, such as at 100 yards to 200 yards.

What Does ‘No Holdover’ at 300 Yards Mean?

We’ve already covered sighting your scope a little higher than your target to compensate for bullet-drop. However, this doesn’t work for all distances. The greater the distance, the greater the effect of gravity will be on your bullet.

If you’ve checked for bullet-drop at, say, 100 yards and 200 yards and sighted your scope accordingly, chances are you’ll miss your shot at 300 yards unless you sight your scope again. You will have to shoot higher than the set target, in other words, keep some holdover to actually hit your target.

Many shooters claim that there is no holdover at a distance of 300 yards. This basically means that for longer distances, the trajectory of your bullet flattens out and even if you’ve sighted your scope at 100 yards, your bullet is likely to fall around 30 inches below your actual target.

What is Holdunder?

Holdunder is basically the opposite of holdover. Instead of aiming a little above your target, you aim a little lower.

Knowing whether you need to holdover or holdunder is dependent on the distance you’re shooting at, the weight of the bullet, and the type of weapon you’re using (regular rifle or air rifle). You also need to observe the trajectory of the bullet.

If your test shots seem to be going above the target, you need to aim lower to get a bull’s eye.

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Holdunder in Shooting

Best Holdover Reticle

Different reticles are suitable for different types of shooting. If you need a reticle which will be able to help you aim properly and take holdover into account, consider the following types:

Mildot Reticle

“Mil” is short for milliradian, and the mil-dot scope consists of small dots spaced apart to act as range finders based on the size of your target. However, they may not be ideal for fast-moving targets because you won’t have enough time to adjust the settings.

The Christmas Tree Style Reticle

The mil-dot reticle only has dots around the horizontal reticle and not the vertical one. The Christmas tree reticle takes care of this problem.

With this type of reticle, it’s possible to slide the lower reticle in case of wind to make the bullet move towards your target.

The Zeiss RapidZ SFP Reticle

The Zeiss reticle uses advanced technology where the magnification of the scope is set to match the trajectory of your bullet. You can set it as desired based on your distance, whether it’s a hundred yards, two hundred, and so on.

Holdover or Adjust Scope

Adjusting your scope is a better option than having a bit of holdover. When you dial in windage and elevation it’s often quicker and more accurate compared to using holdover or holdunder for a number of reasons:

  • Even if you’ve mapped out the projected trajectory of the bullet, a change in wind speed or direction can completely throw off your aim. Adjusting your scope generally takes some level of wind into account and is therefore more preferable.
  • With the help of BDC reticles, the need for holdover has become practically obsolete.

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Holdover in Shooting

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Final Thoughts

While holdover and holdunder may have been tactics used to improve the accuracy of shooters’ aims in the past, with improving technology, rifle scopes have also become more advanced.

The BDC reticles and advanced functions to adjust the crosshairs of your lens take care of any discrepancies that may occur when you try to map out the projected trajectory of your shot.

Aaron Bennett