For years hunters and competition shooters have been arguing about the most efficient range to sight in a riflescope. More often than not, it is between 100 – 200 yards. However, have you actually shot a scope that’s been sighted in correctly at those ranges?
The average hunter is firing at a target ~150 yards away, quickly, and sometimes moving. Sighting in at 100 or 200 yards is going to put you inside the bread box, but if the bread box is 6 in. in diameter or smaller; that isn’t going to cut it.
The solution? Learn how to sight in a rifle scope at 25 yards, and I’m going to explain how.
Tools for the job
Screwdriver – Your riflescope is equipped with Windage and Elevation turrets. It is a capped circle usually with 1 click = 1 MOA written on the inside. The screw is most often a flat-head, but it is a good idea to check before heading out.
Paper Targets – Hopefully you’ve had enough range time to amass a supply of paper targets. The best paper targets are bright white with clear, defined, black grid lines. Grid spacing should be 1 in., and the target should be easily visible at 100 yards.
Marker – An actual marker. This is going to be how you keep track of everything on your grid paper.
Ammunition – When I first learned how to sight in a riflescope at 25 yards I would just buy an entire pack of ammunition and spend it at the range. Now, I consider myself proficient enough to get zeroed in with less than 5 shots. It’s always better to have too much and not use it than vice versa.
Safety Gear – I
Location, Location, Location
I’ve had the pleasure (or misfortune) of shooting at an indoor range that didn’t have enough lights to fully illuminate the range. The experience has taught me that even if everything else is perfect, the range itself can still hold you back. Luckily, sighting in your riflescope at 25 yards can be achieved at most ranges.
Be sure to check that the range you go to can support the range you’re shooting at. As well as, allotting you space to position yourself correctly. There is no substitution for proper marksmanship, so it’s imperative that you treat each of these shots the same way you would out in the field. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
How to Sight-in a Riflescope at 25 Yards
Now that you’ve gathered everything its time to head to the range and begin. I will be going over how I sight-in my riflescopes at 25 yards. As easy to understand and follow as possible, however, if you have questions here’s a video that walks you through the entire process.
Step 1 (Safety First): After arriving at the range, but before you think about pointing your gun downrange: put on your protective equipment. Also, if you’re a beginner shooter or with someone who is it will be wise to learn the rule “Treat. Never. Keep. Keep.”.
Treat every weapon as if it were loaded. Never aim your weapon at anything you don’t intend to shoot. Keep your finger straight and along the receiver until ready to fire. Keep the weapon on safe until ready to fire.
Step 2 (Hang Targets): Hang your target 25 yards from the firing line. Ensure your field of view is unobstructed and that the target is not tilted. If outdoors and the wind is a major problem use some cardboard and staples to secure your paper target, or even better wait until it is less windy.
Step 3 (Fire): Aim about an inch higher than the center of the target. This will allow you to have a more accurate shot at the 100+ yard ranges due to the projectile’s ballistic path
Step 4 (Evaluation): When the range has been cleared grab your marker and retrieve your target. Find the center of your round grouping then count the number of vertical squares to the center, subtract 1 and record that number.
Do the same for the Horizontal squares, however, don’t subtract anything from that value and record.
Step 5 (Adjust): Remove the caps from the Windage and Elevation turrets from your riflescope. At 25 yards your rifle should be 1 click = 1 in. on your paper target. Starting with Elevation use the screwdriver to adjust turn the knob until it clicks the amount of time you wrote down earlier
Step 6 (Fire, Rinse, and Repeat): Rehang the paper target at 25 yards and fire 2-3 shots at about an inch above the center again. This time after firing you should notice that your grouping has moved, and if adjusted correctly it should be sitting where you were aiming. However, if it isn’t, repeat the steps in this list, until it is.
Commonly Asked Questions
Why should I aim an inch above the center of the target? – The projectiles ballistic path is going to rise and drop during flight. Aiming a bit higher will allow your long range shots to be more accurate. Read more about it here.
Will sighting at 25 yards give me a dead-on shot at 100? – This is a common myth around the internet. However no, Sighting in at 25 yards and shooting at 100 yards is going to give you about 2.7 inches of play in your round placement. Which is generally not enough to stop you from hitting the vitals on most big game at 100 yards.
Why 25 yards? – Sighting your rifle in at 25 yards will allow you to have accurate shot placement from point blank to about 300 yards. It’s also easier to find a range that can accommodate sighting in at 25 yards opposed to 100 yards.
I hope you understand how to sight in a riflescope at 25 yards and can see the difference it makes. One of the more notable being just how much less you need to guess when firing at longer ranges