September 25, 2023

How to sight in your hunting rifle in three shots or less

Here’s a simple way to save time and money at the range, all while getting your rifle big-game ready

A couple of things before you get started: This method assumes your optic’s reticle has subtensions. These subtensions will act like a ruler in your optic during the sight-in process. You need to be familiar with your reticle’s subtension measurements for this process to work. However, you don’t need a complicated “Christmas Tree” reticle. A simple BDC reticle will work just fine. (For more on choosing the right reticle, check out this podcast.)

This method also assumes that you understand MOA and MRAD, and that you know how to dial adjustments using your chosen unit of measurement. (Need a refresher? Check out this video.)

Bore sighting a rifle at an outdoor range

Bore sighting your rifle is an important step to getting your first shot in the ballpark.

Step One: Bore sight your rifle.

Bore sight your rifle to get started. This is always a smart idea as it can get you on paper with your first shot, saving you ammo and time.

Bore sighting a rifle in a stable shooting position

Before you shoot, be sure you’ve created a stable shooting position.

Step Two: Fire the first round at your target.

Before pulling the trigger, make sure you have done everything you can to create a stable shooting platform. We recommend using sandbags if possible as they allow your rifle to recoil naturally without overstressing rifle and optic components.

In the video “How to Zero a Riflescope in 3 Shots or Less” our target is 100 yards away, but distance is arbitrary using this technique: Choose a distance you’re comfortable with and one where you can spot your impacts through your optic. Fire your first round at your target’s center.

Bore sighting a rifle using a reticle to help you measure the necessary adjustments.

Your reticle’s subtensions act like a ruler to help you measure the necessary adjustments.

Step Three: Measure and make the necessary adjustments.

Place the center of your reticle on your bullet impact. Use your reticle’s subtensions to measure how far your impact was from your original point of aim. This will tell you how far you need to dial for elevation and windage. (Remember: If your impact was high, dial down and vice versa. If it was left, dial right and vice versa.) Dial your turrets accordingly.

Step Four: Fire a second shot.

Step three should put your second shot very close to center, but you’ll likely need another round to get locked in. Fire your second shot.

Step Five: Measure and make the necessary adjustments.

This impact should be much closer to your point of aim, likely inside of 1 MOA. If your subtensions are not precise enough to measure exactly, use your best judgment, keeping in mind that four clicks usually equals 1 MOA of movement. Dial your adjustment.

Bore sighting a rifle using a reticle to help you measure the necessary adjustments - the second shot should be much closer.

Your second shot should be much closer.

Step Six: Fire your confirmation shot to ensure you’re locked in.

If you’ve followed the preceding steps, this shot should be a victory lap. Fire your confirmation shot. Of course, if your zero isn’t exact, you can make another round of adjustments.

To see these steps in action, checkout the video “How to Sight In Your Riflescope in 3 Shots or Less.”

It’s our hope you can learn and laugh along with the expert voices we feature on this blog. We want to be clear that the opinions you see featured here are just that: opinions. The content belongs to the authors and is not necessarily the opinion of Vortex Optics.

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