After two years of watching many of the shooters at The Reese Bottom labor with the process of adjusting their rifle scopes, a decision has been made to try to write an article, not to teach a right or wrong method, but to possibly plant the desire to seek a better understanding of the scope adjustment process.
The Reese Bottom requires that a benchrest shooter must be able to quickly and accurately adjust the turrets on his rifle scope for targets located at several different distances. It is probably fair to say that many of us began our shooting as a hunter, which once we had ‘ole trusty’ zeroed at twenty five yards, we were convinced the rifle would shoot into infinity. I recall as a young hunter, wadding that old brown Carhartt hunting coat up on the hood of the truck, drawing a circle around a quarter on a grocery sack, and a click here and a click there and off to the woods we would go. Benchrest shooting quickly taught me the need to develop a better understanding of how to adjust the rifle scope from one setting to another and possibly back to the initial setting.
First, the determination was made that a starting point or zero needed to be established at some known distance. I prefer a 100 yard zero, although many people prefer a 200 yard zero. Neither has a real advantage over the other. Now that an accurate either 100 yard or 200 yard zero is established, all scopes have a method to loosen the turret caps and align the zero on a notch or some other point of reference. What are the scope turrets? They are the adjusting knobs with all of the lines and numbers on the top and side of the rifle scope.
Once the zero is established, then all other shooting distance settings can be determined by shooting groups of shots at each known distance and recording the scope settings, or turret numbers, in a log book or on a piece of paper. This data has also been seen taped to the cheek plate of the butt of the rifle stock. External ballistic calculators are also very helpful when searching for rifle dope(setting) numbers.
The above information gets us to the main point of the blog which is to convince the shooter to forget clicks and to start counting numbers or MOA. Once the scope dope(number) is determined for each desired distance, our task is choosing the easiest and quickest method to obtain the proper scope setting(dope) at each predetermined distance. With that being said, let us all agree that not all scopes are made the same.
For example, most scopes have 4 clicks per MOA , or 8 clicks per MOA although there are other possibilities. It would not be hard to figure out that a scope that has 4 clicks per MOA moves the crosshair or point-of-aim twice as far per click as the scope with 8 clicks per MOA. A good example here would be to let us suppose you were aiming your favorite rifle at a ¼ inch dot at a distance of 100 yards and after firing the shot the point-of-impact clipped the right edge of the dot. As you have figured out by now, if your scope has ¼ MOA clicks, one click would take the point-of-impact all the way to the left side of the dot, whereas, if your scope features 1/8 MOA clicks, the next shot should hit dead center. In benchrest competitions where the shooter is trying to bughole, it can make a difference. Now we are getting to the good part. What is MOA?
Simply stated, a Minute of Angle is an angular measurement equal to 1/60 of a degree which equates to about 1” per 100 yards(actually 1.047”). For the sake of this article, let’s not get caught up in the science of what an MOA is, but simply understand that it is the unit of measurement used by rifle scopes to determine the amount of movement from one distance to another.
In an effort to convince the shooter who is still counting clicks to forget clicks and start counting MOA, we will use the above chart and rifle data. As you can see from the chart, this rifle has been zeroed at 100 yards and this rifles 200 yard dope(number)is 1 = 8 clicks. No big deal, right? Well now, let us prepare to shoot a target at 1000 yards where our number has been predetermined to be 30 + 3 or 243 clicks. Does this get your attention? Believe me I have noticed shooters trying to adjust scopes to these high numbers, one click at a time. Can you imagine the frustration of not having the scope turret caps set on zero and somewhere between 0 and 243 a fellow shooter ask you a question, a rifle fires and startles you, or your phone rings. That would probably ruin your well-deserved day at the range. Our suggestion and the point that we are trying to make here is the fact that it is much quicker and simpler to turn your turrets from 0 to 30 than it would be to count from 0 to 243, and also, if your turret caps were properly set on zero, the shooter could simply return to zero by turning the turrets back to the original starting point. One thing to look for here is the fact that to get to a scope setting this large, most scopes will have to make two or more revolutions, which can be tricky. This is where a zero stop mechanism is a good feature to have on your rifle scope. We have actually had shooters not on target and have come to find out that the scope turrets were resting on zero but on the wrong revolution.
One last thing that I will mention here is to know your rifle scope’s travel limitations. Find out how many MOA of travel your scope has for both elevation and windage. All scopes are different and we have had two or three to get sprung or even broken. Sure would hate to see someone have to miss the next match because of broken equipment.
Please be reminded that this is our first attempt at writing a blog. Our hope is that you have enjoyed the read and that you, the shooter, will be prompted to seek a better understanding of how to adjust the turrets on a rifle scope. One can find a lot of information on this subject on the web and in books. Let us hear from you and better yet, agree to write a blog that could be printed on www.reesebottom.com. What do we always say? “Spend all of your money on powder and bullets and set those turrets back to zero”.