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Thread: Rifle zero 101

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    CWPINST is offline 168 grains of assistance from a distance
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    Default Rifle zero 101

    OK, this is pretty basic, and I am sure it is elementary for most, but after a trip to the range today where I saw 2 guys trying to check their zero, I realized that not everyone really knows how to do this correctly........and there is more than one way.

    First is mounting the scope. Everything needs to be secure. As far as mounting systems are concerned, there are a number out there that will do the job. Some are better than others. I prefer steel one piece Weaver or Picatinney bases and Burris Signature rings. The old windage adjustable Redfield/Leupold base is one of the weakest designs but even it often works well. When mounting the scope, it is VERY important to make sure that it is in square with the rifle. You can do this using a couple of string levels and a small flat bar placed on the base. Place a string level on the flat bar and another on the top of the elevation cap. Level them up and tighten the rings. It may take a few tries because tightning the rings often causes the scope to rotate slightly. Make sure your scope is not canted. Too many folks mount the gun then try to level the scope while holding the rifle. This practically guarantees a canted scope and will screw you up big time at long range.

    Bore sighting with a bolt action is easy. I never stick a steel bore sighter in the end of my barrels. The condition of the rifling is too important, especially at the muzzle. You can usually get within a few inches at 100 yards by eyeballing through the bore then adjusting the scope.

    When you get ready to fire that first shot, IT IS CRITICAL that you have a good rest. The guys at the range today refused to use a good rest. They said that they didn't have a rest in their deer stand, so why bother with one on the range. I have heard a lot of folks over the years say that. The problem, is that there are 2 primary sources of shooting errors. (1) Mechanical....i.e. the rifle, and (2) Human......the shooter. You have to figure out the mechanical part FIRST. That means ruling out as much shooter error as is possible. That is why you need a good solid but fairly forgiving rest, like sandbags, front and rear., and a good place to shoot, like a solid bench, not the hood of a pickup truck. Also never allow the barrel to contact ANYTHING, even your fingers, while firing. This can and will throw a shot, especially if the barrel is contacting something hard. See what the rifle can do before worrying about what you can do.

    If your scope has parallax adjustment, dial it out first then focus the scope. It must be done in this order because parallax affects focus. Pay no attention to the yardage setting on the PA. This is for reference only and is seldom even remotely accurate. When you find where you are parallax free at a given range, mark it on your scope with a pencil.

    When you take a shot, see where it impacts the target. Hold the rifle very solidly and have a friend if possible adjust the scope where he "walks" the reticle to the bullet hole. Not all scopes will track as they are supposed to. Some move more than 1/4 inch per click and some will actually jump as you dial it. If yours jumps, crank the elevation and windage adjustments back and forth a good many times to smooth things out. Dial it back to where you started and take another shot then fine tune with several shots to verify. Always allow the rifle to cool completely between groups. Make sure the cold bore shot is on the money. One thing to remember about scope adjustment is that many scopes, especially older Leupolds have some lash in the adjustment. What you need to do is to go a few clicks (3-4) past where you want the bullet to hit and then come back those few clicks. It is better to finish with the last few clicks tightning against the bias spring(s).

    Remember, if you change loads, or even boxes of the "same" ammo, you need to check your zero. It is quite normal to see a several inch shift from load to load. The rifle should be pillar bedded and the barrel floated. This will minimize the impact of wood movement with temperature and humidity. If you have a synthetic stock, this is less of a concern. Shoot occasionally through the season to verify that everything is OK. It gives you some practice and confidence.

    Enough for now.......
    Last edited by CWPINST; 10-21-2012 at 09:59 PM.
    If it ain\'t accurate at long distance, then the fact that it is flat shooting is meaningless.

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    Good stuff, thank-you.

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    Well done CWPINST.

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    Deserves a sticky.

    Thanks for the post!
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBrother View Post
    Deserves a sticky.

    Thanks for the post!
    Make it happen, sir moderator!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CWPINST View Post

    Bore sighting with a bolt action is easy. I never stick a steel bore sighter in the end of my barrels. The condition of the rifling is too important, especially at the muzzle. You can usually get within a few inches at 100 yards by eyeballing through the bore then adjusting the scope.
    And when using this method, you make elevation and windage adjustments opposite of where you need to go. For example, if your crosshairs are above the object you are using to bore sight, then move the elevation dial up.


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    Thanks. Learn something new everyday.
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    Also to go along with the bore sighting of a bolt gun, I start at 25yds just to get on paper. Remember that 1/4" at 100 means 1/8" at 50 when you are moving and exponentially less the closer you get. After I've put it on paper (my eyes aren't the best hence getting close on the first go) I move to 50yds to get a little more refinement. Then I move to 100yds, I've fire three shots by this time. When I get to 100yds, I fire one shot and adjust from there. After getting in the bullseye at 100, usually I've shot 5 times by now I let the gun cool and then shoot for a group average. Then I do it again. Through a deer season I'll check my zero at least once a month, more often if there is significant temp changes.

    Poorly or improperly zero'd rifles account for a lot of misses, do it right the first time and your success will go way up. Also, never take someone's word that the rifle is zero'd unless you know that person is meticulous about doing so. Minute of deer isn't zeroing.
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    also no two people hold and look thru a scope the same way. you have to site in your own rifle. they can get you on paper most times but the rest is up to the shooter to site his rifle. learned this from a gunsmith when having my my scope mounted and bore sighted. had to make two trips before we found the problem was the way we each handled the gun and looked thru the scope

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    Yeah, just get the scope in square with the action. Too many people mount the rifle then rotate the scope where it looks level. This almost guarantees that the scope will be out of square, because folks tend to cant a rifle when they mount it. When it is canted, you will be dialing in windage AND elevation every time you make an adjustment.
    If it ain\'t accurate at long distance, then the fact that it is flat shooting is meaningless.

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    Here is another thing to know about focusing the scope (not to be confused with parallax adjustment). It is not unusual for a persons eyesight to change a little from year to year. Realize that you should check your scopes focus periodically, especially if you have had a change in your glasses or contacts. Also, the focus is normally good for a certain range +- a bit. Some scopes are more critical of this than others. The newer Leupold VX-3 3.5x10x50mm scope is a very good scope, but it is a bit critical on focus distance compared to other scopes. Maybe due to length?????

    Similar to parallax, a really sharp focus is good for a certain range of distances, i.e 80-200 yards, 40-120 yards, etc. The reticle should always be sharp and clear when looking at the target......not the reticle. The focus is much more pronounced at higher magnifications. When setting the focus, do not stare through the scope. Quickly look through the scope then look away for a few seconds, then come back to the scope. Last year, I had set up said VX-3 Leupold for a sharp focus at about 200 yards for power line stands. Then one day I used that rifle hunting tight woods where a 20-50 yard shot would have been normal. I realized real quickly that at high magnification (which is not really needed for close shots anyway) everything within range was blurry. I had to back off the magnification to get acceptable resolution.

    I believe that most deer killed with a rifle in SC are probably killed somewhere between 70-150 yards, so setting the focus around 100-120 yards is probably not a bad idea because you get a bit of leeway on both sides of the sweet spot. As was said earlier, some scopes are not very critical of focus range, but others definitely are.

    A simple way to check your focus is to hang a fairly large white sheet of paper beside a newspaper at your preferred distance. Do this in bright sunlight. Turn up the magnification to max, then dial out parallax, if you have that capability. Now start working on the focus with the reticle on the white paper. When you think you are in the ballpark with a sharp reticle, shift over to the newspaper and fine tune to clearly read the headlines/print. You will probably find that adjustment is not critical, but you will see a difference as you adjust. Just remember not to stare. Look through the scope for a few seconds, then look away for a few seconds, then back again. Adjust as you go. When you think that you got it right, go back to the white paper and verify that the reticle is still sharp.

    Where having the focus right really comes into play is at low light. If the focus is on the money you will be able to resolve the animal/antlers a bit better and is a cheap way of maximizing your scopes performance. Said another way, if your focus is not where it should be, you are robbing yourself of the low light performance, that so many folks pay a lot of money for.

    Give it a try

    Good luck
    If it ain\'t accurate at long distance, then the fact that it is flat shooting is meaningless.

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    Thanks I needed that information .

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    That sounds real simple...now to get it done
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