How To Zero A Hunting Scope?

So, you’ve got yourself a brand new hunting scope and you’re eager to get it zeroed in for your upcoming hunting trip. But where do you start? In this article, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process of zeroing your hunting scope, ensuring that your shots are accurate and on target. Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or just starting out, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and skills to achieve precise shots with your hunting scope. Get ready to take your marksmanship to the next level as we embark on this thrilling journey together!

How To Zero A Hunting Scope?

Understanding the Basics

Definition of zeroing a scope

Zeroing a scope refers to the process of aligning the rifle’s point of impact with the reticle of the scope. By adjusting the scope’s settings, you ensure that when you aim at a specific target, the bullet will hit exactly where you intend it to.

Importance of zeroing a scope

Zeroing a hunting scope is crucial for ensuring accuracy and precision in your shooting. Without a properly zeroed scope, your shots may miss the mark, leading to wounded or lost game. By zeroing your scope, you maximize your chances of making clean and ethical kills, which is essential in hunting.

Key components of a hunting scope

A hunting scope typically consists of several key components. The main body of the scope houses the lenses and the reticle, which is a crosshair or other aiming point. The elevation and windage knobs allow you to make adjustments to compensate for bullet drop and wind drift. Additionally, the magnification ring enables you to zoom in or out for a clearer view of your target.

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Tools Required for Zeroing a Hunting Scope

Rifle with fitted scope

To zero your hunting scope, you need a rifle fitted with a compatible scope. Ensure that the scope is securely mounted on the rifle and properly aligned.


Appropriate ammunition is necessary for zeroing your scope effectively. Use the same type and brand of ammunition that you plan to use during your hunting trips to achieve accurate results.

Rest or shooting bench

Having a stable shooting platform is crucial for consistent shooting. A shooting rest or bench will help minimize movement and provide a solid base for your rifle.


You will need targets to shoot at while zeroing your scope. Select targets with clear markings and contrasting colors that allow you to easily determine your shot placement.

Range finder

A range finder is a useful tool for accurately determining the distance between you and your target. Knowing the exact range is important for making precise adjustments to your scope.

Screwdriver or coin for scope adjustments

Most scopes feature elevation and windage adjustment knobs that require a tool to turn them. A small screwdriver or a coin can be used to make these adjustments.

Preparing Your Rifle and Scope

Ensuring the scope is properly mounted

Before zeroing your scope, it is essential to make sure it is securely mounted on your rifle. Check that all mounting screws are tightened to the recommended torque and that the scope is positioned correctly to provide proper eye relief.

Cleaning the rifle and scope

A clean rifle and scope contribute to consistent accuracy. Remove any dirt, debris, or oil from the barrel, action, and scope lenses. A clean rifle ensures reliable functioning, while clean scope lenses provide a clear and unobstructed view.

Selection of appropriate ammunition

Choose ammunition that is suitable for your specific rifle and hunting purposes. Different bullets may have varying ballistic characteristics, so using the correct ammunition is important for achieving accurate results when zeroing your scope.

Safety Considerations When Zeroing a Hunting Scope

Handling firearms safely

Prioritize firearm safety when zeroing your hunting scope. Always treat firearms as if they are loaded, keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, and never point the muzzle at anything you do not intend to shoot.

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Using eye and ear protection

Protecting your eyes and ears is essential while shooting. Wear safety glasses to shield your eyes from debris or gas blowback, and use hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs to prevent damage from the loud noise of gunfire.

Secure shooting area

Choose a shooting location that provides a safe backdrop and minimizes the risk of stray bullets causing harm. Ensure there are no people, animals, or valuable structures in the line of fire. It is also important to be aware of any local laws or regulations regarding shooting areas.

How To Zero A Hunting Scope?

Positioning and Stabilizing Your Rifle

Selecting a comfortable shooting position

Finding a comfortable shooting position is crucial for stability and accuracy. Experiment with different positions such as prone, kneeling, or standing to determine which position allows you to maintain the steadiest hold on the rifle.

Stabilizing the rifle for consistent shooting

Using support such as a shooting rest, bipod, or sandbag can significantly stabilize your rifle. These tools help minimize movement caused by natural tremors or muscle fatigue, leading to more consistent and accurate shots.

Using the rifle’s rest or stand effectively

If using a shooting rest or stand, make sure it is properly adjusted to fit your rifle and offers a secure resting point. Take the time to position the rest or stand correctly, allowing the rifle to maintain a stable and consistent position during shooting.

Configuring Your Scope

Understanding MOA and MIL adjustments

Most scopes have either MOA (Minute of Angle) or MIL (Milliradian) adjustments. These measurements help you calculate the adjustments needed to account for bullet drop and windage. Understanding how to use MOA or MIL adjustments is crucial for zeroing your scope accurately.

Setting the scope to mechanical zero

Before making any adjustments, ensure that your scope is set to its mechanical zero point. This refers to aligning the scope’s reticle with the center of the adjustment range. Consult your scope’s manufacturer instructions on how to perform this step.

Adjusting the elevation and windage knobs

Using the information provided by your range finder and considering environmental factors, such as wind speed and direction, adjust the elevation and windage knobs accordingly. Make small adjustments and shoot a grouping of shots to analyze their impact on the target.

How To Zero A Hunting Scope?

Performing the Initial Shot

Aiming at the target

Align the reticle of your scope with the target using the correct aiming point. Take your time to ensure proper sight picture and concentrate on steady breathing for a more controlled shot.

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Slow and controlled shooting technique

Maintain a smooth trigger squeeze while keeping your focus on the target. Avoid jerking or flinching, as this can affect your shot’s accuracy. A slow and controlled shooting technique promotes consistency and reduces the likelihood of stringing shots.

Assessing your shot placement

After taking the initial shot, carefully observe where the bullet struck the target. Assessing shot placement helps you identify any errors or deviations. Take note of whether the shot landed above, below, left, or right of the intended target.

Adjusting the Scope After Initial Shot

Identifying your shot’s error

Analyzing shot placement reveals the adjustments needed to zero your scope. Determine whether the shot landed higher (over-adjusted), lower (under-adjusted), to the left, or to the right. This information will guide your scope adjustments.

Adjusting the scope’s settings to correct error

Using the information gathered from your shot placement, make corresponding adjustments to your scope’s elevation and windage knobs. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for turning the knobs and make the necessary corrections to bring your shots closer to the desired point of impact.

Confirmation shot for verification

After making scope adjustments, fire another shot to confirm whether the point of impact has been corrected. Compare this shot’s placement with the previous ones to assess the effectiveness of the adjustments. Fine-tune further if needed.

Fine-Tuning Your Scope

Continual shooting and adjustment

Zeroing a hunting scope requires a series of iterations. After each shot, make the necessary adjustments and take another shot. Continue this process until your shots consistently group around the desired point of impact.

Recognizing and adjusting for environmental factors

Environmental factors, such as wind, temperature, and altitude, can affect bullet trajectory. Be mindful of these factors and make appropriate adjustments to your scope as needed. Understanding your ammunition’s ballistics can also help compensate for environmental variations.

Reconfirming zero at different distances

To ensure your zero is consistent across various distances, confirm your zero at multiple ranges. This allows you to account for any changes in bullet trajectory as the distance increases or decreases. Gradually extend the distance of your target and reconfirm your zero as necessary.

Maintaining Your Zero

Regularly checking your zero

Checking your zero periodically, especially before any hunting trips, is crucial for maintaining accuracy. Factors such as vibrations from transportation or impacts on the scope can cause slight deviations. Confirm your zero to ensure that your scope is still properly aligned.

Handling the rifle and scope carefully

Avoid any mishandling or accidental knocks to your rifle and scope, as this can throw off your zero. Treat your equipment with care, particularly when storing or transporting it. A well-maintained and undamaged rifle and scope are more likely to retain their zero.

Storing the rifle correctly

When not in use, store your rifle in a secure and proper manner. Ensure it is unloaded and stored in a safe location away from unauthorized access. Avoid storing the rifle in extreme temperature or humidity conditions that may affect its performance or zero.

Rezeroing after travel or impactful events

After significant travel or any events that may have caused vibrations or impacts, it is advisable to rezero your scope. This includes traveling by plane, over rough terrains, or if your rifle has incurred any bumps or drops. Rezeroing guarantees your scope is dialed in and ready for precise shooting.

By following these steps and taking the time to zero your hunting scope properly, you enhance your shooting accuracy and ensure the effectiveness of your hunts. Remember to prioritize safety throughout the entire process and maintain regular checks on your zero to stay on target. Happy hunting!