Shooting Accuracy: How to Zero a Rifle Scope without Firing

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If you look for a rifle scope online, one of the features that brands like to brag about is how easy it is to zero and shoot with accuracy. Learning how to zero a rifle scope is essential for improving shot accuracy. While there are a lot of different riflescopes, setting to zero is generally the same. This step by step guide explains how you do it.

Before Zeroing In

Make sure your riflescope is properly installed before attempting to zero it. Btw, If you want to know how to choose a hunting rifle scopes, the shooters Optics is the best place to get a proper guideline.

Step 1

Go to a target range as you will need a bull’s eye to do the zeroing. Follow the regulations at the gun range as you start shooting.

target gun range

Step 2

Set your gun on the mount to keep it stable. If you don’t have a mount, use books or even your jacket, just give your rifle something to rest on. You need to reduce the user error as much as you can. By using a rest you cut down the possibility of error and improve the results.

how to zero a scope without firing

Step 3

Load your rifle and take 3 to 5 shots. Shoot in 3 fire groups. It doesn’t matter what your shooting style is, just shoot and try to be as accurate as possible.

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Step 4

Examine the shots you took and use that as a guide. Use your rifle’s adjustment knob to tweak your shots and fire a few more shots. Repeat this process for different bull’s eyes. This is the same process you use if you want to learn how to zero a rifle scope at 100 yards or from another distance.

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Step 5

Most shooters like to zero in from two distances, but some even go for four. You can begin at 20 yards and make your way to the 75-yard line. Don’t go more than 50 yards at once so you’ll have space to adjust some settings. You can go to the 300-yard line if you want, but bear in mind the farther you go the more wind comes into play.

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Bear in mind that scopes have different designs and adjustment mechanisms. Refer to your user manual for specific instructions on how to use the knobs. While you’re shooting and making adjustments, mark the shots you have already taken so you do not get confused.

Keeping all equipment organized

Keeping all shooting equipment in a single place will help to concentrate on the target. You can keep them organized in a tactical vest. So, they won’t be scattered, and you’ll find the required gear from the exact place. Also, you can go a long distance either in forest or mountain to practice shooting. No way to forget the essential fitment when you have a plate carrier.

How to Make Adjustments

If you’re still figuring out how to zero a rifle scope at 25 yards, you’ll realize that you’ll need to make some adjustments. All riflescopes have an adjustment knob. The knobs are usually on the side and the top. Use the side knob to adjust the scope right to left. Use the top knob to adjust the cross hair up and down.

If your shots are too low or to the left, adjust the scope accordingly. Make adjustments in increments, take a few shots and make additional adjustments if necessary.  Once you have set the rifle to zero, try another range and repeat the steps above. Make the necessary adjustments as well.

Make Small Adjustments

If you’re just learning to zero in, it is best to go with the 1/4 MOA to fine tune the rifle. Every click is equal to 1/4”, so 4 clicks is one inch. This should be enough to get that scope to zero. But if you’re having difficulty or need more accuracy, buy a laser sight borer.

Why Bore Sighting Really Helps

As I mentioned earlier, a bore sifter makes it very easy to align the scope and barrel. You can also use bore sighting for single shots and bolt action. Just take out the single shot or bolt, open the action up and position the rifle on a rest.

Tips for Better Zeroing

Start at 25 to 50 yards. By using a bull’s eye you’ll be able align the target more easily. Once you’ve aligned the target and barrel, peer through your sights or the scope. Use the adjustment options mentioned earlier and use them to tweak the scope until the image is similar to that of the barrel.

Shooting with Accuracy

Once your scope is zeroed in, take it for a test drive by shooting it. If you’re new to this, begin a with a large target. Many like to start from 50 yards but it’s really up to you. If you set the scope on a lever action or something similar, 25 yards may be the better option. The important thing is to have la large target to hit.

Zeroing at 100 Yards

Some shooters like to zero in at 200 yards, but most sight and zero at 100 yards. Doing so cuts down the possibility of human error as well as the wind factor. For sighting, 100 yards is ideal. If you’re going to shoot from long range, it’s okay to aim much farther.

If you’ve got your load ready, decide on the impact. If you’re into dangerous game, a hundred yard zero is ideal. If you are aiming further away, go for a higher point of impact like zero at 2” @ 100 yards. This should put you at 200 to 225 yards center.

Some like to sight in at 3” at 100 yards. That is up to you, but it could lead to high shots. Bottom line: for most zeroing in, 2.5” @ 100 yards will be all right.

Good Shooting Style

Last but not the least, you must shoot with accuracy. Even if you have the rifle zeroed in, it’s not going to do much good if you don’t use proper shooting techniques.


Learning how to zero a rifle scope is easy enough as the guide above has shown. If you’ve used a rifle scope before, you have an inkling of how difficult a scope is to use if you can’t zero in. That is why it is so important that you buy one that makes zeroing in as easy as possible. Once you’ve got that riflescope, it’s simply a matter of following the steps above to zero in and hit that target.

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