If you’re just getting started with hunting, you need to know that keeping your rifle scope aligned is essential if you want to be successful. The hunting season is hectic. While you may spend most of the time tracking and preparing for the perfect shot, you might be moving around daily. Factors like the weather, humidity, movement, and the type of rifle may influence your scope. There will be days where you keep needing to adjust your “zero.” With some guns, the zero will change, so you need to keep reconfirming it.
In this article, we’ll share four tips on how to keep your rifle scope aligned for hunting season.
How to check it
As you know, the “zero” refers to your rifle’s aim. “ZERO” requires aligning the gun’s scope with the trajectory of the bullet so your bullet will hit the target at a distance you need.
If the aim is off, you won’t be able to take those precise shots, so getting the kill will be next to impossible. Where many people go wrong is that they align the rifle scope once, and think that it will work for the next day, without requiring adjustment. This is simply not the case. Always check your scope before shooting. It’s best done with two people.
- Remove the ring mounts from your rifle.
- Grab a cardboard box, and place your riflescope so that the objective and ocular bells are over the edge of the box.
- Start to rotate the scope and look through it while rotating. You’ll notice that the reticle crosshair moves circularly if it is not in the exact optical center. Keep adjusting the windage and elevation turrets until the crosshair does not rotate in a circular direction.
- Next, remount your rifle.
- Now, zero the riflescope by adjusting the ocular lens until you get a crystal clear view of the reticle. Also, adjust the turrets at this point.
- Make sure that the scope is mounted tight.
- Next, you need to bore-sight the rifle. Use a rest to place your rifle on and point it towards a natural target. Get a big bullseye target and place it at 25 yards. Take your gun and look through the barrel and center it in the bore. Click here for further instructions.
- Keep the gun in a locked position and now look through the scope. The crosshairs need to be very close to the bullseye. To make it precise, rotate the turret up and down until the crosshair is vertically level with the bullseye.
- Now, choose a zero distance, which is usually at 100 yards. Shoot the rifle three times – you should be hitting the paper three times. Depending on your shot, you need to rotate the scope to adjust it. The next time you shoot a group of three, you should be on target.
How to store it
So, you’ve scoped your rifle, now where do you put it and how? The best way to store a scoped rifle is muzzle down. Storing the gun upside down prevents the fluids from getting into the action.
Make sure you keep the gun in a dry cabinet that is moisture-free. Moisture will damage the rifle and cause the scope to get misaligned. Also, don’t forget to use a scope-cover to cover your scopes to make sure no dirt or dust covers the rifle.
Make sure to use coverings because if you place the scope against a hard surface, it can get scratched and damaged.
Always focus on that zero
Even if you adjusted your zero, and always try to keep your scope aligned, you’ll realize that you always have to rewind it. Did you know that even if you are not using the rifle, you are still losing the zero? There are a few reasons why:
- There’s a mechanical issue – usually, the springs get loose, or the mount gets worn out. In this case, you need to keep aligning the scope.
- Cleaning – if there are tiny pieces of rust inside the riffle barrel, your zero won’t be maintained. Corrosion damages the rifle and causes it to misfire. Always clean the rifle properly.
- Incorrect mounting – if you mount your gun incorrectly, you won’t get that zero. The screws need to be tight and screwed correctly on the mount.
Now that you can identify potential issues let’s take a look at how to travel with your gun.
One of the main reasons why a scope loses its zero during hunting season is because of mishandling as you travel. Don’t put the gun on the side while resting on the scope, as this causes the zero to go out of focus.
Take the scope off from the rings and carry it separately in a backpack. This way, the scope is not getting bumped around or bent as you travel. As well, you won’t be getting the scope dirty or muddy.
How often do you have to align the scope?
If you are careful with your rifle and follow the tips, you will only need to adjust the zero about once a week – that is, if you are shooting less than a dozen bullets per day. It really depends on what animal your shooting and how often you move around.
If you are taking a break for more than two weeks between hunts, you will definitely need to get the gun checked out again. High-quality guns keep their form and zero better than cheaper rifles.
The bottom line
Before the start of each hunting season, always have your gun checked out by a professional or do it yourself. To make sure your scope is aligned for the duration of the season, you need to take precautions to travel safely with your weapon. As well, it would be best if you stored it in a dry cabin with the muzzle down. Lastly, don’t worry if you keep having to readjust the scope – it can be due to technical reasons.