How To Adjust Rifle Scope for Elevation, Windage, and Parallax

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Before you start using your brand-new rifle scope, you will have to calibrate it first.

If you purchased it in a shop, the store may offer adjustments and other tips, so you’d be fine.

However, if you acquired your rifle scope online, you can still do it without professional assistance.

At the end of this, you will learn how to adjust the rifle scope for elevation, windage, and parallax.

Every rifle owner must at least have an idea of the functionalities of the scope and how to make proper adjustments for a better shooting experience.

Getting To Know Your Rifle Scope

Before we get down to business, let’s first talk about the basics. This way, you will know every inch of your rifle scope better.


Turrets are the raised knobs on the scope that make it possible to enhance your vision and shooting experience.

These are the little knobs on the top and, more often than not, the riflescope’s left side.

Many models have three turrets, but two-turret scopes are more common.

A turret’s primary function is to provide the adjustments required to zero an optic.

The two standard adjustments are called windage and elevation turrets.

Windage refers to the left and right adjustments, which correspond to how the wind blows. On the other hand, elevation is for up and down adjustments.

For really long shots, adjusting the elevation turret is essential.

This is because when engaging a target from a long distance, your bullet’s trajectory will begin to drop, which will affect your accuracy. 

What’s more, keep in mind that every type of bullet falls differently, even those of a similar caliber.

The elevation turret could help compensate for the bullet drop.

Parallax Adjustment

The parallax adjustment aids in object targeting and helps identify the scope’s center.

In other words, it aligns the focal plane of the intended image consistent with the reticle.

As the name suggests, the parallax adjustment minimizes or eliminates parallax, which is essentially a type of optical illusion.

Parallax refers to the target’s movement away from the reticle when you change position.

Obviously, you want to avoid this phenomenon because it shifts your point of aim, which quickly leads to misses.

At short distances, this effect is less likely to affect your accuracy.

Ocular Lens

The optical lens is the piece of glass that the shooter looks at to pinpoint the target when shooting.

It is typically smaller compared to the objective lens, and it focuses the light captured on the other end into the viewer’s eye.

Usually, the ocular lens is coated with a variety of finishes to repel water and promote light transmission.

Objective Lens

The lens at the scope’s front that gathers light is known as the objective lens.

Objective lenses are designed to be bigger than ocular lenses.

Typically, these lenses’ diameter is larger because it is more effective in collecting light.

The objective lens of a high-quality rifle scope is always coated with a variety of layers to maximize light transmission and moisture resistance.


A reticle is a set of lines placed within a rifle scope to aim or point at a target.

Originally, reticles were constructed of hair, which is why the term crosshair is still used today.

Today, reticles are made of wire, etched glass, or other materials.

A rifle scope reticle serves an uncomplicated and straightforward purpose: to assist you in aiming and shooting a stationary or moving target.

Many reticle models have distinct patterns, each tailored to different targets in various environments and situations.

tips on how to adjust rifle scope for elevation

How To Adjust Rifle Scope for Elevation, Windage, and Parallax

Scope adjustments are generally performed by rotating or dialing a turret, and a tactile and audible click indicates that an adjustment is made.

Many amateurs and casual rifle owners will find adjusting a scope difficult or tricky.

However, with some knowledge and patience, you will eventually be able to grasp these modifying procedures.

Windage Adjustment

The windage adjustment is often the first step in calibrating a rifle scope. This adjustment is located on the scope’s right side.

When you are ready to adjust the windage, you must first enlarge the image to determine if it is completely clear.

You should also zoom the lens to check if there are any indications of obscurity in the image.

A good rifle scope will have a magnification range of 4X or more.

You may also try to determine the shot’s alignment and whether or not the shot was precisely straight.

In addition, you must determine the length of your shot.

When adjusting the windage, you move the reticle to the left or right to center the shot.

Normally, windage is measured in Minutes of Angle or MOA and is equivalent to about an inch for every 100 yards. 

For example, if you modify your windage turret with one click, the bullet will impact one inch, either left or right, at a 100-yard distance.

During a windy day, aim slightly to the left or right of the reticle, according to the direction of the wind. 

Doing this prevents modifying the windage adjustment every time the wind is blowing in a different direction.

Elevation Adjustment

Modifying the vertical impact of the bullet according to where you’re pointing with your scope is done by adjusting the elevation turret.

You can adjust by turning the top turret clockwise or counterclockwise.

Depending on the specs of your scope, each click generated by the turret adjustment equates to an angular measurement.

As mentioned earlier, the elevation adjustment is placed on the scope’s upper side. 

You’ll need a clean piece of paper to make proper elevation adjustments. 

First, draw a straight horizontal line on the paper. The horizontal line should be 15 centimeters long. 

After that, make sure the page is clipped with the object or goal plate.

Then, shoot at least three times on that horizontal line to determine the divergence.

Following this method, you will know if the reticle’s alignment is straight or needs more adjustments.

Elevation adjustment is relatively easy to learn once you’ve got the hang of making windage adjustments.

Parallax Adjustment

As mentioned, adjusting the parallax turret is critical while shooting a long-distance target.

Before making any modifications, ensure that your eye is solely focused on the scope.

Whenever you move your head or shift your attention elsewhere, chances are the reticle’s location on the target changes.

This indicates that your parallax is not correctly accounted for at that distance.

Scopes that do not include parallax adjustment capabilities will be parallax-free at a certain distance.

As such, you won’t have any problems inside that range, but it could be an issue when engaging targets more than 50 yards away.

When adjusting the parallax turret, you will probably have to experiment until you get it right.

You will know you are parallax-free when the image is clean and sharp and has no presence of crosshair travel.

Keep in mind that focusing on a rifle sight is a one-time adjustment that you shouldn’t repeat unless someone else uses the scope.

Why You Need to Adjust Your Scope Correctly

You must precisely adjust the rifle scope to get the most accurate image.

In addition to the windage, elevation, and parallax, you must also adjust the magnification level accordingly.

When your scope is not adjusted correctly, the usual result is missed shots, which then translate to wasted bullets. 

Therefore, if you want to get the preferred outcome when shooting with a scope, you must be knowledgeable about adjusting the scope of your rifle.

Proper Turret Maintenance

Now that you have an idea of how to adjust the rifle scope for elevation, it’s also advantageous to learn proper maintenance.

Even if your scope comes with turret caps, it’s advisable to make an effort to clean and care for them to maintain their condition.

From time to time, it is critical to let turrets breathe since moisture may build up and cause corrosion.

You can do the maintenance for turrets as you do for the lenses.

At one point, you may notice that the turret threads no longer move as smoothly as they previously did.

To do a quick remedy, you might want to try wax if it can do the trick.

Wipe the threads with a Q-tip dipped in isopropyl alcohol before applying a small amount of wax to lubricate them.

The wax will not only make the turrets move easily, but it will also provide some protection against corrosion or oxidation.


More Than Just Adjusting Your Scope

Even if your adjustments are all flawlessly executed, keep in mind that it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll always hit your target, especially at long distances.

Instead, long-range shooting requires much research and practice.

It doesn’t matter if you have the most high-end scope at your disposal, as so many factors will affect your aim.

You can also consider the adrenaline rush, loss of breath, freezing fingers, height, changeable winds, uneven terrain, and other variables.

Still, having a scope with correct adjustments will be a good starting point and can only benefit your shooting experience.

Stay safe, and shoot often.

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