How To Shoot a Rifle With a Scope

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No idea how to shoot a rifle with a scope?

There is a slight learning curve when it comes to adjusting and using a scope with your firearm.

While an iron sight can be helpful, a scope can genuinely enhance your accuracy when shooting.

This is because the image becomes magnified, and you’ll be able to observe your target and where you’re aiming clearly.

You can even take it a step further and get a scope with a laser, which can help you practice hitting your target.

How Does a Scope Work?

If you don’t know how to shoot with a scope yet, you’ll want to understand at least the basics of how a scope works.

First of all, a scope captures an image through the objective lens by allowing light to flow through.

That same image is then bounced off the erector lens, which flips the image right-side-up.

From here, the flipped image is then sent through the magnifying lens, which basically “zooms” in on the target.

Lastly, the image is magnetized and cleared by passing through the ocular lens and into your eye.

The ocular lens also helps prevent eye strain so that you can practice shooting for extended periods.

That being said, a scope doesn’t become more accurate if you use a higher magnification.

In fact, using anything past a scope with 10x magnification can cause the image to become blurry and discolored.

In line with this, it’s essential to learn the recommended distances for magnification.

How To Shoot a Rifle With a Scope

Even as a beginner, you probably already know that scopes help enhance your aim and allow you to shoot with accuracy.

If you haven’t tried shooting with one yet, you’re missing out on a crucial tool that can help improve your game.

Now that you’ve got the basic understanding of how it works, let’s move on to learning how to use a scope.

There are a few pieces of equipment you’re going to need before you start shooting.

Here is a quick overview of the steps you’ll need to take to shoot a rifle using a scope.

Step 1: Purchase Mounting Equipment

Depending on what type of rifle you own, you will most likely need to invest in a mount.

Most modern-day rifles come with inserts on the base to attach a mount.

A mount helps stabilize your shot as you aim, ensuring that no extra movement affects where the bullet lands.

When you go to purchase a mount, make sure that it is compatible with your rifle.

Often, we see beginners make the mistake of investing in one that isn’t compatible.

A guaranteed way to do this is by seeing if the rifle manufacturer also makes mounts.

If not, here are some guidelines to follow when purchasing a mount:

  • Try asking the rifle retailer if they know or would recommend any compatible mounts.

Most of the time, they will be able to easily advise you a mount without any issues.

If this isn’t an option, or if you don’t know where the gun was purchased, continue reading.

  • Visit a gunsmith and see if they can identify a mount or suggest one for you.

In most cases, they will know to recommend a mount that will fit your rifle accurately.

  • If you can’t do any of those methods, you’ll need to check for mounting rings.

If you have a mounting ring, find a scope with the correct diameter.

The body of your rifle will have to fit the diameter of the mounting ring.

Step 2: Adjust the Reticle and Eye Relief

The first thing you’ll need to do is align the reticle on your scope.

The reticle is the first lens that you look through.

From there, you will need to lose the mounting rings and turn the scope until the reticle’s cross looks like a plus sign.

Then, you will have to adjust the distance of the lens.

You want to do this because the weapon will recoil when you fire it, and it could hit your eye.

To adjust the eye relief, use the distance lens and have it move an inch farther from your face.

Step 3: Learn What Each Knob on the Scope Does

No matter which rifle scope you own, all of them will have a similar layout.

Before you head out to hunt, it would be best if you research what each button or knob does.

A rifle scope will have a few adjustable pieces, such as body, eyepiece, windage, objective lens, shoulder, elevation, and parallax.

Here is a breakdown of how you adjust each one and what they do:

  • The turrets are the adjustment knobs located on the top and sides of the scope. They are used to adjust your aim.
  • The windage turret is on the right side and is used to move your scope left or right.
  • The elevation turret is located on the top of the scope and is used to move the scope up or down.
  • Lastly, the parallax knob is on the left side and is used to focus the reticle.
tips on how to shoot a rifle with a scope

Step 4: Adjust the Power of the Lens

There are two lens types: single scope and variable scope.

A single scope only has one power level of magnification and can’t be adjusted.

On the other hand, a variable scope can be twisted so that there are different magnification levels.

A majority of riflescopes are only single scopes; you can tell the difference by looking at the end of the scope.

There should be a power selector ring located between the shoulders of the scope and objective lens.

Next, you will need to determine the strength of your scope.

The scope you choose will give you two pieces of useful information. There will be two numbers that you’ll need to know how to identify.

The first number determines how many times bigger the image will be while using the scope.

The second number indicates the millimeters the scope’s objective lens is set to in diameters.

Step 5: Find the Eye Relief Distance

The eye relief distance is used to describe where you want to rest your head.

You want to have your head close enough so that you can see the reticle clearly, but also far enough so that the recoil doesn’t hit you.

A general measurement for a rifle is one inch from the gun.

However, there are times when you may need to be closer or farther.

At higher magnifications, you will have to be closer to the eyepiece to see clearly.

This is because the image will become darker at higher magnifications due to fewer light particles being refracted into the scope.

Step 6: Establish a Clear Picture

Start by centering the reticle in your field of view.

From there, you will want to position the reticle over your target. You should be able to adjust so that you see a perfect circle.

If not, you will need to adjust the firearm again until it appears centered.

Step 7: Aim and Adjust

Now that you have the basics down, you can aim and take fire. Shoot at least three to five rounds and aim at the same place.

If your shots aren’t consistent, you’ll need to adjust the turrets again.

If the shots aim a little to the left of your target, adjust the windage to the right.

On the other hand, if the impact lands too high, you’ll need to adjust your elevation knob.

Either way, make the necessary adjustments until your shots align with where you want the impact.

If your scope has a parallax, you can also adjust the knob. This pertains to the movement of the target as it’s in your field of vision.

To adjust the parallax, following these steps:

  • Look at the target through the scope.
  • Move your head each way and adjust the parallax knob as necessary.
  • Continue to adjust the knob until you don’t need to move and it’s on your target.

Step 8: Zero Out if Necessary

Zeroing means setting the distance and adjusting your scope so that the reticles fall where the bullet impacts your target.

You do this to eliminate any other factors that may impact your aim, such as heartbeats, muscle fatigue, and even your breathing.

Using a mount, bipod, or firing table can help keep the rifle and scope still while you’re shooting.

Do so by adjusting the windage knob and move the impact point horizontally and the elevation vertically.


As you can see, learning how to shoot a rifle with a scope can be a bit complicated.

With the right guidance, though, we are more than confident that you will get there in time.

Practicing and familiarizing yourself with each component of the scope will help you learn how to aim correctly.

Then, once you have built up a fair understanding of how to adjust each knob, shooting and aiming will become easier.

Also, keep in mind that a rifle does have a pretty big recoil, so be sure not to get too close to the scope.

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