Sights and zeroing

Zeroing

For the purposes of hunting, there are two major types of sight- open sights and scopes. Strictly speaking, scopes are better, as you can zoom right in to your target- particularly for long range hunting. But open sights certainly have their place- when you use an iron-sighted rifle, it is lighter and less delicate than a scoped rifle. Also, when you put it to your eye, there is no lag- the brain doesn't need to adjust, as there is no change in quarry picture. My first air rifle, a Cometa 5 in .177 calibre, had incredible open sights- everything was fully adjustable, and click perfect, and I could hit 2P pieces as far away as I could see them! Yet with a 3-9 X 40 scope on the same gun, I wasn't as accurate because my combination was just too heavy.

 

Scopes

There are scopes and scopes. The ones to avoid are thin, cheap Japanese and Chinese scopes with slim bodies and small front lenses. These are just too narrow to get enough light through the front lens to supply a decent sight picture. If you are testing a scope, hold it about 2-3 inches from your eye and look through the exact centre of the optics. If it is a worthwhile scope, you will see a light, clear picture (assuming your magnification is not too high) and there will be no distortion.

To hold a scope firmly, the only choice is really a 1-piece mount. With the scope firmly screwed into this, the mount screwed into the rails and a recoil stop mounted behind, your combination will stand a bomb blast! NB- when sighting through a scope, you should be able to look through the centre without hunching your head onto your shoulder (too much) and your eye should be 2-3 inches from the rear reticule. (Any closer and picture will be blurred, and gun kick back can drive the scope into your eyebrow)

 

Open Sights

A nice rearsight- elevation (up-down) and windage (left-right) adjustment. Scopes are by no means essential for a rifle (unless you have one with no open sights). If you get a new rifle and cannot afford a scope as well, you will lose little by hunting with open sights until you can afford a good scope.

 

Zeroing

I will write this as though zeroing a scope- the principle is the same for open sights, but turn the wheel as shown below instead of using a screwdriver.

Almost all scopes have two wheels, one on top (elevation- up/down alteration) and one at the side (windage- right/left alteration). Download the "zero target" from the downloads section, or get a piece of card and draw a stretched sword shape. Zeroing is best done from a prone position (see "Stances"). Some say a bench rest zero is better, but I find that when then shooting freehand (no bench rests in the field) my point of impact is different. It is your choice, depending on skill, rifle etc. Anyway, start 5M from the target, and fire a 5 shot group at the bull (or the crosspiece of the sword). If your overall shot pattern is to the left of the bull, turn the wheel at the side of the scope anticlockwise. If the shot pattern is high, turn the wheel on the top clockwise. (Many scopes have directions lettered on the alteration screws). Shoot a further 5 shot group, then move to 10 yards. Carry on in the same way firing 2 5 shot groups at every extra 5 yard distance to your ideal zero range. (About 30 metres for .22 and 35M for .177).

In general, a single click of the wheel will move the point of impact 1/4 of an inch at 100 yards. At 25 yards, 4 clicks will move the point of impact a quarter of an inch. (See also the scale on the downloaded target).