How to Set a Rifle Scope Without Boresight

How to Set a Rifle Scope Without Boresight

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Anyone can shoot a gun, but a scope will make you more accurate. However, for a rifle to work properly, a shooter needs to take the time to set a scope, also called "sighting" or "zeroing in." This is essential for maximum accuracy. In competition, accuracy can make the difference between winner or loser and in hunting, it can help kill game more humanely.

Items you will need

  • Range of at least 50 yards where you can safely shoot the rifle

  • Rifle with a scope attached

  • Ammunition

  • Several cardboard or paper targets

  • Marker

  • Tools to adjust the scope (see instructions that came with scope)

  • Safety equipment (eye and ear protection)

  • Binoculars or a viewing scope (optional)

At the end of the range you have selected, set up a place you can shoot from comfortably and repeatedly with minimal movement that will give you the best accuracy. On the other end of the range, set up your chosen target in a stable location so it will not move while being shot at.

Put on safety equipment, assume the chosen shooting position, load and shoot your rifle. Fire 3 times as close to the center of the target as you can. These 3 shots will give you the greatest probability of grouping the shots together, while still conserving ammunition.

If binoculars or viewing scope are available, use them to view where your shots are grouped on the target in relation to the center. If not, walk to the target and look at it.

There typically 2 knobs for adjustment on most rifle scopes. One knob adjusts the elevation or up and down; the 2nd one is for windage or left and right. Adjust your scope as the instructions suggest to orient your shots toward the center of the target.

Fire another 3 shots at the center of the target. Again, check the grouping of your shots to see how your adjustments have affected their placement on the target.

Continue the process of adjusting the scope, firing a group of 3 shots and seeing where they land on the target. Repeat until the scope is properly zeroed in and hits the center every time.


  • Make sure there is nothing in the line of fire that you would not want shot. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Keep the safety on and your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. Never walk down range while someone else is firing


  • If you miss the target after Step 2, then move the target closer in increments of 10 yards. Use a marker to circle groupings for easy identification. Use the ammunition you typically use.
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