How to Zero Your Rifle for a Hunt - NSSF Let's Go Hunting

How to Zero Your Rifle for a Hunt

Make sure your gun and glass are tuned just right at the range, so you’re on target in the field — where the stakes are high.

By Jodie Stemler

This fall was a big step for me in my journey as a hunter. After many years shooting shotguns and upland bird and turkey hunting, I actually had a big game tag in my pocket. Thanks to the generosity of Weatherby, Inc. I was going to be hunting pronghorn antelope during the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt in mid-October. Brenda Weatherby had outfitted me with a Mark V Camilla rifle with a Maven RS.1 scope, but the onus was on me to make sure the gun was zeroed in and I was a confident shooter with my gun. As a new big game hunter, it was absolutely essential to me that I kill my antelope as quickly and humanely as possible. Here are some of the steps I took as a new hunter to get me and my rifle ready for the hunt.

Right Sight-In with Spotter

Getting your rifle properly zeroed in at the gun range will ensure that it is accurate when you are hunting.

Making sure your gun is properly sighted in is the most important part of being prepared for your hunt. Having never zeroed in a rifle by myself, I knew I had to get it right. I had to be confident with my gun’s accuracy out to 200+ yards (my comfort range for taking a shot). Some of that is simply spending time shooting and getting comfortable with the gun, but I knew that having the gun zeroed in was the essential first step. I talked with Cade Maestas, co-founder of Maven who is also a hunter education and shooting instructor, about the best way to sight in a rifle.

Set the Scope

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the first and most important step is to get your scope properly mounted on the rifle. Unless you have a lot of experience, which I certainly don’t, this should be something you have a qualified gunsmith do for you. Make sure the mounting rings that you use are of good quality and specific to the gun on which you are mounting the scope. A qualified gunsmith will also ensure that the scope is positioned properly along the top of the barrel and that it is level. When it’s set, they should then tighten the rings only to the recommended torque setting.

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In this video, Former Army Ranger sniper team leader Ryan Cleckner walks us through his process for sighting in a new rifle in real-time and delivers several other shooting tips in the process.

See more rifle tips from Ryan and NSSF

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