How to Use a Scope: Your Essential Guide

When it comes to hunting and shooting, one of the most critical aspects of effectively shooting at a target will be your rifle scope. A lot of folks don’t understand the importance of a great scope, and even more importantly, how to use a scope to its full extent.

Most people use rifle scopes without properly educating themselves on the workings of the scope, which is why it’s imperative that, as a newbie hunter, you learn all the right tricks of trade straight off the bat. This post has been created to help you better understand how to use a rifle scope.

Why You Should Use a Rifle Scope

Without employing a rifle scope while shooting at a target, you may have issues with accuracy and complexity. Eyes that have a hard time zeroing in between targets which are close and those that are more remote can quickly become a game changer without the use of a proper rifle scope, and because of this, most gunmen utilize some optical aiming gadget.

The point when a rifle scope turns into a real resource is when you set your sights on your prey and need to be super accurate to keep things humane and effective. Not only does lining up an objective between your scope’s crosshair enhance the accuracy of your shots, but it also enables you to view things much more clearly from long-range distances.

Tips and Tricks for Properly Using Your Rifle Scope

Traditional rifles usually work with rifle scopes that amplify the shooter’s vision somewhere between 1.5 and 50 times. Most standard combat rifles are zeroed at 100 yards, and for the sake of keeping things simplified, we’ll talk about zero distance as 100 yards. Here are some tips for using your rifle scope more effectively:

1. How Far Off Target Should Your Pellet Land?

Once you’ve decided this, adjust your scope accordingly. This is one of the easiest ways to zero your scope. Most scopes come standard with windage and elevation dials, which can easily be adjusted to rule out any imprecisions. Elevation dials (height) are usually located in the upper part of the scope and can be tuned to alter the bullet’s point of impact. Windage dials can commonly be found on the right side of the scope and will affect the bullet’s straight point of impact.

2. Decide Between Ballistic Plex Reticle or Mil-Dot

Rifle scopes either come with Ballistic Plex reticle or mil-dot, which is a feature that allows the hunter to shoot without any complications at distances that measure in further than the zeroed point. Based on the bullet’s caliber, speed, and weight, your scope will have a diagram to show where you need to track the reticle.

3. Fine-Tune Elevation and Windage for Each Scenario

While it might be tough for amateurs and recreational hunters to fine-tune their scopes according to the wind speed and height, but there are ways of getting your shot as precise as possible by making the right adjustments to your scope. You don’t have to re-zero your scope for every shot, but there are a few factors you’ll have to keep in mind for better accuracy.

First, you’ll need to calculate the distance to target for zeroing of your scope. If your target is not at zero distance (100 yards), you’ll have to keep bullet rise and fall in mind. The amount of bullet drop will greatly be affected by bullet speed. Another factor that will directly impact how far the bullet will land is cross wind. Anything under 100 yards isn’t a big issue, but if you’re using a lighter bullet, shooting at 300 yards, and have a wind speed of 8.0 kilometers per hour, the bullet’s landing range can be impacted by one foot or more.

Shot angle, or targeting at different levels of elevation, is another thing you’ll have to keep in mind with long-range shooting. The impact, fall, and speed of your bullet will be impacted by this factor, which is why you need to pay attention to it. Luckily there are a lot of tech applications these days which can help you precisely calculate the impact of bullet and position when shooting with a rifle scope.

4. Adjust the Parallax

If an adjustment for the parallax is accessible on your rifle scope, you can modify it to get better precision when shooting at your target. Most rifle scopes allow shooters to adjust the reticle to a similar range as their target, which is essential for getting a precise shot. Depending on your eye elevation and the target range, the parallax will adjust somewhat with every individual shot and target. Altering these settings to a perfect setting can be a challenge, but with practice, it becomes much easier to do.

One of the best ways to trap the parallax is by holding your head in a relief stance where you’re able to see the dark around the nook while viewing down the scope. Now move your head and eye to find the dark zone adjusted on all nooks around the reticle. To get an exact shot, parallax modification plays a significant role.

The parallax will usually be set at 150 yards if it’s a fixed parallax scope. With shooting distances 1000 yards and up, your scope reticle will be sighted at about 8 inches off the ground. Shots taken 500 yards and under will not go any lower than half an inch off the ground.

5. Set the Crosshairs in the Focal Point of the Target

You can modify your rifle scope by setting the crosshairs in the center of your target at zero range. This may call for the calculation of distance, position, and windage.

How to Buy the Best Rifle Scope

When it comes to purchasing the right rifle scope for your specific needs, it’s not as easy as one might think. The number one thing to keep in mind when it comes to investing in the best scope is that good quality always comes at a price, and purchasing a cheap scope will almost always result in less-than-amazing results.

  • A lot of manufacturers out there are misleading shooters by making them believe their brand’s new and super affordable scopes are the best, but when the going gets tough, the tough don't get going.

  • You should ensure that you’ve read all the specifications and user reviews about the scope you have your eye on before making the purchase. You want to be sure that you’ve seen the good and the bad about a scope before splurging on it.

  • A lot of online stores deal in hunting equipment, including rifles and rifle scopes, but just because they’re retailers doesn’t mean they’re the best in the business. Make sure you visit a variety of stores and find out more about the quality of the scopes and rifles they’re selling.

  • It’s always a good idea to check out customer reviews on the store to learn more about their replacement and repair policies as well as their customer service.

  • When purchasing a rifle scope, make sure you receive a proof of purchase as well as a warranty slip. The best brands out there offer warranties on their scopes which range between one and five years. Because not all scopes are made equally, you need to inspect your scope upon receipt, and if there’s any problem at all, you should be able to return it to the store for a replacement or a refund.

  • Remember that rifle scopes come available in a range of different shapes and sizes, and if it’s at all possible, be on the lookout for a scope that comes with internal adjustments. Don’t settle for a scope that’s not adjustable. If your scope is adjustable it’ll ensure that your shots are as accurate as possible since adjustability of the scope impacts everything from shooting range to the speed of your bullet.

  • As a last key factor to keep in mind, we want to make a special mention for the assembly of your scope’s body. You want to invest in a scope that will be able to take a beating and not let you down after one hunting season. Make sure you’re investing in a scope that’s been assembled by a quality manufacturer and that the parts are replaceable for the sake of durability.

Final Thoughts

This concludes our “how to use a scope” post. By correctly using your rifle scope, you’ll be able to enhance your shooting accuracy, especially when shooting at greater distances. Because you now have a better understanding of how to properly use your rifle scope, you’ll be able to achieve the shooting goals you have set for yourself.


Hi! I'm Dave - an air rifle enthusiast and a bit of a geek to be honest. When I'm not out at the range or on a hunting trip, I enjoy writing about different air rifle products and accessories.