Have you ever wondered what percentage of rifles taken to the woods are correctly sighted in?

One fellow steps out on his back porch and takes a shot at a big box, hits it and he is sighted in. The other more particular hunter is more precise about it. I have run across both types of hunters at the club sighting in. I have sat next to the casual shooter, who only wants to hit the target having a pleasant conversation when the precise shooter pulls in. He has his Weatherby in a fancy case, a range finder and gadgets galore.

Before you start, be sure to have your ear protection and some people wear safety goggles for eye protection.

Let’s say you have found a solid shooting support to shoot from after making sure it is a safe place, with an adequate back stop, you are ready to sight in. A good place to do the job of course, is the local sportsmen’s club. If you are already a member of a club, check to see if they have a sight in day. I know Dormont Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen’s Club does. Now you need something to place on a shooting bench and it should be firm but not hard. If you have a Caldwell rest, use it. If not, a piece of 4x4 wood topped with a sandbag or two or in an emergency a rolled-up towel. I really don’t care for sand in my bags because sand can seep out of the bags and sand mixed with moving rifle parts are not compatible. My bags are filled with rice and that works well, so I am a mixture of have everything and improvise.

Now that it is time to shoot, a common mistake made by many is to start out at 100 yards. With the price of ammo and reloading components, you save a lot of money by starting at 50 yards. It is very difficult to sight the rifle when there are no bullet holes in the target. It is much easier to hit the target at the shorter distance and an error at 50 yards will be double at the 100-yard range. Let’s say you fire one shot at a 50-yard target and find it is hitting five inches to the left. That is 10 inches at the 100-yard mark. That is enough to completely miss the paper. So, get it close before you move to the longer range.

That casual shooter I was earlier talking about was a fellow who had some of the right stuff but didn’t know what he was doing. Now he was a nice fellow, and we had a great conversation about sighting in. I sat next to him scratching my head as he shot 10 shots at 100 yards and never hit paper. Eventually, he hit one time in the top corner and was excited. He said he was done for the day, packed it all up and left. This was good enough for him.

He should have adjusted the scope sight. Now, he was shooting at the 100-yard range but needed to shoot 3 shots then measure how far the average of this group of shots was located from the aiming point. Let’s just say you are six inches too high. It is simple to make the needed adjustments. First remove the dust-cap from the vertical adjustment knob on the top of the scope. It is stated by the manufacturer that each click of the knob moves the point of impact ¼ minute of angle. One minute of angle is almost one inch or four clicks. So, to get the rifle two inches high at 100 yards, the scope needs to be brought down four inches or minutes, 16 clicks.

As for the person with all the fancy stuff, he had all the right stuff to get the gun properly sighted. I love gadgets and gun tools. It’s fun to watch and see if they have anything new and interesting to use. If the person has some experience and knows what they are doing, I might learn something new. The guy I saw that day had a lot of gadgets and didn’t know much about sighting in. The funny thing was he had everything in the world except one thing: courtesy. He had so much stuff, he piled it on the bench beside him. Then everyone else had to wait. I think maybe that was worse.

George Block writes a weekly outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.

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