How to Range-Sight an Air Rifle Scope: Step-by-step Guide

Modern air rifles are a very popular type of firearm among shooters these days with several different types of power plants to choose from and drastically improved performance that provides far greater muzzle velocity than older models.

Consequently, modern air rifles now range from small bore .17, .22, and .25 caliber rifles to large bore .35, .45 and, .50 caliber rifles that are capable of bringing down even large game species.

However, while pre-charged pneumatic air rifles and pump air rifles generate very little vibration, other types of power plants such as spring pistons and gas pistons do generate quite a bit of internal vibration and thus, air rifle specific scopes necessarily feature a more robust internal construction than standard rifle scopes.

But, even though their internal construction differs slightly from standard rifle scopes, air rifle scopes are still sighted in using the same procedure as that used to sight in a standard rifle scope.

10 Steps to Sight In Your Scope On Air Rifle

Step #1: Clear Shooting lane

First you will need a range with a clear shooting lane that extends approximately 25 to 75 yards depending on the distance at which you will be shooting most often.

Step #2: Set up a stable shooting platform

Next, you will need to set up a stable shooting platform such as a table with an accompanying chair where you can sit and rest your rifle while shooting as well some type of elevated rifle rest to help hold your rifle steady.

Step #3: Set up a paper target

Next, you will need to set up a paper target at your desired distance. Also, targets can range from something as simple as a cardboard box with a piece of printer paper tapped or pinned to one side to an elevated wooden frame to which a printed target is pinned.

However, if you opt to use a simple piece of blank paper, you will need to create a small dot in the center to provide you with a specific point to aim at.

Step #4: Set your target 

Then, once you have created your stable shooting platform and set your target at your desired distance, the next step is to begin shooting and adjusting your scope.

Step #5: Load your rifle

So, start by first charging the rifle’s air chamber and then load your rifle with your chosen pellet and then, seat yourself in your chair and rest your air rifle on your benchrest.

Step #6: Take the first shot

Then, take aim at your target by locating it through your scope and then, place the center of the reticle in the center of your aiming point and, while holding the rifle as steady as possible, take the first shot.

Step #7: Get up and walk to the target

Then, after taking the first shot, you will need to pause to see where your pellet struck the target. Thus, you can do this by either using a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope to view the target from your shooting platform or, you can get up and walk to the target.

Then, once you know where your pellet struck the target, you will need to return to your shooting platform and make appropriate adjustments to the position of your scope’s reticle.

Step #8: Adjust the position of the reticle

Thus, in order to do so, first unscrew the caps from both of your scope’s turrets. Then, use a coin such as a penny or a dime to rotate the internal mechanism of each turret in order to adjust the position of the reticle to the correct point of aim.

In addition, you should be aware that the top turret adjusts the point of impact up or down and, the turret on the side adjusts the point of impact left or right.

Plus, you should also be aware that most air rifle scopes feature one quarter inch Minute of Angle (MOA) adjustments which means that turning the turret mechanism one increment will adjust the point of impact up or down or, left or right by one quarter of an inch.

Consequently, if the pellet strikes your target 2 inches to the right and 3 inches high, then you will need to adjust the top turret to move the reticle down twelve “clicks” and left eight “clicks” (you will feel a slight click as the turret is adjusted to each new increment).

Step #9: Fire again

Then, once you have made the initial adjustment to the position of your reticle, then you will then need to again charge and load your air rifle, rest the rifle on your benchrest, take aim at your aiming point, and fire again.

Then, you will once again need to note the pellet’s point of impact and then make any necessary adjustments by again adjusting the internal mechanisms on the scope’s turrets.

Step #10: Replace both turret caps

Last, once you have adjusted the scope’s reticle to match your desired point of impact at your desired shooting range, then you will need to replace both turret caps by screwing them both back onto the turrets in order to protect internal mechanisms from moisture and dirt.

But, once you have your air rifle scope properly adjusted so that your pellet strikes your desired point of impact at your chosen range, you should not have to make any further adjustments unless you switch to a significantly lighter or heavier pellet or, you desire to change the range at which your scope is sighted in at. In which case, you will then need to repeat the steps listed above.

Final Thoughts

So, as you can see, although the process of sighting in an air rifle scope is neither complicated nor difficult, it does require both a clear range with a safe backstop, a target with a clearly defined aiming point and, a stable shooting platform.

In addition, it also requires proper benchrest shooting techniques such as controlling your breathing so that you first inhale and then exhale half a breath before pulling the trigger.

Plus, it is also very important that you learn to gently squeeze the trigger rather than pulling it abruptly because doing so can adversely affect your aim and thus, cause you to not shoot accurately.

Therefore, it is a wise idea to practice these techniques anytime you are shooting at a target because doing so will insure that you are getting the best possible accuracy that your air rifle and chosen pellet combination are capable of providing you.

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