How to Zoom In a Scope For Hunting: Mastering The Art of Zooming

As an avid hunter, having a properly sighted-in scope is crucial for an accurate and ethical shot. I’ve learned that taking the time to properly zoom my scope is one of the most important steps before heading out to the field. And this is why for all my hunter fellows out there, I’ll share my suggestion with you. In this post, I’ll walk through my process for zooming in scope to ensure it’s dialed in perfectly every time I go hunting. All you need is to take a few minutes and keep reading till the end.

How to Zoom In a Scope For Hunting
Scope For Hunting

Scope Basics

A rifle scope is a precision instrument, and knowing its essential components is the foundation of effective shooting. It comprises four critical elements –

Objective Lens: Gathers and transmits light through the scope. 

Ocular Lens: The lens you look through (eyepiece). 

Magnification Ring: Allows you to adjust the level of zoom. The magnification ring functions by altering the distance between lenses, allowing for varying levels of magnification. It’s a critical part of achieving precision. 

Elevation and Windage Turrets: These are used for fine-tuning the scope’s point of impact, not magnification. The elevation turret adjusts for vertical alignment, while the windage turret is responsible for horizontal alignment.

Understanding how these parts function together is your first step toward mastering your scope. Now let’s go for the other effective steps one by one.

Mounting and Leveling Your Scope

Proper Mounting 

The first step is mounting your scope to your rifle with high-quality rings matched to the tube diameter of your scope. Ensure even torque on the rings to maintain the scope’s alignment.

Leveling Your Scope 

Use a small spirit level on top of the scope tube to verify it’s perfectly level. This prevents your crosshairs from canting, ensuring accuracy. Minor adjustments to the rings can correct any leveling issues.

Establishing Your Eye Relief

Determining Eye Relief

Eye relief is the optimal distance your eye should be from the ocular lens for the best sight picture. This distance can vary depending on the magnification setting of your scope. To find your ideal eye relief, set your scope to maximum magnification and slowly slide it backward until the sight picture is full and clear. Mark this position for easy reference.

Considering Facial Features

It’s important to note that eye relief can also vary based on the shooter’s facial features. Be mindful of your own comfort and ensure that your eye is consistently at the same distance from the ocular lens.

Marking Your Eye Relief

Place tape or a marker on the rail to mark the ideal eye relief distance. This helps you quickly find your eye position when sighting in, ensuring you can shoulder your rifle and get on target without delay.

Adjustment Knob Zeroing

Fine-tuning the Crosshairs 

Start by setting your scope to maximum magnification and verifying that the crosshairs precisely intersect. Use the adjustment knobs to align them perfectly if needed.

Confirming Adjustment at Minimum Magnification

In addition to checking the zero at maximum and minimum magnification, it’s a good practice to verify your zero at multiple distances. This ensures your scope is accurate and consistent throughout various shooting scenarios.

Bore Sighting

Zeroing In on Paper 

Bore sighting helps you get on paper without expending unnecessary ammunition. Remove the bolt, visually center the rifle’s bore inside the barrel with your scope’s crosshairs, and you’ll be close to zero. A quick three-shot group at 100 yards will help you confirm your bore-sighted position.

Minimizing Ammo Expenditure

Bore sighting conserves ammunition, allowing you to get closer to your zero without the expense and hassle of live fire adjustments.

Fine Tuning at the Range

Precise Zeroing 

The final step involves dialing in your zero at the range. Fire a three-shot grouping at 100 yards and use the windage and elevation dials to tweak your crosshairs until your groupings are centered on the target. Please note that if you are using a BDC reticle, you may need to aim slightly above or below the target depending on the distance to the target.

Consistency is Key

To ensure accuracy, fire at least three groups to verify consistency and guarantee that your scope is perfectly zeroed.

Considerations for Different Hunting Situations

Short-Range Hunting: Lower magnifications are suitable for close-range hunting, offering a wider field of view and quicker target acquisition.

Long-Range Precision: For distant targets, higher magnifications are beneficial, allowing for precise shots but with a narrower field of view.

Varying Light Conditions: Adjust magnification according to the lighting conditions. Lower magnification is preferable in low light to maintain brightness and clarity.

Responsible Hunting and Ethics

While mastering the art of zooming in scope is essential, responsible hunting goes beyond marksmanship. Always prioritize the following –

  • Know your target and what lies beyond it. Avoid shooting at unclear or unidentified targets.
  • Hunt legally, ethically, and with respect for wildlife. Follow hunting regulations and be humane in your approach.
  • Support conservation efforts and sustainable hunting practices to preserve natural habitats and wildlife populations.


Zooming in a scope for hunting is a precise process that requires attention to detail. By following these steps, you can establish a reliable zero, ultimately saving ammunition and increasing your confidence in making accurate and ethical shots in the field. Remember to maintain your scope’s zero periodically, adhere to the appropriate target distance, use grid square patterns for precision, and focus on consistency. Don’t forget to clean and maintain your scope regularly to ensure it remains in peak condition. Properly zooming in your scope is the key to hunting success, ensuring that your shots hit their mark every time. Happy hunting!

Relevant Questions

How often should I re-zero my scope?

I like to verify my scope zero at least once per year and anytime I switch ammunition loads. Changes in temperature and humidity can also impact accuracy.

What distance should I zero at?

100 yards is ideal for most hunting scopes and calibers. For long-range setups, a 200-yard zero may be better. Know your effective range.

What targets should I use?

I prefer paper targets with grid square patterns which make it easy to precisely dial in your point of impact.

What if my groupings are inconsistent?

Ensure your scope is properly mounted and on level. Clean your rifle bore and try different ammo. Consistency comes from attention to detail.

How many rounds are needed?

Plan on firing at least 15-20 rounds during the sight-in process if starting from scratch. Bore-sighting can reduce this considerably.

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