Monday, February 11, 2008


Well, thanks to our tax refund check, Sunny and I had a little spare cash this week.

So I bought myself a real, honest to God, rifle rest. I’d been having a little trouble ‘sighting in’ my rifle with the new scope I got a few weeks ago, and figured it would really help out.

If you don’t know what ‘sighting in’ is, in simplest terms, it’s adjusting your scope so the bullet lands at the crosshair. The way you do this is fire 3 or four shots at a target, see where they land in relation to where you aimed, and adjust your scope until the crosshairs and the point of impact are the same.

I set up a target, the rifle rest, put the rifle on it and adjusted the rest until the crosshair was right on the bullseye. I was grinning to myself at this point…usually I just use a bag or rolled up sweater to rest the front of the rifle on, and I could see the difference immediately…the rifle rest was rock-solid.

I was using sight-in targets. This is a main target in the middle of the paper with crosshairs so you can make sure your aim is dead on. There are also four targets around the outside you use as ‘testers’.

So I made sure the aim was okay and fired five shots. I was about an inch high and left. Doing a bit of mental math (I won’t bore you with the whole ‘minute of angle’ stuff), I worked out I needed to adjust two ‘clicks’ down and right.

I lined up again, and fired another five shot group. Three were dead center, one was slightly low…and the other was two inches high and to the right.

It wasn’t bad, and I disregarded the ‘flyer’, for the simple reason I was using bulk ammo. I figured I’d just fired a bad round.

So, I aimed at one of the testers and fired five more shots. These all landed in a nice group, but ridiculously low and right…there was also another flyer way off the paper.

At this point, I came back into the house to check the internet to see what the parallax setting is on the scope. Parallax errors happen when the crosshair in the scope isn’t projected on the same ‘plane’ as the target.

Without going into too much detail, all this means is that if the target is closer than the parallax setting of the scope, move your head a little while aiming, and the crosshairs in the scope will appear to move around. In other words, you can have your scope dead on, but if your head moves a quarter inch between shots, the bullet won’t land at the crosshair. It might not move by much, but when you’re aiming at a one-inch square at 75 yards, it’s the difference between a hit and a miss.

I figured that the scope’s parallax settingwas probably the problem, but it turned out I was wrong. The parallax on my scope is set from 50 yards to infinity…meaning it’s not an issue for targets further than 50 yards…considering I was shooting at a target 75 yards away, it wouldn’t effect aiming.

My problem continued. I would shoot, adjust, get it dead on…then the next target I shot at I’d be way off.

Finally, after shooting about 150 rounds, I just gave up. I figured that either the scope was defective or my rifle just hated Federal Bulk ammo. I considered breaking out the Remington Golden bullets that my Daughter in Law bought me for my birthday…but at that point, I was tired, frustrated and just couldn’t be bothered shooting anymore.

Then, as I put my rifle away, it tilted on its side and I heard an extremely quiet ‘click’ sound. I picked it back up, gave it a gently shake and heard ‘click, click, click’.

I held the scope and pushed on the side, it moved the tiniest fraction of an inch.


Turns out that when I installed it I hadn’t tightened the rail down quite enough. As I was shooting, every shot shook it a little looser. While a fraction of an inch doesn’t sound like very much…every time the distance doubles, so does the amount the scope is off by.

Just to highlight how big a deal this is, if your point of aim is off by a half a degree when shooting at a target at 20 yards, you’ll be off by two and a half degrees at 100 yards. If that doesn’t sound like much, 1/60th of a degree at a hundred yards covers roughly an inch.

In other words, being off by half degree at 20 yards means you’ll miss by over an inch…and almost 12 feet at 100 yards.

So, after spending a couple hours and shooting 150 rounds, I have to start again from scratch next time I shoot because I had to remove the scope to fix the rail.

Moral of the story:

Make sure your scope is properly installed before you go shooting…and always check the simplest fixes first.

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