How to Zero a Rifle Scope: Beginners Guide Part One-Classroom Phase

Welcome to the beginner’s guide on how to zero a rifle scope. In this first part, we will discuss the classroom phase of zeroing your rifle scope, which is an essential step to achieve a precise and accurate shot. As a novice shooter, understanding the fundamental principles of zeroing your rifle scope will help you improve your aim and hit your targets more consistently. So, let’s dive into the classroom phase of zeroing a rifle scope and learn what it takes to achieve accurate shots every time.

How to Zero a Rifle Scope: Beginner’s Guide Part One – Classroom Phase

If you’ve just purchased a rifle, or you’re looking to upgrade your current scope, it’s crucial that you know how to properly zero in your new optic. When done correctly, zeroing a rifle scope ensures that your shots remain accurate from one range to the next. In today’s beginner’s guide, we’ll introduce you to the essential components of zeroing in your rifle scope so that you can hit your target more often.

Introducing the Zeroing Process

Zeroing in your rifle scope may seem like a daunting task at first, but breaking the process down into small, manageable steps makes it a lot more straightforward. Before we get into that process, let’s first review the basic components of rifle scopes.

MOA vs MIL Scopes

There are two types of scopes primarily in use: MOA and MIL. MOA stands for Minute of Angle, which is an angular measurement of one-sixtieth of one degree. MOA scopes are widely used in the United States and are often the go-to option for hunters and target shooters.

On the other hand, MIL stands for Milliradian, which is a metric unit of angular measurement. While MOA adjusts in increments of one inch at 100 yards, MIL adjustments are made in increments of 1/10th of a MIL at 100 meters. While MIL scopes aren’t as common in America as MOA scopes, they’re the go-to option for many military snipers.

Understanding Adjustments

Now let’s talk about adjustments. One of the most important things to know about your rifle scope is that it’s not fixed; you can adjust it to compensate for bullet drop and to make it more accurate.

Your scope has two primary adjustments: the windage knob and the elevation knob. The windage knob allows you to adjust for left and right movements, while the elevation knob adjusts for up and down movements. To get the most out of your rifle, you must understand how these adjustments work and how to make use of them.

The Classroom Phase

Before hitting the range to zero your rifle, you need to learn about the process in a classroom setting. It’s in this phase where we’ll teach you the fundamental theory behind zeroing a rifle scope.

Step One: Assess Your Rifle and Scope

The first step in zeroing in a rifle scope is to assess your rifle and scope. You need to understand some critical facts about your rifle, such as the rifle’s caliber, the grain weight of your ammunition, and the bullet’s ballistic coefficient.

You also need to know some crucial facts about your scope, such as its magnification, the size of its objective lens, and whether it’s first or second focal plane.

Step Two: Find Your Zero

Next, you need to find your zero. This process involves adjusting your scope to match the rifle’s point of impact. To accomplish this, you’ll want to set up at a shooting range to practice long-range shooting. Place your target at 100 yards, and shoot a five-round group from a steady rest.

After firing the group, determine where the group of shots landed on the target. Adjust your scope’s windage and elevation knobs so that the crosshairs of your scope rest right on the center of your target.

Step Three: Additional Adjustments

After finding your zero, you’ll want to make any additional adjustments to your rifle scope. These include setting your parallax, adjusting the eye relief, and determining the best magnification based on the range.


Zeroing in a rifle scope is a fundamental part of rifle precision shooting. In this beginner’s guide, we have introduced you to the basic components of rifle scope theory and how to zero in your rifle scope the proper way. Remember, always consult a licensed individual to work on your firearm, and abide by state and federal rules.


  1. What is the difference between MOA and MIL scopes?
  2. What adjustments need to be made when zeroing in a rifle scope?
  3. What are some crucial things to know about your rifle and scope before zeroing in your rifle scope?
  4. How do I determine where to place my target when zeroing in my rifle scope?
  5. What additional adjustments need to be made after finding my zero?

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