How to use a riflescope: an expert’s guide

You most likely have taken a look at our section on how to mount a riflescope and once you have the scope mounted on your rifle properly, the next thing you’ll want to know is how to best use it.

Well, it’s not all about looking through the eyepiece lens and get a magnified image of your target but rather it’s about how you could get a crisper image and take the perfect shot. Even with the best riflescope, you won’t be getting accurate and safer shots unless you know how to use it properly.

So, that being said, how about we first start off with looking at some of the most common terminologies regarding the different parts of scope then go ahead and see how you can best use one.

Parts of a riflescope

If you are new to a riflescope, it might be a little difficult to know how to use one before you actually know of the different parts of the scope. So, to make this section friendlier to you, here are some common terminologies you should know about.

  • The scope body: otherwise known as the tube, the body of a scope is the overall diameter of the whole rifle scope. The most common sizes you’ll come across in the market are the 1-inch or 30mm diameters.
  • Adjustment knobs: these, on a riflescope will be available in various forms and they includethe turret adjustments, finger pressure knobs, and the flat tip screws.
  • The windage: it’s quite seldom to take shots in completely calm weather and in order to compensate for this, scopes will have a windage setting that cancels out the horizontal or vertical effect of wind.
  • Reticles: though they come in different variations, the goal, at the end of the day is to estimate the landing point of the bullet
  • The power: all riflescopes are identified by this. This is basically the number of times the view through the scope can be enlarged. It is normally indicated by the two numbers with the smaller one being the smallest magnification and the larger one being the maximum level of magnification achievable.
  • Parallax: this is the difference between eh view in the scope and that of the reticle. By adjusting the parallax, you’ll have the reticle be in optical focus with the integrated target.

Here’s how to properly use your riflescope.

Now that you know of the important terminologies regarding a riflescope, let’s see how you can properly use one

The scope adjustment knobs

There are 3 possible knobs that can be adjusted on every riflescope- either the windage, the elevation or the parallax adjustment knob.


What you’ll get for most scopes nowadays is 100 yards for the parallax adjustment and this is normally eligible for the scopes that only have a zoom. The higher the magnification levels, the more you’ll be needing the parallax adjustment.

The knob will be found on the left side of most scopes and with this, you’ll mostly be able to have the reticle be on the same distance as the target which is why various levels of parallax will have distance indicated on them.

This is also depended on a number of things such as the eye relief and will take some practice to get right.


With this knob, you’ll basically have height compensation. The perfect scenario is that you’ll have the elevation zeroed as the bullet is propelled out of the rifle but in most cases, especially long-distance shots, you’ll want the rifle elevated slightly for it to cover a longer distance.

By utilizing the elevation adjustment, you’ll zero out the target despite the bullet moving in an arc.


Situated on the right-hand side, this will have you covered when you’re hunting or target shooting in the windy days. Regardless of the direction from which the wind is blowing, you can adjust the windage to cancel out the effects the wind will have on the line of the path of your bullet

Sighting in your targets

Truth be told, this is the most important things you could do when it comes to using your rifle scope. It will most probably take a number of shots before you can hit your target and you’ll definitely have to make a lot of adjustments.

First, take your aim through the eyepiece and with the reticle locked on to your target, take your shot. The bullet will most likely hit too high or too low. For the latter, adjust the reticle downwards and for the former, adjust it upwards. What you want at the end of the day is have the bullet brought to the reticle and this should be achieved with consecutive adjustments.

This should get the elevation properly set and the same ought to be done for the windage except, in this case, left to right adjustments.

How to zero in our

Now that you know the purpose of the different adjustments you can make on your riflescope, the next way to go is zeroing it in.

What zeroing it in does is that at the end of it all, you will have the bullet hit the target exactly where you want them to and this is determined by more than just the windage and elevation.

  • First, you’ll want to keep the rifle as still as possible probably using either a firing table or a bipod and with the windage and elevation knobs, adjust the scope.
  • Other than the adjustments, ensure that you’ve got utmost control when squeezing the trigger- this should be done slowly and steadily.
  • Lastly, take different shots at a specific point to end up with the reticle and the impact point aligned

Final verdict

Well, there you have it- every tip and trick when it comes to using a riflescope. Though it might be a little difficult to get everything right from the first, enough practice should get you doing everything right eventually. Other than just knowing how to use it, it’s advised that you exercise as much care for consistently good results.

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