Rifle Fundamentals: Sight Adjustment

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posted on June 3, 2018
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As soon as you are shooting good groups, you are ready to adjust your sights, in order to move your groups to the middle of the target. You have proper sight adjustment when the center of your group is in the center of the target. This assures that you will get the best possible score from you shots.

Adjusting rifle sights
How Sights Work
Raising or lowering the rear sight moves the center of a group up or down on the target. Moving the sight left or right moves the group left or right. Most rear sights have knobs to make this movement. The movement is measured in clicks. Each click moves the center of the group a very small distance on the target. The table below can be used a guide for figuring out sight changes. Later you will learn the precise change one click on your sight makes.

Table For Sight Changes:

Approximate Number of Clicks Needed to Move Group One Scoring Ring 

Rifle                Target             Clicks Per Ring

.22 Cal.            50 ft. Int.         Two

.22 Cal.            50 ft. Nat.        Four

Air Rifle          10 m.               Four

BB Gun           5 m.                 10


The adjustment knobs on many target sights are marked to show in which direction the shot group will move when the knob is turned. If the sights on your gun are not marked to show direction of adjustment, you must test your sight and mark the adjustment direction on the windage (left-right) and elevation (high-low) knobs. Do this by looking closely at the rear aperture while you turn the adjustment knob. Mark the elevation knob to show which way to turn it to move the rear aperture up. Mark the windage knob to show which way to turn it to move the rear aperture to the right.

Centering the Group
The rule for sight adjustment is to move your sights in the same direction you want to move your group. If you group is high and to the left, move your rear sight down and to the right. Here are three steps to follow in adjusting your sights:

  1. Check the target. Mark the center of your group and draw horizontal (left and right) and vertical (up and down) lines through that point. Count how many scoring ring widths there are up or down to the center of the target.
  2. Adjust elevation. Multiply the number of scoring rings up or down by the number given for your rifle and target in the Table for Sight Changes above. Turn the elevation knob that number of clicks.
  3. Adjust windage. Multiply the number of scoring ring widths left or right by the number given for your rifle and target in the Table for Sight Changes. Turn the windage knob that number of clicks. Be sure to move the windage knob, which moves the rear aperture, in the same direction you want your shot group to move.

RIfle Sight Adjustment

After making a sight adjustment, shoot another group and see if the center of your group is in the center of the target. If not, make more sight adjustments until your groups are centered.

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