How to Sight in Your Deer Rifle, by Paul Harrell


How to Sight in Your Deer Rifle, by Paul Harrell

With deer hunting season looming large in much of North America, Paul takes on the subject of zeroing a rifle for deer hunting. As usual, he notes a few disclaimers or “yeah-buts” before proceeding:

  1. Even though he’s talking about deer hunting, much of this will apply to other types of shooting.
  2. Although he instructs by saying things like “you should,” he claims he’s not telling viewers what to do, but rather explaining what he does himself. Hmmmm…
  3. This video is about zeroing new rifles or sights/scope from scratch, not fine-tuning or checking zero.
  4. Refer to number 2.

He begins with something he considers vital for sighting in a deer rifle: Ammunition. Always zero with the same exact ammunition you’ll be using for hunting. Always!

You also may need to try various types or loads before you find something that will perform up to snuff in your particular rifle. Not someone else’e rifle of the same make and model — your individual rifle.

You’ll lose audio about seven minutes in, due to rain on his microphone. He explains in a comment that he was talking about open sights vs. peep (aperture or ghost ring) sights, and scopes.

His first actual zeroing is done with a used Winchester Model 88 lever action 308 rifle, with open sights. The 100-yard shooting is kinda cool because you can clearly hear the gunshot and bullet impact as separate sounds.

He uses a term unfamiliar to me when he describes the point of impact. He calls it the “strike of that round.” It means the same thing, of course, and I’m not complaining. I’m just observing and letting folks know what to expect.

Once he gets to the scope, he gets into the subject that has boggled many a hunter at the range. Jethro Bodeen called it cipherin’ and it pretty much means that you need to some basic math when you adjust a scope. In other words, you need to do some division and multiplication in order to figure out how many clicks or notches your scope needs to move.

Zeroing a scope can be tedious, but it’s a necessary chore for most hunters. I love to shoot, but not when I’m missing my target. That turns out to be an exercise in frustration, so be sure you carefully zero your guns before you head afield.

He also makes a good point in suggesting that you actually fire at a target that represents your actual prey in the conditions and positions in which you are most likely to fire at it.


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Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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