By B.B. Pelletier

Today’s post comes from a recent conversation with an airgunner having some scope problems. He has a variable scopes and told me the maximum magnification is too high.

Learn to twist the power wheel!
He has an AirForce 4-16x variable-power scope mounted on his Condor. He bought the gun to police his orchard in southern California. Ah, ain’t life grand? Usually he shoots birds and squirrels at 40 to 60 yards, but at this time of year rats come down the mountainside behind his property to eat his fruit when it falls to the ground. They’re much bolder than the other critters, and he often encounters them as close as 15 feet. Too bad his scope doesn’t focus that close! He guessed he needed to remove the scope and attach open sights for those close shots.

The power wheel goes DOWN as well as up
All he has to do to see his target at 15 feet is dial the power wheel to its lowest setting, which in this case is 4x. With the parallax wheel set to the closest distance, he’ll see targets even closer than 15 feet with clarity.

As I write this, I’m looking through a 4-16x variable set on 4x, and I can see stuff at 10 feet clear enough to shoot. At 15 feet, things are almost in sharp focus. And, with the AirForce scope, the change in magnification doesn’t affect the zero. While some scopes will shift as the power changes, most scopes keep their zero throughout the power range. Shoot targets at the same distance using different power settings to confirm that yours doesn’t shift. There’s your homework assignment!

Remember – close shots require different aim points
Now, the message from the posting on June 1 about what range you should zero your scope will make some sense! When your target is at 15 feet and you are zeroed for 20 yards, you’ll shoot low. VERY low, it turns out. The separation of the scope and barrel makes you point the scope downward to intersect the pellet’s flight, and at 15 feet there hasn’t been enough distance to get all the way down, yet. So, you might find your pellet striking 2.5″ below the aim point of your crosshairs. This is where a duplex reticle comes in handy.

Duplex reticles have multiple aim points!
Besides the intersection of the crosshairs, the duplex reticle has four other aim points, which are the tips of the heavy part of the reticle that taper to the thin inner line. See a duplex reticle in the article All about scopes. Part 1 on this website. The bottom post has an aim point below the crosshair intersection. It may not be perfectly zeroed for 15 feet, but it’s easy to use some “Kentucky elevation” with it. I bet you can hit a dime every time once you figure out where the pellet goes. That’s how you shoot rats at 15 feet with a scope that’s zeroed for 20 yards.

So, USE the variable power feature of your scope. Your scope can do more for you. You paid for it; let it pay you back!