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Education / Training Sighting in a scope The stuff nobody ever tells you!

Sighting in a scope The stuff nobody ever tells you!

by B.B. Pelletier

There are plenty of scope-sighting postings on this blog. But all of them assume a perfect world and shooters with decades of experience. In a few instances, I delved into common scope problems that get blamed on “scope shift,” but mostly I explained how to sight-in when everything is going fine. Today, I want to look at the dark side – when problems arise that the beginner is not well-prepared to understand.

Before we begin, you may want to look at the past postings on this subject.

Sighting in a scope – Don’t get carried away
Where (and how) to locate a scope
Scope mounting height
Adjustable scope mounts
Another problem with scopes: Not mounting them correctly
Shooting with a pistol scope
Adjusting a scope
At what range should you zero your scope?
What causes scope shift?
Another cause of scope shift: over-adjusted scope knobs
More about sighting-in: How to determine the two intersection points
How to optically center a scope
Scope mount basics – part one
Scope mount basics – part two

What nobody tells you – 1
Nobody tells you to shoot groups of ten shots with your scoped rifle before adjusting anything. That gives you a good idea where the center of the group really is. Some shooters have gotten lazy and shoot only two or three shots before adjusting a scope. Well, if you’re shooting a TX200 that you’ve shot 5,000 times before, you can get away with stuff like that. If you’re shooting your first spring-piston air rife ever, it’s another story.

Dr. Joseph M. Juran was one of two Americans who “invented” Japanese management (Dr. W. Edwards Deming was the other) in the 1950s and ’60s. He had an exercise designed to demonstrate to senior managers why it isn’t a good idea to make frequent changes to a system. He had a student stand over a piece of regular white paper with a dot in its center and drop a pencil, point-first, onto the paper, trying to hit the dot. The pencil was held to the tip of the student’s nose before dropping. Wherever the pencil struck the paper, Dr. Juran then reported the result to the rest of the class who couldn’t see the paper, and they developed instructions for the tester to adjust for the next attempt. He had to do what they told him. Within a few drops, the pencil wasn’t even striking the paper any more!

That may have been a management exercise, but the same thing happens when a shooter takes a new air rifle and starts adjusting the reticle on the basis of two or three shots. Shoot a group of ten, and then you’ll know what to do – which MIGHT include looking for a better pellet!

What nobody tells you – 2
Nobody tells you to keep your cotton-pickin’ hands OFF THE SCOPE when pumping your pneumatic gun! I saw a man shooting in a contest where everyone but him was shooting a spring rifle. He had a Sheridan Blue Streak with a big scope mounted on an intermount. This guy was grabbing the SCOPE TUBE to pump his gun!!! When about 100 percent of the other shooters present told him why that wasn’t such a good idea, he began holding onto the pistol grip of the stock as he pumped. That lasted for about ten shots before he was worn out! From then on, he used a spring rifle, too. Here’s the moral: there is a very good reason why people don’t play checkers in the middle of the freeway. If you want to be different, put your shirt on backwards, but for heaven’s sake, be a traditionalist when it comes to shooting.

What nobody tells you – 3
Nobody tells you that some scopes aren’t worth mounting on any gun. There are some real “bargains” out there that will bankrupt your sanity and peace of mind if you attempt to actually USE them. Raise your hand if you think a BB gun that is scoped with a $10 scope is going to be accurate. [Will the ushers please escort all those with raised hands to the funny farm?] If you don’t invest anything in a scope, why should it do anything for you? Remember the Yugo car? Get a good scope!

What nobody tells you – 4
Last tip. BUILD A HOUSE ON A FIRM FOUNDATION! That means use good scope mounts. Most of what I see at Wal-Mart is crap! Often I see cheaper scopes that come with the rings attached. That’s fine, but you don’t want to put a $10 scope with rings on your $400 air rifle! If you actually want to HIT what you are shooting at, buy good mounts. They don’t have to cost a lot. And, nobody needs the ability to see through a scope mount, no matter what Gander Mountain tries to tell you.

Well, I finally got that off my chest.

19 thoughts on “Sighting in a scope The stuff nobody ever tells you!”

  1. Regarding my IZH trigger problem. I have improved the situation somewhat but I cannot obtain any first stage. I have a Beeman R7 and know what a two-stage trigger feels like. There doesn’t seem to be any spring tension within the trigger either. With the Rekord trigger, you can pull back until you feel the second stage. If you release at that point the trigger springs back, but this one just hangs there. Also, the trigger leans to the right and isn’t inline with the barrel. Is this designed that way? I guess what I’m asking is: should the IZH trigger feel similar to the Record when both are properly adjusted?

  2. B.B. would you consider the Accushot High Profile Rings crap? i noticed that while most mounts on this site are at a minimum $20 these mounts are only $13?

    thanks, and as always any info related to scopes is very well apreciated, Scopestop guy

  3. Hello,

    I noticed that the new Gamo break barrel express rifle says it can use .22 shotshell ammunition.

    is this .22 LR “snake shot” ammo? or some kind of special airgun ammunition?

  4. IZH 46.

    The first stage pull is adjusted by the screw in front of the trigger. If you have no first stage, turn this screw counter-clockwise until you have the amount of first stage you want. You cannot load part of the trigger pull into the first stage of this trigger, so all you get is the feel of the trigger return spring.

    Yes, my trigger is inclined a little to the right, too. That is in lieu of a fancier trigger that allows you to adju8st the cant and slant that way you want it.

    ARE YOU COCKING THE TRIGGER to test it without cocking the gun? That’s how to finely adjust the trigger. Otherwise, the trigger will flop aroung as you describe.

    Just lift the transfer port assembly all the way up and the trigger will cock. Then stuff it under the spring-loaded keeper around the breech and test just the trigger, alone.

    The IZH trigger is much finer than a Rekord, unless you have a target Rekord, such as that found on an HW55.


  5. i really enjoy all the posts with the “insider’s” tips. retaining to the cheap scope, though, i find the bb gun scope i mounted to the b20 is actually functioning quite well. i havent had any breakages or losses in accuracy. its a little crooked, and the adjustments are pulled so far i need to leave the caps off. the erector tube inside dosent seem to be moving. its a low power airgun, but alas, i accomplished making an accurate combination with a cheapie scope.

    bb, do you have any tips for shooting with my trigger? its heavy, and only semi-predictable. my hold is okay, and i find the gun is very forgiving. a death grip produces larger groups. larger, but by a small margin.

  6. stop guy,

    Don’t shop by price!

    Look at the rings and who makes them. Accushot rings have four screws per cap, which means they both spread the torque load and they will clamp a far greater surface. They are made by Leapers, a company with a growing good reputation for scopes and mounts.

    I happened to use the medium version of those very rings on the Beeman R1 that I tested for Monday’s blog.

    Don’t shop by price!


  7. Gamo Viper,

    Boy, I was afraid this would happen! I thought the exact same thing when I first read Gamo’s description of what this air shotgun shoots.

    Gamo USA apparently has no real shooters on staff, so they make mistakes like this all the time. Shooting a 180-pound pig with a pellet gun was another one.

    What they MEANT to say was their air shotgun holds a small cylinder in the breech with approximately .22 caliber inside diameter. It holds the shot and is reloadable.

    Big difference, eh?


  8. dm20,

    You kinda help make my point about cheap scopes. Whenever a scope is cranked all the way so the eredtor tube return spring is fully compressed, it usually can’t deliver consistant accuracy.

    Shooting with a heavy trigger is very hard. If you can’t adjust it, all that’s left is to hope it wears in. I have no tips, save this, which is more experience than tip. I shoot an original Trapdoor Springfield that has a 5-pound pull. By modern standards, it is too heavy, yet I have learned it and can doo well with it. So keep trying.

    On the other hand, if your heavy trigger ALSO has creep, I’d get rid of the gun. Creep is the destroyer of good shooting.

    Good luck,


  9. IZH trigger: many thanks to you and the input from MAC-1. I have managed to dial in both stages. It still needs som tweeking but is working. I believe your bBlog is now the only site with this info.

    One question: the trigger feels rough, as if the parts are rough and have never been polished or lubricated. What do you suggest to smooth this out and what is unwise?

    Thanks a million.

  10. More information on the Dallas situation. It will effectively ban all uramex, PCP, Airsoft, and other pellet,air, paintball, and airsoft guns and classify possession as a criminal act.

    To the delight of toy retailers in Plano, Irving, Arlington and other surrounding suburbs, the city council’s public safety committee recommended that Dallas adopt a New York City style ban on the sale or possession of almost all toy guns, except those that are translucent, transparent or painted with reflective paint.

    The committee voted 7 to 1 to ask the city attorney to draft an ordinance to adopt the New York style restrictions. Councilmember Mitchell Rasansky voted against the recommendation, saying it didn’t go far enough.

    Dallas City Attorney Tom Perkins briefed the council’s public safety committee on the options for passing some kind of prohibition on toy guns in Dallas, which came up back in June.

    Perkins told council members a number of options were available. The city’s current ordinance prohibits a person brandishing or using a toy gun in public in a way that makes a person believe it is real.

    Perkins said at the least intrusive level, the city could make it a crime to remove or obscure the orange tip that federal law requires on all toy guns.

    Perkins then said some surrounding cities make it an offense to brandish a toy gun in a public place, period.

    The attorney also presented a rundown on current New York City laws – the most restrictive in the county – which is prohibits sale, gift, possession or use of any replica firearm in the city of New York unless that replica has a brightly colored exterior surface or is entirely translucent or transparent. Courts have upheld these restrictions.

    Finally, Perkins included the option of simply banning entirely the sale or possession of any toy gun in the city.

    Asked about the final option, Perkins said “(That) hasn’t been tested.”

    “I don’t want to wait until two kids die,” Councilmember Mitchell Rasansky said.

    Rasansky said he wanted a total ban.

    Councilmember Angela Hunt said she supported adopting the New York City version of the ban, which allows brightly colored, translucent or transparent toy guns.

    Councilmember James Fantroy said he would like to see a requirement for all toy guns to be painted with reflective paint.

    meeting mintues from the council meeting are not available

    snippet from the Dallas City Secretary


    SPEAKER: Roy Williams, 5881 Crestview Blvd
    REPRESENTING: Dallas County Green Party
    SUBJECT: Public Safety/Discretionary Fund

    SPEAKER: Peter Johnson, 4531 Solar Lane
    REPRESENTING: Urban League
    SUBJECT: Toy gun elimination incentive

    SPEAKER: David L. Ferrell, 4531 Solar Lane
    SUBJECT: Toy gun elimination

    SPEAKER: Zakee Iddeen, 3107 S. Lancaster Rd.
    SUBJECT: The mass amount of toy guns in the black community

    SPEAKER: Marsh McCartney, 1275 Bradford, Coppell, TX.
    REPRESENTING: North Texas Brady Campaign
    SUBJECT: Danger of toy guns replicating real guns


    Please do not have a knee jerk reation of call your represenative and cursing them out. What is needed is a coordinated effort to address the situation.

    Mike Green of the Army Store in Dallas has been a vocal supporter of airsoft for many years now. Over at http://www.airsoftadvance.com they’ve been discussing what can be done, and what we as a community should do.

    I hope to god this dosent pass.

  11. re the Dallas situation … I agree with you … what’s the local NRA saying about this ? any way to get folks who would be affected by this new ordinance to band together to vote these council members out of office if they succeed in this addition of another restriction just so they can point to it at election time under the heading of “see what I did for you, the public” ? when it cost the local economy more than doing anything to promote safety ?

  12. Um, well, back to the topic at hand: scopes. I really appreciate the “What nobody tells you…” stuff. I never tried zeroing with 10 shots or so, as just a few shots actually got me centered, but it sounds logical.
    I’ve been looking at handgun scope for quite a while, and they are really, really pricy. I tried a $30 3-9x-20 BSA rifle scope on my Marksman 2004 and was able to put a pellet through a 1/4″ mark at 30 yards (of course blocked and stableized). However, holding that thing up to my eyes was just too much so I returned it. It seemed to be well built, and even though the field of vision was small, it would have worked if the eye relief would have worked. It was cheap, but it worked well. I think at 30 yards it would have worked well on a rifle as well. However, beyond 30 yards, I don’t know, and, obviously, I didn’t run a lot of pellets through the gun with that scope. Perhaps with more pellets (and you would have to carefully cock that pneumatic) it might not have lasted. It was $30, and not $10, but it did include the the mounts, so I guess if you divided it in 1/2 $15 for the scope and $15 for the mounts, it comes close to the $10 scope! 😎 So here I am waiting for a scope that would work. I have encourntered the NG Star scopes at a gun show, but they are not rated for a springer, likely they would not last either on a springer. They might last on my Marksman and/or on my S&W 686, which do not operate by spring. You have mentioned on occasion the 2-20 scope, which is not really that expensive. Perhaps that should be the first step for a pistol scope. So I’m still waiting for a relatively inexpensive scope.
    Michael in Georgia

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