Rifle sitting on table at shooting range.

Sighting in a rifle or "zeroing in" involves aligning the sights or optic of a firearm with the rifle's barrel so that the bullet hits the intended target at a desired distance.

This is done to ensure greater accuracy when shooting at longer ranges. For law enforcement and military training, it's a fundamental skill that every shooter must acquire, and it requires plenty of practice to perfect.

Sighting In, Sight Picture, and Alignment

Regardless of the level of proficiency of your shooters, guiding them on how to properly zero in from different distances can be quite challenging. 

In this blog post, we provide tips and techniques for sighting in a rifle at long distances and also discuss how to establish sight picture for pistol training at closer range.

Equipment Required

To sight in a rifle accurately, shooters require some essential equipment. The most important piece of equipment is a rifle scope, which helps magnify the target and provide a clear image. 

Additionally, shooters need a stable shooting platform, such as a shooting bench or a bipod, to reduce any unnecessary movement. 

Other necessary equipment includes: 

Finally, you need quality targets to sight in on. At Qualification Targets, Inc., we offer a wide selection of paper, cardboard, and steel targets for training and qualification. We also provide essential safety gear to keep shooters protected.

Shop online or place your department order today

Tips for Sighting in a Rifle

Now, let's get back to our list of techniques to help shooters zero in their rifles properly and improve their shooting skills.

Start at a reasonable distance

Most rifles are zeroed in at a distance of 100 yards or more. For new shooters, we recommend zeroing in a rifle at a distance of 25 or 50 yards to get a feel for the process.

Use a rest

When zeroing in a rifle, it's important to eliminate as much human error as possible. Using a rest or sandbags can help steady the rifle and reduce movement.

Make small adjustments

When adjusting your sights or optic, make small modifications at a time. Doing so will help you make accurate adjustments (and get a "feel" for zeroing in) while preventing you from over-correcting.

Shoot groups

Instead of trying to adjust your sights or optic after every shot, shoot groups of 3-5 rounds and then make adjustments based on where the group is hitting.

Be patient

Sighting in a rifle takes patience. Don't rush the process and take your time to ensure an accurate hit.

Consider environmental factors

Wind, temperature, and other environmental factors can affect the trajectory of your bullet. Be aware of these factors and adjust your sight accordingly.

Establishing Proper Sight Picture for Close Range

A fundamental component of training for shooters is the opportunity to practice with different firearms at various ranges. Doing so allows them to improve their skills, become more familiar with different weapons, and be well-prepared for any situation that may arise while on the job. 

When shooting at close range, and swapping their rifle for pistol training, it's essential for shooters to remember proper sight alignment and picture. This involves aligning the front and rear sights or reticle in the optic, enabling them to aim accurately at the intended target.

For beginners, here are some tips for establishing sight alignment from shorter distances.

Sighting from 5ft

Keep your eyes level with the sights, and use your dominant eye for sighting. To avoid any unnecessary movement, maintain a steady grip and stance and breathe steadily.

  • Align the front sight perfectly in the center of the rear sight and focus on the front sight. 
  • Next, place the front sight on the center of the target and maintain focus on the front sight. 
  • Finally, slowly squeeze the trigger while maintaining the sight picture until the shot is fired. 

Sighting from 10ft

When aiming from a distance of 10ft, the process is quite similar to aiming from 5ft. 

  • Be sure to pay attention to your breathing and grip. 
  • Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds.
  • Exhale slowly while squeezing the trigger.

Doing so will help you to keep the firearm steady and prevent any unnecessary movement. Next, ensure that your grip is firm, but not too tight, and that your elbows are slightly bent vs. locked in full extension. 

For beginner shooters, it's important to maintain the right balance of control and stability while taking your first few shots.

Sighting from 15ft

When sighting from 15ft, the key is to maintain a stable and comfortable shooting position. This means standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, and slightly bending your knees. 

  • Keep your arms straight, but not locked (elbows should be slightly bent) and your grip firm, but not too tight. 
  • Focus on the front sight, and align it with the target. 
  • Breathe steadily and avoid any sudden movements that could throw off your aim.

Shop Qualification Targets, Inc. Today

At Qualification Targets, Inc., you'll find all the necessary gear and equipment to make your training experience safe and successful. We offer targets for various firearms, distances, and ammunition.

Browse our online shop to explore a wide range of high-quality targets, safety gear, and other shooting accessories to help your shooters train with confidence.