PRECISION RIFLE MARKSMANSHIP: THE FUNDAMENTALS
Recoil|November - December 2020
A Marine Sniper's Guide to Long Range Shooting
Frank Galli

Before we begin, I want to state that you want a 100- yard zero with all rifles with tactical, raised, or what we call target turrets. A 100-yard zero is the best option out there, even for hunting rifles. I will expand after a few other topics.

BORE-SIGHTING

Prior to firing our first rounds, we want to bore-sight the rifle on a target at distance. Sure, there are a host of ways to skin this cat, I get it, everyone has their own idea of zero. It can defi nitely depend on the type of rifle you are shooting whether you can “look” down the barrel in order to line up the sights. Some rifles make this process easier than others.

You can certainly shoot the rifle inside 100 yards, like at 25 yards, but you should familiarize yourself with the mechanical offset associated to your system. The mechanical offset is the height of the scope over the bore. We look through the scope and the bore is 2 inches or so below this, so we have to account for the mechanical offset. At 25 yards, you will have a signifi cant amount of dope dialed on the scope to make up the difference. That means your 25-yard initial zero has to be as high as your scope is mounted.

AR-15 shooters understand their mechanical offset because they shoot inside 100 yards all the time. If you want to hit a target inside a room, you have to aim over it to account for the sight-above-bore offset.

Back in the day, everyone wanted their scopes as low as possible. This was to help with hunting, using a point-blank-range zero. The lower your hunting optic is mounted, the easier it is to hold over and hit an animal at a particular range. That range was usually pretty close.

Today, we have monolithic rails, we have adjustable cheek pieces, and we have software to translate the offset. You need to know about mechanical offsets in order to hit targets inside 100 yards, but from a 100-yard zero everything is up. What I mean is, you will always add elevation to shoot these targets, and you will not have to hold under.

I like to have a smallish, round, brightly colored target at 100 yards I can point the barrel at it and see it from the action. Then, I can glance up and align the reticle to the center of this target. Doing this gives me a good solid bore-sight. This is dependent on being able to remove the bolt and look through the action; at times this means moving the cheek-piece out of the way. For this action, the rifle on a bench with a front and rear rest are easiest to manage. It’s one of the few times I would recommend a Lead Sled to hold the rifle in place.

With the rifle bore-sighted on target, it’s time to address the 100-yard zero.

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