How to Adjust a Rifle Scope?

A riflescope helps a shooter identify his targets easily and take them out without any fuss. However, a shooter must know how to adjust his rifle scope properly, or else the advantage the riflescope offers is lost. Thus, how to adjust a rifle scope is an important question for a shooter.

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Properly adjusting your scope according to the demands of the environment or situation you find yourself in can prove crucial and help you get a clean shot at your target. As a matter of fact, a good marksman should be adept in the act of rifle scope adjustment. 

Here you will see how to properly adjust your rifle scope and become a better shooter. However, it is essential to first be familiar with the parts of a rifle scope before you learn how to properly adjust it.

Basic Parts of a Rifle Scope

The riflescope is a technical object and is made up of different parts which ensure it performs the duties it is designed for. Parts of a rifle scope includes:

  • Ocular Lens: This is the closest part of the scope to you while you aim with the rifle scope. You see through this lens when you look through the scope to pick out your target. The ocular lens concentrates the light gathered by the objective lens which is on the other end of the rifle scope into your eye thus allowing you to see your target. 

This lens must be kept clean and clear as damage to it will not allow you to see your targets clearly. A scope cap is used to protect the ocular lens.

  • Ocular Housing/ Eye-Piece: This is the part of the rifle scope that contains the ocular lens, some rifle scopes have dials on the ocular housing. These dials allow you to adjust the reticle and get a clearer view of your target. 
  • Ocular Focus Adjustment: This part of the rifle scope deals with the reticle (crosshairs), it allows you to focus the target within the scope to your eyes. 
  • Magnification Adjustment: This allows you to magnify your target to your desired size, you can magnify it such that you can pick a part of the target you want to hit. Riflescopes each have different degrees of magnification, some allow you to see targets at three times larger than the normal size.
  • Scope Body: The scope body is the main part of the scope, other parts Stacy to it to mow up a rifle scope. It is the midpoint of all the parts of a rifle scope. 
  • Windage Turret: The windage turret is used to adjust the horizontal settings of a scope, it changes the horizontal alignment of the reticle and allows you to focus on your target. This adjustment takes place in clicks or small increments. Some scopes allow you to pick the level of adjustment you want a single click to be.
  • Elevation Turret: This is similar to the windage turret, except that this turret changes the vertical alignment of the reticle. It sits atop the scope body and allows you to vertically adjust your view. It operates similarly to a windage turret. 
  • Reticle: This part of a rifle scope is quite important, it pinpoints the exact spot your bullet will hit. It consists of crosshairs and helps a shooter to achieve a precise and accurate shot. It is what the windage and elevation turret adjusts. 
  • Parallax Adjustment / Target Focus: This adjustment allows you to bring your target within the purview of the reticle so that you can properly aim and achieve a precise shot. It makes sure that your target does not shift away from the view of the reticle, it ensures that the reticle maintains your target as the focus. 

It can mostly be found on the side of the rifle scope, but some rifle scopes have their parallax adjustment around the objective lens.

  • Objective Lens: This is the part of the lens that is far away from you, it is the lens looking away from you and facing your target. It is the opposite of the ocular lens, however, it is quite larger than the ocular lens. 

It gathers light from the surroundings and focuses it into the rifle scope allowing you to see your target. The size of an objective lens will determine how much light and brightness it can deliver into the scope thus presenting a bright and clear image of your target. However, a larger objective lens also means a larger rifle scope. 

This part of the scope should also be kept clean and safe always, it is quite important. Some rifle scopes have scope caps that cover the objective and ocular lens, this keeps it safe and clean. 

All these parts make up what is known as a rifle scope, it is these parts that work together to present a clear image of your target and allows you to take out your target with a clear and precise shot. 

How to Adjust a Rifle Scope

To achieve the best results, you have to adjust your rifle scope to an angle that will give you a suitable view of your target thus giving a good chance of not missing the target. Thus, how do you adjust a rifle scope? 

Basically, when adjusting your rifle scope, there are four kinds of adjustments you can make to the scope. They include:

  1. Elevation Adjustment 
  2. Windage Adjustment
  3. Parallax Adjustment 
  4. Eye Focusing. 

Elevation Adjustment 

To change where the bullet would hit taking note of the position you are aiming from, you have to make an elevation adjustment. That is whether you want the bullet to hit up or down, elevation adjustment deals with a vertical adjustment of the rifle scope. This is done by adjusting the elevation turret. 

Elevation adjustments are done when you are shooting from various distances or ‘zeroing’ the scope to your rifle. Zeroing a scope means you bring together the point of aim of the scope and the point of impact such that the bullet strikes the target at a baseline distance. When you shoot at a distance other than that which you have zeroed your rifle scope, the bullet’s point of impact would not be the same as your point of aim, it would either be higher or lower than your point of aim. 

Elevation adjustment is necessary due to the fact that bullets begin to fall immediately they leave the barrel of the rifle. So, to counter-effect the falling of the bullet, you can move the point of impact of your bullet up so that it will still hit the target. 

Look through your rifle scope while making the adjustment and you will see the Reticle moving up and down. Adjust the elevation turret until you find the desired angle to take your shot. 

Each scope has a different way of elevation adjustment, some require turning the turret clockwise to bring up the impact of the bullet. To lower the impact, you simply turn the turret counterclockwise. Other scopes may require you to do the opposite. 

Windage Adjustment 

Just like the elevation adjustment, the windage adjustment also adjusts the angle of the point of impact of the bullet. However, unlike the elevation turret which deals with a vertical adjustment, the windage turret deals with a horizontal adjustment of the reticle, it moves it left or right. 

As you adjust the windage turret, it changes the trajectory of the bullet. Windage adjustment is mainly because of the impact of the wind on a bullet. Marksmen take the weather into condition while shooting, thus, the wind may slightly shift your bullet from the desired point of impact. Thus, considering the impact of the wind, you can adjust the point of impact of your bullet and still hit the bulls-eye even with the wind blowing. 

Windage adjustment is particularly important to snipers or shooters who shoot from a long range. It helps them beat the wind and still be able to hit the target. 

However, while shooting you should be wary of the wind as it changes tide easily and without warning. 

Parallax Adjustment 

The parallax adjustment is equally crucial and can prove quite important while shooting, it can be the difference between missing and hitting the target. It deals with the focus of a shooter while aiming at a target. 

While aiming, when you take your eyes off the scope, when you look back at the reticle, it seems as if the target has shifted away from the crosshairs. A parallax has occurred due to the change in your position, your head is no longer aligned in the previous perfect position, this error can cause you to miss the target. 

Due to the parallax, you will be prompted to move your rifle to get a better aim or bring it back to the previous position. However, by changing the position of the rifle, you have changed the trajectory of the bullet and the path. This will thus lead to you missing the target. 

However, a parallax adjustment, or as it is commonly called, a target focus will move the focal point of your target in your scope and merge it with the reticle thus putting both on the same focal plane and allowing you to take a precise and accurate shot. 

A rifle scope with an adjustable parallax is quite beneficial, it helps you to stop straining your eyes to view your target. Once the image of your target and the reticle are merged on the same focal plane, both will not only be in focus, thus you don’t need to strain your eyes to see your target, but, there will be no parallax effect. 

Eye Focusing 

This is a popular mistake that is quite common to shooters and hunters, you should get your rifle scope focused for your eyes. You can get your scope’s eyepiece focused by following these steps:

  • Mount your scope on your rifle and ensure that it is in the right position. 
  • Place a white piece of paper a few feet away from your rifle, this will serve as your target. You can equally get a friend to help hold the white paper. 
  • Get behind the scope and attain a comfortable position. Gaze through the riflescope for about two seconds, close your eyes for a few seconds then repeat. 
  • Change the ocular focus adjustment of your scope and repeat this procedure until you have a clear and sharp view within one or two seconds of looking through the reticle. 

Focusing your eyepiece would be of great benefit to your shooting and aiming skills, it helps improve your sped and accuracy as you can see your targets quickly and clearly. 

These are the major types of adjustments you can make to your rifle scope, however, there are a few other adjustments you can also make to your rifle scope to help improve your shooting accuracy. They include:

  • Magnification Adjustment: This type of adjustment deals with magnifying your target, you can choose to zoom in or out, it increases the size of your target and allows you to have a clear view of the target. 
  • Brightness Adjustment: Not all weather conditions are favorable to a marksman, you may find yourself in adverse conditions or low lighting conditions. In these conditions, scopes that have illuminated reticles are highly beneficial. You can adjust the brightness to suit the environment so that you can see your target clearly. However, you don’t want to increase the brightness too much as it can blur your view and make you miss the target. 

Benefits of Using a Rifle Scope

Using a rifle scope is highly beneficial, some of these benefits are:

  • Improved Accuracy: A marksman is usually rated by how accurate his shots are. Speed and accuracy are the parameters used in rating marksmen and a rifle scope can help increase this. With a rifle scope, you are guaranteed a clear view of your target giving you ample time to take a clear and accurate shot. 

A scope offers numerous advantages which help increase the accuracy of a shooter, with a rifle scope, it is harder to miss a target. 

  • It improves the Range of a Rifle: It is only a rifle scope that can allow you to hit long-range targets easily. It brings objects that are at distance very close to the shooter. It allows you to see the target clearly and be able to pick a good spot that will bring the target down. 
  • It increases the Skills of a Shooter: A rifle scope helps a shooter hit the target more often thus boosting his shooting skills. A good shooter is both physically and psychologically good. Hitting the target often helps boost morale and gives a shot the right courage to hit the target easily. 
  • Long Range Shooting: A rifle scope offers a shooter the option of shooting from long range without compromising or reducing his ability to hit the target. As a matter of fact, it even increases his chances of hitting the target. It brings the target very close to him thus giving him a good chance of getting a precise and accurate shot. 
  • It offers Comfort: While shooting, most shooters find themselves in uncomfortable and bad conditions, a rifle scope however offers comfortable even in terrible conditions. A rifle scope has several beneficial characteristics. An example is light adjustment, in bad lighting conditions, a shooter can increase the brightness thus allowing him to see with clarity even in the dark. 


Scopes have different click values as they are produced differently, it all depends on the type of scope you use. Some scopes’ click value is ½ MOA, which means approximately 15 mm per 100 m while some are 1/8 MOA per click.

A reticle is the crosshair or point of aim in a rifle scope. It allows you to pinpoint your target and the exact area you want the bullet to hit. 

Riflescopes come in various magnifications, they all have the option which allows you to change the level of magnification you want. However, for close-range shooting or combat, you should get a low-power rifle scope, but if you are on a sniping mission or going for long-range shooting, you should get a high-power rifle scope. 


A rifle scope has no disadvantages, rather it helps to remove disadvantages and brings advantages to a shooter. A rifle scope can more than make a difference to a shooter, thus, it is imperative to know how to adjust a rifle scope to suit one’s environment and situation. 

Riflescope adjustment is quite easy and offers a lot of benefits. It also helps you get acquainted with your rifle so that it becomes an extended part of you thus making you battle-ready at any point in time.

Author Profile

Gabriel Tackett
Double major in Engineering and Geology at the University of Minnesota. Experienced shooter & hunter for over 15 years. Certified NRA officer for over 10 years working as a writer at .

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