How To Use A Scope?

With the effectiveness of scopes in increasing one’s accuracy when shooting from a long distance by magnifying the image of the targeted prey, many hunters have come to embrace this tool. With this, the use of a rifle scope when hunting is now popular and acceptable among professional hunters, shooters, military shooters, and any type of shooter in general. Scopes are as versatile as they are useful, making them perfect for all shooting applications.

Many shooters own scopes, but only a few know how to use this device properly. When it comes to shooting with a scope, the truth is one gets better with consistent practice. To become a very good shooter, you need to practice constantly and have a basic knowledge about how to use a scope properly.  This is why we have taken the time to dish out the basic knowledge you would need to add to your repertoire when using a scope for your shooting.  There are three stages to using a scope properly. The first is mounting, the second is adjusting while the third is aiming with your scope. These three stages are properly discussed below

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Hunting without a scope can be stressful and unfulfilling, especially when you aim at long-distance targets, or partake in any shooting activity where precision and accuracy are necessary. Irrespective of your skill, a good scope is an essential accessory for your rifle. As a matter of fact, a scope is one of the most important tools for hunting, and learning how to use a scope is a smart move for every hunter.

Hunting with scopes puts a hunter at an advantage. It gives the hunter an advantage over the prey. A scope helps the hunter shoot quickly and accurately at the prey. This is because it makes the prey easy to sight despite its distance. 

How to use a scope

1. Mounting your scope 

A. Getting the right mount

You cannot use your scope without mounting it. You would need to learn how to mount your scope properly before using it. If your scope is not properly mounted, it would affect its output when you are using it.  The first step to properly mounting your scope is getting a mount that matches your scope.  Most scopes come with a predesigned mounting based on its mount design, hence you would need to get a mount that would fit your scope’s mount design. 

  •  Get a mounting ring that suits the diameter of your scope. The mount would not fit properly if the diameter side of the inside ring is wrong.
  • Make sure you  read your scope instruction book to get the appropriate mount for your scope

B. Aligning and adjusting the reticle and the eye relief

The Alignment of your reticles is just as important as targeting when using the scope. Before you do anything on your scope, you would have to align its reticles and make them fit properly. This reticle of the scope is the picture you get to see when you look into your lens.  This helps to indicate where the weapon is aimed. Wherever the reticle indicator (light) points to is where your weapon is aimed.

  •  To align it, all you have to do is keep the mounting ring loose.
  • Rotate the body of the scope till the reticle gives you a plus sign 
  • Make sure that the scope lens is not too close to your eyes. Do this by adjusting the lens of the scope properly

C. Get familiar with various parts of the scope

You cannot set out to use your scope without getting familiar with the various parts of the scope. You need to know the names of various parts of your scope and what they are meant for. The fact remains that there are various scope brands and each of them uses nearly the same scope for their scopes.  An average rifle scope is made up of the body, the eyepiece, objective lens windage,  and elevation and parallax knobs. These parts perform various functions; to use your scope

  • The eyepieces: the eyepiece is that part of the scope that allows you to visualize your targeted prey.  It is where you position your eyes. It allows knowing exactly where to look to target your prey. Besides, it is the magnification towards your aimed target.
  • Parallax knob: the parallax knob is that part of the scope that gives you the ability to adjust the movement of the scope’s reticle. When aiming at your target, you adjust the movement of the reticles from the parallax knob.
  • Elevation knob. These are located around the reticles of the riflescope. They move around the reticle side by side 
  • The body of your scope:  this where you find out about your diameter. 
  • The objective lens:  the objective lens is that part of a scope that allows light into the scope, in forming the image. You can scan through the objective lens. Some scopes come with a bigger objective lens, this allows you to scan a wider area.
  • The magnification and power ring: the Power rings helps you in adjusting clarity for a better shot.
  • Field of View (FOV) – your field of view is that area where you can see through your scope. It is measured from the left to your right. Assuming you have a 5p yards field of view, this means you can see 50 yards from your left to your right.
  • Turrets – The turrets are mounted on the top and the side of your scope. They come in a circular shape. You should have seen those circular things on the top of a scope, they are called turrets. They are used to zero the scope and also make adjustments when needed.

D.  Zero in 

 Getting this is very important to how well your scope would function. Zeroing in means setting up your scope on a rifle. Your rifle has to be in a static position when you get to shoot. It should be in a controlled position and not move around while you fire bullets. When you zero in properly every shot you fire is only sight through the scope and hit your targeted prey. Zeroing in helps you aim right at your target.  When shooting with your scope you have to adjust the range to zero.  This would help you adjust the distance and the target, making your bullet land somewhere close to your aimed target, if not on your target.

To zero in all you have to do is mount your rifle on the rifle stand, then zero in the target into the reticle. 

E. Check out its level of magnification 

Before using your scope, access its level of magnification, this helps you to have a better understanding of your scope before usage. You can access this just by looking at the model number. The scope koel number contains its magnification and its objective lens diameter. If your scope is 3 X 40 then it means the magnification of your scope is 3. This symbolizes that your scope would display images times three its original size. While the 40 is the size of the millimeters of your objective lens. 

You need to have in mind that the magnification comes with its cross. When your magnification is high, your images get darker. The higher your magnification the darker the image. This is because only small things can be passed through it.

Again you need to know that the higher your magnification the stronger your riflescope is.

F. Determine the variable of your lens.

Check out your scope lens. Get to know if it has a single lens or various lenses. A single lens has a fixed magnification but a variable lens is better because it allows you to choose your level of magnification when using your scope. Get to know this before using the scope. This would allow you to know how to range when in use.

When hunting with your scope and you are unsure of its magnification level, use the ring power to get the magnification of your choice.

2. Usage ( aiming and adjusting)

After preparing to use your scope, now you are ready to use the scope for your target. The next level you would get to us aiming and adjusting. Now you have to simply reach your target.

This stage involves

  • Get a proper eye relief distance from the scope.

For a good scope, you would have to get your eyes closer to the eye relief. The eye relief in a scope is the total distance of your eyes from the scope’s eyepiece. The higher the magnification of your scope the narrower the eye relief is. With this, you have to get closer to your scope eyepiece.  For proper aiming determine the eye relief of your scope. Avoid getting your eyes too close to the eyepiece for safety.  Your eyes could get hit during the recoil of the scope. You aim at your target by looking into the eyepiece.

  • Get a good image sight. 

Before shooting you need to get a good picture sight of your target or prey as the case may be. To get a good picture of your target, all you need to do is centering the reticle in your field of view, and positioning the reticle over your target. Your view should form a circle at the end of the scope that is perfectly centered. If there is more black on one side or the other, adjust the weapon until it is centered. When having trouble with getting a good picture sight because of your aiming position, you can use a bipod. This would help you make your weapon stable. You need to be aware that getting a good image sight could be a bit more difficult with scopes that have higher magnification than the lower ones.

  • Make adjustments.

After getting a clear image the next thing to do is fire at your target.  You would consistently fit when fitting your target. Fire your bullets simultaneously, this helps to get to the target especially if it is a moving target. Fire around 3 to 4 bullets on your prey. With this, at least one would get to it. While firing, you would also need to adjust your windage. Adjust your wind range in proportion to the area of your target. If you are impacting the target too high, you can adjust your elevation to lower where the rounds hit the target with the elevation knob you can adjust your aiming point on the vertical axis.

  • Adjust the parallax.

Some scopes are designed in a way that allows you to adjust its parallax. The parallax here refers to the movement of the target about your reticles. If your scope comes with adjusting parallax knobs you can adjust your parallax. This helps to stabilize your reticles.

How to use a scope

3. Cleaning and Maintenance 

After using your scope for a shot, you have to store it properly and maintain it. This helps your scope to function well, the next time you intend to use it. These are the steps you can take in storing and maintaining your scope.


  • For the cleaning of your scope, you should clean the body with a dry towel. Wipe the face and inside of your scope lens. You can do the lenses cleaning with a brush. This helps in removing the particles of dirt in it easily. When properly clean it gives you a clearer vision. Avoid using a towel for the cleaning of your lens, a brush is better. 
  • Cover the lens when it is not in use. Your scope lens is prone to damage such as scratches, breakage, and many more. After hunting it is best you cover your scope lens immediately.  This helps to protect the lens of the scope 


Do not store your scope in a moist area. Avoid storing your scope where water might get to it. This can lead to damage in any part of the scope. Store in a dry place. Get a box for it if it does not have one.  Also, avoid storing in hot places or under direct sunlight.

High temperature can easily affect the lubrication of your scope. Because of this, it is best stored in a cool area. Getting a box for it would keep it dry and cool.


A riflescope reticle is like a marker inside that indicates where your scope is aimed. It provides you with aiming points. Various scopes come with different types of reticle designs.  You should choose a reticle with a sign that is best suited for your intended shooting. 

There is no ideal magnification for a scope. It largely depends on the distance you intend to shoot as a hunter. Some scopes come with a single magnification while others allow you to zoom out and in. A lower magnification scope is better for hunting closer prey. It gives you a clear picture. A higher magnification is good for long-distance shooting.

Scopes are an important tool for professional hunting. A scope allows you to magnify images when shooting over long distances. It increases magnification when aiming at a prey. If you aim at your target prey from a long distance with a scope, the target is rendered in a clear and bright picture. Unlike iron sights, scopes allow light into them.


Despite the fact that hunting with a scope could be easy, stress-free, worthwhile, and fun, not knowing how to properly make use of the scope while shooting would not allow you to enjoy all these.

Just like we earlier stated, before making use of your scope, get acquainted with the various parts of a scope. If you are not familiar with its uses and functions, you would find it difficult to use your scope properly. To be handy with a scope, you must know your way around it first.

With consistency and practice, one gets better with the scope. Set out time to train with your scope. This makes you better at it with time.

When shooting with your scope, avoid bending. If you bend, hunch, or bow when shooting with your scope you are definitely doing it wrong. Keep your gun up close to your head, align your scope to your face before you shoot with your scope. 

The closing of one eye does not give you the perfect shot. Train yourself to shoot with your two eyes. Aim and look at your target, not just the scope. 

Always remember to clean your scope lens with a brush. This helps to protect it from damages and scratches. Avoid cleaning your scope lens with a towel or water. A brush would do better than any of these.

For proper maintenance, keep out of the reach of children. Store in a dry cool place. Avoid placing it under direct sunlight or at a hot temperature. 

Above all, learn to practice with your scope.

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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