Greg’s Guide to Field Target Shooting – Setting Up Your Scope
Last time around we talked about my process for how I determine the best pellet to use for a particular rifle. This time we will take the next step and go through setting up your scope so that we’re ready for a match.
As I stated previously, in a Field Target match, “Targets are randomly placed between 10 yards and 55 yards and consist of KZ’s (holes in the face plate) ranging from 3/8” to 2”+.” and “In order to determine the distance to the target, you use your scope to range find the distance to the target,”.
So far so good. But how do we go about this?
The first thing to do when setting up your scope for Field Target shooting is to be sure that your parallax is set up correctly. There are plenty of articles online explaining what parallax is and how to adjust it so I won’t go through that here. Use the method that best works for you.
Note that whatever marking were put onto your scope’s AO adjustment sidewheel or ring, they’re pretty well guaranteed to be wrong! Following these instructions, you’ll be doing it right!
One such article that explains why and how to adjust your scope can be found here: The “A” Team’s method of Parallax Adjustment and Scope Preparation. This article was provided courtesy of Ray and Hans Apelles.
After setting up your scope properly, comes the fun part!
Now, there are a few software programs and apps that will get you close to dead-on, but I still like to do it the long way. By this I mean I actually shoot all my distances, mark my sidewheel and develop my range card all at once.
Here’s how I do it. First, choose a zero point – in this case 45 Yards.
Above. Target set out at 45 yards
I set the target out at its distance using a 300-Foot tape measure so I know the distance from rifle to target is correct. I then shoot a bunch of shots with my FT rifle and chosen pellets.
This allows me to verify that my windage and elevation adjustments are correct at this distance before getting my marks.
The next step in setting up your scope is to get the scope marked. For this, I usually put on a piece of masking tape and mark the distance when the target is in focus at that range with a pen.
I’ll use this masking tape later to make a properly marked tape.
Below. Example of marks on the masking tape
At each distance I usually shoot 3-5 shot groups so that I can get a good read as to the point of impact of the pellet. This is crucial since I am setting this rifle up for Hunter Division and will need all my hold over or hold under marks to be correct.
The more shots on target for me, the more I can rule out any flinches or fliers. I draw a rough sketch of the reticle I’m using on a piece of notebook paper so that I can mark down my yardages and hold points as I shoot.
Below. 45 Yard Target – The sticker is 3/4” in diameter
As depicted in the target above, the center of the crosshair represents my aiming point for all of my shots. All shots were basically on top of each other right at my aim point.
After shooting at 45 yards, I put a 45 on the sketch I made, right at the center line of the crosshairs. I then run through this process for all my distances in 1 yard increments from 10 yards to 25 yards then 5 yard increments from 25 yards to 55 yards.
Hey, I told you this was the fun part in setting up your scope – lots of shooting!
Above. 12 Yard Target
Above is a picture of the target that was shot at 12 yards. The crosshair is centered at my aiming point that was used for all 3 shots. As seen, the point of impact of the pellet is at 2 1/2 mil-dots below center. I mark this on my sketch.
Below. 30 Yard Target
Above is a picture of the target that was shot at 30 yards. The crosshair again is centered at my aiming point that was used for all 5 shots. As seen, the point of impact of the pellet is at 1 1/2 mil-dots above center. I mark this on my sketch.
Below. 55 Yard Target
Above is a picture of the target that was shot at 55 yards. The crosshair again is centered at my aiming point that was used for all 5 shots. As seen, the point of impact of the pellet is at 3/4 mil-dots below center. Again, I mark this on my sketch.
After I have shot all the distances I planned on, I then transfer all the information on to my FT rifle/scope combo.
For this scope, I have flip up caps, so I opted to put the range card (my hold over and hold under marks) inside the cap instead of making up a separate card. I use a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program to make a card much much neater than my handwriting.
Anything that works for you is fine!
Above. My Range Card
If you notice from the previous pictures, my reticle does not have the lines that I have added to my card. I use these lines as reference points when I am holding over.
For example, if I was shooting a 12 yard target my hold would be 2 1/2 mil-dots down. I would hold this spot in the center of the target. For a 17 yard target, I’d hold the first mil-dot down in the center of the target.
The last step in setting up your scope is to transfer all the yardage marks made on the masking tape to the side wheel.
Again, use whatever method works for you! For me, I again use the CAD program to achieve this.
First, I take the masking tape off the sidewheel and stick it to my desk. I then take a set of digital calipers and measure each one of my marks and transfer this to CAD so I can print it out. I print my cards and scope tape on a full size sheet of adhesive label paper then apply clear packaging tape over that to waterproof/protect it.
Above. Finished Sidewheel Tape
This entire process takes me quite a while, but what’s better than being outside sending pellets down range!
Now, considering I did everything right, if I come to a target, get it in perfect focus and the number reads 50 on the sidewheel I then hold 1/4 of a mil-dot down, squeeze the trigger and watch the target fall!
There are a lot of ways to accomplish what I just described. Make sure your scope is set-up properly at the beginning and pick the setup method that works the best for you.