How To Sight In A Red Dot Scope

These days when someone goes hunting, they want to be as accurate as possible when they are aiming at their target whether it’s a bulls-eye downrange or a deer or other animal. In order to do that you want to be able to sight in your red dot scope.

How To Sight In A Red Dot Scope
Image by Airman st Class Ryan Callaghan| Public Domain

What Does Sighting Or Zeroing In Mean?

The sighting in of a red dot normally is when you want to aim at the zero, which is the center most point of your target or the bulls-eye. It is also called zeroing. A shooter will be able to hit just about anything he aims at once his rifle is zeroed in properly and the red dot on your scope is sighted in properly.

So, if you follow the next few steps you will be able to get your red dot scope sighted in and your spread rate will close up tight. Sighting in a red dot scope isn’t a lot different than if you wanted to sight in a normal scope. However, you are going to have to take your weapon and shoot at a specific bulls-eye target, then make the proper adjustments until you get it to where you want it so you hit the area desired every time.

Items you will need to sight in a red dot scope:

How To Sight In a Red Dot Scope

The first step is to set up your target downrange from where you plan to shoot from. You need to know the range of distance to where you estimate you will be shooting your rifle. Safety is vital at this point. For instance, if you are sighting in an AR15 you should put the target at about 50 yards or if it’s a handgun, put it at around 25 yards.

Your target needs to be set up in an area where you won’t accidentally be shooting at a person or object. So, it’s important to ensure nothing is beyond your bulls-eye you don’t want to hit with a bullet.

Next, you should load the rifle and get yourself into the proper shooting position. Again, safety first. Leave the weapon’s safety on until you are ready to fire it. Always treat a weapon as if it’s loaded and never aim at anything you aren’t trying to hit.

When you get into position, you can use a shooting bench or a tripod to make your weapon as steady and stabilized as possible. Be sure you have inserted your hearing protection into your ears or are wearing proper hearing protection earmuffs.

Next, it’s time to fire the weapon. Fire three or four shots at the target. Aim for the same place every time. Right now it’s important to be consistent and don’t worry so much about how close you are to the bulls-eye as long as you are hitting somewhere on the target.

Then, it’s time to check your target to see how well you did. If your grouping is tight, that’s great. However, if it’s not, that will be addressed in the next step. But if you didn’t come anywhere near the target or if the grouping is all over the target, then you might want to shoot a new more practice shots before going to the next step of the process.

The next step is to start making adjustments on the weapon to get your grouping where you want it. There should be squares on your bulls-eye target, so count the number of squares the holes in the target are above or below the horizontal center line, then write down that amount. Then you have to make the needed adjustments to the scope based on manufacturer’s directions.

There should be two dials on your red dot scope that allow you to adjust it to the left or right, as well as up or down. If your paper bulls-eye targets are the kind with one inch paper, and you had it places at 50 yards, you’d turn that dial two times for every square you counted and if it was at 25 yards you’d do this 2.5 times for every square. For example, if your shots went five squares under the center line, turn your dial up and click it ten times.

Then, it’s time to do the whole process over again so you can see if your adjustments worked, and your shots are now in a better grouping and closer to the center line of your target. It may take several times of going through this process to get the shots where you want them. So, keep it up until you get it right.

One thing to take note of, you may see the phrase “1 MOA = 1 click.” This stands for Minute of Angle. And that is the unit of measurement used to calculate the amount of adjustment you need to make so the impact point of your shots moves a certain amount.


The bottom line is in order to sight in a red dot scope, you first need a lot of patience. It can take some time to get it done properly, so plan on going slow and steady and don’t rush it. You don’t want to screw things up or do something dangerous, so remember also that safety is the number one concern when firing any sort of weapon at any sort of target. Always have the proper safety gear and never let anyone stand downrange while you are shooting.

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