Tips for Simpler Scope Setup
November 09, 2016
Simple is Best
Manufacturing a scope is an incredibly complex process. There are multiple lenses, tubes within tubes and adjustable turrets that must all be designed and made in such a fashion that they work seamlessly together for the shooter's benefit.
Using a scope shouldn't be unnecessarily complicated, but it can quickly become that way if we don't pay attention to what we purchase and how we use it.
The simplest scope to use is a fixed-power model with a duplex reticle. Once we mount it, set eye relief and properly focus the reticle, all we have to do is zero it at our preferred distance, and we're good to go.
As we get to know the rifle/scope combination at the distances we'll be hunting, we can become very effective with this package. This approach works well if we've properly selected our rifle and scope for our specified hunting type and terrain and don't deviate much from it.
As soon as our hunting conditions vary between mountainous terrain and wide-open prairies, for example, we're best served with a variable-powered scope. We can use a variable at low-power magnification for congested terrain or on running predators, then move to higher powers for precise shot placement on stationary game at longer distances. The flexibility that variable optics offer is a big reason why they're so popular.
The problem that comes with shooting across multiple distances is that it's hard to have precise shot placement due to the bullet's parabolic flight path. We can certainly overcome this challenge by becoming thoroughly familiar with our rifle and its pet load by shooting from multiple yards lines and noting where the bullets impact as the distance to our target increases. This is the preferred method, but it takes time and ammunition to achieve.
A more simple solution is to use a ballistic drop turret such as the Spot On system that Nikon offers. Spot On provides an easy solution that gives shooters a precise point of aim for any distance they might be shooting. The key to the setup is Nikon's replaceable elevation turret. Three small screws and the standard turret comes off to be replaced with one of our choosing.
Nikon now offers its custom XR turret for a wide range of its scope lines to suit customers' preferred caliber, load and rifle. We can order turrets by going to Nikon's Spot On website, selecting our scope, then inputting some key information.
We can use the factory muzzle velocity and ballistic coefficient or measure muzzle velocity on our own rifle. Both will work, but use a good chrono to measure yours if you have access to one.
The next thing we input is the distance to which we've zeroed our rifle and our sight height. The sight-height default is set to 1½ inches (distance between the scope's centerline and the bore), but most scopes will be closer to 1.8 inches. It's best to measure, because a small error here can have more significant consequences.
Next, we enter the altitude, temperature, barometric pressure and humidity for the area we hunt. This information is important, but as long as we get close and don't shoot past 500 to 600 yards, don't worry about getting all the numbers perfect. The last step is to choose whether we want single- or multiple-revolution turrets and profile.
Once the new turret is in place, we just dial the distance to our target on our new turret, and our bullet hits wherever we put the crosshairs. I tested the system on a .223 Remington and had great luck getting it to work. It requires a little bit of homework to get right, but shooting at various distances is much easier with the Spot On system.