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How To Sight In A Red Dot

Looking to achieve sniper-level accuracy? Before reaching high-accuracy shooting, you must first learn how to sight a red dot.

After buying a new red dot, you need to mount it correctly. You need to try it out on the field. Generally, red dots are quite reliable for short-range shooting. But there are moments you want to shoot further.

But to shoot accurately, you need to know how to sight a red dot. Proper sighting of a red dot will optimize your shooting experience.

Keep reading as we discuss the red dot further and the steps you can take to sight it.

What is a red dot?

A red dot sight is an optical sight that is commonly used on ar-15 scope and other weapons. It is designed to help the shooter aim more accurately. A red dot sight works by projecting a small red dot onto a piece of glass or plastic. It’s placed in front of the shooter’s eye. The shooter then aligns the red dot with the target and fire the weapon.

Red dot sights typically use LED technology to project the dot onto the sight. They come in different sizes and shapes depending on the purpose. 

Red dot sights are often used with shotgun scope in situations where quick target acquisition is necessary. For example, they are used in hunting, military operations, and competitive shooting.

Overall, they are popular because they are easy to use and require minimal training to master. They also have a low profile, meaning they can be mounted low on the weapon. This helps maintain the shooter’s natural aiming position. Additionally, they are relatively lightweight and durable, making them ideal for use in harsh environments.

Purpose of sighting in a red dot

The purpose of a red dot sight rifle scope is to ensure that the point of aim is aligned with the point of impact. It’s important because different firearms, ammunition, and shooting conditions affect the trajectory of the bullet. This makes it hit higher or lower than the intended target.

When sighting in a red dot sight, the shooter typically adjusts the windage (horizontal) and elevation (vertical) settings. This is done until the red dot is aligned with the center of the target. Shooters fire a few test shots and then make small adjustments until the bullet impacts where the shooter wants it to.

Importance of proper sighting in

Sighting in a red dot sight is important for achieving accuracy and consistency when shooting. It helps the shooter to know where the bullet will hit based on their aiming point. Sighting can also help to reduce the number of shots needed to hit the target. 

Once a red dot sight is properly sighted in, the shooter can have confidence in their ability to hit the target accurately and consistently. This is important in situations where split-second decisions must be made.

Setting Up the Red Dot

For precise shooting, you need to set your red dot sight properly. Below are steps one can follow.

Mounting the red dot sight

  1. Mount the sight: Most red dot sights come with a mounting plate or base. Attach this to the firearm’s rail or directly onto the firearm using screws. Make sure the sight is securely fastened to avoid any movement while shooting.
  2. Adjust brightness: Red dot sights have varying levels of brightness. Adjust the brightness level to match the ambient lighting conditions you will be shooting in. This will make the reticle visible against the background.
  3. Zeroing the sight: This step involves aligning the sight with the firearm’s point of impact. Set up a target at a specific distance, typically around 25 yards. Aim and fire a shot. Observe where the bullet hit and adjust the red dot accordingly. Keep making adjustments until the sight is accurately zeroed in.
  4. Practice: Once you have zeroed the sight, practice shooting with it. Become familiar with the sight’s reticle and how it lines up with the target. Practice shooting at different distances and from different positions to build proficiency with sight.

Choosing the right ammunition

With the red dot sight mounted, you need to select the right ammunition. Make sure you understand the ammunition purpose to select the right one. Consider the caliber and check the firearm ammo.

You also need to consider the bullet weight and type. Check the manufacturer’s specifications, cost, and availability.

Adjusting the brightness of the dot

To adjust the brightness of a dot, you can increase or decrease the amount of light emitted by the dot. This can be achieved by adjusting the voltage or current flowing through the light source.

Alternatively, you can use a filter to reduce or enhance the amount of light passing through the dot. Another option is to change the color of the light emitted by the dot. Different colors have different levels of brightness.

Zeroing in on the sight

To zero in a holographic sight, you need to adjust it so that the point of aim aligns with the point of impact at a specific distance. This is done by adjusting the elevation and windage settings.

Adjustment is done until the desired alignment is achieved. It may require multiple shots at various distances to fine-tune the zeroing process.

Preparing for Sighting In

Here are the general steps for sighting a red dot sight:

Choosing a suitable shooting range

Choosing a suitable shooting range is important when sighting in a red dot sight. Ensure that the range you choose has a sufficient distance for sighting in your firearm with the red dot sight. Most shooting ranges have a minimum distance requirement of 25 yards.

If you are using a high-caliber firearm, then a longer distance may be required. Additionally, check if the range has proper backstops and target holders to ensure that you can safely shoot.

Gathering necessary equipment

Before sighting in a red dot sight, you need to gather all the necessary equipment. You will need your firearm with the red dot sight attached, ammunition, a target, and eye and ear protection. 

You also need a shooting rest or sandbags, and a bore sighter. Additionally, bring any tools that you may need to adjust the sight if necessary.

Setting up a stable shooting position

To accurately sight in a red dot sight, you need to set up a stable shooting position. Use a shooting rest or sandbags to steady your firearm. Adjust the rest or sandbags so that your firearm is level and stable. 

Place your target at the appropriate distance, and ensure that it is securely fastened to the target holder.

The Sighting In Process 

Sighting in a firearm with a red dot sight can be done in four main steps: Start by establishing a baseline, initial shots, adjusting the sight, and refining the zero. Below is a detailed explanation of each step:

Establishing a baseline

Before beginning the sighting process, it is essential to establish a baseline. This involves determining where your firearm hits at a specific distance without any adjustments made to the red dot sight. 

To do this, shoot a few rounds at the target with the red dot sight turned off. Take note of where the shots land on the target. This will give you a reference point for adjustments.

Initial shots

Next, shoot a few rounds with the red dot sight turned on. Fire three to five shots at the target without making any adjustments to the sight. This will give you an idea of how far off your firearm is with the red dot sight turned on.

Adjusting the sight

After firing the initial shots, adjust the red dot sight accordingly. Most red dot sights have adjustment knobs that can be turned to move the sight up, down, left, or right. The adjustment may be in MOA or MRAD depending on the sight. 

Use your baseline reference point and the initial shot group to make adjustments. For example, if your initial shots landed 2 inches high and 1 inch to the left of your target, adjust your sight by 2 MOA down and 1 MOA right to bring the shots to the center of the target.

Refining the zero

After making adjustments to the sight, shoot another group of three to five rounds at the target. Repeat this process of making adjustments and shooting until the groupings are centered on the target. 

Remember to make small adjustments and shoot multiple rounds before making further adjustments. It is also essential to take breaks in between rounds to prevent fatigue and ensure consistency in your shots.

Final Steps

After completing the sighting process, there are a few final steps to ensure that your firearm is accurately zeroed and ready to use. These final steps are:

Confirming zero at different distances

To ensure that your firearm is accurately zeroed, it is essential to confirm your zero at different distances. The zero you established during the sighting process may not be accurate at longer ranges. You can confirm your zero by shooting at targets at different distances and adjusting the sight as necessary. 

This step will help you understand how your firearm performs at different ranges and ensure that you are accurate when shooting at targets beyond the initial sighting in distance.

Documenting the zero

Once you have established an accurate zero for your red dot sight, it is important to document it. Record the distance at which you sighted your firearm, the adjustments made to the red dot sight, and the groupings achieved during the sighting process. 

This documentation will help you remember the zero when you use the firearm in the future and make it easier to make adjustments if necessary.

Continuing to practice

The final step in the sighting process is to continue practicing. Sighting in your firearm is just the first step towards achieving accuracy when shooting. Consistent practice will help you maintain your skills and ensure that you are proficient in using your firearm.

It is important to practice at different ranges, in different weather conditions, and with different types of ammunition to gain a better understanding of how your firearm performs in different situations.


Sighting in a red dot sight involves a few main steps: establishing a baseline, initial shots, adjusting the sight, and refining the zero. It is important to confirm the zero at different distances and document it for future reference. Consistent practice is key to maintaining skills and improving accuracy.

Regular practice is crucial for precise shooting. You also need to be aware of external factors like humidity, temperature, wind, and much more.

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