Sighting a scope properly is the only sure way of making a clean shot. After pulling the trigger, the bullet should follow the predicted trajectory and hit the target precisely.
Whether using the most expensive or cheapest scopes, proper sighting is necessary for clean shots.
In this post, I’ve broken down the steps to follow to sight a thermal scope during the day.
Sighting a thermal scope during the day
Thermal scopes are slightly different from traditional scopes. If you’ve sighted a traditional scope before, the experience will be a little different.
But before you can even start sighting the thermal scope, you need to understand how it works. This is the first step towards a successful sighting.
Take time and understand your thermal scope
Thermal scopes lack turrets and windage that make sighting easier. Start by reading the thermal scope manual. It’s a pretty simple tip that most people assume but one that comes in handy.
The worst mistake you can make is try a scope in the field for the first time. Read the manual and learn how to make digital adjustments.
Familiarize yourself with the scope and understand how it works.
Stabilize your rifle
Sighting a scope simply means aligning the scope with the gun barrel. But first you need the gun to be in a stable position. You can use a stand.
You need a steady, stable and secure rifle. Even with proper sighting, you’re not going to hit the target when the rifle is not stable. A good bipod or tripod stand is a good investment.
Set the rifle in a stable place that also gets you in a good shooting position. Heavy bags of cement or sand also work perfect for creating stability. Ensure you have a prone position for long distance shooting.
Thermal scopes are not ideal when you have observable light. To shoot using a thermal scope, you need a target that emits. For hunting, heat is always emitted naturally from the game.
It’s a lot easier to aim during the day when targets radiate distinct heat. You can use reflective stripes to make targets by yourself. How water bottles also offer a simple target solution.
But you can also buy targets online or at a local store. Another great option is heating pads.
Fix the Target Distance
With the rifle set and targets in place, you need to choose the right shooting distance. This is where you place your targets.
There is no specific set target distance. You can choose anything between 20-500 yards. You need to set distances that match the actual distance when hunting or shooting in the field.
The distance you choose is totally up to you.
If you’re starting out, try shorter distances of 15-25 yards. It’s a great way to hit the target and make adjustments.
You need to use the same rounds as the ones you’ll be using in the field when hunting. This is important as bullet drops differ depending on the bullet size.
Using the same size bullets ensure you get consistent results. This should also apply for all your components and gun accessories.
Take your practice shot rounds
With everything in place, you can now take your first shot. Zero in with your optics and aim your first shot!
Start by firing three rounds towards the target. Check where each bullet hits with each round. Did you hit the target? If yes, congrats!
But if you missed, then take a paper and a pen. Start calculating the distance by which you missed. Take the vertical and horizontal distances by which you missed your target.
This is the first step towards proper sighting of a thermal scope. Write the info down as this is what you’ll use to make the adjustment.
You don’t have to stress yourself about hitting the target. The aim is to learn how to sight a thermal scope. You can then hit the target precisely when hunting.
Make necessary Adjustments
The shots need to be clustered together. If they are not clustered together, then there is something wrong with your shooting technique. Make sure you adjust your shooting technique and try again.
When shots are clustered together, you can now start adjusting the scope. Each MOA adjustment is 1-inch at 100 yards. You can calculate and see how many clicks you’re going to make at your set distance.
You only need to adjust vertical and horizontally. When making changes, do it slowly and avoid overdoing it on either side. Make small and precise adjustments.
There are always new chances to make the changes so do it slowly. Take a few shots after the adjustments and see how close your shot got to the target. If you get dead on, rise and repeat the process.
The idea is to wash, rise and repeat. You need to repeat these steps until you get all the shots clustered close or on the bullseye.
Keep practicing and remain patient
There is no secret to properly sighting a thermal scope. You just have to follow the steps, practice and remain patient. Make the adjustments and go back and shoot again.
If you get it wrong, revisit the measurement, adjust and shoot again. Repeat until you’re able to hit the target accurately every time.
Shooting is a skill practiced over time. Slow shooting is the best and you should never rush to repeat the steps or take your shot.
On every practice shot, try and take very few rounds. You can only say you know how to sight when your shots hit the dead center consistently.
Why Thermal Scoping is Crucial for Precision Shooting
Thermal scopes are quite important for precision shooting. They ensure more accuracy than traditional scopes which use light.
Thermal scopes use infrared light to track and aim at targets. This is quite important, especially at night when the sun has gone down. Now that you know how to sight a thermal scope during the day, shooting at night should be a lot easier.
Targets are easily highlighted from their heat levels. Against cooler backgrounds at night, targets appear brighter. It becomes a lot easier to aim and shoot under the thick of darkness.
Hunting with thermal scopes is possible during fog and bad weather. You can also hunt from behind the bushes as you don’t have to spot the animal. The heat difference from the target and the background is what shows up.
Zeroing thermal scopes does present a wide array of challenges. But you can easily overcome them by following the sighting steps above. Everything starts with a proper understanding of your thermal scope and how it works. Next, you need to stabilize your rifle and find targets.
Select the ideal shooting distance. The distance needs to match the distance you’ll be shooting at when hunting. You also need to maintain the same bullet, caliber and rifle components when practicing what you’ll be using in the field.
Take your shots and not down the difference from the bullseye. Write down the vertical and horizontal differences before shooting again. Keep practicing until you get consistent shots close to the bullseye.
As always remember, practice and patience is key.
Travis Mike is a firearm enthusiast and author passionate about all things guns. With 10 years of experience in the industry, Travis Mike has gained a wealth of knowledge on the subject. He is skilled in gunsmithing and tactical training. In addition to professional experience, Travis Mike is an avid hunter and shooter, regularly participating in local shooting ranges and hunting trips.