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Old January 30, 2020, 02:13 PM   #1
wilford
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0 a rifle

I am new to shooting.

Do I need to have a rifle or handgun on a rest, or could I just sit at a bench and use my elbow as a rest to sight them in? I am not looking for long-range; just 0 to 50 yards for my 22s and 100 to 200 yards for my 7mm-08. As long as I can hit an upper torso, I will be very happy. Thank you.

Last edited by Unclenick; January 30, 2020 at 02:51 PM. Reason: Cleaned up writing for readability.
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Old January 30, 2020, 02:48 PM   #2
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The rests are usually used because they make it easier for the shooter to hold still and to assume the exact same position behind the gun for each shot, something important for accuracy. Elbows on a bench tend to be too wobbly.

A rest doesn't have to be fancy. A lot of folks use beanbags, but with washed sand inside. One fellow I knew took a common house brick and rolled it up in two or three layers of old bath towels to pad it, then set it on the bench with the brick on one of its wider flat sides and the length running left to right. He set the gun's magazine floor plate on it.

Once you have the gun zeroed, you should try it in the actual positions you expect to use in the field. Some positions can shift the bullet point of impact a bit.

I think this thread belongs in the Art of the Rifle forum, so I will move it there.
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Old January 30, 2020, 04:42 PM   #3
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Use the steadiest rest possible to get it zeroed. This eliminates "most" of the human error. I like to zero 22's at 50 yards. With most centerfires it is best to start at about 50 yards, then move to 100 to fine tune the zero. Small errors at 50 yards don't show up until you start shooting at longer ranges. With a 100 yard zero there isn't enough drop at 200 to worry about, 2" or so with most rifles.
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Old January 30, 2020, 05:14 PM   #4
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I would use a rest and you can use just about anything from a cheap rolled up backpacker's foam sleeping pad to a range bag. Just don't let the barrel contact your rest if you don't want to burn a hole in it.

For a 22 lr rimfire rifle, with most ammunition if you zero at 25 yards you will be very close to a 50 yard zero. How close will depend on the exact muzzle velocity your rifle achieves with whatever ammo you are shooting, and how high the center of your scope tube is above the bore axis of your barrel. But if you zero at 25 yards first, you should only have to make a slight elevation adjustment for 50 yards. With a zero at 50 yards, your near zero (where the projectile first crosses the sight line) will be within a few yards of 25 yards.

I would also start zeroing your center fire rifle at 25 yards to get on paper. You can use an online ballistic calculator to determine exactly where your bullets should strike so long as the calculator provides an estimate of muzzle velocity for your cartridge and ballistic coefficient for your projectile. If not, you can usually find estimates for these on-line and input them into the ballistic calculator. Make sure to adjust the sight height for your particular scope height above bore as this will make a considerable distance.

For just about any center fire rifle zeroed at 100 yards, your point of impact at 25 yards will be low. You can get an estimate of how low you want to group from the ballistic calculator, but it will be an estimate because the ballistic coefficients provided by ammo makers are not always accurate and will vary with environmental conditions, and the default muzzle velocities will likely vary a bit from what your rifle achieves, and will also vary with air density. But the estimates should be good enough to get you on paper at 100 yards, or wherever you want your final zero to be, and you can then adjust from there.
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Old January 30, 2020, 07:29 PM   #5
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O a rifle
... Never saw such a rifle.

Who made it? What's the chambering?
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Old January 30, 2020, 11:14 PM   #6
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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If you intend to shoot (off a elbow) that may garner a hurried visit by the Bench Rest officer or a concerned Member in good standing. If you were to ask before doing? Without a doubt you would receive a defining answer on the spot by those in charge of Club Saftey and/or the Shooting Area's.
At my club range. Since my membership 30 plus years. Such Bench Rest tables are reserved for rifle use only. But I supect all shooting clubs abide by different Rules. So "No Harm in asking if you can shoot > your way"
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Old January 31, 2020, 01:44 AM   #7
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If you do use a rest, make sure your not resting the gun by the barrel.
It will throw off your point of impact..
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Old January 31, 2020, 06:36 AM   #8
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If you're going to support the rifle by hand and rest your elbows on the bench I would definitely recommend some elbow pads.
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Old January 31, 2020, 07:21 AM   #9
J.G. Terry
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The old time people would control the rifle using the off hand to squeeze the rear bag. Getting a good front rest is much easier than in the old days. Just make sure the rifle is steady as possible what ever you use. If you shoot often it pays to have a good rest. I keep a rest in the trunk of the car with several different bags. This rig comes in very handy at the range. We shoot 50 yard thumb tack matches with .22 rifles. My rest is a fancy Caldwell on permanent loan from a friend.

Added: Already shared, Yes, use the position you expect to use the rifle in the field. You may have to deal with a different point of impact. In the day we would see people who would zero their rifle for 500 yards wondering why the were shooting high on closer shots.
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Old January 31, 2020, 09:11 AM   #10
Nathan
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Without zeroing the rifle, how accurate are you from that rest?

What is the theoretical accuracy of your rifle?

Let’s say your rifle is rated as sub moa....and you are zero’ing with 6in groups at 100 yds, your zero is potentiallly 2-3” from 0.

You’ll be zero’d....is that good enough?

I sight in my kids 22 at 25 yards on my elbows in about 3 shots...
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Old January 31, 2020, 10:12 AM   #11
Bart B.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenick View Post
Once you have the gun zeroed, you should try it in the actual positions you expect to use in the field. Some positions can shift the bullet point of impact a bit.
It's normal to have the zero for a shouldered rifle atop a bench on bags be 1 to 2 MOA in windage away from the zero for field positions; off-hand, sitting or prone without artificial support. To the right for right hand folks.

An Olympic champion rifle shooter said if you're a good marksman, you can get a good zero with an accurate rifle with 2 shots standing off-hand and never put a shot dead center on the target. Slung up in prone, one shot is often enough.

Last edited by Bart B.; January 31, 2020 at 12:19 PM.
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Old January 31, 2020, 12:48 PM   #12
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"...my elbow as a rest..." No. Your elbow isn't stable enough. A bag of cat litter or rice will be much more stable for very little money. A sand bag or two is best though.
"...for my 7mm-08..." What bullet weight? What rifle?
An Olympic champion rifle shooter is way more fit than regular mortals.
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Old January 31, 2020, 01:08 PM   #13
Don Fischer
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Doesn't matter if you use a rest or not, your elbows will still contact the table of what ever shooting platform you use. The rest removes most the wiggle you'll see other wise and used properly will give you a good idea of what the gun can do. Of course even fro a rest, poor shooting habit's will still show up. Bags are easy. Mine are home made. Used to use bags that shot came in but now they go to retrieving dummy's for the dog's and for bags I use old jeans. Cut off some leg, fill with sand and sew it up! Pretty simple. For height I have a 6x6 wood block I set the bag on on the table. Make a second small bag to hold under the stock at the rear grip. Bags take most of your wobbles out of the project. pay attention to your own shooting habit's and let the bag carry the gun's. For a number of years before I made my shooting table I used the hood of my pickup to shoot off of. I have very very sldom gone to a commercial range, don't at all these days.
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Old January 31, 2020, 05:35 PM   #14
J.G. Terry
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Back in the day there was a suggestion of using the shot bag and Styrofoam to make a front rest. The idea was to have light bags for tactical situations. We tried the Styrofoam finding it would work in the sense it was better than nothing.

I have started putting a towel or similar on the shooting bench to keep rifles from getting dinged up. Saves the elbow at the same time.
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Old January 31, 2020, 05:50 PM   #15
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It's best to sight-in with a very steady rest.
It is not necessary, however. I have many firearms that were sighted in off-hand.
Elbows = bad.
Rests or proper off-hand technique = okay.

Just this month, I sighted in a 9mm pistol with a new red dot sight, for my father.
I didn't bother sitting at a bench, propping myself against a post, etc. I just started taking off-hand pot shots at small rocks or discarded shot shells and making note of point of aim (POA) when the trigger broke, and the resultant point of impact (POI).
Eight inches low and two left.
Six inches low and two left.
Nine inches low and three left.

Average that out, adjust, and try again.

With something fun and cheap to shoot (such as the 9mm with the red dot), I don't consider it a waste of time and ammunition. In some ways, it's good training - another way of making sure you're keeping your eyes open so you can make sure you know exactly where the sights/crosshairs were when the trigger broke - which allows a person to call their shots and makes downrange impacts that much more valuable to read (because you know exactly where the bullet should have gone - not just a rough idea of "well, I was somewhere in that bowling ball sized area").


For things that are expensive to shoot, hard on the shooter, or have a limited ammunition supply, it makes more sense to expedite the process. The following is also very EASY to do with scoped rifles.

I really like the concept of the "one shot zero" with solid rests and a solid bench.*
Fire a shot that you have confidence in being representative of the rifle's performance.
Move the crosshairs back to the POA. Hold the rifle dead still and have a friend** adjust the scope until the crosshairs are on the POI.
Fire a shot to verify, and the basic zero is set.


* There's no way to verify without firing a second shot. But, "one shot zero" the name that the concept is usually given.
** I do this alone. It's easier with an assistant, but I generally shoot alone. So, I've learned to hold a rifle dead still on my rests with one hand (normal rests, no cradles, sleds, clamps, etc.), while carefully using the other hand to adjust the scope.
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Old January 31, 2020, 07:50 PM   #16
J.G. Terry
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Does that "one shot zero" really work? This is the reverse of the way I was taught.
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Old January 31, 2020, 09:27 PM   #17
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I'm pretty sure the O.P's 'O a rifle' refers to the Springfield 03A3.
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Old January 31, 2020, 10:34 PM   #18
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Does that "one shot zero" really work? This is the reverse of the way I was taught.
It works for me.

If you were taught the opposite, it won't work.
If you put the crosshairs on the POI and then adjust so they're back on the POA, you'll be twice as far off. (If the scope doesn't run out of adjustment first.)

I'm not a fan of the channel, but this video shows the method demonstrated on a few different rifles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSVA3BBUgQ0
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Old February 1, 2020, 12:22 AM   #19
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You can zero off hand or off your elbows, but it will not be very precise (which is usually the goal). I recommend using some bags (doesn't matter much what is in them so long as they stabilize the rifle).

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aDrrJA14wtg
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Old February 1, 2020, 07:33 AM   #20
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Does that "one shot zero" really work? This is the reverse of the way I was taught.
It “sort of” works. That depends on if your scope will move accurately on a single adjustment. It also depends on if your rifle threw a center of the population(statistics) shot for a sample size of one....pretty rare, but may be within a small margin.

These all depend on what zero means to you. If you can leave that day being within 3” of poa centered to poi, you are good. Do you want those 2 within 0.5, 0.25,....you need more shots because your sample size has to be a larger percentage of the population.

With a known good scope, I feel 10 shots into the target, adjust poa to poi, then shoot 5 to confirm would be good.....actually, I’m going to do this today!

Last edited by Nathan; February 1, 2020 at 07:38 AM.
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Old February 1, 2020, 07:59 AM   #21
Bart B.
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Originally Posted by J.G. Terry View Post
Does that "one shot zero" really work? This is the reverse of the way I was taught.
Yes. But only if . . . .

* the rifle shoots the ammo sub 1/4 MOA at 100 yards.

* you can call shots within 1/4 MOA.
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Old February 1, 2020, 10:51 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by raimius View Post
You can zero off hand or off your elbows, but it will not be very precise (which is usually the goal).
Yup, this is good enough for COM at 50yds.
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Old February 1, 2020, 11:54 AM   #23
Don Fischer
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One shot zero might be a mistake in words. You don't zero the rifle with one shot, you get it on paper and very close to zero with one shot. Actuaqlly for me it's two shot's as the first is fired at 25 yds and the second at 100 yds. From there I actually zero the rifle. I do it alone also and the older I get the harder it seem's to be to do. Two people is a definite advantage!
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Old February 1, 2020, 05:49 PM   #24
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It works for me.

If you were taught the opposite, it won't work.
If you put the crosshairs on the POI and then adjust so they're back on the POA, you'll be twice as far off. (If the scope doesn't run out of adjustment first.)

I'm not a fan of the channel, but this video shows the method demonstrated on a few different rifles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSVA3BBUgQ0
Funny how the guy uses secret agent code in his explanation when all he had to do was keep it simple and say "keeping your rifle/optic perfectly still adjust your elevation and windage; moving your point of aim to your point of impact."
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Old February 2, 2020, 05:27 AM   #25
J.G. Terry
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The other way...not looking for a fight!

I have never used the One Shot. No comment on how it works. Explanations have been extremely good.

How we do it: This comes from the varmint hunting days. Maybe I was not clear. What we do is take a target, store bought or homemade, at the shorter range. Same, Same. It's good to use a store bought target with inches marked off. Larger target works for 3x and the like throughout. Often times even with very good scopes the duplex cross hairs cover an inch or so at a hundred yards. Start close. This is a rough zero. Move to 100 yards.

Get shots onto paper. Move the point of impact to the point of aim. Down and dirty and fast[ Adjust with scope to bring the group into the point of aim of the target]. This works for scopes very well that have been on other rifles. Some times it will work you to get bullets on paper with previously mounted scopes. No fancy bore sighters here. A local guy left a bores sighter in for his first shot. The result made it onto Youtube.

Process is speedy with decent scope with accurate adjustments. With the scopes in bubble packs from the Big Box one needs to figure the value of clicks to get started. No argument or debate in mind. Just sharing. Take care and be safe.
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