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Scope Adjustment: Which Way to Turn It? [Beginner’s Guide]

Scope Adjustment

Well done! You had zeroed in your rifle scope to hit your shots over your target.

Everything’s good until you realize the reticle moved opposite to the direction given by the windage and elevation turrets.

I understand how annoying this issue is. 

It even made me question my scope’s integrity as well as my skills as a hunter!

Don’t panic. Here’s a quick and simple guide on scope adjustment, which way to turn it, and more!

In Which Way You Should Turn Your Turret Adjustment?

All it takes is to dial your turrets in the correct directions.

But, how exactly can you do it the right way? To answer that question, let’s look at an example.

How to Dial Scope Turrets?

Imagine your initial shot group is 3″ to the left and 2″ high of the point of aim at 10 yards.

When dealing with the optic, here’s a reminder.

How to Interpret Each Direction?

You see that the elevation turret and windage adjustment knobs give directions.

Remember that these directions refer to the point of impact on paper, NOT to the point of aim.

Now, you can zero the reticle to the point of impact.

To do this, you need to ensure that the points of aim and impact are at the SAME SPOT.

Zeroing Your Rifle Scopes

In this setup, the actual spot of the bullet impact lands on your target at your desired range.

I’ve never had the same frustration of missing my targets with my shots!

When you zero in your rifle scope, establish your gun at a fixed position while adjusting the optic.

Adjust BOTH the vertical and horizontal directions of the bullets using the elevation turret and windage turret, respectively.

Remember the example earlier? Your shot lands 3″ to the left and 2″ high of the point of aim at 10 yards.

In my example, you need to move the initial shot group in OPPOSITE paths, 3″ to the right and 2″ down.

Once done, your point of impact and point of aim is at the same place.

How to Interpret a Turret Label?

How to Interpret a Turret Label

In dealing with all the optics, you might have some confusion when adjusting the scope.

That’s usually my case when it comes to the reticle and even with parallax adjustment.

When zeroing, you get to see the labeling found in your rifle scope turrets. You notice that there are Up/Down and Left/Right labels.

How Does Turret Adjustment Work?

I used to think that each label corresponded to the direction of the reticle.

You might not know that most optics have labeling that does not work in this manner.

In reality, these labels correspond to the point of impact INSTEAD of the reticle point of aim.

How It Appears in the Reticle

Dialing your turret to the left moves the reticle to the right. At the same time, as you dial your turret up, the reticle goes down.

When this happens, a rifle shooter looks beyond the reticle to see if there’s any problem.

If you find yourself in this scenario, you’re more likely to diagnose why no bullet impact appears in the paper.

In my experience, I ended up wasting ammo while zeroing in over and over again.

During zeroing, miscalculating the exact MOA clicks needed is possible.

Some would even go as far as fixing over-torqued rings. If all else fails, a few might even start doubting their mount and scope’s quality. I know I did.

Aiming Beyond the Optic

Aiming Beyond

Sometimes, the windage turret and elevation knob cannot get their job done alone.

Luckily, some accessories can help you in dialing your windage and elevation adjustment knobs in no time.

You don’t have to waste your ammo while zeroing your shot!

One excellent accessory that will help you zero and dial your windage turrets and elevation turrets is a laser boresight.

It gives you a great ballpark zero reference point of impact WITHOUT firing a shot.

In my experience, this accessory is EASIER to use than the manual bore sighting method for scope adjustments.

As you zero through, you’ll see a laser pointer that gives you direction. All you have to do is dial the turrets so it approaches closer to the laser pointer.

Once done, you can refine the zero using live rounds with some clicks.

With this method, I’ve been able to save A LOT of time and ammo as I zero or re-zero after an optics swap.

Ultimately, you don’t have to chase the zero everywhere on the paper target again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Way is Up and Down on a Scope?

To adjust the elevation upward, turn the knob COUNTERCLOCKWISE. Naturally, turn CLOCKWISE to adjust downward.

I like to think it’s like using a screwdriver on a screw!

You screw it counterclockwise to bring it up or remove it. Conversely, screwing it clockwise brings it down.

What is the Basic Rule for Sight Adjustment?

The basic rule for sight adjustment is to adjust the turrets according to WHERE you want the point of impact to be.

For example, let’s say you want to aim for the bullseye, but the bullet lands a bit high and a little to the left.

In this case, adjust the turrets DOWNARD and to the RIGHT.

How Do You Use Zero-Reset?

There are two ways to reset your turrets.

First, look through the scope on a mirror until you see the reticle ONLY. If you see a shadow of the reticle, adjust it until the shadow disappears.

The second method is to bring the elevation adjustments all the way in one direction and do the same in the other direction.

As you do this, COUNT the number of clicks it takes in the opposite direction.

Divide the total number of clicks by HALF and return it to the original position by that number.

For example, if you counted 48 clicks, half of that is 24. Bring the scope back 24 clicks for it to reset to zero.

Repeat this process for the windage adjustments.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Congratulations! Now you know how to adjust a rifle scope and its turrets!

I remember being incredibly frustrated when I couldn’t get the right point of impact.

But all it took was a little patience and practice. Now, adjusting rifle scopes is like second nature to me!

Don’t forget to adjust your scope forward to give yourself some eye relief to avoid scope bite!

FINAL TIP: You check out our article on Rifle Scope Sighting for a guide on how to improve your overall aiming skills.

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