How to Judge Distance with a Rifle Scope?

Ever thought what a world would have been without rifle scopes? Well! There would be blind long-ranged targets everywhere.

However, a great appreciation for the brilliant minds behind the invention of scopes, which have enabled people to take accurate aims.

Whether the reason for carrying a weapon is protection or mere hunting, it is always better to have a licensed firearm because obeying the law should always be the priority.

But a man carrying a rifle doesn’t enhance his firing skills if he doesn’t know how to judge distance with a rifle scope.

Evan an expensive scope can’t help you. On the other hand, using the proper method you can shoot long-distance targets with your cheap rifle scopes.

So, want to learn distance evaluation? Go ahead then.

Importance of Using Scope for Judging Distance

There are many benefits of using your rifle scope to appraise the distance between you and your aim, such as:

  • Shooting right on the target by damaging the exact area you have targeted.
  • Saving your rounds to the maximum, which results in saving of cost, and leaves you with ammunition for another target.
  • In case of emergency or limited supply of bullets or pellets, you never miss your target.

8 Methods of Evaluating Distance with a Rifle Scope

1. The Mapping Technique

The mapping technique is one of the basic techniques to know the distance through a rifle scope. It is more like finding the range of your target by looking at a map of scope.

So in that sense, the only important mediator between you and your target is your scope because that’s where you get all the information about how far or close your target is.

But every skill needs an accurate application to achieve successful results. So, to use this method, the shooter should be aware of all the features the rifle scope has.

Also, the shooter must possess navigation capabilities with practical implications on the ground. So if you are the person behind the trigger, then with such abilities, you can easily calculate the accurate distance of your target.

2. Short-Range Technique

The short-range method, also famous by the name of the short distance method, is a great way to understand the distance of the target. To use this technique, you need to make a second target that should not be far away from the main target.

Once the range is cleverly noticed, you can multiply it by the distance of the main target. And bingo! You get the right range to aim your object.

One of the reasons why this method is prominent is because it allows the shooter to estimate the correct distance, as it gives a good time to the shooter to set its target. Perhaps, it is best used in less-panic situations because the shooter needs time for the estimation, as he aims to know the range by focusing on the secondary target.

Moreover, the short-range technique should be applied in the conditions when the target is nearby.

3. Metric Method

Surely, you must be familiar with the metric units. So, this technique helps you to compute the distance by using the science of metric measurements. What happens is when you use this technique and aim the target; you receive its size in millimeters.

After that, you simply divide the obtained numbers (millimeters) with mil numbers, which are displayed on your scope’s reticle. Once you are done with the simple mathematics, the answer you get in numbers is the actual range in meters.

To understand this technique in a better way, suppose you are targeting a beer bottle that is 650mm in size. And by using the reticle, you get 1.5 as a mil number. So by dividing the value of millimeter by the value of mil, you will get your distance in meters.

So in this case:

  • 650 ÷ 1.5 = 4.33 meters (14ft)

Hence, you know the range.

4. Minute of Angle (MOA) Technique

MOA is one of the best methods for accumulating distance with a rifle scope in an American way. Why the American way? It is because the entire math, to know the distance, is done through common measuring units preferred in the USA.

So, if you are using an MOA reticle and willing to calculate the distance in yards, simply divide the target size by MOA dimensions given on the reticle, and multiply the collected value by 100. Geez! You have judged the distance of the target through your beloved rifle scope.

Read also about MRAD vs MOA.

5. Adjustment Method for Non-Graduated Reticles

Some people think that they cannot measure the distance if their rifle scope is of a non-graduated reticle type. No doubt that it is a bit difficult to know the distance with having that kind of scope, but nothing is impossible, right?

In a scenario like this, as your lens has no modern measurements, you need to utilize the scope’s adjustment and play with it rather than simply going for the reticle numbers to assess the target’s distance. To apply this method, you have to ensure that your rifle’s position is strict and immovable.

Now with the help of the scope’s turret, move the reticle to the height of your target to get the angular measurement. Then simply divide the height of your target by the angle’s tangent.

For example, your object’s height is 25ft that is at an angle of 90 degrees. So, you first need to sort out the tangent of the angle, which in the case of 90 degrees is 1.63 (you can Google any angle’s tangent). Now you have to divide your target’s height by the tangent value to get the horizontal distance in feet. So,

  • 25(target height in ft) ÷ 1.63 (tangent of 90 degree angle) = 15 ft

Therefore, the distance between you and your target will be 15 ft.

6. GPS Technique

One of the widely used scopes in this present era for distance accuracy is the GPS technique. There are some great American companies, which have been manufacturing GPS rifle scopes for the past two decades. However, the shooter needs to have great command over the usage.

So, if you are any similar scope, then through GPS you can smoothly evaluate the distance between you and the target. You may also need supportive gadgets, like a rangefinder for perfect distance measurement, especially if you are hunting at night time.

There are a few things you need to be certain about, like awareness of using the GPS of the rifle scope. Secondly, practice is the key to judge distance through the GPS technique.

The use of rangefinder is, for sure, a big help in estimating distance, but without practice, you may not understand the most critical.

So, the more you practice, the more you will be able to understand this formula-less method of finding the distance through your rifle scope.

7. Guessing and Bracketing Method

The guessing technique is one of the most common methods used by the shooters to judge the distance. In this process, the shooter has already known the distance from one point to another, and therefore, guesses the distance of the other points.

For example, the distance between point A and point B is 150 yards, so the shooter will assume that the distance from point B to point C will be the same.

On the contrary, the bracketing method is similar to the guessing method. However, the only difference in this method is that instead of guessing the same distance between the multiple points, the shooter takes out the average range, which results in good accuracy.

8. The Mil-Dot Technique

Last but not least, the Mil-Dot technique is based on milliradian markings. So, if your rifle scope has these measurement points, then it means you can obtain the number of mils. So it becomes easier to find the distance of your target by using the Mil-Dot Range rule.

One of the best things about this technique is that you can find the range/distance in several ways. So whether your target height is in yards or inches, you can use these formulas to know the accurate distance through your rifle scope.

If the target height is in the yard(s), then:

  • Range = 1000 x Height of Target (Yards) ÷ Number of Mils

If the target height is in inches, then:

  • Range = 27.7 x Height of Target (inches) ÷ Number of Mils

Note: ‘x’ represents multiplication

To understand this formula, let’s suppose your rifle scope has measurements in ‘yards’, the height of your target is 3 mil, and as you have aimed the target, the number of miles you are getting is 4. So what will be the range? Well! The distance will simply be:

  • Range = 1000 x 3 ÷ 4
  • Range = 750 yards

Finding the correct distance through your rifle scope is a piece of cake if you just know the basic multiplication and division rules of mathematics.

And as a shooter, you must know how to estimate distance because you never know when and where you might need this skill. If you are new to all these methods, then it is recommended to practice because that will gradually turn you into an experienced observer very soon.

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