So you finally bought that “cool” thermal scope you’ve been eyeing for months—congratulations! Now, what’s the next step? Yup, you got it. It’s time to know and understand how to sight in a thermal scope. In this guide, we’ll show you how it’s done in five easy and straightforward steps. Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
5 Steps to Sight In A Thermal Optic
1. Secure & Stabilize Your Rifle
Properly sighting your thermal scope highly depends on your rifle’s stability. Secured and stabilized weapons make it easier to measure the distance between the bullet drop and the bull’s eye. Your initial position needs to be as steady as possible for you to maximize your zero.
It is best to get the right equipment. Investing in great brands will surely help in the long run. Having better equipment will keep your weapon stable and easy to sight.
Using a gun rest or a bipod/tripod is an easy, faster, and more efficient way to zero the position of your thermal scope when hunting. If buying equipment is not an option for you, you can always use heavy bags on one end. It will help achieve a secured ground for you.
The hunters need to know how to best position their rifle, which should give them a much stable aim of the target. Once sure that you have a stabilized rifle, you can get started with zeroing your thermal scope.
2. Use The Right Targets
In choosing the right target, you need to make sure that your target object is warmer or cooler than your surroundings. Using paper targets is useless because you will not see them from 25 yards away, especially at night.
Since thermal scopes use heat when sighting the target, the best means is to practice using materials that possess heat. It can get you better results when hunting.
You can also use household items as target options, such as a heated water bottle or reflective tape. If making your own is not an option for you due to a lack of time and resources, you can opt for ready-to-purchase targets available on the market. You can also use hand warmers as an alternative.
3. Work With Your Ideal Distance
The ideal distance to set up your rifle’s optics is between 50 to 200 yards. It is never too bad to play at different ranges when practicing.
You could first start near. Once the hunter is used to the position, he can gradually increase the yards as his accuracy increases.
When sighting at a closer range, you always have the option to hit the reticle either an inch higher or lower.
Zeroing your thermal optics or thermal goggles is a beneficial process if planning to take a shot from different distances. Always remember that the bullet drop is affected by the bullet weight velocity and caliber of your weapon. Your point of aim should be slightly higher than your desired point of impact.  Using the same rounds as you go through learning the process of target shooting and actual hunting would give you a better grasp of the sighting.
4. Go Through A Practice Round
Ideally, it begins by firing three rounds into the target. Once you have completed your first three rounds, check on your target to see the result. From the target posts, observe where the bullets landed.
Take note of the measurements of the vertical and horizontal distance to the point of aim. Make use of the result to get the right adjustments for successfully landing your next shot. Be sure to write down the results for your reference.
Zeroing your optic is needed when shooting off a target. As soon as you start hitting your target, you don’t need to zero your rifle further.
5. Adjust The Optic
Depending on the product you have (Pulsar, Trijicon, ATN, etc.), adjustment options are available to change your thermal optic settings. Refer to your manual if you are not sure how to make thermal optic scope adjustments.
The hunters need to keep a consistent shooting position and firing pattern to maintain the rifle’s zero. The horizontal and vertical distances you took note of earlier will help you make accurate adjustments as you go. As soon as your reticle adjustments are good enough, do another three rounds.
Afterward, approach the target to see if you have hit the bull’s eye. Once you have successfully shot the center, you can go ahead with shooting another three rounds to confirm your sighting. If you hit the bull’s eye again, then you are ready for the actual hunt. Check here to learn how MOA works.
Understanding How Thermal Scopes Function
The thermal scope is different from ordinary day scopes because its technology is more advanced. While there are affordable thermal scopes, most top features can be found on more expensive ones. The use of turrets is unnecessary to make adjustments since it has a digital scope. Visible light is not required to produce an image. A thermal scope is usable either day or night.
Thermal scope uses infrared illuminators to generate light and works like an ordinary flashlight that helps with night vision even without the beam of light that flashlights emit. Reading the manual is the fastest way to understand how to use the thermal scope properly.
Thermal scope functions may differ depending on the brand. Having the initiative and time to explore different settings is ideal whenever you get a new accessory or device. It would help when familiarizing yourself with the device and fully utilizing its potential. Making the preparations before you go out for practice is better than wasting your time and resources. You may also want to check out how to sight in scopes without boresighters here.
How to Sight in A Thermal Scope - Our Final Thoughts
The process of sighting your thermal scope works can be tedious to learn and might take a bit of time but beneficial to know, especially when you love hunting. It may even be hard to understand at first, but as years pass and you look back, the effort will be worth it.
What better feeling to have than hitting one or two of your targets consistently? Perfectly sighting your scope could give you a confidence boost so you could set off and enjoy your hunt trips. It’s always worth the shot.
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