How To Shoot The Square

by
posted on May 6, 2011
201156101753-shootingsquare_f.jpg

I am as guilty of this as anybody: Slap a new scope on a rifle, take it to the range for a quick sight-in and go hunting. For 95 percent of my hunting, this serves me well, even on longish shots. But precision riflemen often do more in order to know exactly where a bullet will land and are able to adjust their scope settings to affect a perfect hold.

Today’s riflescopes are incredibly precise. Windage and elevation adjustments are typically measured in 1/4 minute-of-angle (m.o.a.) increments, even on bargain-basement scopes from uber-large discount outlets. Some scopes even claim 1/8 m.o.a. adjustments. But even the highest quality scope is a mass-produced product manufactured within tolerances. The knobs on the scope may claim each click will move the reticle 1/4 m.o.a., but how do you know that? You don’t, but you can find out fairly quickly. More importantly, you can also determine the repeatability of your scope’s adjustment knobs. It’s called shooting the square.

Shooting the Square
You can shoot the square with a couple of 20-round boxes of ammo. This exercise works best if you have pre-centered the reticle during bore-sighting. How do you do that? Easy—first turn the windage and elevation knobs as far as you can in one direction. Then count the number of clicks it takes each adjustment knob to reach its hard stop on the other end. Divide that number in half and set each adjustment there. Then bore-sight the rifle. You now have the most latitude within the scope adjustments.

Sight the rifle/scope combo to be dead-on at 100 yards. Let’s assume your scope claims 1/4-m.o.a. adjustments. You will want to move the point of impact 6 inches right, so turn the windage adjustment knob 24 clicks to the right (four clicks to the inch times 6 inches). Now, with a dead-center hold, shoot a three- or five-shot group. I prefer a five-shot group because the larger sample size provides a more accurate assessment. The center of the group should be 6 inches to the right of your sight-in group. If it isn’t, note the differences in terms of elevation and windage.

Now let’s see what the elevation adjustment does alone. This time lower the elevation adjustment 6 inches (24 clicks for 1/4 m.o.a. adjustments), and shoot another group. Note any deviation from what the group should be. Then, turn the windage adjustment knob 24 clicks (6 inches) to the left, and shoot another group. Note any deviation from where it should be. Finally, turn the elevation adjustment knob up 24 clicks to check its repeatability, and shoot another group. This group should coincide with your first sight-in group.

Now What?
If you go through shooting the square and all of your groups are dead on, yippie-skippy for you! As often as not, there will be some minor discrepancies—usually an inch or less. For most hunters, it’s no big deal. Typically, hunters sight their rifles in for a specific yardage and use mil-dots, hash marks or Kentucky windage to adjust for range and wind.

Precision shooters, however, prefer to make adjustments with their scopes to account for range and wind conditions. Unless the discrepancies between the adjustments and point of impact are large—more than an inch or two—the only option is to burn the ammo necessary and record the results in a log book to determine the number of clicks it takes to be able to hold dead on under a given range and wind condition. The knowledge shooters can gain from shooting the square and determining the accuracy and repeatability of their riflescope can save them a few rounds in that exercise.

Latest

Springfield Armory Sa35 Rifleman Review 4
Springfield Armory Sa35 Rifleman Review 4

Rifleman Review: Springfield Armory SA-35

In 2021, Springfield Armory brought out its SA-35, a rendition of the classic Browning Hi Power, one of the iconic handguns of the 20th century.

New For 2024: Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport III

In a crowded AR-15 market, consumers are looking for the best bang for their buck. Most look no further than the Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport, and the company has an updated generation out for 2024.

Handloads: A 10 mm Auto Loaded For Bear

The fear of a bear attack has likely sold more 10 mm Auto handguns than all firearm advertising combined. The 10 mm does deliver some impressive ballistics for a cartridge chambered in semi-automatic handguns.

The Rifleman Report: Creative Minds At Work

As all of us who experience this “mortal coil” eventually learn, the days seem more fleeting with each passing year. For those of us who make a living observing and reporting about the firearm industry, they eventually result in a somewhat disorganized pile of memories about companies, products and the people who create them.

Smith & Wesson Issues Safety Alert For Response Carbines

Smith & Wesson has identified a condition in which an out-of-battery discharge can occur when certain Response bolts fail to fully close before the trigger is pulled.

Review: GForce LVR410

With a long and storied history in the United States, lever-action carbines continue to be favorites among modern American shooting sports enthusiasts. This evaluation takes a closer look at the 24"-barreled LVR410, which is being imported by GForce Arms, Inc. of Reno, Nev.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.