How to: use a laser bore sighter to zero (and train!)

zeroing using a laser bore sight

Only do this with a unloaded rifle - Credit: Gary Chillingworth

Gary Chillingworth explains how to use a laser bore sighter for zeroing your scope - and as a training aid to improve your shooting technique!

Hello, everyone! Well, it looks like there might be some shooting just around the corner. There are rumours that the National UKAHFT series, and even the Worlds, might take place and I must admit, I have a big smile on my face. So, with this in mind, it’s time to stop playing with rifles and start getting some practice in for the year to come.

Tony Woodward sat at rifle range shooting an air rifle

Tony Woodward – a man who has sent me some great ideas - Credit: Archant

A few months back, I had a great email from Tony Woodward. Tony has been a great help to me recently, when he sees things, or hears about ideas, he drops me an email and because of him, I have come up with some enjoyable articles that I never would have thought about. Tony told me he had purchased a laser bore sighter, it had helped him to get a rough zero on a new scope, and that it was worth looking at.

laser bore sighter

Bore Sighters are cheap and useful - Credit: Gary Chillingworth

I rushed to my PC, spent £15, purchased one from eBay and, when it arrived, I was impressed. I will admit that I spent the first few days using the bore sighter to shine a red dot on the floor and have my 20-year-old cat, Fred, chase it. I learned that when she was being annoying – looking for food and yowling at me – that ‘chasing the dot’ wore her out very quickly and she would go for a nice long sleep.

I was always aware though that these bore sighters are lasers, and even though that aren’t powerful enough to cut a secret agent in half, or be used as a weapon attached to a shark’s head, they could blind a human or animal if shone into the eyes, so they are not a toy and need to be treated 
with respect. 


Fred may be 20, but she loves a laser - Credit: Gary Chillingworth

How to use a laser bore sighter
The first thing you need to do is centralise the beam. Tony is very lucky because he has a lathe that he can put the bore sighter into, so I asked my wife about this and I could tell from her look – and the fact that she took my credit card off me – that she didn’t want me to buy a lathe. I did the next best thing, though, and attached the sighter to a power drill, then pointed the beam at a cardboard box. I will be honest with you, after 20 minutes of trying,  I couldn’t get it perfectly central, but it was close enough.

centralising the bore sighter

The bore sighter needs to be centralised - Credit: Gary Chillingworth

Once it was set up, I fixed the scope to the rifle, set the eye relief, magnification, and the turrets to their neutral point. I did this by winding the windage and elevation all the way to the left. I then clicked them all the way to the right and counted the clicks. I then divided this number by two and clicked back that amount. For my Optisan CP scope it was 200 clicks (it’s 0.1 mil per click), so my neutral point is 100 clicks from either way.

centralising a laser bore sight

I want a lathe... but the wife say no - Credit: Gary Chillingworth

I took the rifle to the range, made sure that it was unloaded, then inserted the bore sighter into the rifle’s barrel and took aim at a 25-yard target. The scope’s crosshairs were high and right by a fraction, so I dialled the scope into the red dot on the target. When they all lined up, I removed the sighter and took a few shots. The pellet was hitting a pellet’s width left and half a pellet low, but after a few adjustments, we were there.

Centralising a riflescope is easy

Centralising the scope is easy, just count the clicks - Credit: Gary Chillingworth

Using the bore sighter as a training aid
So, is it worth having a bore sighter? Well, yes, but for me, not for setting up a scope. I shoot competition and sometimes, if you have turned up at an event and it’s windy, you can’t check your zero. So, what I am going to do is set the rifle up and then tune the sighter into the gun. This way, I can go to an event, place the sighter in the barrel and if my crosshairs and the red dot match perfectly, I know the gun is good.

adjusting the lens on a laser bore sighter

There are four grub screws to adjust the lens - Credit: Gary Chillingworth

The other thing that I have been playing with is using the sighter as a cheap training aid. My standing shots are awful, so I have set a target up in the garden at 35 yards and I then place  a cheap Go pro clone (about £10) watching the target. I then put the bore sighter in the barrel and point it at the target’s kill zone. My aim is to hold the beam in the kill zone for five seconds out of every 20. I then point the rifle down and rest, and then do it again. I do this in blocks of 20 with a two-minute rest between each shoot.

When I play back the footage, I have noticed that the red dot is always coming out on the right-hand side of the kill, so I now know to favour the left. This training has certainly improved my standers, so far. So, a £15 bore sighter can help you set up a rifle, check your zero on windy day, and train for standing and kneeling shots. For me – worth every penny! 

Go Pro clone

A cheap Go Pro clone is a great tool - Credit: Gary Chillingworth

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