April 25th, 2016

Field Target Tip: How to Range Targets Using the Scope

Target Ranging, Range, Scope, Optic field target UK

This article appears courtesy Target Shooter magazine from the UK.

Field Target (FT) and Hunter Field Target (HFT) airgun disciplines are popular outdoor shooting sports that simulate the challenges of hunting small game. One of the unique aspects of FT competition is target range-finding using parallax and optical focus. (HFT is limited to lower power scopes, so this type of range-fiding is not used in HFT.) Range-finding is very important because the pellets shot by FT airguns drop rapidly once they leave the muzzle (pellets can drop roughly 5″ at 50 yards). If you don’t have your scope set to the correct distance, you’ll probably miss the target high or low.

FT competitors employ high-magnification (35-55X) scopes to sight targets placed from 10 to 55 yards (7.3 to 50m in the UK). Because these scopes have very short depth-of-field at high-magnification, the target will be out of focus unless you have the scope focus/parallax control set very precisely. But competitors can use this to their advantage — once the target is precisely focused, you have effectively established its distance from the shooter. FT scopes often have large-diameter wheels on the side parallax control so the focus can be set very precisely. You can then read marks placed on the scope to adjust the amount of elevation need to put the pellet on target.

To simplify the adjustment of elevation on FT rifles, competitors will place tapes on the windage knobs with marks that correspond to distances in 3-5 yard (or smaller) increments. These marks allow you to quickly spin your elevation to the setting matching the target range established with your focus/parallax control.

Field Target Accessories
There are a variety of specialized products for FT competitors that help you set up your scope for precise ranging. First, Compufoil offers a computer program, ScopeKnob, that lets you easily create accurate elevation knob tapes for your scope. ScopeKnob even comes with a built-in Ballistics Module that will calculate the pellet trajectory for you and plot range settings for your tape. Chairgun.com also offers ChairGunPRO, specialized airgun ballistics software that lets you simultaneously compare four different pellets, or different scope heights.

Field Target Scope knobIn the past, the A-Team offered replacement elevation knobs optimized for use with yardage marking tapes. These were offered in two versions, one which replaced the existing turret altogether and a second which clamped OVER the factory turret. Shown at right is the larger-diameter version in place over the factory turret. Unfortunately we don’t know a current source for this product, but this may help you crate something similar on your own.

Last but not least, Pyramid Air offers large-diameter parallax control wheels. According to Pyramid: “The enlarged sidewheel is the most popular FT scope accessory of all. It lets you put white artist’s tape around the rim to mark the actual distances at which the scope focuses”. A 6″ sidewheel provides over 18″ of space on which to inscribe yardage, and that means you can have a meaningful separation between 18 yards and 20 — where there is a huge parallax and trajectory difference. Though the ranges are already engraved on the rim of the wheel, field target competitors will measure them again on an actual range and write the markings on a strip of white artist’s tape.

Tips on Field Target Scope Set-Up
The creator’s of the A-Team knobs suggest taking your time when setting up a scope for Field Target competition: “We normally take from three to four hours preparing a scope to be mounted on a gun. We mark the scope in 1-yard increments from 9 to 40 yards, then to 55 yards by 3 or 5-yard increments depending on the scope being calibrated.”

Permalink Competition, Optics, Tech Tip No Comments »
October 7th, 2014

MIL vs. MOA Reticles — Which Are Better for Tactical Tasks?

MIL or MOA — which angular measuring system is better for target ranging (and hold-offs)? In a recent article on his PrecisionRifleBlog.com website, Cal Zant tackles that question. Analyzing the pros and cons of each, Zant concludes that both systems work well, provided you have compatible click values on your scope. Zant does note that a 1/4 MOA division is “slightly more precise” than 1/10th mil, but that’s really not a big deal: “Technically, 1/4 MOA clicks provide a little finer adjustments than 1/10 MIL. This difference is very slight… it only equates to 0.1″ difference in adjustments at 100 yards or 1″ at 1,000 yards[.]” Zant adds that, in practical terms, both 1/4-MOA clicks and 1/10th-MIL clicks work well in the field: “Most shooters agree that 1/4 MOA or 1/10 MIL are both right around that sweet spot.”

Mil MOA reticle ranging PRS tactical minute angle precision rifle series

READ MIL vs. MOA Cal Zant Article.

Zant does note that a whopping 94% of shooters in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) used a mil-based reticle. However, Zant says: “This does NOT mean MIL is better. It just means MIL-based scopes are more popular.” Zant agrees with Bryan Litz’s take on the subject: “You can’t really go wrong with either (MIL or MOA). They’re both equally effective, it comes down to how well you know the system. If you’re comfortable with MOA, I wouldn’t recommend switching to MIL. I have a few MIL scopes but primarily because they’re on rifles used for military evaluation projects, and that community is now mostly converted to MILS, so when in Rome….”

We recommend you read Zant’s complete article which is very thorough and is illustrated with helpful graphics. Here are the key points Zant makes in his MIL vs. MOA analysis:

MIL vs. MOA — Key Points
There are a handful of minor differences/trade-offs between MIL & MOA, but there are no inherent advantage to either system. Most people blow the small differences WAY out of proportion….Here are the biggest differences and things to keep in mind:

  • Whatever you decide, go with matching turret/reticle (i.e. MIL/MIL or MOA/MOA)
  • 1/4 MOA adjustments are slightly more precise than 1/10 MIL.
  • MIL values are slightly easier to communicate.
  • If you think in yards/inches the math for range estimation is easier with MOA. If you think in meters/cm the math is easier with MIL.
  • When your shooting partners are using one system, there can be some advantage to having the same system.
  • Around 90% of the PRS competitors use MIL.
  • There are more product options (with ranging reticles) in MIL.

Range Card Print-Outs
Zant makes an interesting practical point regarding range card print-outs. He suggests the MIL System may be easier to read: “You can see in the range card examples below, 1/4 MOA adjustments take up more room and are a little harder to read than 1/10 MIL adjustments.”

mil vs moa reticle scope

Permalink Optics, Tactical 11 Comments »
December 15th, 2013

New MOA-Based TS-32X1 Reticle from Leupold

Leupold MOA holdoff reticel ts-32x1Leupold has just introduced a new second focal plane reticle with MOA-based hashmarks, allowing precise hold-overs and hold-offs (for wind). The new TS-32X1 reticle, is a minute-of-angle (MOA) based system designed to allow for precision shots without the need for dial adjustments. The TS-32X1 reticle is designed to work with riflescopes that employ 1/4-MOA target adjustments or M1 dials.

The TS-32X1 is the first in a family of MOA-based reticles that will cover several magnification ranges. The TS-32X1 will be available for a wide variety of Leupold riflescopes. For $159.99, the Leupold Custom Shop can also retrofit this reticle into many existing Leupold scopes. Adding the TS-32X1 to a new riflescope ordered through the Custom Shop will cost $129.99.

Leupold MOA holdoff reticel ts-32x1

MOA-Based Hashmarks on Horizontal and Vertical Stadia
On the TS-32X1 reticle, a heavy post and thin stadia crosshair features 1-MOA hashmarks on both the horizontal and vertical lines. Every other hash mark on the horizontal stadia is slightly longer, providing quick and easy 2-MOA measurements. There is a number placed every fourth MOA for quick reference.

The vertical stadia is also set up with 1-MOA tics and longer 2-MOA marks. In addition, every fourth mark is numbered, all the way to the complete 32-MOA elevation range. Wind dots in the lower half of the reticle are spaced in 2=MOA increments, both vertically and horizontally.

This new TS-32X1 reticle is currently available for most second (rear) focal plane VX-3, VX-III, Vari-X III and Mark 4 4.5-14 LR/T riflescopes. Existing riflescopes can be retrofitted for $159.99 through the Leupold Custom Shop. To add the TS-32X1 to a new riflescope ordered through the Custom Shop is $129.99.

Product tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink New Product, Optics 4 Comments »
June 30th, 2010

New Mil-Dot Rangefinder App for Apple iPhone and iPod

Mil-dot Ranging AppMany of our readers are now using smart-phones for ballistic calculations. Now there is a new App for the iPhone which makes mildot target ranging simple and easy. Mil-Dot Rangefinder 2.0 does all the math for you. Just input the size of the target, and the program calculates range instantly, in yards and meters. The standard edition costs just $1.99 while the “Pro” version is $9.99. We think that, if you’re going to really use this program in the field, it’s well worth paying ten bucks for the Pro version. The Pro edition gives you a full-featured ballistics calculator with windage/elevation corrections. That calculator alone is worth the extra money, and the Pro version offers many other features, which are listed below:

  • Target ranging (yards and meters)
  • US Army and USMC mil-dot reticles
  • Target Info display
  • Advanced ballistics calculator
  • Fast windspeed/direction adjustment
  • Range card (ballistics chart)
  • Point of impact indicator
  • Bullet drop compensator
  • Windage/elevation corrections
  • Time to target
  • Shot energy/velocity at target
  • Multiple Ballistic Profiles

This is a very powerful program. We suspect it will take most users a few days before they really understand all its functions and options. To see a more detailed demonstration of the Mil-Dot Rangefinder App, click on the YouTube video below. There’s no voice-over, so the video can be hard to follow. But at least the video showcases the flexibility of the program and the wide variety of functions it offers. Credit The Firearm Blog for spotlighting this useful App.

YouTube Preview Image
Permalink - Videos, New Product, Tech Tip 5 Comments »