A sniper should verify his weapon's zero in the following situations. These are listed in order of importance, but ideally all require verifying:
• Any hint scope was knocked, knobs turned
• After separating action from stock
• After unpacking from shipping
• Cheekrest height or butt length changed
• Switching to a new lot of ammunition
• Temperature change of +/- 20 degrees
• Altitude change of 1,500 or more feet
• Before each planned operation
• During a critical incident
ONE-SHOT ZERO (L-R): Aim carefully and fire one shot; note its impact point; wedge rifle to hold steady at original aim point; crank crosshairs to the impact point.
caused your zero to move, disaster is certain. You'd may as well not even fire.
Under certain circumstances (listed in the box on page 196), you automatically should verify your zero by test-firing your weapon. But the bottom line is this: if you have the slightest doubt about your zero, verify it. Just the psychological impact of such doubt degrades shooting confidence.
The ideal is to verify your zero on a full-size range with no time constraints. But an old elk hunter's trick could save the day if no full-size range is available. Here's how it works: when you finish a full-fledged zero, take out another target and fire your rifle into it at only 25 yards. Obviously your rounds will strike high above the point of aim, but record this height exactly. In a pinch, you can now verify your zero by shooting only 25 yards and confirming that the point of impact is the same height above point of aim.
While preparing to be part of a unit defense—and before the enemy arrives—you can verify your zero quickly by having your spotter observe while you fire a round into any material that shows visible effect when struck. Standing water, a dirt mound, or a brick wall should do the job.
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Deer hunting is an interesting thing that reminds you of those golden old ages of 19th centuries, where a handsome hunk well equipped with all hunting material rides on horse searching for his target animal either for the purpose of displaying his masculine powers or for enticing and wooing his lady love.