What zero? 25, 50 or 100?

LastShot300

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We are used to zero at 100 yards, no question here. Lately a friend of mine asked why not to try a shorter zero, say 25 or 50 where it is a lot easier to see the target and remove shooter error?

I think it's a legit question but I did not come up with a good, or at least, viable answer. Can anyone weigh in with a technically supported explanation?
 

lash

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You will not remove shooter error from the equation by choosing a shorter zero.
 
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J!m

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It's not a benefit per se, but rather where that scope/rifle system is typically zeroed. The USO (Unertl copy) scope has come ups in the elevation turret, and it is (was) zeroed at 300 yards. It can be zeroed anywhere from 100 to 1000 but I'd just as soon do it the way they did it.

It sort of makes sense as engagements were typically in the 3-800 yard range. Why zero well above or below your typical engagement range?

550 would probably be "ideal" as it is exact center of the elevation range, but ranges between the 100 intervals are adjusted for with the fine elevation lever. 500 is probably best if you plan to shoot out to 1000 yards regularly. I probably won't very often and a 300 is "center" to 600 which is realistic for me, although I will at times reach out further once my rusty skills get back in shape.

Think of it like a micrometer- if you plan to measure 3-10 inches, you don't check the function of the gage at one inch. You can, but it allows the possibility for more error. Zero the gage on a 6" standard as that is (more-or-less) in the middle of your intended measurement range.

Trigger time (live fire and dry fire), getting an instructor to slap your head when you make an error, video your shots and play back... Many ways to clean up the shooter error as much as possible. Personally I think a good instructor is the best way, and what I did when I was last active on the range. (and it helped me a lot). Dad was an NRA instructor so I was handling weapons from a young age but having a well qualified (USMC and US Army) instructor in my ear cleaned up a few things. Combining my early learning's with the instructor's guidance made a big difference for me.

And now, based on my collective experience I know better what I need (and don't need) gear-wise. Just having a formula 1 race car does not make you a 'winning' driver. It takes seat time. A "race gun" is no different. You need to invest the time behind the trigger to perform at top levels.

Or maybe you have a gift and can grab any rifle and shoot spectacularly. I unfortunately have to work for it.
 

J!m

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Based on that article, I should clarify-

The 300 yard zero in my case would be with the scope set to "3" which is the 300 yard setting. I would not set "zero yards" at 300 yards, in case that wasn't clear...
 

lash

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It's not a benefit per se, but rather where that scope/rifle system is typically zeroed. The USO (Unertl copy) scope has come ups in the elevation turret, and it is (was) zeroed at 300 yards. It can be zeroed anywhere from 100 to 1000 but I'd just as soon do it the way they did it.

It sort of makes sense as engagements were typically in the 3-800 yard range. Why zero well above or below your typical engagement range?

550 would probably be "ideal" as it is exact center of the elevation range, but ranges between the 100 intervals are adjusted for with the fine elevation lever. 500 is probably best if you plan to shoot out to 1000 yards regularly. I probably won't very often and a 300 is "center" to 600 which is realistic for me, although I will at times reach out further once my rusty skills get back in shape.

Think of it like a micrometer- if you plan to measure 3-10 inches, you don't check the function of the gage at one inch. You can, but it allows the possibility for more error. Zero the gage on a 6" standard as that is (more-or-less) in the middle of your intended measurement range.

Trigger time (live fire and dry fire), getting an instructor to slap your head when you make an error, video your shots and play back... Many ways to clean up the shooter error as much as possible. Personally I think a good instructor is the best way, and what I did when I was last active on the range. (and it helped me a lot). Dad was an NRA instructor so I was handling weapons from a young age but having a well qualified (USMC and US Army) instructor in my ear cleaned up a few things. Combining my early learning's with the instructor's guidance made a big difference for me.

And now, based on my collective experience I know better what I need (and don't need) gear-wise. Just having a formula 1 race car does not make you a 'winning' driver. It takes seat time. A "race gun" is no different. You need to invest the time behind the trigger to perform at top levels.

Or maybe you have a gift and can grab any rifle and shoot spectacularly. I unfortunately have to work for it.

I'm not sure if the last four paragraphs of this post were intended for me, but the first three paragraphs would have been adequate. I simply asked why you chose a 300 zero for your M40 and if there were perceived benefits. I don't know what all the rest of that was all about.

But, since you brought up the scope and micrometer analogy, I should point out that most scopes operate at their best when in the center of their range of travel and that quite often coincides with about a 100 yard zero. You could use your analogy to say that they are "calibrated" at 100 yards.

The rest of that sounds like you were typing out an answer to some other thread and it ended up in this post. Just sayin'. ;)
 

Rob01

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100. Everywhere you go from there either back to 10 yards or out to 1000 is dialing up. If you can't shoot consistently enough at 100 to zero then you need more work for long range anyways.
 

LastShot300

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Guys thanks a lot for all the replies and insight, but so far, I haven't seen any pros/cons argument. Let me put this in other words. What could be wrong going shorter than 100?

I mean from a technical standpoint, if possible. Most say that zeroing shorter than 100 has no advantages for the shooter, how can this be true if a more defined target should always be easier to aim at?
 

dsouza411

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I see what you’re trying to say about being able to clearly see your target at a closer distance and being able to drive it home. The only way to remove shooter error is to remove the shooter. Like others have said, you’re not removing shooter error by reeling in the target and zeroing it at 25yd, 50yd or closer. Once you move the target back out, if your fundamentals aren’t there, then they simply aren’t there and the group will open up.

Just zero that that bad boy and shoot. I zero at 100 keeps life simple for me.
 

LastShot300

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I see what you’re trying to say about being able to clearly see your target at a closer distance and being able to drive it home. The only way to remove shooter error is to remove the shooter. Like others have said, you’re not removing shooter error by reeling in the target and zeroing it at 25yd, 50yd or closer. Once you move the target back out, if your fundamentals aren’t there, then they simply aren’t there and the group will open up.

Just zero that that bad boy and shoot. I zero at 100 keeps life simple for me.

Thanks I see now, clearly enough, the whole point. In short, if I got it right, no technical advantage other than some mechanical issues with tilted bases that may preclude a short zero.
 

lash

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You are talking about a "more defined target" at shorter distances. Two things. First, if you are using a scope, your target should be well defined at 100 yards. Second, unless you use an appropriately down-sized target or bullseye at shorter distances, you are actually increasing the chances of inducing shooter error at the shorter distances. Remember the saying, "Aim small, hit small"? That means, for most people, a larger bullseye is harder to repeatedly quarter in the exact same spot. This can and often does mean larger groups, all else being equal,
 

LastShot300

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You are talking about a "more defined target" at shorter distances. Two things. First, if you are using a scope, your target should be well defined at 100 yards. Second, unless you use an appropriately down-sized target or bullseye at shorter distances, you are actually increasing the chances of inducing shooter error at the shorter distances. Remember the saying, "Aim small, hit small"? That means, for most people, a larger bullseye is harder to repeatedly quarter in the exact same spot. This can and often does mean larger groups, all else being equal,

Very good point raised here!
 

atomic41

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    It depends on the type of shooting I'm doing. If it's one of my magnified optics, then I'm probably shooting precision and my calculations need to be right so I go 100yd zero because it's easier to plan to always dial up like Frank's description in the link posted above. It also keeps things simple for my little pea brain. ;)

    If it's one of my red dot rifles (or 1-4x) where I'm going to be shooting quickly and not calculating holds, (short range hunting, zombie attack, home defense, etc) then I zero at 50. This is because the bullet will hit in a 4" circle easy (actually smaller if the shot is well placed) way past where I will be shooting with that red dot. This is for quickly putting that dot on target, sending it without thinking about holding. Let's say 5.56 zeroed at 50, it's slightly high at 100, then hits again just over 200 (kind of a second zero at 200). That same 5.56 zeroed at 100, drops pretty hard before it reaches 200 so it's dropping after 100. Make sense? So that's an advantage of zeroing at 50, but it depends on what type of shooting you're doing.

    As far as your friend's theory of shooter error, your error is your error. You won't eliminate the error, but you can see your error better at 100 vs 50 because it will be magnified more. So if you are shooting for precision, zero at 100 and see what your errors are then fix them.
     

    matthewpittinger

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    Yes shooting closer you may be able to get a more exact zero at 25 yds, but little things that you can't see at 25 become big things at 100 and further out. 25 gets you close, but you should always verify and tune at distances


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