Let's jump right in, shall we?
The term 'zero' comes into play because that is exactly what you'll be doing with your weapon. Setting it to zero. Though a majority of this post
is to help increase your accuracy with adjustable sights, it will also help those of you with weapons that have fixed-sights, a scope, and even a
shotgun. The whole point of zeroing your weapon is to increase accuracy, but it will build a basic understanding of how your weapon operates when
fired. Even if your weapon has NO SIGHTS at all, the processes listed below will assist you in your accuracy.
1. Location. Choose a place where you can fire your weapon that a) has minimal wind. (If you can't get an indoor range, get somewhere where the
wind is extremely light.) b) is well lit, and c) has a facility on-site for the disassembly of your weapon if necessary.
2. Target. You have many options when selecting a target for zeroing your weapon. Don't worry about getting a giant target to send off in the
distance. Printing a crosshair style target on a sheet of printer paper works just fine for this purpose. (Crosshair is the circle with the crossed
lines). Make sure you can run the target to 50-75 yards.
3. Position of the weapon. Support your weapon in the most stable position available. For a rifle, the prone position works best, but if you have a
table to work with, you can lean over and support the weapon with your arm. When you are aiming, your cheek on the stock of the weaopn will help to
stabilize it. Keep enough distance away from the sights that the recoil won't cause it to hit you, though. For a pistol, an offhand firing position
is fair, but supporting the butt of the pistol on a post or tabletop works best. Use discretion with a shotgun
4. Firing. A single shot will tell you absolutely nothing about the condition of your weapon. For zeroing purposes, set elevation and windage to
zero. For a pistol with adjustable sights, set them to zero. Please be certain that the weapon is CLEAN and in firing order. Once you're certain
the weapon is properly zeroed, aim at your target, concentrate on the front sight post. Aim center-mass. Fire as described in the article
5. Shot grouping. Sighted or unsighted weapons will benefit here. Take five rounds and send them down range. A single shot tells you nothing.
Attempt to make each shot an exact copy of the last. When you bring the target in, you'll see a pattern of where those shots hit as opposed to where
you aimed. RARELY will you hit dead-center on every shot. Begin with elevation. One click at a time, raise your elevation until the entire shot
group centers around the horizontal centerline of the target. Once this is done and you can hit three shot-groups at the correct elevation, move on
to windage. Again, five-shot groups, center them. As you can see, this will burn through a pretty decent amount of ammunition, make sure you have
enough. If you're low on cash, a three-shot group or AT A MINIMUM a two-shot group will suffice. Once you have your weapon consistently hitting the
target around the very center of the target, write down and memorize where your settings are at. That way, if your weapon get's knocked out of set,
alignment, or zero, you can quickly readjust it. It's a good idea to use a seperate target for EACH shot grouping with a notation of +/- 1, 2,
etc... to indicate your weapon settings.
6. SAME THING, but with no sights, open sights, or non-adjustable sights. Using the sight alignment techniques mentioned in this forum, you can get
a very good idea of where your center-mass shots will land. This is vitally important if you ever HAVE to get a round dead-center in a critical
situation. You won't expend as much ammo but you will learn to use your weapon properly. Once you've figured out how far your shot is off, you can
then use 'kentucky windage' to improve the shot.
7. Kentucky windage: When firing ZEROED weapons, in a quick-fire situation (or if you have no sights), you can watch the grass, dirt, trees, to see
the direction and strength of the wind. You can then lead your target to compensate for the wind without changing your windage settings. Keep in
mind that other factors will become involved that you need to learn such as: Velocity of the round, shape and weight of the round, rifling spacing in
the barrel of your rifle, even rain can effect the shot.
Using this method you can learn the most intimate details of your weapon's firing pattern. All firearms will benefit from this, even BB-guns,
paint-guns, and airsoft guns.
Think that was the basic covering of it.
[edit on 9-9-2009 by Arrowmancer]