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How to Sight in a Red Dot Scope Without Shooting?

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One of the most frequently asked questions about red dot scopes is whether you can sight a red dot scope without shooting and the answer is, yes.

Hey, this is James again. I recently covered my top picks for the best red dot sights in 2022 and that’s when a lot of you came about asking this and since answering everyone personally wasn’t possible, I decided to write a post on it.

So here’s a step by step guide detailing everything you need to know and do to sight red dot scopes the right way without shooting.

How to Sight in a Red Dot Scope Without Shooting?

Sight in a Red Dot Scope Without Shooting

The ideal way to do this is by using a laser bore sighter. In case you didn’t know, boresighting is the process of aligning the center of the gun barrel or the bore with the sight, and nothing is quicker and more efficient than a laser bore sighter for this, especially if you are using scopes for the first time.

Here’s more in-detail about laser bore sighters and other techniques.

Laser Bore Sighters

The reason this is my favorite technique is that it suits anyone and everyone and makes the process a breeze as it provides unmatched accuracy. Plus, these are easy to mount and remove when needed. Laser boresighters are to be installed on the rifle’s arbor inside the muzzle. 

You might also come across end-mounted laser bore sighters. The only difference between the two is their placement. These boresighters are mounted down the mouth of the barrel. 

After the installation is complete the next step would be to aim using the red dot. In case the red dot isn’t clearly visible, rotate the crosshairs via the dials placed around the edge of your scope. 

If you think you need the crosshair to move upwards, rotate the dials in the clockwise direction or if you want it moving downwards, turn it in the anti-clockwise direction.

Continue rotating in both directions until your scope is zeroed in for 100% accuracy.

In case you are wondering which laser bore sighter should you go for, I would recommend the LaserLyte Universal Laser Boresight. That is because it is compatible with pretty much any and every scope. Plus, it is really bright so you can easily view it in any weather condition or at dusk and dawn. It is one of the easiest to mount as well.

To top it all, it costs less than $100. There are laser bore sighters cheaper than this that cost around $20 to $35 but they lack the brightness this can provide and neither match the durability.

But if you are on a tighter budget, the EZ Shoot Laser Boresighter is definitely worth the consideration as it costs less than $35. One of the best features about this bore sighter is the push-button start that gets it up and running within seconds. It also has a decent runtime on a single charge so you don’t have to worry about carrying additional batteries or replacing them constantly.

Visual Boresighting

This is the most basic of techniques where you align the center of the barrel with the sight after removing the bolt from your rifle. Yes, that’s pretty much it. If you are a pro, this step should take you no more than a minute while giving you 100% accuracy.

You can do this two ways. The first method would be to place the rifle on a solid platform (I generally use sandbags for this) so it doesn’t move around and while you aim through the bore, use the knobs to zero the scope at your target.

The next method would be what experts call the ‘Mirror Method’ and yes, it does require a mirror where you first need to see your reflection when you aim through the scope. After you can spot yourself in the mirror, you can then use the turrets to adjust the windage until the center and the barrel is aligned.

Optical Boresighting

Optical bore sighters are pretty much my least favorite out of the lot because they tend to be more complicated as compared to laser bore sighters. These are mounted on the base of the barrel and then need to be aligned properly with its lenses. 

Here, you will have to sight the red dot via the grid on the lens. Once again, there are crosshairs that you need to align using knobs The ideal situation would be where the crosshair is aligned with the center of the grid.

Few Tips to Keep in Mind 

Tips to Keep in Mind

Go back to basics

If you are using a red dot sight for the first time or haven’t used one in a long time the first step would be to go back and learn the basics either through a manual, book, blog post, etc. 

And when I say basics it includes topics like how to align a gun, how to work with red dot sights, how to mount rifle scopes, and some basics on how to balance your eyes, boresighting, and other shooting tips.

If you are a seasoned hunter, you can skip this step.

Know how far your target is

When you are sighting any scope, knowing the distance between you and your target is paramount. Accurate shooting, after all, is all about balance and proper alignment. So how do you know this distance?

Well, if your scope is equipped with GPS, then the scope does all the hard work for you. But unless you want to spend thousands of dollars on a scope, you might want to stick to more traditional methods.

One of my favorite methods is the short-range method where I place an object at a measured distance and make an estimate of the target based on the distance from that object. You can even go with a more traditional approach and bring the old map into play but that’s only possible if you are good at navigation.

If these don’t work for you, below is a video with tips on how to measure target distance using just the reticle.

If you are a beginner, my advice would be to practice at a shorter distance of about 25-40 yards. Most professionals are comfortable aiming at about 200-300 yards.

Ensure you mount the scope correctly

One of the most important things you want to ensure is that you have mounted the scope correctly. You want the screws to be tight but do not overtighten them. 

This is why I recommend using a thread locker. As I have pointed out in my post on how to mount rifle scopes the right way, the advantage of going with thread lockers is that you can remove them easily without having to heat it to a point the scope gets damaged.

Correctly mounting the scope also involves adjusting the eye relief and then leveling the scope. I have covered a detailed step by step guide on mounting rifle scopes to help you out so don’t forget to check it out using the link provided above.

Double check everything

Hunting is a game of patience and precision and both are dependent on each other. This is why whether you are a professional or a newbie, always double check things on your end. This includes the mounting of the scope, mounting of the laser boresighter, etc. It will take up some time but the results will be worth the wait.

Know how to use Red Dots sights

When using red dots sights you should ensure that the rifle remains in contact with your cheek as it keeps the rifle and your head stable.You should also avoid moving your head towards the rifle and make sure you remain as still as possible when you spot the target.

Also, you might struggle aiming at close range with red dot sights in the beginning. Note that this is completely normal and requires some practice.


Well, that’s all there is to sighting red dot scopes without shooting from me. If you are a newbie, a laser boresight is your best bet and if you are a professional, you can choose any of the 3 methods although nothing as easy as laser bore sighters.

Red dots are common accessories for hunters and if used correctly, can be game changers and now, you have added another skill to your armory. 

In case you are still facing issues, let me know in the comments section below. Also, feel free to make suggestions on tips and tricks, or steps you feel I have missed out on. You can also write to me using the contact page.

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About Author

James Towndrow, a NRA-certified Firearms Instructor. During a career of 18 years had won several shooting competition including major leagues. Taking all those experience down the road, is now a successful Shooting Instructor in Texas, US.