Official Montana Hunting Safety Course Link to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Hello, hunter! Montana's online hunting course has moved. Click here to go to the latest version of the Today's Hunter in Montana course—the official hunting safety course of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

The following course material is for reference only. Please go to the new course to complete your Montana certification.

Sighting-in Your Rifle and Patterning Your Shotgun

To make sure your shot hits where you want it to, you need to sight-in your rifle and pattern your shotgun.

Sighting-in Your Rifle

Sighting-in a rifle is a step-by-step process of shooting and adjusting your sights until the bullet hits where you aim.

Once you have your rifle sighted-in, practice shooting and then practice some more. Remember: the key to shooting a rifle well is to slowly and smoothly squeeze the trigger—don’t jerk it. Practice also helps you to learn what your sight picture looks like, and how your sights look in relation to each other and the target.

Procedure to Sight-in a Rifle

1. Before hunting, your rifle must be sighted-in. This means that the rifle sights must be adjusted so that the bullet will hit a target at a specific range. This is a necessary first step to becoming a responsible hunter.
Sighting-in a rifle
2. Set up a target with a safe backstop at 25 yards and fire at least three test shots. Be sure to use the same type of ammunition you will use when hunting.

3. Check the target. If the group of hits is not at your point of aim, adjust the scope in the same direction you wish to move your hits. If the shots are not grouped together, it could be due to your shooting technique or some other mechanical factor. Get someone to help you.

4. Move the target to the range you will be hunting at—usually 100-200 yards. Repeat steps 2 and 3.

5. After your rifle is sighted-in, practice shooting under various light and weather conditions, and at various distances to become accurate and proficient.

Warning: A loaded firearm may not immediately fire when the trigger is pulled. When a “hang fire” occurs, slowly count to 10 while pointing the muzzle in a safe direction, and then remove the defective cartridge.

Montana Fish, Wildlife,
& Parks
White-tailed deer tracks
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Official hunting safety course for Montana hunters last modified: November 16, 2011
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