What is Parallax Error on Rifle Scopes and How to Avoid It? - NSSF Let's Go Shooting

What is Parallax Error on Rifle Scopes and How to Avoid It?

When it comes to using a rifle scope, one of the most significant challenges that shooters face is parallax error. Parallax error occurs when the shooter’s eye is not aligned perfectly with the scope’s center, causing the crosshairs to appear off-center, and making it difficult to aim accurately.

Essentially when the shooter moves their head position behind the scope, the crosshairs appear as if they’re moving relative to the target. This can cause the shooter to misalign the crosshairs with the target, resulting in a missed or inaccurate shot.

In this video, Former Army Ranger sniper team leader and author of the Long-Range Shooting Handbook, Ryan Cleckner, explains the concept of parallax error, its impact on shooting accuracy and how to use the parallax adjustment or target focus knobs to correct it. Adjusting parallax is an important and often overlooked part of long-range shooting.

What is the Parallax Adjustment or Target Focus Knob on a rifle scope?

Parallax error can be especially problematic at longer distances, which is why on higher-end target scopes, you’re almost always going to have an adjustable parallax or target focus knob on the left side of the scope. It may help to ensure you fully understand all the parts of a rifle scope; learn more here.

By using the Parallax Adjustment knob, the shooter can correct the parallax error and align the crosshairs precisely with the target, resulting in greater accuracy and a successful shot. To do this, the shooter needs to adjust the focus of the scope to ensure that the crosshairs and the target image are on the same focal plane. This involves making small adjustments to the scope’s parallax adjustment knob until the target image and the crosshairs appear to be in the same plane, regardless of the shooter’s head position.

To adjust for parallax, follow these easy steps:

  1. Start by aiming at a target and keep the crosshairs as still as possible
  2. Move your head slightly left and right to see if the crosshairs move in relation to the target. If they do, adjust the parallax knob accordingly.
  3. Keep adjusting the knob until there is no movement of the crosshairs as you move your head.
  4. When you’re satisfied that the crosshairs and target are on the same plane, take your shot.

By eliminating parallax error, the shooter can achieve greater accuracy, especially at longer distances. So, it’s essential to make sure that you’ve adjusted the focus of the scope properly before taking a shot to ensure accuracy.


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Understanding the Parts of a Rifle Scope

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