Open Sights 101: The Ultimate Guide to Calibrating Your Airgun

By Published On: 31 October 2023Categories: Air Gun

Before you start hitting targets with your shiny new airgun, it’s crucial to calibrate or “zero in” your open sights to ensure accuracy. Properly zeroing your open sights adjusts the relationship between the barrel and sights, allowing the projectile to strike exactly where you aim. Taking the time to dial-in your sights makes a world of difference in precision and consistency.

We break down the key steps for successfully zeroing open sights on any air rifle or air pistol. 

1 – Choose the Right Target

The first step is selecting an appropriate target for the zeroing process based on your intended range. For zeroing at 10 metres, opt for a simple bullseye target with a 1-inch centre. This allows for precise alignment of the front and rear sight with the barrel.

For distances of 25 metres and beyond, choose a smaller “benchrest” type target with quarter-inch grids, as this finer resolution makes it easier to achieve a precise zero.

Be sure to use heavy paper or cardboard targets that won’t move in the wind and affix securely to a backer board. Consistent target placement is key.

2 – Establish a Solid Rest

Zeroing your sights requires firing from an incredibly steady position, removing human wobble from the equation. Use a sturdy shooting bench or sandbags to create a solid rifle rest. For handguns, a fixed pistol rest is ideal. This firm support ensures the point of impact is purely a product of the sight alignment, not shooter movement.

3 – Dial in Windage

Start by adjusting the windage, which moves the point of impact left and right.

Take a shot at the centre of the target and note where it lands on the horizontal axis.

If it hits left of centre, adjust the rear sight clockwise, but if it hits right, adjust the rear sight counterclockwise. Fire another shot and continue incrementally adjusting the windage until bullets strike the vertical centerline.

4 – Adjust Elevation

With the windage set, it’s time to dial-in elevation for proper vertical alignment.

If your shot is hitting low, raise the rear sight blade up in its track. If impact is high, lower the rear sight.

Between each adjustment, fire another shot and observe where it lands on the target. Make incremental elevation tweaks until the point of impact is dead-centre vertically.

5 – Confirm Zero at Range

Once your sights are zeroed at 10 metres, it’s important to confirm they maintain accuracy at your desired shooting distance. Move back to 25 or 50 metres and fire a few carefully aimed shots using the same solid rest. If the grouping is centred at this range, your zero is good to go. If not, make small additional adjustments to bring the point of impact into alignment.

6 – Maintain Your Zero

With your sights properly zeroed in, a little regular maintenance will keep them accurate over time. Check screws periodically and use threadlocker to prevent loosening. Clean sight blades to prevent buildup from throwing off alignment.

If you notice accuracy starting to suffer, quickly re-confirm your zero and make minor adjustments to restore precision.

Troubleshooting Common Zeroing Issues

Here are some tips for troubleshooting common problems when trying to zero open sights:

  • Shots grouping off-centre – Ensure your shooting rest is completely solid and rifle/pistol is perfectly vertical. Make small incremental windage/elevation adjustments.
  • Large variation in grouping – Eliminate any parallax issues by consistently aligning your eye directly behind the rear sight. Use a smaller target with finer grids.
  • Can’t achieve centre point of impact – Confirm the barrel is straight and crown undamaged. Adjust sights to extremes and re-zero to find the centre.
  • Zero shifts after tightening – Over-tightening can tweak alignment. Tighten just until secure and reconfirm zero. 


Perfecting Your Technique

Mastering open sight zeroing takes patience and practice, but properly calibrating your sights pays huge dividends in downrange accuracy. Follow these steps, take your time with adjustments, and you’ll have your airgun shooting like a laser.

Shop The Wolfman for Superior Airguns

When you’re ready to upgrade your equipment, explore The Wolfman’s wide range of high-end air rifles and pistols. With leading models from Weihrauch, Air Arms, Beretta and more, you’ll find your perfect match.

All orders receive fast UK delivery and same-day dispatch. For help choosing the ideal airgun or troubleshooting zeroing issues, don’t hesitate to contact The Wolfman today.

About the Author: The Wolfman Store

After over 30 years experience in the Airgun trade, The Wolfman Store are delighted to announce our new website, enabling us to supply direct to the shooting community for the first time. Combining a vast stock of established favourites with exciting products new to the UK, The Wolfman Store will be striving to provide unparalleled service at the most competitive prices.

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