Last weekend I walked Hampstead's Rich Gonsman through the steps involved in mounting a rifle scope on his new .22 magnum Marlin bolt-action rifle and then adjusting the scope to put a bullet were he wanted it to land on a target.
Gonsman's new rifle, like most .22 rifles, features grooves in the top of the receiver that accept special tip-off scope mounts. Tip-off mounts are designed to be used with rifles having little or no recoil and are relatively inexpensive.
Most tip-off mounts simply slide onto the groove milled into the top of the receiver and are tightened in place by a large horizontally located screw. The rings into which the scope is laid consist of a top and bottom. The top of the rings are held in place by two to four small screws.
In my workshop I slid the mounts onto the receiver and tightly secured them in place, then removed the tops of the rings. The scope then was laid on the bottom portions of the rings and the tops were loosely affixed.
Gonsman then looked through the scope in his normal aiming position and I gently leveled the crosshair reticle and adjusted the eye relief. If you see any black area encroaching into your scope's field of view, the scope is mounted too close or too far from your eye.
After we centered the scope and got the eye relief adjusted, the rings were tightened down and we were ready to head for the Dug Hill Rod & Gun Club's range, located off Wine Road, near Manchester.
I tacked up a big, visible target specially designed for sighting in a rifle, 50 yards from the solid benchrest Gonsman would be shooting from.
Using a pedestal front rest for the rifle's forearm and a rabbit-ear rear rest, I explained how the rifle is actually aimed by squeezing the rear bag, then had him pull the trigger a couple of times on an empty chamber to get the feel of the trigger pull and release.
Gonsman then aimed dead center on the target and squeezed off one round of ammo. The bullet hole appeared on the target a little over four inches right, but exactly on line with the bullseye.
I looked through the scope, which was semi-rigidly held in place over the rifle rests, and put the intersection of the crosshairs exactly on the bullet hole.
Gonsman turned the scope's windage adjustment to move the aiming point until I announced that the crosshairs were exactly on the lone bullet hole and pronounced the rifle sighted to hit dead center at 50 yards.
For most folks, the job would have been done, but I like to sight a rifle to take full advantage of a cartridge's trajectory.
The last step, then, was to move the scope's elevation adjustment so that the bullet would impact one inch high at 50 yards. This means that the Winchester Super X .22 Magnum load would hit dead center at 25 yards and 100 yards and about 4 inches low at 150 yards, which is the maximum range this cartridge should be used on any critter up to the size of a groundhog or red fox.
Gonsman can now essentially ignore holding over or under out to 100 yards or a little farther.
The Dug Hill range is a private one, like all such places to shoot throughout Carroll County, but the reality of a public range is very close at hand.
Much of the money for the building of the range will come from money generated by the Carroll County Sportsman's Association through grants from the NRA, the State Range Committee, member clubs and private individuals.
If you would like to learn how to donate to the building of the county's public shooting range, call C.D. (Hap) Baker, CCSA President, at (410) 374-4360.