What to use as a target, how to make corrections, and at what time of day is it best to do it? How to sight in a thermal scope? This article answers the most popular questions about zeroing a thermal sight.
Previously, we have already written about how to sight in a night vision scope. The principle of operation of a night vision sight enables it to be used even on a day when it is much easier to see the target for zeroing. But what about a thermal scope? Do thermal scope need to be aimed only at night?
As you already know, a thermal scope only reacts to heat. It can do this both at night and during the day, only with different levels of success. In the spring and summer time, the sun often blurs the overall image contrast more during the day, heating all objects (trees, targets, rocks, etc.). Using a thermal scope during the day in the fall or winter is another matter.
What Is a Thermal Scope
A thermal scope is a sophisticated optoelectronic device designed to be mounted on a weapon and used for a wide range of shooting applications over a wide range of shooting distances. It is capable of displaying targets at distances up to 2500 m and allows for their identification at distances from 350 to 1500 m.
Thermal sights work on the principle of transformation of thermal radiation of the objects (both natural (people, animals) and artificial (having the difference of temperatures as of any heterogeneous environment) into the image visible to human eye, displayed on the eyepiece matrix of the thermal scope.
Actually, this is the main advantage of such devices in comparison with traditional day and night sights – they give you the ability to see the target, to observe, aim and shoot practically under any illumination (both day and night) and under any weather conditions (snow, rain, fog, haze).
The thermal scope does not need an additional light source (infrared illumination) when used in complete darkness (as night vision sights with EOP or digital sights). It can operate in daylight (not afraid of glare) and will detect heat-emitting objects through bushes, grass, smokescreens, fog, mist, drizzle, cloaking nets and other obstacles.
Sight in a thermal scopes can be used for the following purposes:
- day, twilight and night (round-the-clock) hunting
- security of sensitive objects and areas
- day and night surveillance
- performance of operations by law enforcement units
- destruction of enemy manpower in all-weather and twenty-four-hour warfare
How to Sight In a Thermal Scope
Proper zeroing of any rifle-mounted thermal scope is a necessary procedure that determines the accuracy of every shot you fire. Regardless of the distance at which you shoot, it is imperative that your firearm be accurately calibrated.
Let’s take a look at the main common methods of rifle scope aiming, but first let’s make some preparations:
- Choosing a shooting spot. Try to find a deserted place closed from winds. Of course, an indoor shooting range or shooting range would be ideal.
- Setting up your weapon. For maximum stabilization use special machine tool, resistant bipods and a bag filled with sand.
- Target and ammunition. You will need targets with a heat source in the center, which can be an ordinary smoldering cigarette. With some optics, such as the fortuna general one 3m thermal sight, there are targeting kits which contain several targets and chemical warmers. Choose the type of ammunition with which you intend to shoot in the future.
Performed with the help of laser ammunition, which is chosen according to the caliber. Quite a popular method among sportsmen and hunters because of low consumption of ammunition and less time consumption.
The target is set at short range (10 to 25 meters) because the laser built into the cartridge has low alignment. Align the beam to the center of the thermal target and make adjustments to the position of the reticle, making sure that the reticle profile you want is on and that the digital zoom is off.
Modern rifle thermal scopes allow you to save many individual settings for different ranges. For example, the Pulsar Trail XP50 sight stores three profiles, each of which can store up to five parameters.
Then we load a live cartridge and make a test shot. If you are not satisfied with the result, repeat the actions with corrections. But this is only a rough adjustment. We finally shoot the weapon with 3-4 cartridges at the distance of 100 m to the target with the calculation of the average point of impact.
With Open Sights
With this method the distance to the target is one hundred meters and the weapon is aimed at the center of the target by matching the rear sight and the front sight. The sights are adjusted and three or four shots are fired. Then the center point of impact is calculated, and then the adjustments are made by moving the reticle from the center of the target to the point of impact.
Note that the alignment step differs for different models of sights. Whereas the fortuna general one 6s has an adjustment range of 35/42 mm at 100 metres, the one 3m has an adjustment range of 16/19 mm.
Usually you have to check the average point of impact 3 to 4 times until the result is satisfactory.
Firing a Smoothbore Gun
This method differs from the previous one in that the range to the target is only 30-50 m and the average point of impact is calculated from the shot placer. The initial calibration is carried out in the same way, with a laser bullet drop.
Each thermal imaging sight has its own individual characteristics of target shooting, but you will not experience any difficulties and even a beginner will be able to cope with this task. Here is a video in which you can learn all the details about how to sight in a thermal scope.
Useful Tips: Making Targets For You Thermal Day Night Sight
In this video, you will learn some different methods that should help you make your own thermal targets. We will discuss reflection issues, heat, cold, heat trail, and other important items.
When Is The Best Time to Shoot a Thermal Scope
Time is of the essence. Of course, now we are not considering “vacuum conditions” in an enclosed shooting range, where the sun’s rays are exclusively at the construction phase. But even in the field, at the range or in an enclosed meadow, you can also shoot a thermal imaging camera during the day. The main thing is to choose the right target, bullet drop and distance.
Important: Make sure that there is protection against unidentified staggering objects in the line of fire and on the fronts before you shoot the scope. Otherwise, the targeting may not end up at the hunt, but rather at the law enforcement station.
Target For the Thermal Optic And Bullet Drop
We have previously written about how to hide from a thermal imaging scope. In that article we described in detail how a thermal scope sees different objects. We will not dwell on that, but only say that the ideal solution for a target would be a thermal heating pad, which will be perfectly visible against the general background. One warming pad can be set at exactly ten o’clock, the others at 3,6,9 and 12 o’clock.
You say that it is not always possible to get this medical product and you would be right. In that case, ordinary foil will come in handy. The thermal optic infrared camera simply will not shine through this material and will display it in a distinctive color on the displays, thus marking your target. Depending on the range and shooting conditions, you can also aim at a cup of warm liquid, a piece of meat from the freezer or even a lit cigarette, anything that will contrast with the background.
Distance, Location, Weight Velocity and Order
20 meters is enough for a thermal optic, but it is best to do it at 50-100 meters. Every modern thermal imaging sight has from three profiles for aiming at different distances. The ATN MARS thermal imaging scopes stand out because they have a built-in ballistics calculator that automatically makes corrections after you have zeroed at one range and adjusted the scope.
As we wrote before, the ideal solution would be a shooting gallery or a shooting range where professionals can help you. But if you are reading these lines, you will probably do everything yourself. So, a backyard or just a quiet place in the woods or field will be enough (preferably just below the general topography, so that in case the bullet goes into the ground).
It is also not superfluous to fasten the gun in a machine gun or on a bipod. The less movable the device is, the more accurate the result. You can measure the distance to the target with the built-in or third-party laser rangefinder and with the audiometer function, such as in the IRAY SAIM SCL35.
The procedure how to sight in a thermal scope:
- Setting up the reticle, marking the distance (recommended from 50 meters)
- Create a new profile in the menu bar of the reticle
- First shot
- Correction input. Move the reticle to point of impact (not backwards as with telescopic sights!), along vertical and horizontal axes
- You can calculate the number of clicks of the two axes graphically or refer to the specifications of the reticle where the click value per 100 metres is stated.
- Fire a second shot and repeat the procedure of moving the cross on the magnification to get a more accurate result
- Save the profile and go hunting!