When you are shooting long-range targets and you are forced to make corrections for your target you have two options, well three actually. One thing is certain you have to adjust your scope to hit that target that is at 1200 yards. So, how are you going to do it?


Man Dialing rifle scope

The first method is dialing the scope. If you have a scope with target knobs you just have to take your DOPE adjustment and dial your scope to the appropriate MIL solution. This method is exact. Since this measurement is applied inside the scope by the mechanical features this is an exact thing. If your DOPE calls for 7 MILS of adjustment you can dial it to 7 and this is no doubt 7 MILS exactly. As long as your turret knobs are marked you can visibly check with your eyes to confirm that it is indeed sitting at 7 MILS and then you can shoot with confidence.

Here is the con to that. Let’s imagine this: a huge trophy Whitetail buck steps out just on the edge of the brush. You range it, you get the solution and then you proceed to dial your scope, verify the setting, and then as your eye enters back into the scope, you notice the buck has vanished back into the brush, never to be seen again. This method can take a little extra time, and when seconds matter it could ruin your hunt.


Windage Knob

Our second method is holding the scope to hit the target. This consists of using your MIL hash marks inside your reticle to hold over the target to get an accurate shot. For this to work, you have to have a reticle option with MIL holds. This method has some problems because as you're looking through the scope it can be hard to accurately count how many marks you need to hold for. This isn’t as exact as dialing and looking at the large white numbers on the outside of your target knobs. It also requires you to hold it steady and shoot at that exact hashmark which is standard for shooting anyways, now you just have to do it at a potentially inconvenient little mark on your reticle.

Now let's imagine that hunting scenario again, the deer steps out on the edge of the brush you range it, find the solution, get back in the scope, hold the adjustment on the deer and you shoot before he turns to leave. But you were a terrible shot so you missed. Okay, just kidding there has to be one hypothetical with a good ending for you. So, we will say it’s a great shot and now you are one happy hunter. Since you held it you saved mere seconds but it saved your hunt.

Last but not least

The third solution is combining both dialing and holds to be able to be faster and maybe do some things that would not have been possible. If you have wind that accounts for 4 MILS well you can just hold the wind so you don’t waste time dialing two knobs. Now let’s think about this. Let’s say your target needs 15 MILS of elevation but your scope only adjusts for 10 MILS. You don’t have enough space in your reticle to hold it and you don’t have enough rotations in your turret knobs to get to 15 MILS. The solution here would be to dial all the way all the way to 10 MILS and then hold for 5 MILS. This will put you right at 15 MILS. If you practice both methods, you do need to be good at both. You can stretch your ability beyond your knobs and beyond your reticle.

Should you use dialing or holding, the answer, clearly, is both. It’s not really dialing vs. holding we need to change our way of thinking to be about dialing and holding. This way we manage our time and become more effective behind the rifle.

Dylan C. @ GunSpot
Dylan C. @ GunSpot

I'm the Creative Director at GunSpot. My main job is to create content that you can read or watch on The GunSpot Academy. I'm a video guy first and foremost but now, as you can see, I guess I'm an author too. Only out of necessity though!