How To Sight In A Night Vision Scope & Thermal Scope!

Sighting in your night vision scope means adjusting its reticle so that your point of aim aligns accurately with the point of impact at a specific distance.

Are you ready to take your night hunting to the next level? A night vision scope can be a valuable tool for any hunter, allowing you to see your prey in low light conditions. But before you can start using your scope, you need to properly sight it in. In this article, we will show you how to sight in a night vision scope in a few easy steps.

With a little bit of patience and attention to detail, you can have your thermal scope vs night vision scope properly aligned and ready for a successful night hunt. Let’s get started!

Step One-Sentence Description
Check Your Scope Specs Familiarize yourself with your night vision scope’s features, such as reticle type and adjustment increments, based on the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Grab Your Target Select a suitable target with clear, high-contrast markings, placed at your preferred zeroing distance (commonly 100 yards/meters).
Daytime Zeroing Means Lens Cap On Keep the lens cap on when zeroing during the day to protect the night vision technology, utilizing the cap’s pinhole to allow minimal light.
Make Adjustments After firing, adjust the scope’s windage and elevation settings to align the reticle with the bullet impact point, repeating as necessary for accuracy.

How To Sight In A Night Vision Scope: Step-By-Step Guide

Here are the steps to sight in your night vision scope.

  1. Check Your Scope Specs
  2. Grab Your Target
  3. Daytime Zeroing Means Lens Cap On
  4. Make Adjustments

1) Check Your Scope Specs

This first step is skipped by most shooters as they are so anxious to get started with their new thermal scope or night vision scope. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to learn How To Sight In A Rifle Scope At 25 yards or 100 yards! You first have to check the specs. After all, there are hundreds of scope manufacturer and many of them have different requirements, different bullet drop, and functionality. So don’t skip this step!


Check your rifle scope specifications before sighting in your scope because the specific steps for sighting in a scope can vary depending on the type of scope and the rifle it is mounted on. Also, be sure to read our guide on how do night vision goggles work to understand the technology even more!

Also, not all rifle thermal scopes and night vision scopes are to be sighted in at the same distance. Most of the best night vision scope under $1000 are sighted in at 25-100 yards.

  • Takeaway: The manufacturer specifications for your rifle and scope will determine the correct distances and targets to use during the sighting in process. Even the
    best night vision scope can have unique instructions, so check the manufacturer specs!

2) Grab Your Target

set your target downrange before zeroing your scope

You will need a target that will register on night vision scope or thermal. Ensure that your paper target is easily visible and has a reference point to test your guns alignment.

If you plan on zeroing your thermal or night vision crossbow scope at night, I would recommend using a bright steel target or handwarmers to ensure proper visibility on the range. Paper targets will be hard to see with a thermal optic at nighttime. Place the target at 25 yards downrange. Or if you’re doing a 50 200 zero, hang your target 50 yards away!

3) Daytime Zeroing Means Lens Cap On!

If you didn’t already know, it is NOT a good idea to use your night vision scopes during the day! In fact, that can actually damage your scope…and they are not cheap.

Luckily, the majority of the best night vision scopes for hunting come with a lens cap with a tiny pin hole. This is designed so that you can safely use your scope during the day without damaging it.

4) Make Adjustments

picture of a night vision scope targeting a wild hog

Now it is time to get your scope’s reticle perfectly aligned on target at 25 yards or 36 yards out to zero. Take aim and fire your first round on target.

Time to analyze. Did you miss high or low? Did you miss left or right?

Make the necessary scope adjustments to your windage and elevation turrets. Most thermal scopes and night vision scopes have digital adjustment buttons. A digital scope makes things easy!

When it comes to zeroing your night vision scope, trust but verify!

Most scopes will claim that they are a one-shot zero. Meaning that you only need to fire one round to get your scope sighted in. However, I always recommend firing at least two shots. You need to verify your scope is zeroed with a final test shot. Remember, this process may be slightly different for a night vision scope for hog hunting compared to a traditional scope.

Thermal Scope Zeroing

Most modern thermal scopes are highly digitized. Hopefully, when you purchase a thermal rifle scope, it comes set to factory zero settings. Follow these simple steps to get your new thermal scope zeroed in in just one shot (maybe!).

  1. Set your zero distance
  2. Take shooting position – Utilize shooting platform of your choice to minimize variables.
  3. Set your scope to zero mode
  4. Fire at your target
  5. Make necessary adjustments (windage and elevation) to align your reticle on the bullets point of impact.
  6. Click Save – You are zeroed!

Also, consider reading up on the difference between thermal vs infrared scopes to determine which is best to meet your specific needs!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you see through a night vision scope during the day?

Yes, they work during the day. A night vision scope amplifies existing light, whether it is from the moon, stars, or surrounding objects. It then converts this amplified light into an electronic signal that is sent to a display unit for viewing. This image will be green in color because that is the color of the longest wavelength of visible light.

What distance do you sight in a thermal scope?

Most shooters use 100 yards out. This distance is perfect for hunters who need to fire at prey from medium to long ranges. When you're sighting in your rifle, it's best to adjust the crosshairs so that the bullet will hit the middle of the target at this distance. If your rifle is shooting a little bit high or low, you can then make small adjustments to correct for this.

What does it look like through a night vision scope?

It looks like a green or black and white world where everything is slightly fuzzy. Objects that give off heat, such as people or animals, will look like bright spots of light in the darkness. Thermal scopes will also illuminate warmer objects so that they contrast against the dark background.

Can you turn a regular scope into night vision?

You can attach a clip on night vision or thermal scope to your regular rifle optic. These attachments give you the flexibility to operate in different environments and shooting conditions by making a slight modification to your traditional scope.

Can a civilian own night vision?

Yes, it is legal under US law for regular citizens to own night vision scopes and thermal scopes. These thermal optics are widely used by hunters for coyote hunting and hog hunting. Certain animals are much more active at night making a traditional rifle scope less effective!

What color light is best for night vision scope?

Some people mistakenly think that blue light is best for night vision, but that's actually the color that interferes with vision the most. Red and green lights help maintain your night vision because they have less of an effect on your rod cells, which are the cells in your eye that help you see in low-light conditions.

The Bottom Line

Now you know that sighting in a night vision scope is an important step in ensuring that your scope is properly aligned and ready for use. But can you hunt deer with a thermal scope? In most states you can! By following a few simple steps and paying attention to the details, you can easily sight in your scope and start using it for successful night hunting.

Remember to check your rifle and scope specifications before beginning the sighting in process, and to make any necessary adjustments to the windage and elevation settings on your scope. Don’t believe the scope manufacturers that say the scope comes pre-zeroed!

About the author

Patrick Howard

I have been working as a gunsmith for 20 years. Rain, fog, moisture, high temperature, or even snow are all the things a product must withstand in order to be recommended by me.

Leave a Comment