Phill Price of­fers ex­pert ad­vice on scope ba­sics, to im­prove your ac­cu­racy

Hard to un­der­stand yet vi­tal to suc­cess, par­al­lax ad­just­ment must be un­der­stood

Air Gunner - - Contents -

If there’s one thing that marks out a true air­gun scope from a model de­signed for firearm use, it’s par­al­lax ad­just­ment that comes down to 10 yards or me­tres. Of­ten, firearm scopes are ad­justed to be par­al­lax free at 100 yards, and if they have an ad­just­ment fea­ture, it will only go as low as 50 yards. Iron­i­cally, par­al­lax er­ror gets greater as the range re­duces, which might not be a prob­lem for the Scan­di­na­vian hunter look­ing at the side of a moose, but is a huge prob­lem for the air­gun hunter look­ing at a feral pi­geon’s head at eight yards.

To un­der­stand why par­al­lax er­ror is such a prob­lem, we need to un­der­stand what it is. The ob­jec­tive (front) lens of our scopes need to fo­cus the light re­flect­ing off our quarry ex­actly on the ret­i­cle (cross hairs). This can only ever be cor­rect at one dis­tance. If the quarry moves closer or fur­ther away, the fo­cus be­comes in­cor­rect and the op­por­tu­nity for an aim­ing er­ror comes into play, but if we re­fo­cus to the new dis­tance, the prob­lem is elim­i­nated.

If the im­age is fo­cused in front or be­hind the ret­i­cle, it be­comes pos­si­ble to look through the scope at an an­gle and per­ceive that you’re aim­ing cor­rectly, when in fact, you are not. You’ll miss your tar­get yet not be un­able to un­der­stand why, which is enough to drive you mad! This is why a proper air­gun scope needs par­al­lax ad­just­ment and please don’t lis­ten to any­body who tells you dif­fer­ently.


Par­al­lax ad­justers come in two flavours. The tra­di­tional one is a col­lar that’s around the out­side of the ob­jec­tive ( front) bell of the scope’s body. This was a sim­ple, light and cheap method of cor­rect­ing par­al­lax. In more re­cent times, the side wheel par­al­lax ad­juster has be­come by far the most pop­u­lar. It makes for a much more mod­ern and slick- look­ing op­tic, plus the con­trol dial is eas­ier to reach. On the down side, this sys­tem adds an­other lens, com­plex­ity and cost to any scope, so there’s a price to pay.

Whichever type you choose, it’s vi­tal to max­imis­ing ac­cu­racy that you es­ti­mate the range to your tar­get and re­set your ad­juster as close to the op­ti­mum point that you’re able. This will greatly re­duce the num­ber of ran­dom misses that you can­not ex­plain, and put more quarry in the bag.

“it be­comes pos­si­ble to look through the scope at an an­gle and per­ceive that you’re aim­ing cor­rectly, when in fact, you are not”

Ob­jec­tive mounted (left) or side wheel, par­al­lax ad­just­ment is vi­tal to the air­gun­ner

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