The term "mil dot reticle" refers to a type of targeting reticle designed by the US military to help shooters estimate the distance to a target. Mil-dot reticle sights use a unit of measurement called the "mil" -- 0.05625 degrees of the compass -- and denote each mil by a dot placed along the vertical and horizontal axes of a rifle scope. The mil-dot reticle sighting system has become the standard for military and tactical rifle scopes, and its proper use allows the shooter to correctly estimate the distance to a target, or even the size of the target in cases where the distance is already known.
Things You'll Need
- Firearm equipped with a mil-dot reticle sight
- Paper target of a known size
Determining Distance to the Target
Post the paper target downrange at a local gun range.
Stabilize the rifle by means of a shooting bench or other stable platform.
Look through the scope and find your target downrange. Place the reticle of the scope on the target.
Multiply the known height of your target (in yards) by 1,000.
Divide the number calculated in Step 4 by the number of mils it takes to cover your target vertically. The resulting number will be the range (in yards) to your target.
Determining Target Size
Post the paper target downrange at a local gun range. It should be at a known distance, such as 100 yards.
Look through the scope and locate the target downrange, placing the reticle of the scope on the target.
Count the number of mils it takes to cover your target vertically.
Divide the range to the target (in yards) by the number determined in Step 3. This will give the the approximate height of the target in yards.
Tips & Warnings
- Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction.
- Always keep your finger off of the trigger and out of the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
- When at a range, be sure to abide by any rules enforced by the establishment.
- Posting your target at 100 yards is a good starting distance. At this distance, a mil is exactly 3.6 inches, which makes it easy to verify your results.
- The mil-dot system only works when used with correct numbers. Incorrect estimations of size/distance will give incorrect results.
- All firearms are deadly weapons and should be handled with care. Consult the safety guidelines outlined in your owner's manual before use.
- Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
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