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Scope Adjustment Which Way to Turn: Left or Right?

Dakota Potts | Updated February 26, 2024 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
Scope adjustment which way to turn: left or right cover photo showing windage and elevation scope adjustment knobs

You probably know a scope can be adjusted left or right to increase your aiming accuracy. 

But do you know which way is left or right? Let’s break it down for you.

Up next see our article on the best rifle scope on the market.

Windage Adjustment: Left or Right

Scopes have windage and elevation turrets. The turret on the right side is for windage adjustment – moving it left or right. 

So, the reticle is the aiming point you see when looking through a scope, and when making a scope adjustment, which way you turn the knobs will affect the reticle’s position. Now, which direction you should turn the knob will depend on the direction you want to move the point of impact on the target.

If you want to move the point of impact to the left, you turn the side knob forward. For the right, backward.

It’s essential to understand which direction to turn the adjustment knob to move the point of impact. This is a vital lesson that hunters and shooters must learn if they want to make precise adjustments and ensure accuracy.

Windage adjustment is crucial, especially in long-range shooting, because wind direction and speed can significantly affect bullet trajectory. That’s why it’s essential to adjust the windage accurately to make shots. Incorrect windage adjustment can make you miss your target by a huge margin.

If I’m Shooting Left, Which Way to Adjust the Scope?

Most shooters, especially new ones, will be confused and ask which way to turn the scope adjustment. If you’re shooting left, you’ll need to turn the windage adjustment knob forward (away from you). Doing so moves the reticle to the left, allowing you to hit your point of impact.

Note that the windage adjustment you must make will depend on how far your target is and your rifle’s caliber. You may make a small adjustment when shooting at close range, but the same adjustment will result in a huge change at longer distances.

Which Way to Adjust Scope if Shooting High

When shooting high or low, you’ll need to adjust the elevation knob, not the windage knob. Here’s how to adjust elevation on a scope:

Locate the elevation adjustment knob on top of the scope that moves the reticle up and down.

To adjust the scope to shoot high, turn the knob clockwise to bring the reticle up. If you want to lower the reticle, turn the knob counterclockwise.

The amount of adjustment you make will depend on various factors such as the firearm’s caliber, distance to the target, and bullet weight and velocity.

Keep bullet drop and distance in mind when adjusting elevation on a scope. If you know that you’re shooting a long distance, your cartridge is likely to experience a significant drop. Adjust the elevation turret accordingly to compensate for that drop.

Also, elevation knobs are generally important as they allow for precise adjustments, especially at longer distances or when dealing with challenging conditions.

Windage and Elevation Adjustments

Leupold rifle scope mounted on a rifle

Windage and elevation knobs are probably the most critical turrets on a scope. Once you’ve mounted your scope on your rifle, the next step is to adjust these knobs to ensure you get accurate shots. Let’s do a quick recap.

The windage knob, which is usually located on the scope’s side, is for moving the point of an impact either to the left or right. In most scopes, it will be marked with ‘R’ for the right and ‘L’ for the left.

The elevation adjustment is on the top and will be marked with ‘D’ for down and ‘U’ for up. This knob is used to adjust the point of impact vertically, moving the reticle up or down.

Turning this knob clockwise raises the point of impact, and turning it counterclockwise lowers it.

Scope adjustment knobs are probably the most important parts of a scope. Without them, it’s hard to make accurate and precise shots.

Now, windage and elevation adjustments are typically measured in MOA, but they’ll be in Mil in some scopes. Don’t worry though, they’re easy to understand. One MOA equals one inch of up-down or left-right travel at 100 yards.

Let’s say your scope is a quarter MOA or 0.25, which most scopes are. With each click, you’ll be adjusting the reticles by a quarter inch in a specific direction at 100 yards.

When adjusting these knobs, it’s necessary to start with small adjustments. We recommend you make slight adjustments and shoot a few rounds to confirm the point of impact.

This will allow you to make accurate adjustments and prevent over-correcting. It’s also vital to zero your scope correctly before making adjustments.

Zeroing your rifle aligns the scope with the barrel so that the reticle matches where your bullet will hit. Doing so allows for accurate adjustments, so check out this video to learn how to do it correctly:

For more reading see our write up on how you adjust a rifle scope.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is left and right on a scope?

To adjust a reticle left and right on a scope, use the windage knob (usually located on the right side of the scope) and turn it forward for left and backward for right.

Which knob on scope is left or right?

The knob on the scope that will adjust the reticle left or right is the windage adjustment knob located on the side of the scope.

Which direction is up on a Leupold scope?

In a Leupold scope, turning the elevation knob in a clockwise direction brings the reticle up. Also, in most Leupold scopes, the direction of the adjustment will have been marked by either ‘U’ or ‘D’ to indicate going up and down. Other models have directional arrows to indicate whether you’re going up or down.

What is the adjustment on the end of a scope?

The adjustment on the end of the scope (closest to your eye) is called the eyepiece or ocular adjustment. It is used to adjust the focus of the crosshairs or reticles to be clear and sharp.

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