rifle scope. When making dramatic adjustments between distances, a zero stop allows the shooter to just turn the turret back to a known zero quickly without having to count how many rotations he/she has made. Locking turrets are great for ensuring inadver- tent adjustments do not occur. Neither is absolutely necessary, but fall under the ‘nice-to-have’ category. A parallax adjustment is a ‘must-

have’ for a police scope. It is generally on the left turret or on the objective lens. It’s especially important since so many folks don’t fully understand parallax. It was defined for me by one of my mentors, Charlie Sisk as, “the apparent movement of the reticle in relationship to the target when the user moves his/her head behind the sight. This can cause the shooter to be- lieve the rifle is on target when, in fact, it is not.” During my first formal optics train-

ing, I shot the course of fire perfectly starting at 90 yards on a 1/3 pop- per and working all the way out to a 5-inch plate at 300 yards, making ad- justments for windage, elevation and parallax as I went. The last course of fire was a quick transition back to the 90-yard popper with a single round. I didn’t make any adjustments on the scope before I fired and missed. A scope adjusted for parallax at 300

yards leaves a lot of room for error at 90 yards. While holding the rifle still, I could move my head around behind the optic and watch the reticle move on and off target. That was part of the lesson. After adjusting the parallax, I again couldn’t miss. There are scopes marketed with a fixed parallax, but from my limited experience, they do not work as well as advertised.

Magnifi cation Bigger is not always better. The Amer- ica Sniper Association conducted a study of 219 police sniper shootings that occurred between 1984 and 2004. According to their findings, the aver- age engagement distance was 51 yards and over 95 percent were closer than 100 yards. The longest was 187 yards. (There was a shooting at around 400 yards included in the study, but it

The author believes a parallax adjustment is a must-have.

involved a barrage of fire from more than one shooter.) That said, wouldn’t a 3x-10x zoom magnification serve almost every conceivable law-enforcement sniper situation? Unless a cop’s local police department has a mutual aid agree- ment with Afghanistan, 1,000-yard shots in civilian law enforcement just don’t happen and probably shouldn’t. We’ve seen departments purchase scopes with the zoom capability of 8x- 32x. At even the lowest power, a very common 25-yard shot will be more dif- ficult than it has to be as the shooter searches for the target in the narrow field of view. Also, parallax is at its most challeng-

ing at closer distances with uber-mag- nification. Granted, recent technology has afforded us the luxury of greater variables in zoom capability. Agen-

cies and officers can purchase 3x-25x power scopes now, but they are luxu- ries and priced accordingly. Law en- forcement agencies are well served by much lower power optics, which are also much less costly.

Reticle There are a lot of different reticles on the market, but most tactical rifle op- tics are either duplex, mil-dot, or grid types. Between all the various manu- facturers, there are dozens of varia- tions on each. Duplex is the simplest and preferred by many snipers. Mil- dot reticles can be used by a trained shooter to gauge distance without a range finder. Grid reticles can gauge range and

can also be used to measure the dis- tance between a bullet impact and the target. This system works no matter if 47

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