26 Mar Zero Point Targeting- How to Aim at Fast Moving Targets
By John Grayman, Anarchy Outdoors
How do you hit a target when it’s mobile, or moving sporadically, and the distance is either unknown, or constantly changing?
The right answer is to aim your rifle using a quick ’n dirty sighting technique that goes all the way back to an original method of aiming used by Napoleon Bonaparte’s cannoneers. It’s called ‘zero point’ or ‘MPBR’ (Maximum Point Blank Range) aiming technique.
It refers to THAT OVERALL DISTANCE at which a fired projectile is neither above, nor below the line-of-sight between the rifle’s muzzle and the target’s zero point by more than ± one half of the vertical target area the bullet needs to strike inside of in order for the projectile to achieve its desired effect.
This might sound complicated, but it’s not. Stay with me, OK!
(Photo courtesy of shootersnotes.com)
Originally the MPBR was achieved when 19th century military cannoneers lowered their cannon muzzles into a horizontal position in order to engage a head-on charge by ground troops. Later on, riflemen began to realize that they didn’t need to be constantly adjusting their weapon’s sights for either distance, or whatever bullet they were using.
(Early on this sighting method became known among many North American riflemen as, ‘Kentucky Windage’.)
Ballistics of Zero Point Targeting
The correct measurement varies and largely depends on a particular bullet’s known flightpath. As you, probably, know bullets do not travel in straight lines. Instead bullets travel along a parabolic curve, both, above and below the straight line-of-sight or, ‘static bore axis’. So, here’s how to determine a correct MPBR for whatever particular gun and bullet combination you’re using:
First, examine an applicable ballistic chart, and notice the flight path of the bullet you intend to use. In particular, notice the highest and lowest points at which the bullet flies. These are the two vertical extremes. NOW, ADD THESE TWO POINTS TOGETHER in order to achieve the maximum vertical flight parameters.
(A good place to find information like this is by referring to either an online ballistics calculator, or in the exterior ballistics tables at the back of many reloading manuals.)
Within the parameters of the bullet’s (normal) vertical axis flightpath: If a bullet’s maximum ‘rise’ (or arc) above the line-of-sight is 3 inches, and it’s (applicable or selected) ‘drop’ below the line-of-sight is also 3 inches then all that needs to be done is to add these two measurements together in order to determine the usable MPBR that is available both above, AND below the barrel’s horizontal bore axis.
This figure will remain valid AND your aiming point will NOT change all the way out to THAT DISTANCE at which the fired bullet finally drops below the MPBR’s lower extreme parameter.
(This might seem like a complicated thing to accomplish; but, in real world practice and once you get used to using it, it’s not. An experienced rifle marksman can use MPBR technology without giving it any sort of conscious thought at all.)
In the example given above the achievable MPBR equals 3” (up) + 3” (down). Then, the MPBR for whatever specific overall distance you have selected for your rifle and bullet combination would be a total of 6 inches.
Dialing In Zero Point Targeting
Now that your MPBR and the distance over which it can be applied are known, you will be able to use this MPBR on your target ANYWHERE within that predetermined distance over which the MPBR is known to be effective.
In my own experience the toughest problem you’ll ever have to face while using an MPBR zero will be on those targets that are BEYOND the preselected maximum effective range.
So, what should you do? Well, …… once you realize that the target you’re aiming at is BEYOND your MPBR’s, ‘zero’ (or below the maximum lower parameter) then all you’ve got to do is to guesstimate how much HIGHER you need to raise the crosshairs (or sights) in order to strike within the available MPBR target area.
A target—like, say, a mule deer—might have a useable vertical target area beneath its shoulder of only 4 inches while your gun and bullet combination are set up for a, ‘dead-on’ (MPBR) hold of 6 inches all the way out to, say, 175 yards.
At this maximum distance the bullet will have dropped to the lowest extreme; but, the deer is standing just over 200 yards away, and is well beyond the lower 175 yard extremity the rifle’s MPBR ‘window’ is set up for.
Now, . . . what do you have to do in order to avoid fiddling around with either your metallic sights or scope adjustment knobs? (Yes, this can get to be, ‘serious stuff ’!)
OK, at + 25 yards beyond the maximum distance setting, the bullet is going to drop BELOW the MPBR’s lower extreme parameter; so, the scope crosshairs (or ‘BUIS’) are going to have to be RAISED. In order to correctly compensate for whatever additional distance the bullet will drop, the question that needs to be answered is, “How much is the bullet’s drop going to be?”.
You will only know the correct answer to this question by: (1) Studying the ballistic charts in order to know how your selected bullet behaves as distance increases; and (2) practicing often and knowing what your rifle and bullet combination are capable of doing together.
Does MPBR aiming methodology really work? Can it actually be used quickly and well out in the real world? The correct answer is, yes, it can! (I, myself, have often used the MPBR technique while hunting.) I’ve also trained a number of skillful long range rifle marksmen—One of whom went on to become a distinguished military sniper with an outstanding number of hits, and fellow soldiers’ lives saved.
All of these marksmen would first, ‘dial-in their scopes’ and, thereafter, work primarily with MPBR technology—Which, by the way, adapts itself very well to front focal plane military scopes, and the military’s rather unique mil dot (MIL) system. In fact whenever you’re working with moving targets, you’re almost always forced to use, ‘on the fly’ MPBR technology. It is very quick; and, in the right hands, it can be very deadly, too.
There are, however, no easy shortcuts for outstanding accuracy. You’ve got to know (and understand) your weapon as well as the flight characteristics of the particular bullet you’re using. Spend time studying the ballistic charts, and correctly set up your rifle’s sights IN ADVANCE. Do these things and MPBR technology will become, ‘a gift’ that any experienced rifleman will be able to put to very good use!
One thing more: Anarchy Outdoors’Online Catalog is chock full of specialty rifle equipment and add-ons for high precision marksmen to use. Take a look! There’s lots of specialized rifle equipment that can help to make a better ‘long-range hitter’ out of just about everyone!