Snow fills the woods – a cold, quieting blanket – and your deer blind smells of energy drinks and beef jerky. You have been sitting for hours, peering through your riflescope at a thicket of pine and spruce. Your bladder is full, toes are numb, and your back aches as you wait for a deer, a boar, anything, to make this early-morning hunt a success. As the sun creeps slowly over the frozen landscape, a whitetail doe saunters into view. She is thick, healthy, and her fur is golden brown. This is the prize you have been waiting for, and with a deep breath, you align your sights on the sweet spot – the heart, just above her front legs. The shot is roughly 150 yards, and with nothing left to do, you squeeze the trigger…and kill a tree branch. The doe dashes off and your morning hunt has been an utter failure.
What went wrong? Several factors can cause a competent hunter to miss a clear shot: nerves, bullet drop, wind, precipitation…and cant. Some of these issues can be fixed through experience, calculations and preparation. Cant, on the other hand, is more complicated. Simply put, cant is tilt, and there are three types of cant in shooting activities: rifle cant, scope cant and reticle cant. Fortunately, most cant is fixable, and with a few adjustments, you can be harvesting that trophy buck in no time.
Rifle cant refers to the ‘tilting’ or ‘rolling’ of a rifle to one side or the other. This may be caused by the stock-to-trigger distance being too short or long for the shooter, which upsets the steadiness of the rifle, or from the shooter’s position being cramped or awkward. If a rifle is canted, when you look through the riflescope, the horizontal crosswire is not level. At 200 yards, a 1-degree rifle cant might result in a 1-inch POI (point of impact) difference. At 500 yards, a 1-degree rifle cant might result in a 2.5-inch POI difference. The longer the shot, the greater the effect of cant. While it is impossible to 100% solve the problem of rifle canting (human error is unavoidable), there is a product that can greatly reduce canting’s negative effects: SightMark’s Bubble Level Ring.
Pictured above, Sightmark’s Bubble Level Ring comes in 2 sizes: 30mm and 34mm, depending on the size of your riflescope tube. This Bubble Level Ring is a mere $23.99 and can markedly improve the accuracy of your rifle. This device is made from aircraft-grade aluminum for a lightweight, durable design, and utilizes a single-bolt attachment system. Its highly-visible center line ensures the bubble is easily centered, correcting an offset riflescope.
Scope cant occurs when the scope is not mounted level with the rifle. This is both common and fixable. First, you should secure your rifle to a workbench and remove the scope. Now, remount the scope, but place a small level on top of the scope, and tighten the rings slowly, ensuring the bubble on the level is centered. This would also be the time to attach a scope level – just ensure the bubble is centered before you lock everything down. Having a level, accurate scope is vitally important for accurate, ethical shooting, and the further the distance you are shooting, the more necessary a Sightmark Bubble Level Ring becomes.
Reticle cant is a manufacturing error. Because reticles are installed by human hands and not robots, they are never 100% perfect, but most manufacturers maintain a high standard of reticle cant that is within 5-degrees of error. For short-range shots of less than 100 yards, most reticle cant is negligible. For longer-range shooters, you may need to return your scope to the manufacturer to correct severe reticle cant. If your scope is not level, however, it can combine with reticle cant to produce greater inaccuracy. The lesson here is to correct everything within your power, and if your long-range shooting is still suffering, consider contacting your rifle scope’s manufacturer.
Conditions for hunting and shooting are rarely perfect. There may be a crooked tree stand, a sloping hill, rain, wind and innumerable other factors that negatively impact your shot. This is life, and while you can’t control your environment, you can exercise control over rifle cant, scope cant and reticle cant. If you want that next morning hunt to be a success, consider acquiring one of Sightmark’s Bubble Level Rings – your prey, and your trophy case, will thank you.