Riflescope Glossary: What is MOA, FOV and POI?

Have you ever found yourself sitting around the campfire, at the gun range, or out in the field confused about the conversation? Then you probably need to read this. This is scope verbiage for dummies.

I can certainly understand why someone would be lost when hearing acronyms like FOV, POI, and MOA. Even someone who has been around firearms and the outdoors their whole life can find themselves tongue-tied when these riflescope terms come up. I have simplified some of the most common terms any hunter, long-range shooter and firearm owner should recognize and comprehend.

Let’s start with what’s already been mentioned: FOV, POI and MOA.

Field of View (FOV)

The field of view (FOV) is the area visible inside your scope.
The field of view (FOV) is the area visible inside your scope.

The field of view is the observable area that a human can view through an optic device. For example, when you look through a scope, any kind of scope, the area that is confined to what you are actually observing through the end of that scope is your field of view or FOV. The FOV can be measured in degrees or linear field.

Point of Impact (POI)

Woman adjusting a Sightmark riflescope
The POI shows a relationship between where you are aiming and where the bullet is going to hit.

The point of impact is where the bullet or laser hits the target. This is where the most impact will be had by pulling the trigger to fire or by aiming the laser downrange. This is especially useful for shotgun operators since a shotgun is designed to project a scattered pattern rather than a single shot. Your POI also shows a relationship between where you are aiming and where the bullet is going to hit. This can tell a rifle operator how far off their gun is from accurately being sighted in.

Minute of Angle (MOA)

A woman and man hunting
Minute-of-angle (MOA) is 1.047 inches at 100 yards and usually adjustable at 1/8- or 1/4-MOA per click,

You will hear this term most in long-range shooting. Minute of angle is often used to describe the size of the target. 1 MOA on a target that is 500 yards away is 5.” But let’s say the MOA on this target is actually 2. This means the target is 10″ in diameter. However, how much 1 MOA affects your POI, depends on the distance of the target. For example, there is a target sitting at 100 yards. An adjustment of 1 MOA on that target will move your POI 1.” This directly correlates in much higher distances as well. Let’s say there is a target at 1,000 yards. 1 MOA adjustment will now move this POI 10.” This helps shooters to more accurately hit their mark when shooting long-range because the bullet drops after firing due to factors such as wind, upwards or downwards angles, and gravity.

Objective Lens

The objective lens is the lens at the end of the scope.
The objective lens is the lens at the end of the scope.

This is the lens at the end of the scope. Not the lens that you look through, but the lens on the other end of the optic. For example, anytime you see 1-9×30, this means that scope can magnify from 1 to 9 and the diameter of the objective lens is 30 millimeters.


Sighmark Pinnacle scope reticle example.
Sightmark Pinnacle scope reticle example.

A reticle is anything in the scope that helps you aim. In its simplest form, a crosshair is a reticle. A reticle can be etched onto the glass. This allows for the reticle to change in size as the scope magnifies (something also known as first focal plane) or to change color based on user preference. A reticle can also be fixed by being made from wire. You can tell whether a reticle is fixed or not by looking through the scope—if the crosshair is fixed at each edge of the scope, it is most likely not etched onto the glass lens.

Eye Relief

The eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece of the scope and your eye where you can see the full field of view.
The eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece of the scope and your eye where you can see the full field of view.

This is the distance between the eyepiece of the scope and where the eye sees the full FOV with no dark edge around the image. If you are looking through a scope and there is a dark circle around the image, scoot your head closer to the sight. If you look through a scope and can’t see any dark edges, move your head back a little. Find that sweet spot where you can rest your cheek comfortably against the stock of the gun and see through the scope without any dark edges, but if you moved even a centimeter forwards, you would see a black circle distorting your FOV. If you take anything away from this article, I would suggest this be it. The repercussions of not allowing yourself enough eye relief can lead to something called “scope eye” or “scope bite.” This is when a shooter is too close to the end of a scope and the gun’s recoil causes the scope to hit the shooter and slices their eyebrow open and/or gives them a black eye.

Second Focal Plane

The Sightmark Citadel LR2 riflescope's reticle is a good example of a first focal plane reticle.
The Citadel LR2’s first focal plane reticle.

As mentioned earlier, the first focal plane is when the reticle gets bigger as the operator zooms in, and gets smaller as the operator zooms out. The reticle adjusts in size as the scope magnifies. A second focal plane is the opposite of this—the reticle is fixed in size no matter how magnified the scope can be.

I hope the understanding of these common terms help you get involved in the conversation and also helps you understand how your firearm can work better for you!

What riflescope or optics terms do you not fully understand? Leave your questions in the comment section and we will do our best to answer them!

About Faith

Faith was born and raised in Ennis, Texas, a rural town just south of Dallas. Faith was a Marketing Intern with Sellmark Corporation and currently a senior at Baylor University, graduating soon with a degree in Marketing, with a focus on Data Analytics. Faith grew up hunting mostly deer, dove, and hog. Faith still spends her free time outdoors, as well as reading and coaching Crossfit.

A Child’s First Deer

With Summer on the downhill slide, most people start to get excited about Fall and all the things that come with it, like cooler temperatures, drinking seasonal beverages, and being able to curl up by a fire. While all those activities are nice, there’s another thing that happens in the fall that gets me excited—deer season.

A child will never forget their first hunting trip.
Do you remember your first hunting trip?

I was nine when I killed my first deer. He was a little four-pointer with a body not much bigger than our yellow lab. Big or not, I was smiling from ear to ear when my dad took a picture of me holding the deer’s head up by the antlers. After taking the picture and loading up the deer on the back of the four-wheeler, we headed back to camp to clean it and so I could tell the story of my first kill to anyone that would listen.

That evening’s hunt also happened to be the very first time I was allowed to hunt by myself. I had gone out to the stand with my dad that morning, but upon returning to camp for lunch, my dad told me (I didn’t get a choice in the matter) that I would be hunting by myself later. Excitement overtook me. He trusted me to sit out there all by myself. How cool! Then the fear hit. How could he leave me out there all by myself? I kept thinking that I would be fine, my dad would come get me as soon as it started to get dark, and that if I did see anything, I could finally be the decision-maker.

My dad dropped me off on the main road. I had to hike further into the woods to get to my stand. I had walked that path a million times before, but it seemed to take longer this time walking it alone. I finally reached the stand. My stand was a wooden box stand with about eight inches cut out on the sides in a rectangle shape, starting right at my shoulder when sitting. This makeshift window was also covered by mesh. I got comfortable in my chair, put a bullet in the chamber of my bolt-action Marlin .308, leaned it against the corner of the stand, and started to scan. The feeder was set up about 100 yards down a path right in front of me. To my left, there was a clearing where I had seen deer before. It was all I had to look at for a while. It was only 3:00 in the afternoon. The sun wouldn’t start setting until 6:30.

Patience pays off when you wait for the right deer.

At 5:00 pm, I still hadn’t seen any deer, just some squirrels and the occasional raccoon. Suddenly, I heard something to my left, in that clearing. The rustling of leaves, like something walking by made my ears perk up. I sat straight up in my chair, eyes scanning the tree line surrounding the clearing. After what seemed like forever, I finally saw a good-sized doe make her appearance. I turned my body in the chair, slowly reaching for the rifle, and quietly sat the gun on the ledge of the window with the barrel just poking out. I didn’t take the safety off just yet because I knew that sometimes seeing a doe pass through means there is a buck following close behind. My patience would eventually pay off.

Not but a few minutes after I saw that doe come through the clearing, I heard the rustling of leaves again and a deep grunting sound. I knew exactly what that meant. My heart started to pound, I shouldered the rifle and got into shooting position. I finally saw him slowly making his way into the clearing. Only being nine years old, that buck looked huge to me. I decided to shoot. I got my cheek set against the stock and started to breathe in and out through my mouth, very slowly, to make my heart stop beating so fast. The deer could’ve taken off at any second, so I had to take the shot soon. I got him in my crosshairs, took a big breath in and out, and flipped off the safety. He started to move through the clearing faster, so I did a quick whistle. He stopped and looked right in my direction. I pulled the trigger. He dropped but got back up and ran to the left. I quickly listened for him to fall any second, but I never heard anything. I prayed that we could find him later.

My dad told me, “Do not get out of this stand for any reason. I’ll walk in and get you when it gets dark. You’ll know it’s me because I’ll flash my light twice.” I thought there was a deer laying out there somewhere and my heart had finally slowed down, all I had to do then was wait. It was almost 6:00 in the evening and I could tell the light was starting to fade. I hoped my dad would get there soon. I didn’t want to be sitting in the middle of the pitch-black woods by myself. But of course, the sun set, and my dad hadn’t come yet.

We found my first deer by trailing it.
We found my first deer by trailing it.

I remember having a flashlight with me but being too scared to shine it out of the stand because there could be something terrifying staring back at me. After what seemed like forever, I finally heard a four-wheeler getting closer. I saw my dad pull up and park beside the feeder downrange from my stand. He got out and walked to get me, flashing his light twice in my direction. He got to the stand and I almost knocked him down, jumping with excitement while telling him that I definitely shot a deer. I took him to where I think the deer was when I shot. We immediately see blood—my dad told me that it was probably a heart/lung shot from how much blood we saw on the ground.

We followed the trail for about 20 yards and laying there, behind a tree, was my very first deer. I laid the rifle against the back end of the body, grabbed those horns and inspected my “trophy.” Before my dad took the picture, he informed me of a tradition. Apparently, you have to wear the blood of your first kill. My dad stuck his finger in the bullet hole and rubbed it on both sides of my cheeks, right under my eyes like war paint. I was then picture ready. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled that hard for a picture in my life up until that point. My dad brought the four-wheeler around and by himself, he loaded the deer on the backend. I wasn’t kidding when I said it wasn’t much bigger than our dog. We headed into camp and there I learned how to properly clean a deer. I’ve killed a couple of deer, pigs, and dove since then, but my very first deer will always be my favorite hunt!

Tell us about your first deer, dog, hog, duck or other game in the comment section below.