How to adjust MOA

If you’ve been shooting long enough, particularly rifle shooting, you’ve probably heard of the term Minute of Angle, or its acronym, MOA.

Simply put, minute of angle is an angular measurement used for rifle shooting and equals 1/60th of a degree. It’s important to remember that MOA is an angular measurement, not a linear one.

Knowing the basics of MOA can help you conceptualize long range shooting to make the correct adjustments to your riflescope. If you wish to shoot at long ranges, knowing how to practically use MOA is a must have skill.

Since my math abilities are limited, I’ll try to keep this as simple as possible. I might as well have titled this article “MOA for Dummies”, so if you’re allergic to math like myself, my explanation should do the trick for you.

The Necessary Math Stuff

MOA uses a good bit of math. I must admit, I absolutely detest math. I am not good at it, and in my school years it was my worst and most hated subject.

With MOA, I try to think about it as simply as possible and mostly use it as a gauge for accuracy, which I would suggest you do the same if you’re as bad at math as I am.

The basic principle is that 1 MOA = 1 inch at 100 yards. MOA spreads out as the distance to the target increases. For example, 2 inches at 200 yards is still 1 MOA, which is the same for 3 inches at 300 yards and so on. If you think about it in this way, it’s relatively simple.

In truth, 1 MOA more accurately equals 1.047 inches at 100 yards, but for simple math, most shooters use 1 inch per 100 yards for 1 MOA.

Here are some formulas you can use for using MOA at the range:

Number of yards to target / 100 = inches per MOA at that distance

Number of inches of adjustment needed / inches per MOA at that distance = MOA adjustment

Number of clicks on scope per 1 MOA x MOA adjustment = adjustment in clocks on scope

These formulas are the most helpful for routine shooting and scope adjusting, so make sure to write them down and keep them with your range gear so you don’t forget.

Why Do You Need to Know MOA?

Minute of angle is helpful for shooting for several reasons. Not only is it an effective way to communicate and visualize adjustments, but in the end, it will make you a better and more knowledgeable shooter.

MOA is also invaluable for making accurate adjustments on rifle scopes. Because most rifle scopes sold in the U.S. use MOA for windage and elevation adjustments, knowing your MOA adjustment based on where you end up on the target will allow you to make precise adjustments for zeroing your scope.

MOA is also a great way to conceptualize the accuracy of a rifle. If you’re able to have consistent 3” groups at 300 yards, you know you and your rifle are shooting at 1 MOA, which is pretty good by most people’s standards.

adjusting rifle scope MOA

What Types of Shooting Do You Need MOA For?

MOA is specific to rifle shooting, especially if you’re trying to achieve precise accuracy at longer distances.

MOA has no place in skeet shooting or tactical pistol shooting for example, so if you’re not a rifle shooter, MOA is a good thing to know, but it’s not something you’ll need to spend too much time with.

If you have aspirations to compete in long range shooting competitions, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with MOA as much as possible. MOA is just the beginning for long range shooting in addition to adjusting for wind, humidity, elevation, and other ballistic considerations.

How to Practically Use MOA

For the average shooter to practically use MOA, my suggestion would be to not over complicate it.

First, use simple math and avoid thinking you need to use exact MOA (1.047” per 100 yards). Next, try to use it at 100-yard increments if possible, and save it for zeroing scopes and gauging rifle accuracy.

Going about MOA this way will make it much easier for you. Once you get the hang of it, then you can start doing a deep dive, but keep it simple at first.

What is Sub-MOA?

Sub-MOA is a term you may hear thrown around amongst your fellow rifle shooting enthusiasts.

To attain sub-MOA status, it means you and your rifle have achieved a less than 1 MOA grouping on target at a certain distance. For example, if you shoot a ¼ inch group at 100 yards, you are shooting ¼ MOA, or simply sub-MOA.

Sub-MOA is the ultimate status symbol and is the desired result for any rifle shooter. The longer you can shoot sub-MOA, the more impressive it is.

Shooting sub-MOA at 100 yards is relatively attainable for most rifles and shooters but achieving sub-MOA at 1000 yards is truly awe inspiring.

If you want to achieve sub-MOA, you have to make sure you have a high-quality rifle and optic, and your shooting skills and fundamentals are dialed in. It will certainly take some practice, but with a little time at the range it’s definitely in reach. This is especially true because of modern rifles, calibers, and optics that make precision accuracy more accessible.

Windage adjustment knob on a rifle scope
Windage adjustment knob on a rifle scope

How to Adjust Rifle Scopes Using MOA

Using MOA to make adjustments to a rifles cope is perhaps the most common use of MOA for the average rifle shooter.

All rifle scopes have windage and elevations adjustments so you can zero them to whatever rifle they’re mounted on.

These windage and elevations adjustments use a dial that clicks to move the reticle. The adjustment per click for most rifle scopes sold in the United States use MOA. Most commonly, 1 click = ¼ MOA, but some scopes use 1 click per ½ MOA or even 1 click per 1 MOA.

For using MOA to adjust scopes, use the formula mentioned earlier:

Number of clicks on scope per 1 MOA x MOA adjustment = adjustment in clicks on scope.

For example, if you have a ¼ MOA scope and you want to adjust the reticle 1 inch to the left at 100 yards, you will turn the windage dial 4 clicks to the right. After this adjustment barring any human error or other factors, the round will hit dead center in the crosshairs.

Although you don’t have to use MOA to zero your rifles cope, you’ll end up doing it in less time and using fewer rounds. With the current price of centerfire rifle ammo, the less rounds you use to get to zero, the better.

MOA vs. Mils

Its important to bear in mind that MOA is an imperial measurement. If you live in the United States and you’re used to inches, feet, yards, etc. you’ll be best suited for MOA.

Also, you must use MOA if your rifles cope uses MOA adjustments, otherwise the clicks won’t mean anything to you.

Mils is the metric version of MOA. If you measure ranges by meters, your scope adjusts by mils, or you just prefer the metric system, you’ll probably be better off doing some research into using mils for your angular adjustments.


Minute of angle, or as its most often called, MOA, can seem daunting at first, I know it did for me when I first learned about it several years ago. With a little bit of knowledge and some simple math, you’ll be able to use it effectively for your rifle shooting endeavors.

My recommendation is don’t over complicate MOA too much, just remember the basics when you’re first trying to figure it out. MOA is a must have skill for zeroing in rifles copes, long range shooting, and for communication with fellow shooters.

With a little bit of experience, you can use MOA to your advantage to help you get on target quicker and more importantly, help make you a better shooter.

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