How to Judge Distance With Mil Dots

How to Judge Distance With Mil Dots

Accurately judging distance is a crucial skill for any shooter, whether you are a hunter, a military personnel, or a competitive shooter. One of the most popular methods for estimating distance is by using mil dots, which are a common feature found in scopes. With the right knowledge and practice, you can become proficient at judging distance using mil dots and greatly enhance your shooting skills. In this article, we will explore the step-by-step process of judging distance with mil dots and provide some frequently asked questions to help you better understand this technique.

Step 1: Understand the Basics
Before we delve into the specifics of using mil dots, it is important to have a solid grasp of the fundamental principles. A mil dot is a reticle pattern consisting of small dots or hash marks inside the scope. These dots are evenly spaced and serve as reference points to estimate the size of a target or the distance to a target. Each dot represents a specific angular measurement called a mil, which is equivalent to 1/1000th of the target’s distance. For example, if a target is estimated to be 1000 yards away, one mil would cover 10 inches on the target.

Step 2: Determine the Size of the Target
To effectively use mil dots, you need to know the size of your target in relation to the dots. By measuring the target’s size in mils, you can then use this information to calculate the distance. Start by estimating the height or width of the target in inches. Next, determine the number of mils the target covers. For instance, if the target’s height is 18 inches and it covers 2 mils, each mil would correspond to 9 inches on the target.

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Step 3: Calculate the Distance
Once you have established the target’s size in mils, it is time to calculate the distance. To do this, you need to know the size of the target in inches per mil. Divide the target’s size in inches by the number of mils it covers. For example, if the target’s size is 18 inches and it covers 2 mils, each mil would represent 9 inches. Now, divide the actual size of the target in inches by the size of the target in inches per mil. This will give you the estimated distance to the target. In this case, if the target’s actual size is 36 inches, dividing it by 9 inches (size per mil) would result in an estimated distance of 4 mils.

Step 4: Practice and Refine
Judging distance with mil dots requires practice and experience. Start by using known distances and targets of varying sizes to hone your skills. Pay attention to environmental factors such as lighting conditions, terrain, and atmospheric effects, as they can affect your estimations. Over time, you will become more proficient at judging distance quickly and accurately.


Q: Can I use mil dots on any scope?
A: Mil dots are commonly found in tactical and long-range scopes. However, not all scopes have mil dots. Ensure that your scope is equipped with mil dots before attempting to use this technique.

Q: Do I need to know the size of the target exactly?
A: While an accurate measurement of the target’s size is preferable, you can make estimations based on your best judgment. The more precise your measurements, the more accurate your distance calculation will be.

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Q: Are there any tools or accessories that can aid in judging distance with mil dots?
A: Yes, there are various tools available, such as mil dot master calculators or smartphone apps, that can assist in calculating distance using mil dots. These tools can provide additional accuracy and convenience.

Q: Can mil dots be used for moving targets?
A: Mil dots are primarily designed for stationary targets. Estimating the distance to a moving target requires additional skills and techniques, such as tracking and predicting the target’s movement.

Q: Is it necessary to zero my scope before using mil dots for distance estimation?
A: Yes, it is crucial to have your scope properly zeroed before attempting to use mil dots. A misaligned scope can lead to inaccurate estimations and affect your shooting accuracy.

In conclusion, mastering the skill of judging distance with mil dots can greatly enhance your shooting abilities. By understanding the basic principles, accurately measuring the target’s size, and using the correct calculations, you can estimate distance with precision. Remember to practice regularly and consider using additional tools to aid in your estimations. With time and experience, you will become proficient at using mil dots and improve your shooting performance.