A common report among LPVO users is that the center aiming dot is too large, leading to a loss of precision or larger-than-expected groups. Common LPVO reticles measure between 0.2 and 0.35 MIL, while purpose-built precision optics typically have centers between 0.05 and 0.1 MIL. The larger center dot makes the LPVO a little harder to get the best precision.
The table below converts center reticle diameter from MILs to inches at each listed distance, comparing precision reticle center dots with LPVO centers. There can be a large difference in target coverage depending on the reticle.
Table 1: A comparison of reticle center dot sizes and their equivalent measurement in inches at the given distances.
Table 1 shows that most LPVO reticles are actually smaller than most precision rifle or gas gun targets, especially considering that many match directors will set up targets to be between 1 to 5 minutes in size, with most targets trending between 2 to 4 minutes. Thus, the complaints about center dot size typically come from the zeroing or data gathering processes, where we want the target to be as small as possible to test accuracy of the rifle and ammunition. This is part of the old adage of "Aim small, miss small." It's hard to aim small with a large center dot.
Traditional Aiming Method
Many LPVO users will try to use the center dot for their zeroing process. While this is not incorrect, this is the basis of the issue with the LPVO center being too large. The center dot does not provide a precision aim point.
Alternate Method - Concentric Aiming
One alternative to gain more precision from the LPVO is the use of Concentric Aiming. Also known as bracketing or "shapes on shapes," concentric aiming uses the outer ring of the LPVO optic instead of the center dot. Align the circular outer ring concentrically to the zero target, with equal spacing around the circumference of the ring. This method is similar to aligning iron sights or peep sights.
Move your focus from the center dot to the outer ring. Align the outer ring of the reticle around the target so that the two shapes have equal spacing on all sides. This method will work regardless of target size or shape; simply create even space between the reticle and target, or split the target into equal quadrants with the reticle.
The concentric aiming method may take some time to adjust to, but once a shooter learns the concept, it is very simple to apply when needed. This method is only recommended for the zero or data gathering process, as it is a bit slower than simply using the center dot. However, it can provide excellent precision when shooting paper. We recommend using the center dot for all other targets.
The shooter in the video below is using concentric aiming to check zero on this 16" carbine with Vortex Razor 1-10x, using 77gr IMI Razorcore ammunition. Follow along with the reticle and visualize the concentric aiming process:
To use concentric aiming appropriately, the shooter must shift focus from the center dot of the reticle to the outer ring around the dot. Create even space between the target and the reticle's ring, similar to aligning peep sights. Once there is even space between the target and the outer ring, break the shot.
The shooter should also remember to control expectations; if you're looking for ultimate precision, the LPVO may not be the best choice. However, we can use this alternative method of aiming in order to get accurate results. Concentric aiming may take some time to adjust to, but will help to close up your groups when shooting on paper and small targets with your LPVO'ed carbine.