Q&A: Getting to grips with angle terminology


Can you explain what a minute of angle is? I don’t really get the whole MOA thing.

Mark Ripley says: 
Minute of angle (MOA) is simply a way of measuring an angle, a bit like degrees. If you imagine firing a cannon, the concept of having to angle the cannon up above the line of sight to get the ball to fly further is easy to understand. Shooting a rifle is much the same. By moving the crosshairs in the scope or giving it a little holdover, you are angling your barrel upwards in the same way above the line of sight to compensate for the pull of gravity on your round.

MOA is the measurement between the line of sight and the angle your barrel is pointed (not the path of your bullet). At the rifle, this would be a tiny measurement that becomes bigger as you go further out and the lines become further apart. Most scopes are in MOA – many of us will be familiar with 1MOA of adjustment moving the point of aim an inch at 100 yards. Since the line of sight and angle of aim becoming further apart over distance, this follows a constant pattern – two inches at 200 yards, three at 300 and so on.

This is just the distance between these straight lines and doesn’t correspond to the curved path of the bullet’s trajectory. If I’m dialling in 10MOA it means I’m raising my barrel up by 10 MOA, which at a target 100 yards away would be pointing the barrel at a point 10 inches above the target, 20 inches at a 200-yard target and so on.

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