What Does MOA Mean? Exploring Minute of Angle in Shooting

What Does MOA Mean

You must have heard this a lot: MOA helps us measure shooting accuracy over different distances. But what on earth does it mean?

In the wacky world of shooting, ‘Minute of angle’ is a trusted tool to measure things in ‘minutes’ because bullets have a ‘thing’ for taking an arc-shaped route. Wait, did you not know it?

Well, my brother, a bullet loves to pull a surprise nosedive because of gravity pull, leaving your target feeling a bit betrayed. It is like gravity’s way of saying, “Oh, you thought you were going straight, huh?”

Now, this is where MOA makes an entrance by taking calculated action against the gravity pull and the bullet drop. So, let’s explore what does MOA mean and how it plays a vital role in shooting.

Understanding Minute of Angle (MOA)

Understanding Minute of Angle

MOA stands for ‘Minute of angle.’ It is used to help measure shooting in minutes. I will talk cheese and pizza here. Think of ‘Minute of Angle’ as the tiny slice of a 360-degree pizza. It’s just 1/60th of a degree, like a small slice of a big pie. But why are we talking about pizza and circles?

MOA is derived from the fact that there are 360 degrees in a circle, and each degree is further divided into 60 minutes (just like minutes on a clock). So, each minute refers to 1/60th of a degree.

Wait, still confused? Let’s dive into the time zone. We’ve got 60 minutes in an hour, and each minute is a sixtieth of an hour, right? Well, the same principle applies to angles. This minute measurement makes it easier for shooters to account for the minute variations in bullet trajectory caused by factors like distance, wind effect, and ballistics.

So far, we have made two things clear: a bullet flies in an arc shape; moreover, it is highly affected by gravity. So, the second the bullet is fired from a gun, gravity is one of the many things that affect its trajectory/flying pattern. The effect of gravity ultimately causes the bullet to drop below the point where you aimed.

It means the farther the shot (in yards), the more your bullet may drop below your targeted aim. Now, this is where MOA helps. MOA allows shooters to quantify and adjust for this drop in a precise manner.

MOA and Target Distance

How to Sight in a Scope for Accurate Shooting

MOA is used as an angular measurement and not as a linear measurement. That means a MOA can only refer to the angle between two things, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the length. Let’s get into the details to know more about it.

One MOA equals roughly one inch at 100 yards. Those who are murmuring 1.047 or 1.05, let’s face it, we are not splitting hairs here but targets. So, when you twist your scope turret to make one moa adjustment, you are actually telling your bullet to move over an inch.

what does moa mean

However, the farther you are from the target, the more you need to make particular scope adjustments and the more the bullet needs to pack bags and move over. Got it? It is like a ‘MOA Mileage Chart’: 100 yards equals 1 inch MOA, 300 yards means 3 inches MOA, and 500 yards takes you to 5 inches MOA.

In the illustration given, you can notice the bullet’s trajectory in red color and its behavior at different distances you are shooting. You can see that you need to adjust sight and level the scope at the bullseye and figure out how many moa adjustments you need to make for perfect POI. The given figure also illustrates bullet drop.

In the example given, at 200 yards, the bullet drop is by 4 inches, so how many increments are needed on the scope? The answer is a 2-minute adjustment. Why? Find out in the next heading!

scope adjusts for half the distance

How to Calculate 1 MOA Size at Your Distance

As you know, MOA is a different size at different distances, and you need to make certain calculations every time you change the shooting distance. Just so you know, each minute adjustment equals one inch at 100 yards, and it equals two inches at 200 yards. The inch increases with yards.

To determine the MOA size at a particular distance, just divide the range by 100. For instance, if you are shooting at 400 yards, the formula will be :

  • 400 yards / 100 = 4 inches per MOA

Why 4 inches per MOA adjustment? Because MOA spreads out 1 inch per MOA at 100 yards.

Then, you need to figure out the number of clicks. To do so, observe the POA and see by how many inches it is down/up or left/right. Each click adjustment will move the bullet to a certain position.

How to Calculate the Bullet Drop

After you figure out the MOA value at a certain distance, you need to find out the bullet drop for your distance in yards. Let’s assume your bullet has a 10-inch drop from the target when shooting from 200 yards, as given in the illustration above.

Now, knowing that you typically need 1 MOA for every 2-inch drop at the same distance, let’s calculate how many clicks or MOA adjustments are required for that 10-inch bullet drop.

Here’s the equation:

  • Bullet drop in inches / MOA inches at the distance = Required MOA adjustment

Using this scenario:

  • 10-inch bullet drop / 2 inches (1 MOA equals 2 inches at 100 yards) = 5 MOA

How to Translate MOA on Scope Turrets

 MOA on Scope Turrets

Yikes! You need to know your scope first. Knowing your rifle’s scope specification will make things easier for you. So, if you are 1/8 MOA turrets, each click will move 1/8 MOA. For example, with 1/2 MOA adjustments, two clicks make 1 MOA.

Take notice every time you tweak the knobs, and the ‘click’ sound is produced because, with every click or MOA increment, the bullet moves. For the example given above, it takes 20 clicks to reach 10 MOA with a 1/2 MOA scope at 200 yards.

Final Thoughts

MOA is a vital tool for a shooter who is seeking precision for long-distance shooting. Now that you have familiarized yourself with MOA adjustments, I will wrap things up with a last tip: Always think in MOA and not in clicks. Although retail scopes adjust in 1/4 MOA per click adjustments, some shooting scopes adjust in 1/2, 1/8, or even 1 MOA.

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