In long range shooting, we all dream of hitting that incredible 1000+ yard shot where we down our prey with a single round but for most of us, 90% of our shots will be made within 100 – 300 yards.
Modern long range shooting is now widely supported by a world of gadgets to assist in ballistic calculations. The largest influencing factor in successful long distance shooting is the shooter themselves. Whilst having all of the gear available is great and will definitely help in furthering your shooting capability, we believe the shooter has to have a fundamental knack for long range shooting.
Below we’ve listed some aspects of shooting you should take into account when looking to improve your long-range shooting.
Choose An Appropriate Rifle
When purchasing a rifle with the sole purpose of long range shooting there are certain aspects you’ll need to consider;
The caliber of the round you intend on firing will grow with the distance, a larger distanced shot will require a larger caliber in order to retain enough energy on impact. More affordable and available rounds for this type of shooting will be the 7mm or .338 magnums.
The trigger is also an important feature to shooting at greater distances as the slightest of movements is considerably amplified leading to a higher level of shot inaccuracy. A smooth, light trigger pull will allow for more consistent and accurate shots.
The barrel of a long-range rifle is typically larger in both diameter and length to accommodate larger caliber rounds and allowing a greater burn time for the bullet before leaving the barrel. These heavier barrels will help to reduce recoil but can also become quite cumbersome.
Possibly one of the more expensive additions to your rifle, a good long range scope doesn’t come cheap but is certainly worth the investment. Things to keep an eye out for;
Lens quality is possibly the most important feature of any rifle scope but especially for long range shooting. A high level of quality glass will allow for improved clarity at both low and high magnifications.
Choosing the right reticle ultimately boils down to personal preference, as long as you choose a reticle with sufficient hash markings you’ll be fine.
The magnification power is also an important consideration and for that only competition, shooting will most likely choose the larger powered scopes. If you are also looking to hunt you may want something that offers a bit more versatility not locking you into a long distance and also not keeping you out of it, a 5-25x scope is great for this.
It’s important to know your bullets speed in order to successfully accommodate wind or drop. It’s a good idea to work out your average speed with your rifle and a particular round, simply shoot a few rounds over a chronograph and record your result for your own calculations.
Depending upon whether or not you’re shooting with some form of support such as a bipod will determine how you shoot accurately at greater distances whilst in the prone position.
No support shooters will want to position the rifle in the cup between elbow and forearm of their less dominant arm, this will create an improvised support for your rifle. Your body position, in relation to the rifle, will be placed at a significant angle allowing for greater comfort and position behind the scope.
Shooting with a bipod, shooters will want to position themselves directly behind the rifle as if a line were connecting your rifle to your should and hip. Pushing forward to place a greater weight on the bipod will also allow for a more controlled and consistent shooting position. You’ll also notice enhanced recoil absorption.
Upgrade Your Targets To Steel
Paper targets are great when you’re able to walk up and check it out. Shooting at longer-distances, you’ll want a target that you can hear your bullet hit and leave a visible mark whilst still in your firing position.
Something every shooter has heard of in some form or another, breathing is key. It’s important to take a few deep, slow, and controlled breaths to stabilize your body, after fully releasing your last breathe your lungs will reach a natural respiratory pause which is the optimal time to smoothly squeeze the trigger and fire the round.
Reading The Wind
Successfully adjusting for wind speeds and direction can only be improved with practice and will take some time to master. Use your environment to find indications of wind speed, this can be anything from grass or trees on leaves to dust around the target. The stronger wind to the muzzle the greater the influence there’ll be on the bullets flight path, realize that in the heavier wind that your first shot or 2 will typically be for measurement purposes.
Level Your Scope
It’s great that you’ve now got the gun, scope, and shooting position down but if you don’t correctly level your scope it’ll all be for nothing. We like to check the level before we head out to shoot, it takes hardly any time and is a huge factor in shot accuracy.
Buy A Rangefinder
Whilst at large distances most rangefinders can’t provide 100% accurate results, the majority of the time they will be extremely beneficial when making trajectory calculations. Ranging from different sides of the target can help narrow down results closer to the true distance of the target.
Shoot With A Buddy
Having a friend with you to help spot and offer a second opinion on firing adjustments can prove more than useful than shooting alone. You’re also provided with the opportunity to watch the full firing process as your friend shoots downrange, a perspective not seen as the shooter.
Now that you have a good idea of the factors you have to consider in order to increase your long range shooting capability, grab a friend and head out to get some practice in. It’s only through trial and error that you’ll perfect shooting style.