Those who have experience with long range hunting and sport shooting will probably tell you that there’s no such thing as arriving at a shooting “nirvana.”
Between the constant industry changes to firearms and ammo and the infinite number of shot-altering climates you can encounter, this lifestyle sport/hobby is an ever-evolving combination of science and art.
Whether you’re just entering the long range shooting scene or have been around for a while, we’ve got a solid lineup of five simple things you can do to improve your technique.
#1: Define Your Long Range Shooting Goals
What do you hope to do and how do you want to progress with long range shooting? What are your goals? Do you want to enter long range shooting competitions? Up your skills for long range hunting? Or just channel your inner-Mark Walhberg from Shooter and put some world-class shots downrange?
Whatever your end goals, they will be a decision-making factor in how you approach practice time at the range, which rifle you choose, and what will be the best long range caliber to fill it with. Long range shooting competitions might be a great fit for someone driven, with an attention to detail and disciplined.
If pulling the trigger under pressure lights a fire in your bones, competitive long range shooting may provide an environment that challenges you to perfect your technique. You’ll likely brush shoulders with some of the best marksmen in the world as people from everywhere participate in these contests through private clubs, the military, and even the Olympics.
If you decide that long range shooting competitions are your jam, you’ll want to be prepared to invest in trying out multiple gun models and bullet calibers to find your ideal firearm as well as the best long range rifle caliber for you. In essence, competitive long range shooting demands all the accuracy and precision of hunting--but with way less cleanup and year round.
#2 - Follow Long Range Hunting Forums
The “clean-up” is one of the more controversial aspects of long range hunting. If you’re not already familiar with the rift, the nutshell summary is that there’s a lot of debate about the ethicality of long range hunting. Take some time (if you haven’t already) to read a variety of online hunter forums and familiarize yourself with the pros and cons, so you fully understand what it takes to be both an effective and ethical long range hunting expert.
If you decide that long range hunting is the discipline for you, joining a long range hunting forum (or multiple) is a smart next step. Hunter forums are one the best resources for aspiring marksmen to learn from the mistakes, best practices, innovations, and “sage wisdom” of experienced hunters.
Additionally, these hunter forums are a gold mine of information to get answers to questions you may have about things like the latest gear on the market, the effects of using different bullet calibers, what the best hunting rifle caliber is, and anything else related to long range hunting.
#3 - Discover Your Best Long Range Rifle Caliber
So, you’ve set your goals and started making connections with your new long range shooting tribe. Before you head out to the range, you’re gonna need some ammo. This is where those long range shooting &/or hunter forums are gonna come in handy.
You’ll probably see a lot of chatter about what the best long range caliber is, which is the flattest shooting caliber, and generally just lots of dialogue weighing the pros and cons of various bullet calibers. Both 6.5 PRC ballistics and 28 Nosler ballistics have been popular topics of discussion in recent threads.
With typical terminal mechanics of 143gr bullet at 2,960fps, the 6.5 PRC ballistics make it worth adding to your lineup of long range calibers to try. When compared to other hunting rounds, the 6.5 PRC recoil is considered pretty mild.
And you should do lots of comparison! It’ll require burning through quite a bit of powder to discover the best long range caliber for you. Far from being a “waste of time,” however, long hours at the range are essential to developing long range shooting expertise.
#4 - Sharpen Your Long Range Shooting Skills
Once you’ve picked your best long range caliber “pony,” it’s time to start putting some shots downrange. Consistent practice and dedicating time to attend events and trainings to refine your skills are the most effective ways to build long range shooting excellence.
Additionally, if you decide to try your hand at long range hunting, most instructors and hunter forums will advise you to practice under a wide variety of weather conditions--especially wind. At long range hunting distances, factors of physics, human physiology, and the weather affect the bullet’s flight path--with wind being chief among them.
Finally, while long range shooting instructors, competition winners, and experienced hobbyists can advise you on things like the flattest shooting caliber for you to try out, expensive or even high-grade equipment cannot replace trained proficiency. Remember that no one can buy skill.
So get out there on the range as often as you can to get the most long range shooting experience you can!
#5 - Push The Limits
We’ve already established that you can’t “buy skill.” No matter how great of a kit you have, it’s not a viable substitute for honed, crafted mastery.
Skill is also not permanent.
Unlike a prize from a carnival that you can win and pull out of the closet for use on-demand, skill isn’t evergreen. It must be continuously renewed, sharpened, and fine-tuned as even the most hard-won talent will fade without constant improvement.
Who better to train you to be a long range hunting or shooting “boss” than other masters? Keep learning and challenging yourself by making an effort to “rub shoulders” with experts in any practice, competition, or training setting you can.
And Then ...
Rinse and repeat. Cycle through these tips year after year to keep your skills sharp and take your long range shooting abilities to the next level. And for all that range practice time, we’ve got your ammo covered.