Long Range Shooting

      Long range shooting has become much easier with modern laser range finders.   This article tells why I am a believer of ALWAYS using one for shooting at 300 yards or beyond.   In fact, unless you know the "exact" distance that you're shooting, it is unlikely that you will "consistently" make an accurate first shot if you don't use a range finder.   I also believe that long range hunting means "one shot, one kill".

      This picture shows my old Bushnell range finder, Model 800.   It's not the best range finder in the world, but it worked very well for me out to about 700 yards.   For a brief period of time, it was one of the best units available for a reasonable price.   Like all electronic devices, as newer technologies become available, the quality gets better and the price goes way down on the older models.   Today you can get more compact units that will measure distances well beyond 1,000 yards.

      Range finders get better every year, and they will continue to improve in the future.   I used the Bushnell Laser Range Finder (like the one at the right) for two decades before I upgraded to one that easily ranged out beyond 1,000 yards.   Just like rifle scopes, you need to consider the "field of view".   When your magnification increases, the viewable area decreases, and a tripod is recommended.   Remember, the shot with your range finder is just as important as the shot with your rifle.

Long Range Shooting
A good Laser Range Finder is required equipment for
long range shooting.   An accurate (verified) trajectory
card is also needed.

      My first experience in long range shooting began around 1965 shooting woodchucks in the countryside of northwestern New York state.   I would frequently take shot targets out to 300 yards with a 22-250 or a 6mm Remington.   A few years later, I got my first try at 600 yard targets in the Marine Corps - at Paris Island.   I was astounded to see how far away those 600 yard targets looked on the rifle range.   Back then, we used the M14 Rifle with peep sights.   I found the Marine Corps marksmanship training was excellent.   My previous shooting experience made it fairly easy to shoot the expert classification.

      My previous long range experience helped me understand that long range accuracy was only possible when the exact distance to every target was known.   The military targets were always uniform round black centers on a white background, and the distance was always the known.   After learning how to shoot accurately, we were issued M16 rifles.   From then on, we knew that our targets encountered would be at unknown distances.   There would be no more bright, symmetrical, crisp looking targets.   Not to mention, they would usually be moving and probably shooting back.

      I believe that long range shooting is the most technical of all the shooting sports.   It requires the shooter to know the trajectory and windage all the way out to extreme long distance.   Most experienced riflemen can adjust their sights well enough to shoot the military high power course at 200, 300, and 600 yards.   But what if your target is somewhere between 300 and 600 yards?   If you don't know the exact distance to your target, you may be surprised to see how much error this adds to where your bullets land.   If you shoot in a strong wind or if you shoot at a slight up or down angle, you may get yet another big surprise.   If you estimate your target to be 600 yards away, and it's really 640 yards, that's a really good guess.   However, that kind of information will cause you to shoot almost 2 feet low.   That's a terrible miss.

      Long range shooting is nothing like what you see on television.   You need to do your homework and learn the limitations of your rifle and ammo.   It's a bad deal to rely on computer generated trajectory charts.   They will help you get close to the target, but the "one shot, one kill" concept requires precise "verified" information about your bullet trajectory.

      Modern range finders have come a long way since the military artillery range finders that we used in the seventies.   Laser range finders today are even more accurate, more rugged, much smaller, and a lot more affordable.   Today there is no excuse for guessing the distance of your long range targets.   If you haven't acquired a laser range finder yet, you need to at least give one a try.   They can really extend the distance of your long range shooting.

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