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.