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 them for shots beyond 300 yards.   In fact, unless you know the "exact" distance that you're shooting, it is very unlikely that you will be able to "consistently" hit long range targets without using 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 works very well for me out to 800 yards; and I purchased it for a reasonable price.   For a brief period of time, it was one of the best units available.   Like all electronic devices, as newer technologies become available, the quality gets better and the price goes down on the older models.   Today you can get more compact units than this one that will detect distances well beyond 1,000 yards.

Long Range Shooting
A good Laser Range Finder is required.

      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, and my previous shooting experience made it fairly easy for me to shoot the expert classification.

      My previous long range shooting experience also helped realize that a high degree of long range accuracy was only possible when the exact distance to every target was known.   The military the targets were always perfectly round black dots on a white background, and the distance was always the same.   After that, we were soon issued M16 rifles, and we knew that our targets in our future would all be encountered at unknown distances.   There would be no more bright, symmetrical, crisp looking targets.   Not to mention, they would probably be moving and shooting back.

      I believe that long range shooting is the most technical of all the shooting sports.   It requires the shooter to know his trajectory all the way out to extreme long distance.   Any 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 bullet shooting.   If you shoot in a strong wind or if you shoot at a slight up or down angle, then 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 get to know the limitations of your rifle and ammo.   It's a bad deal to rely on computer trajectory charts.   They will usually get you 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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