Question of the Day: Long Range Rifle Much?

I’m handy with a handgun. I’m a decent shot with a shotgun. And I can CQB my FN SCAR as well as any OFWG. But long range rifle? Nem. Nick reckons today’s modern rifles, gear and ammo makes distance marksmanship a doddle. Maybe so. So how good are your long range rifle skills? How often do you practice long-range shooting and what do you use to do it? [NB: Post title and text amended. Comments referring to the old text have been deleted.]

comments

  1. avatar DJ says:

    If it’s past 300m, I’ll pass.

    1. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

      Talk to me when your roommates mother can shoot a gnats ass at 100 yards

    2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      ‘Dafuq…?

      1. avatar C says:

        Deleting the spam made this exchange hilarious.

        1. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

          LOL, I Just went back to check it out, and the spam was gone

  2. avatar wa_2a says:

    If you have an accurate rifle, a ballistic calculator, match-grade ammo, and ABSOLUTELY NO WIND, then yes, long-range shooting is “easy.”

    If.

    1. avatar AlphaGeek says:

      This. The challenge of shooting at longer ranges goes up by 1-2 orders of magnitude (10x-100X) when real-world conditions and firing solutions get involved.

      I claim no particular ability in the art and science of long-range rifle marksmanship, but I know enough to be in awe of the few who truly master this complex set of skills. It’s hard enough to hit a fixed-position torso steel at 500m on a low-wind static range. It’s mind-boggling to watch a skilled pro drop in shots for good effect at 800m with a 30m elevation drop, a crosswind for only part of the distance, from the 425m to 600m marks (!), and heat mirage for the last 400m but not the first 400m.

      Yeah, compared to that I am and will always be a rank amateur. Also, I only get to shoot beyond 100 yards 3-4 times/year when I shoot on private land away from the Bay Area, so there’s that…

  3. avatar michael n says:

    here in Nevada its pretty fun to go out to 800 yards with my remington 700 in the desert

    1. avatar Jarhead1982 says:

      600 yards with my 1896 Swede with an adjustable target sight mounted isnt tough at all, approaching it aint fair to the target with dialed in hand loads.

      Havent had the guts yet to have it modified to mount the scope yet, its such a pretty thing my 1896 Swede is!

  4. avatar C says:

    The only scoped rifle I have is a .22mag.

  5. avatar 0351 says:

    .308 AR, (think mk11 setup) acquired relatively recently. Only out to 700, due to lack of a long range in the area. As often as possible, though my initial every week practice has fallen off due to 1-2 dollar per round prices. Making long range wind calls is a pain for me, though I can do it up to 700 so far. I would love to take some serious courses on the matter. I suppose it’s not really very long range. I’d love to take it to the limit for 308 range, and eventually try out something else like a 338 or .50, but probably not any time soon.
    Get rid of all the stupid attachments, just a nice scope and a nice bipod. I am fairly confident to a point but have a lot to learn. Long range is totally a zen thing for me. Honestly though, I am in awe of the folks who can do small targets at long range. Me at 700-i hit, but anything resembling a group…. Not so much. One day.

  6. avatar knightofbob says:

    It’s been years, but I used to headshot squirrels on a regular basis from a couple hundred feet with a spring-piston air rifle. Not super long range or anything, but it’s something. Annoyingly, I haven’t taken my G-22 out since I put a scope on it, so who knows how effective I’ll be with that.

    1. avatar Chad says:

      I used to bullseye wamp rats with my T-16 back home. They’re not much bigger than 2 meters.

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        Then man your ships. And may the Force be with you.

      2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        I bullseye regular rats with my TT-33, and they’re not much bigger than 0.2 metres.

        That’s only when they’re where they shouldn’t be. Outside, if I’m not going to eat it and it’s not a threat, it lives.

        I reserve the right to eat home invaders, just in case.

        1. avatar knightofbob says:

          To be fair, I never shot a squirrel that I didn’t eat.

  7. avatar RL says:

    Yes…
    AIAW 300WM on my second barrel for it. 1:9 twist with 208 A-Max will try the 230s later. I have friends who push this out to 1760yds. That’s out of my comfort zone for first round hits. 1200 and less until I feel confident.

  8. avatar Lars says:

    I shoot .223 out of a few different white oak ARs out to 1,000 yards. In WI there is a 600 and 700 yard range and when I hop over to MN on weekends there is a 600 and 800 yard range near metro. But there is almost always 10+mph winds here which is doable but I would pay for a slight breeze day at the range.
    I shoot long distance at least once a week, on average 100 rounds a sitting. Only shoot 69, 77 and 80 grain. How well I shoot doesn’t matter, I could lie so what’s the point. But they know me at every range I go to.

    Vortex guy.

    Just getting into .308 bolt platform shooting, still building my rifle for that. Have shot 6.5 and .338 but that’s not ideal calibers for me. I’d do .50 all year if I could afford it!

  9. avatar dwb says:

    i love to do it (especially steel targets, love the DING), do not practice nearly enough with my Rem 700, 30-06. I have access to a 200 yd target and that’s it (which i would not call long range). I am average, but if I had to do it – say to put meat on the table – absolutely i would. There is far more to hunting than taking the shot.

  10. avatar Patrick says:

    I love shooting long range, but only on occasion and only 600 yards because of the way my range is run… I use a Rem 700 Mil-Spec 5R SS in .308 using Sierra 175 MKs and Varget.

  11. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    It’s why I bought a Mcmillan .50. I felt limited with my 300 out to 7-800.
    I practice on cheap doors at 1500 and out. Finally found a spot in the coast range where I can shoot landing-to-landing, and drive to and from the target. My goal, is a first round hit on a water filled garbage can at one mile. Barnes solid bronze with a 1.095 ballistic coefficient are magic. Beautiful swirl on humid days.

    1. avatar Carry.45 says:

      That sounds beautiful.

  12. avatar Hobbez says:

    I’m a sufficient marksman with a pistol and shotgun. I do well enough to get by. But give me a rifle and that’s where I shine. My fist whitetail was at 700 yards with a bolt 30-06. Open land hunting tends to mold you twords long range shooting. I can sit all day on the 300 yrd bench at my local club and be happy.

  13. avatar S_J says:

    My only scoped rifle is a .22LR (don’t ask) and the sole rifle I’ve got that will go out to 300 yards with ease is a Mosin, which still has its original irons and hasn’t been accurized yet. Past 200 yards is no bueno at the moment.

  14. avatar RL says:

    Please expand on where you see liability?

  15. avatar Jason says:

    Does a 9″ steel plate at 1km with a .308 count? I’ve done that a few times: it’s fun!
    In hills, out to about 600m with a .308, the wind is pretty easy to adjust for (0.2mrad or less). Beyond that the wind is heterogeneous, and has occasional lulls, making it harder to read. A flat plain would probably have more consistent wind and be easier.
    Around 850m, the bullet goes transonic, which reduces stability, then subsonic around 1km, further reducing stability. I’m looking into getting a 6.5 Creedmoor to extend those ranges.

  16. avatar Mr. Lighter says:

    My range only goes out to 200 yards, but my rifle could easily do much, much more.

    But… hitting the steel plate at 200 yards is a little too easy.

  17. avatar Dan says:

    Sadly I live in the disgustingly crowded east where open fields to shoot way out there pretty much don’t exist. The best I can do is 300 yard KD and the more convenient ranges only go out to 200. So getting any kind of meaningful practice on wind and drop means rimfire facsimiles.

    200 yards feels like a long way at 1200 fps.

    1. avatar Carry.45 says:

      Yup. Nothin but .22 for me at the moment and nowhere to shoot past a hundred maybe 150 yards.

  18. avatar Pascal says:

    The longest range I have access to is 200yrds, the best simulation I have is with 22lr or 17hmr. I do not bother owning a 308 because it does not seem much of a challenge for 200yrs when I can easily hit the target with a 223

  19. avatar Larry says:

    AR, Red Dot, 8×11 steel target at 200 yards. If I can ring that, then deer where I live are going to have a bad day.

    Not a lot of places to shoot much past 300 for me. I don’t do it a lot, unless the target is big enough to see with 0x magnification.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      I think you mean 1x.

      1. avatar Gyufygy says:

        If you’re getting 0x magnification, I think it’s time to send your scope in for repairs.

  20. avatar jwm says:

    Haven’t shot past 100 yards in years. The only scope I have is a cheap Barska on a .22 rifle. The longest shot I ever took that I know what the range was was 600 meters on a Marine Corp range with an M14 with standard iron sights. That was fun.

  21. Respectfully, many shooters do not consider shooting off of a bench or tripod on a windless day to be a test of “long range shooting” skill, rather, merely a test of one’s equipment and ammunition, and wallet.

    Shoot 200 or 300 yards off hand with or without a sling? 300 or 500 yards kneeling with or without a sling? 600-1000 yards with or without a sling, with wind? Uphill shots? Down hill shots? Moving targets? Now you’re talking challenge, now you’re talking skill.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Exactly. Shooting off a bench is basically a competition between gunsmiths, not shooters.

      First real shooting position: shooting prone, down on a mat, snugged up in a 1907 sling, at 600 yards.

      Now move to kneeling/sitting/offhand at 300 yards.

      Oh, and put it on a paper target. Dispense with this “hit anywhere on a big slab of steel and call it ‘accuracy’ ” business. Shoot for a group first, then move the group onto the X ring.

      Then do it with iron sights.

  22. Respectfully, many shooters do not consider shooting off of a bench or tripod on a windless day to be a test of “long range shooting” skill, rather, merely a test of one’s equipment and ammunition, and wallet.

    Shoot 200 or 300 yards off hand with or without a sling? 300 or 500 yards kneeling with or without a sling? 600-1000 yards with or without a sling, with wind? Uphill shots? Down hill shots? Moving targets? Now you’re talking challenge, now you’re talking skill.

    1. avatar Tarrou says:

      While your assertion can be true (I mind me of the gentleman above with the MacMillan .50), there is a world of art to be had past the 700 meter mark with a man-portable rifle. Sure, anyone can buy a gun big enough to cut the wind and minimize the adjustments needed. But long-range is relative. 150 yards with a .22 LR is as tricky in its own way as 500 with a deer rifle. And there are a host of men out there who through talent and practice develop that skill. I include myself here, though the talent was embarrassingly small and the practice required massive. With my lovely M-24, anything out to 750 was just a matter of dialing in the right range and leaning into the wind a bit. Past that……you get conflicting crosswinds, bullet drop gets truly outrageous, heat starts to take it’s toll. The movement for a .308 at 1k m is a nineteen-foot drop, and depending on the wind, a 30-60 foot windage adjustment. Even then, any dummy can crank out shots until they make contact, but to read all that and put one on target quickly? I aspire to the skill of better men than I.

  23. avatar ChuckN says:

    Growing up and still living on farm land, I shoot longer ranges
    quite often. There are more than a few marksmen in the family.
    Our Dad and several other family members taught my brother
    and I how to shoot, especially long range, very early on. My
    model 70 is sighted at 400yds and 5-600 yd ranges aren’t out
    of the norm. Occasionally I take my .300mag and reach out to
    800-1000.

    I really got into long rang shooting as part of an experiment. I
    always read how inaccurate and ineffective Rev and Civil War
    rifles were at longer ranges. I built a kentucky rifle from a kit
    and bought a replica of a 1861 Springfield. I found the Kentucky
    rifle was plenty accurate up to about 250yds. The 1861 replica
    has a period rear flip sight marked at 1, 3 and 500 yds. I had no
    problem firing at 300 and fair success at 500; though I think I
    could have done better with more refined sights. Seeing the
    accuracy at longer ranges really made me look at Rev and Civil
    War battle lines in a different light.

    My Dad gave my brother our great-uncle’s 1896 30-40 Krag
    with sniper peep sight. The sights were marked to 1800yds. The
    best I could do was about 1200 but my brother can hit a sillouette
    at 1500. Lately, free time is getting scarce but we still have contests
    with each other to see who can shoot cans at 7-800yds.

    1. avatar 0351 says:

      @chuckn, that’s awesome I didn’t know those old civil war era rifles could do that. Perhaps I’ll have to pick one up.
      The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen is a sniper (MC) friend of mine popping bobbing targets in the ocean from 1000 yards with a .50 from a helo. One of the best – if I could be half ad skilled I’d die happy.

  24. avatar ChuckN says:

    Growing up and still living on farm land, I shoot longer ranges
    quite often. There are more than a few marksmen in the family.
    Our Dad and several other family members taught my brother
    and I how to shoot, especially long range, very early on. My
    model 70 is sighted at 400yds and 5-600 yd ranges aren’t out
    of the norm. Occasionally I take my .300mag and reach out to
    800-1000.

    I really got into long rang shooting as part of an experiment. I
    always read how inaccurate and ineffective Rev and Civil War
    rifles were at longer ranges. I built a kentucky rifle from a kit
    and bought a replica of a 1861 Springfield. I found the Kentucky
    rifle was plenty accurate up to about 250yds. The 1861 replica
    has a period rear flip sight marked at 1, 3 and 500 yds. I had no
    problem firing at 300 and fair success at 500; though I think I
    could have done better with more refined sights. Seeing the
    accuracy at longer ranges really made me look at Rev and Civil
    War battle lines in a different light.

    My Dad gave my brother our great-uncle’s 1896 30-40 Krag
    with sniper peep sight. The sights were marked to 1800yds. The
    best I could do was about 1200 but my brother can hit a sillouette
    at 1500. Lately, free time is getting scarce but we still have contests
    with each other to see who can shoot cans at 7-800yds.

  25. avatar Ardent says:

    Admittedly long range riflery is my weak spot. Typically I don’t shoot much beyond 300yards, but when it’s time to I’m using an ancient but well maintained Gew 98/K98 conversion rifle (8mm Mauser). The rifle is nearly 100 years old but it’s capable of more accuracy than I am. perhaps if I ever manage to tax its ability I’ll consider a more modern long range rifle.

  26. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    Mosin-Nagant — deer at 200-250 yards with iron sights; 8″ groups in targets at 400 yards. Very slow 8″ groups…

    Yes – a man is much larger than the sweet spot on Bambi.

    A deer shot is a Chevy saved.

    1. avatar ChuckN says:

      “A deer shot is a Chevy saved.”

      That’s why you add a reenforced bumper and
      grill. Otherwise those 55mph hunting trips
      can get expensive.

    2. avatar jwm says:

      Now I’m confused about what you’re hunting, Russ. Man or Bambi. I hope your tags are in order.

  27. avatar bontai Joe says:

    I have never had access to a range longer than 100 yards. And have never had a hunting situation longer than 100 yards. I grew up in northwest NJ and currently lived in northeast PA. Area is too populated for a chance to shoot 400-500- or longer ranges. That said, used to be able to head shoot ground hogs with ease out to about 75 yards with a 22 LR rifle.

  28. avatar MacBeth51 says:

    Long range? Like 200 yards?

  29. avatar Gyufygy says:

    I’d love to stretch out. As it is, I’ve hit 8×8 paper a few times with .223 and .30-30. The extent of my training is picking up tips here and YouTube videos. Crawl, bash your head multiple times, walk, run.

  30. avatar NCG says:

    Ah, the long-range shot stories…let me tell you about this fish I caught…

    Seriously, I should practice more for deer hunting. I shoot from a sitting position, arms braced on my knees, back against a tree or log if possible (someone tell me the proper name for that). I’m doing well to be consistently in dinner plate (well, more like salad plate) territory at 100 yards, even since I broke down and put a scope on my .30-06 BLR. The rifle can obviously do much better. Shooting off a bench is great for sighting-in, but doesn’t do much for hunting practice. I’d like to have a bit more confidence come October.

  31. avatar Defens says:

    The Boomershoot, a yearly long range shooting event near Orofino, ID, provides a great – and fun – opportunity for long range practice. Targets are about 1 moa at ranges from 400 to 700 yards or so, but you really need to aim at the lower half to assure that they’ll explode on bullet impact, making the targets effectively 1/2 moa.

    I haven’t attended Boomershoot for a couple of years, but my shooting buddy/spotter got quite proficient at smacking boomers out to 700 yards, in every weather condition from blowing snow to blustery heat. Ballistic calculators are a must, as is a good spotter, accurate weather readings and an accurate rifle/load combination.

    My rifles of choice include a Rem. 700 5R Milspec with IOR Valdada 3×18 scope, a custom AR in 6.5 Grendel, and a Rem 700 Sendero in 7mm STW. We also used my buddy’s custom .300 WSM and Bluegrass Armory .50 cal. We also had a lot of fun at 400 yards with both of our .204 Rugers, his a Ruger, mine a Rem. 700 VTR.

    I highly recommend the event, which occurs every spring. I think there’s still positions available for next year’s event at http://www.boomershoot.org.

  32. avatar Crashbbear says:

    I live in a shotgun hunting only zone and don’t have friends up north (Michigan), so my only purpose for a long range rifle would be to drive to Camp Perry a couple times a year to even use the damn thing…

    As fun as a .338 La-POO-ah sounds /sarc/, i’m gonna have to pass.

  33. avatar Southern Cross says:

    I’m pretty good out to 300 metres but don’t get many opportunities to shoot longer distances. As you can see from the pictures, I shoot on a real target range (no bench-rest!) and the skills I have learned from the service rifle shooting on a proper range make a big difference when shooting in the field.

    Here are some pictures taking last year at the 300 metre line at the Malabar range in Sydney:

    Ones with me and my tricked up No 4 Lee-Enfield:

    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/January%202912/IMG_4106.jpg
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/January%202912/P1280006.jpg
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/January%202912/P1280009.jpg

    Ones of my son on the day:
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/January%202912/IMG_4095.jpg
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/January%202912/IMG_4096.jpg

    The pictures taken on the day:
    http://www.mrca.com.au/2012_January_sausage_sizzle.htm

    Last Year’s Champion of Champions Match
    I finished third in that match starting at ninth. But Sandy Hook happened the same day.
    http://www.mrca.com.au/2012_champion_of_champions.htm

    Pics of me on that day:
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/2012/CofC/cofc%20%2813%29.JPG
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/2012/CofC/cofc%20%2825%29.JPG

    The lineup. I was down the far end, almost in the bushes.
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/2012/CofC/cofc%20%2815%29.JPG
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/2012/CofC/cofc%20%2819%29.JPG
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/2012/CofC/cofc%20%2829%29.JPG
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/2012/CofC/cofc%20%2838%29.JPG (my rifle in in the foreground)

    Looking down the range from 300 metres:
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/2012/CofC/cofc%20%2817%29.JPG

    Swedish Mauser:
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/2012/CofC/cofc%20%2820%29.JPG

    My son watching me and helping the safety officer:
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/2012/CofC/cofc%20%2839%29.JPG

    The targets:
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/2012/CofC/cofc%20%2848%29.JPG

    In the clubhouse for the presentation. My son likes to help in the bar:
    http://www.mrca.com.au/images/2012/CofC/cofc%20%2851%29.JPG

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Awesome pics!!!

    2. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Cute kid. I like the photo where he’s sitting on the ground behind the line, and especially like the two where he’s looking at the puddle… aaaaaaaand then walking through it.

      I see several guys in the photos wearing M65 army field jackets. I’m gonna guess those are original issue. I have my dad’s.

      Great photos.

      1. avatar Southern Cross says:

        The first set was when my son did the worst thing he has ever done at the range. He went for a swim in a large puddle (almost a small pond). But being a dad, I thought he might do something silly and so I had a full change of clothes in the car. Since then he has been very good and the association officials say they have no problems with him. He normally sits with the scorers but since the 2nd set he has wanted to watch me shoot. And then he helps clean the rifle afterwards.

  34. avatar Cyrano says:

    Long range is subjective… My father used to be a firearm instructor for the Army and he can hit a coyote from a moving tractor at 400 meters with an open sight 243. One could say that is long-range shooting. That takes skill.

    Long range could also be shooting a 10 dime sized targets from a bench on a shifting 10-15 mph wind with a medium boil in a set 10 minutes time at 200 meters. That takes skill in wind reading, mirage reading, and reloading. That can be argued to be point-blank shooting by some or long-range by others.

    Long range could be shooting a silhouette at 800 meters with only trees, grass and shrubs to judge your wind by. Even with a wind meter, and your ammo tables, there is an expectation of a 4.5 inch group with no wind on a .5 moa gun and the silhouette is only 24.5 inches wide. 15 mph wind can cause a 8 moa shift.

  35. avatar KY1911 says:

    Practice? What the hell is practice? LOL.

    I just show up at the local 3 Gun matches, hit the 200-300 targets and move on.

    Practice?

  36. avatar mediocrates says:

    25 yards IS long range shooting for my pocket pistol 🙂

  37. avatar IdahoPete says:

    Our local club does a monthly shoot that is a “scaled down” long range shoot. It is a .22LR metallic silhouette match, with the rams at 200 yards, turkeys/150, pigs/100 and chickens/50. The rams are about a foot long and maybe 8″ high. All ranges are shot prone off cross-sticks except the chickens, which are shot offhand/no support.

    When we get a good 5-10mph crosswind going (most days), the 150 and 200 yard targets will give you a good understanding of wind drift. The neat thing about this shoot is that you don’t need a $2000 rifle/scope to have a good time and even win. The only problem (now) is finding the .22LR ammo.

    If you have a fairly accurate .22 rifle and scope combination, try hanging up a small gong at 200 yards and see what various crosswinds do to your hit percentages. It isn’t a 1000 yard range, but it can be pretty good practice.

  38. avatar Semper Why says:

    I took a precision rifle course in May with targets out to 600 yards. Alas, on the east coast it’s difficult to find enough land to really stretch your rifle’s legs. The most I have easy access to is 200 yards.

    I wish I did more long range shooting. Maybe when I retire.

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