(This post is an entry in our spring content contest. If you’d like a chance to win a Beretta APX pistol, click here for details.) 

By Will Myers

About two years ago, I got the bug to shoot long range. I took up shooting as a hobby nine years ago and mostly just shot pistols in afternoon trip to the indoor range every couple of months. Prior to starting long range shooting, I didn’t even own a centerfire rifle and hadn’t hunted anything bigger than a squirrel since I was a little boy with a 22.

For me starting out, any distance beyond 100 yards was “long range” yet now I have hits out to 1000 yards with my 308 and each range trip I become more consistent at banging steel at varying distances in between. What I know is that if I can do it, all of you reading this can too. Over the two years of getting into long range shooting, there was a couple of things that I have learned and would have been helpful to know while getting started…

5) As long as you are safe with your firearm, no one is going to laugh at you!

First and foremost, safety has to be a priority when working with firearms. Just remember your 4 rules of firearm safety and you will be ready to go.

Furthermore, any time we as humans try something new, we are fearful of what other think no matter what we say. What I have come to learn is that long range shooters are some of the most helpful people you will come across whether at the range or in the reloading aisle. Many of them enjoy sharing their love of the sport with new shooters and have great advice to give. It is amazing what you can learn, if you stop and say hi to start up a conversation.

4) Equipment isn’t everything, but it does help.

Before I started to put my rifle together, I spent hours reviewing every article or video on the web to find out how to make a long range rifle for under $1000. While it is possible and that is how I started out with a Savage 10 FCP-SR and a Primary Arms 4-14×44 scope, I did find it limits for me. Still, the shooting bug will quickly inject its fangs into your sole and you will begin to crave more shooting no matter what your equipment is. Each equipment upgrade usually gives you a little bit of an edge over what you had before and you can push yourself further.

With my 4-14 scope, I was able to make hits out to 300 yards but I didn’t feel real confident about moving out further. The glass on the scope worked but as a new shooter, I wasn’t able to really track my shots. It wasn’t until I purchased the next level of scope that I was able to really see where I was hitting consistently and felt confident to move out further. Looking back, I wasn’t ready for that next level of scope until I had put hundreds if not close to a 1000 rounds down range and could really appreciate what it provided.

Long range shooting isn’t cheap and if you are hesitant about spending a couple hundred here and there, it may not be the sport for you to really enjoy what you are doing. I can think of a number of other sports like fishing, hunting and pickup basketball where you can get into it for a whole lot less. I will say, once you are seduced by the thrill of hitting targets at several hundred yard, it becomes quite addicting! My advice is to buy what you can afford and work into the more expense equipment as it meets your needs.

3) Take a class. Get to know the fundamentals.

One of the most beneficial things that I did was take a day long class. I was lucky in that I found a good but inexpensive class at my local range. The class was great to validate what I was doing right and to give me insight on what I could do to improve. It was also nice to have someone with more experience take a look at my body position, trigger control, recoil management and make some suggestions that put me on target farther out than I had ever been.

The class was great to stress the fundamentals of marksmanship. The instructor was a veteran and shared some of his insight from basic training rifle qualification and what his instructors shared with him. One piece of knowledge that I will not forget from that class was the acronym B.R.A.S.S. used as a remind of the fundamentals.

B – Breathe
R – Relax
A – Aim
S – Slack
S – Squeeze

There are a number of articles out there on the web about B.R.A.S.S. and I encourage you to start with the fundamentals. If you can’t practice them then it doesn’t matter if you have a $3000 custom built rifle because it might as well be a BB gun with the accuracy that you are going to get out of it.

2) Take your time and enjoy the smaller successes.

As new long range shooters, we all want to ring steel at 1000 consistently. Just like any other sport, it takes time and effort to do what most other people can’t. Through your journey, remember to stop and give yourself a pat on the back for the smaller accomplishment. Many times as long range shooters, we may be out shooting by ourselves and there may not be anyone to see our best group of 1 MOA or a 1/2 MOA or our first hit out to 300 and beyond. But remember to take a step back and reflect on how far you have come. Arthur Ashe said it best with,

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome”.

1) There is no substitute for trigger time.

It doesn’t matter how many forum that you are a member of or have many “YouTube” videos you watch about shooting. Nothing compares to being out on the firing line behind the trigger. It doesn’t matter if it is 100, 300, 600 or 1000, just shoot! While all the equipment in the world is great, just getting behind the trigger is going to give you the biggest improvement and the most enjoyment. In the end, while I really appreciate that you are reading this article, I would much rather see you out at the range with a big huge smile on your face because you just clanked steel at a new personal best distance!

Recommended For You

25 Responses to 5 Tips for New Long Range Shooters – Content Contest

  1. “Take a class”. Totally agree. Besides learning or relearning something, having someone evaluate what you’re doing is HUGE!

  2. I’ve gotten some practice with semi-long range, but anything above 600yd for practice shots in my area are very slim, being right in a mountain range it’s hard to find public land with a clear, and flat enough area to shoot beyond 600 more than a shot or two, but I’m still happy hitting a 10″ plate at 550yd fairly consistent. one day I’ll get the land I want for private shooting 1000+, hopefully.

  3. Two questions for the experienced long-range shooters:

    1. Is there any merit in starting out on an accurate rimfire gun and building skills there before moving up to centerfire?

    2. How important is it to train with a partner who can spot for you?

    • Rimfires can teach fundamentals, but nothing long distance. .22s and .17s wander too much over distance due to low bullet weight. So you introduce a pile of uncontrollable into the mix when much beyond 100 meters.

      If you got a spotter worth a hoot, then yes, there is a benefit. But you would be much better off with a remote camera, a wind meter, ballistics calculator, and lots of time. Then reload your own, drop your trigger to a pound or less, and get in shape.

    • 1. Shooting with a .22 is great for developing basic shooting skills, but falls down when you start adding in the vagaries of shooting at long distance – bullet trajectory, making wind calls and adjusting for them, using weather and ballistics tools to calculate bullet drop due to density altitude, humidity, etc. In short – don’t sell your .22 – it’s great for skill building – but long range is a whole ‘nother animal.

      2. Shooting with an experienced spotter elevates your capabilities by an order of magnitude. On a shooting team, as long as the shooter can point the gun, press the trigger without moving the gun, and call shots, the spotter is actually the more important member of the team! The spotter localizes the target, makes wind and distance calls, spots trace from the fired shot and notes (if possible) the actual hit, calculates corrections, and communicates either come-ups (or windage) or target holds to the shooter. I participate yearly in a long range event in Idaho called Boomershoot. Spotting there is every bit as much fun and challenging as actually pulling the trigger.

    • #1) I think there is merit in building your skill with a accurate 22 just as well as a 308. The fundamentals are the fundamentals no matter what you shoot.

      #2) I always go out shooting by myself and sometime I am able to have a friendly soul (I got it right this time!) help spot but with decent glass you can get pretty good at spotting for yourself. One thing that will really help is to dial down the magnification.

    • Rimfire is fine idea to maintain your basics, especially if you do not limit yourself to prone shooting from the rest. Just make sure that

      a) it will not bankrupt yourself (which can be done by shipping for 1913 action and placing it into custom-built chassis…but I digress). As far as I know, the choice of decent rimfires in US is ludicrous.

      b) it will not be dramatically different in weight/ergo from your centerfire rig. It might be not exactly easy to accomplish, but then you do not need an exact copy – just moderately heavy rifle.

      And damn if it won’t serve you well to dispose rats and such. Little noise even without can, no ricochets.

  4. My top advise to add: Use a scope level! Tilting the rifle even 1/2 degree will dramatically change your point of impact.

  5. When you reach beyond 600 yards, your biggest new challenge will be reading the wind, requiring a spotting scope and a class on what to do with it! Holding, aiming, squeezing are the same at 1000 as 600, but it will shock you how much difference wind makes, including between shots. And once you’ve taken the class, trigger time at distance (requiring doping the wind) is just not replaceable. But hitting 9s at 1000 yards, never mind 10s, will give you a thrill that can’t be easily described. I wanted to do it for around 40 years before I actually did it, just before my body crapped out on me so it’s not real possible any more.

    And a partner who can spot and also coach is a really big help.

  6. Homonym nazi here: ‘Still, the shooting bug will quickly inject its fangs into your sole’. Last time I had fangs in my sole I was bitten by a snake, It think it is fangs in soul.

    • It was a Bushnell ERS but there a lot of great options out there. I struggled with what to go with and don’t love the ZeroStop on it but the glass is good and the turrets are solid.

      • Write that up as a list of “8-10 long-range-capable scopes for under $1000 (5 under $800)”, and you’ll have my full attention. Along with more than a few other folks, I’m thinking.

        • Sightron SIII 6-25X50 or 8-32X56. Nikon Prostaff 7 4-16×50. That’s 3 under a grand that will get you to 1000yds no problem.

  7. This article really took my “bug out”, you sir read my mind…absolutely right! I’ve been shooting my 9mm for some time now and I’ve been planning to get into long range shooting soon and prepare myself for the excitement experience of big game hunting. Been always passionate on hitting targets beyond 600 yards on the range and hunting. And one day congratulate myself of my improvement. I thank you because this is what I’m always wanted to accomplish within my knowledge and improve.

    • Anibal – I don’t want to diminish your anticipation, but there are almost no “big game” animals harvested at long range (+500 yards). That’s not to say that there are not hunts that involve long range shooting, but those are pretty much all deer-sized or smaller.

  8. No bad info here but where LR newby’s go wrong is with equipment. My local 1000yd range offers LR shooting classes about every other month. Many people were showing up with their 30-06 bolt gun and a 3-9×40 scope and no ballistics data. The instructor had to create a prerequisite check list a for equipment and data and/or students could take a preliminary course on equipment, ammo and dope. You need a scope and base that give you 100 minutes of elevation adjustment and you need ballistic data on your ammo to shoot a grand.

    • I think the issue is not equipment but knowledge about what it takes to shoot past 300 yards. I also think newby’s take a class to learn that they need ballistic data and how far your current equipment can take you. There is a lot of distances between 100 and 1000 and it doesn’t have to be one or the other from my perspective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *