A First Time Shooter’s Long Range Success Story


You may have noticed that here at TTAG, we love guns. And not only do we love guns, but  just about everyone we work with loves guns, too. Perfect example: pictured here is our ad guy, Austin Staubus of Lanista Concepts. He’s relatively new to guns, but taking to them like the proverbial fish to water. I took him out to the range on Friday to get some hands-on experience with a variety of different brands and types of guns (beyond his recently acquired Ruger SR9C) and he mentioned that he’d never done any long range shooting. Since it was an absolutely perfect, dead-calm day, and with the help of some kick-ass gear and ammo, I quickly had Austin tapping 750-yard targets with ease . . .

One of the nice things I like about the Leupold Mark AR Mod 1 scope is that the turret comes marked from the factory with the proper adjustments for the standard 5.56 NATO 55 grain cartridge. I had never really put those marking to the test beyond 250 yards, but since there was absolutely no wind that day it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I had previously zeroed my scope using some of Winchester’s 5.56 ammunition at 100 yards, and as soon as I twisted the elevation knob on the scope to the indicated mark for 250 yards I was instantly on target. After taking a few pot shots at the steel plates I let Austin settle in behind the gun, and discussed the basics of precision shooting — namely breathing, proper position, and trigger control.


As soon as the first round flew downrange, I knew we were going to have a good afternoon. The sound of a solid strike on a steel plate came ringing back uprange, followed by another and another. Time to move out.

The next steel plates were at 500 yards, and while I had a ballistic calculator on my phone I wanted to see if the dial on the scope was worth a darn. So I dialed the indicated hold and sent a couple rounds, all solid hits on the torso sized steel target. It was a pleasantly surprising success, and Austin followed that up with a couple more solid hits on his own.

The scope’s markings stop somewhere around the 650 yard area, and from then on your only hope is the ballistics calculator. Thankfully, I had all the data pre-programmed into the thing and dialed the recommended 6.5 Mils of elevation for the 750 yard steel plates. Once again, a center-mass hold produced hit after hit for me and Austin.

As you could expect, Austin was jazzed about the whole experience. Moving your goalposts for the furthest target you’ve ever hit from 50 yards to 750 yards in a single day is quite an accomplishment. I get the distinct feeling that we’ll be running into him again on the long distance range in the future.

What I found particularly interesting was how quickly a novice shooter can start getting hits on steel at extreme distances. The guns and the gear have evolved to the point where you don’t really need to understand the black magic of external ballistics, you just need to trust your tools and follow directions. That is, so long as you choose your gear wisely. Get the right combination of gun, optics and ammo and everything just seems to click.


  1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Nick, you’ve ruined the guy! Now he’s going to go spend all sorts of money on guns and ammo.
    Good on ya!

    Welcome to the gun culture Austin.

  2. avatar bontai Joe says:

    His smile says it all. The one thing that gun haters just don’t get is that shooting at the range is FUN! That’s right, it is fun to see just how well you can hit the target. I’ll never throw a 98 mph fastball, or pilot a jet at Mach 2, but the thrill of hitting what you aim at is great fun, and supplies the same thrill that Grog the caveman, felt when he hit his first rabbit with a thrown stone. After all, bullets are nothing more than thrown stones even though the delivery system has greatly improved. welcome to the world of shooting! Glad to have you.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      FN-SCAR-H? Cool!

      1. avatar michael says:

        isnt that .308?

        1. avatar Shawn Graber says:

          The box of cartridges in the photo is 5.56, the scope is preset with 5.56 ballistics, and there’s a 30-round standard-sized magazine in that gun’s mag well, which (unless I’m mistaken) isn’t available on the .308 SCAR.

          But I AM surprised at 750-yard shootin’. That’s some good ammunition.

        2. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

          .223 bro.

      2. avatar racer88 says:

        If they’re shooting 5.56-mm, it’s a SCAR-16S.

    2. avatar JeffR says:

      Love that new shooter smile. Nothing better.

  3. avatar Randy says:

    Great article…but it’s not always as easy as you make it out. Long range shooting takes more skill than just dialing in a few numbers on the iPhone and letting lead fly.

    1. avatar Gyufygy says:

      But shooting on a windless range certainly helps.

      1. avatar Randy says:


      2. avatar Larry says:

        At a torso size target as well.

        Don’t get me wrong past 200 with my AR/Red dot, it has to be torso size for my eyes.

        With a scope that is dialed in at 100, it should be pretty easy if you know your hold overs.

  4. avatar Jeh says:

    Im envious. Id like to put a scope on my rifle but iv got no where to use it.

  5. avatar Hooks says:

    Can we get an article about those “basics of precision shooting — namely breathing, proper position, and trigger control” for those of us that haven’t done long range shooting?

    1. avatar (Formerly) MN Matt says:


  6. avatar RLC2 says:

    Great shootin’ Austin and great article Nick!

  7. avatar Craig says:

    What, no ancient, abused, POS Marlin Model 60 or Ruger 10/22 for a first time shooter? Where’s the tradition? 🙁

  8. avatar mike says:

    Interesting to see a solid benchrest instead of a typical tacticool bipod. I recently learned myself that bipods can throw off the grouping accuracy.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Why would you use a tacticool bipod when you have a more solid rest available?

      People often seem to forget that a bipod is most often simply a compromise. It’s a way to take a semi-solid rest with you in a super-portable fashion. It’s better than offhand for most everyone, but not as good as a monolithic solid rest, except for the best bipods and the best shooters.

  9. avatar g says:

    From 50 to 750 in one day is pretty impressive… ain’t gonna front.

  10. avatar Lothaen says:

    The gear might make it easier to do the job, but I had a new shooter at 300 yards with an A2 in the first magazine. He was stoked! Marksmanship isn’t a grand secret. It’s simply a few easy to master principles and the confidence comes when you can visit a with enough room to examine your skills and abilities.

  11. avatar Lars says:

    So this is a promotion ad for Leupold? Not necessary as anyone that knows anything about shooting out past 300 yards knows about Leupold. Although Vortex is getting a good name in this area as well.

    750 yard shooting on target for a first time long-range shooter, highly doubtful unless those torso targets are quite large on a day with no wind. Most people don’t shoot out past 500 yards not because it isn’t fun but because they can’t do it. Especially with .223/5.56. And 55 grain for long-distance? Come on people keep up with ballistics, 55 grain is not ideal for anything past 500 yards. Bump up the grain if you wish to shoot like the big boys. And have fun.

    1. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      I’m just sharing what gear, guns and ammo are working for me. If that’s an ad in your book, so be it.

      And yep, dead flat calm on man-sized targets. About as easy as you can make it.

  12. avatar David Trest says:

    I see from the photos you’re using Lancer mags.

    Good for you, man.

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