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!