By Paul Erhardt
I cheated. That’s right, I’m a cheater, and it’s about now that you’re expecting me say something like, ‘and I’m not proud of it.’
Well, too bad. I am proud of it, so learn to live with that bit of disappointment.
Why am I proud to be a cheater? Great question. But first, here’s what I accomplished, albeit with the help of cheating.
I shot some long range targets. Up to this point, the furthest I shot out to was probably 500 yards, and that was just once, in the Texas heat, fighting a mirage and honestly not knowing what in the hell I was doing.
This time it was in Wyoming, on the Spur Ranch, at a media event hosted by Vista Outdoor brands Bushnell and RCBS, among others. And this go around I hit a target at 400 yards. Then 500 yards. Then 600, 700 and 800 yards.
Then came the 1,000 yard target. And once that milestone achievement was unlocked, it was on to 1,350 yards. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Don’t worry, that’s probably the one and only time I plan to use that turn of phrase in a column.
At this point it’s safe to say I was on the cusp of long range shooting’s Master of the Universe status. There was only one more target to hit in order to unlock this coveted title and that required entry into the One Mile Club.
As mile clubs go, this was not the one that topped my bucket list, but it is the first one I managed to join, thanks to a little help. And by ‘a little’ I of course mean having somebody else do all the real work. The hard work that goes into long range shooting.
But hey, I was the one behind the gun pulling the trigger, so, you know, I get all the credit – all of it.
If you would like to join me in the rarified air of the outstanding long range shooter, here is my easy five-step guide to getting there.
Step 1 – The Gun
You’ll need a good, accurate rifle. Probably not something chambered in .22LR…consider that a Pro Tip. For my long-range shooting star turn, I used a GA Precision custom build rifle with a price tag up around $4,500, before adding a scope.
Chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, this Remington 700 action was paired with a 24-inch Bartlein barrel (8.25” twist for those keeping score) on a Manners PRS-1 stock. The build featured a Timney Calvin Elite trigger set at about 2.5 lbs., and came with a 3/8 MOA accuracy guarantee.
My guarantee is that’s better than I can shoot, but boy does it help to have a highly accurate tricked-out rifle to sit behind. And on that note, at the end of the barrel was a Nosler SR-30 suppressor, which made shooting all the more civilized.
Here’s another Pro Tip. When shooting ‘the best gun money can buy’ it’s preferable to have somebody else do the buying. This rifle, and the other GA Precision rifles, were provided.
Step 2 – Scope
For long range shooting you will need a good scope, with a reticle that lends itself to fine targeting adjustments and is easily dialed in to the requisite distance dope. And that’s exactly what I used – like a boss.
Unfortunately, this particular scope from Bushnell is not yet available and I am prohibited from discussing it, other than to say I really, really liked it and I think it will be a big hit with those looking to shoot the Precision Rifle Series, and other distance events.
Oh, and it will have a very attractive MSRP. This scope does a lot for the money.
Step 3 – Ammo
When it comes to ammo, maybe seeking out the deepest discounted bulk-pack ammo from your favorite online retailer isn’t the best game plan.
Fortunately, the ammo question was taken off the table and replaced with Federal’s Gold Medal Berger 6.5 Creedmoor and its 130 grain bullet that leaves the barrel at 2,875 fps. (Yes, more data porn for you shooting nerds.)
The one feature that this ammo doesn’t have that your low-cost bulk rifle ammo does, is you can’t really blame the Federal Gold Medal rounds. That bulk stuff provides you with that much-needed excuse as to why you can’t hit a target at 1 mile…unlike me.
Step 4 – Dope
Robert Brantley and Troy Livesay, both pro shooters for Bushnell and RCBS, did all the real work of sighting in the rifles for the various distances. When you’re smacking targets from 400 yards out to a mile, it’s recommended you have somebody like Robert or Troy calling out your precise elevation and windage adjustments.
Step 5 – Spotter
When you start shooting at those longer distances — like us pros — you’re going to need a good spotter to help you overcome the challenges of wind and weather. Understanding where you missed – low right, high left, etc. – is key to hitting steel because a good spotter will call out the miss and tell you the adjustment you need to make.
I had Matt Rice from Vista behind me on the big glass calling out my misses. They were so few that it hardly bears mentioning, though Matt might remember it differently, and he called out the adjustments I needed to make.
Having a good spotter makes all the difference and probably explains why I ran the distance gauntlet in what I can only assume is record time.
There you have it. Five amazingly easy steps to long range shooting stardom. You’re welcome, just be sure to thank me when you’re up on stage receiving your first place match trophy.
Paul Erhardt is the editor of The Outdoor Wire. This article originally appeared there and is reprinted here with permission.