This is the long distance proving grounds where *cough* legends *cough* are made, out there beyond 1,000 yards. Photo by P. Erhardt
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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.

Long range shooting is dependent on not just a good rifle but also a good scope. Bushnell has a few to choose from, including their Elite Tactical 6-36X56 XRS3 model at around $1,700. Their new I-can’t-mention-its-name scope will be out later this year. Photo by P. Erhardt

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.)

When it comes to hitting targets out at those long distances, it really does help to be running the good stuff through your rifle. Photo by P. Erhardt

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.

That bit of cardboard box in Troy Livesay’s hand holds the key to adjusting the scope’s elevation. Once you scored a hit, he’d call out the dope for the next farthest target so you could dial it in…and the adjustments were dead nuts on. Photo by P. Erhardt

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.

Vista’s Matt Rice (L) helps Jay Grazio of the NRA’s Shooting Illustrated read the wind to adjust his hold on target. Photo by P. Erhardt

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. 

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  1. Spotter my ass. A forward observer is just the ticket. And 105, not 6.5. Why spook the target when you can take it off the face of the earth.

    Forking amateurs always trying to skate uphill.

    • We would always talk trash to those guys in good fun…cause 4.2″ and all. Heck, now it’s 120mm.
      ..if I only had a time machine ..sigh

    • 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.

      Can you guys go ahead and “provide” one for me????

  2. As a commenter on TTAG does that enter my name on the invitation short list for these Industry “Show ‘n Tell” events? Wyoming is just a hop, ski and jump from where I live (about six to twelve hours drive depending on where in WY).

    I’m retired and available on short notice…have truck – will travel.

  3. You lost me at 6.5 Creedmore. I thought that thing was dead a few years ago. If not, it should have been. In fact, it should have never been. No need.

    • Fits in an AR 10, mass produced and does allow for longer distance shooting in a relatively light/low recoil option. Not as much use on the East coast due to our not having many open ranges that make it useful but it’s not going anywhere for the middle/west of the country. Now 22 Creedmore on the other hand…..

  4. I don’t call good gear, quality optics, premium ammunition, and good spotting and correction cheating. It’s common sense for such endeavors.

  5. Wind call seperates the shooters from the trigger jerkers. A monkey can be taught to dial the ballistics. Military moving to two gun/two shooter fire teams. #1 fires own call. #2 calls impact correction in own scope, sends it, alternating til effect achieved. More firepower, more hits. Run bolt during flight time. Bolt over semi for precision, no brass in the air, lighter hump, less maintenance/failures.

  6. Recent events in Europe convince me that your spotter should be using a good camera on a drone, not a big scope.

  7. I got to shoot the mile course at Whittington Center a couple years back at the annual donor’s weekend. Choice of .50 BMG, 6.5 CM or .338 Lapua. I chose the Lapua, I’ve shot enough .50 cal over the years and the 6.5 didn’t trip my trigger. Hill Country custom rifle in traditional-type stock w/Nightforce scope. all bagged out, with the builders spotting and suggesting corrections. Price tag probably in the $12K area with scope. They had a copy of the scope reticle grid on paper and suggested where to start out. 1st round hit the lower right corner of the 3′ square steel, next shot with a little correction in about 6″ at 4 o’clock. Last 3 shots after one more slight correction formed a nice centered triangle, easy to see the hits on new white painted target. Amazing to me, of course the guys spotting were the real “shooters”. Doing crosswind estimates by watching the sunflowers blowing at the target area. We were shooting off the top of a low plateau over open desert area. Hope to do the same over this Labor Day weekend.

    Great place to shoot, BTW.

  8. 😂😂 Great article. I’ve watched my brother shoot 1,000 yards before, but I just have no interest in it. I don’t even know if I could, because I have no interest in trying. I’ll leave everything past 300 yards to you fine folks.

    • Me too. It was a really fun time watching, and I was very proud of my brother, but I just can’t drum up the interest 😂

  9. “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.”

    “Unfortunately, this particular scope from Bushnell is not yet available and I am prohibited from discussing it…”

    and the other stuff he used too…

    “When you start shooting at those longer distances — like us pros —…”

    So basically this whole article is Paul Erhardt bragging he has something 99.99999999999999% of people don’t have to claim a ‘pro status’, and rubbing it in everyone’s face too.

    Yeah he cheated, and he is proud of his cheating too. Without the years of skill gained using the comparable stuff others invest in so heavily financially and time for such long range shots, he waltzes in with the best stuff there is given to him with a little better than basic ‘firing range’ skills for 500 yards, and basically uses this advantage of ‘the best there is’ over others not so lucky and is able to ‘join’ the ‘One Mile Long-Range Shooting Club’ plus now he is suddenly a ‘pro’.

    I do 500 – 800 yards easy, and can do it repeatedly and have, with a beat up factory standard Remington 700 I paid $200.00 for used and a $500.00 scope I picked up used for $100.00 and standard off the shelf ammo in 110 degree heat in a desert environment (with ‘mirages’) in Nevada outside Creech Air Force Base while visiting a friend. Yet Paul Erhardt seems to have had a difficult time getting a 500 yard shot only once with what he had (and his excuse is ‘mirage’ and ‘texas heat’) so he did not have the actual skill to do 500 yards repeatedly so now we are expected to think he had the skill to do beyond 500 yards at will?

    No, it wasn’t skill here it was the equipment/things provided him for free and heck he didn’t even zero the optic himself. Sure, he may have had the basic skills as far as handling and firing.

    Yeah this is just bragging and rubbing it in everyone’s face and he is damn proud he cheated, plus its shilling for the companies that provided him this stuff.

    I’m glad he got to do this, so its great that he was able to ‘join’ the ‘One Mile Long-Range Shooting Club’, but the shilling and claimed ‘pro’ status is bragging about cheating and proud of it and rubbing it in too. At least with ‘stuff’ reviews we know its a review and shilling mostly, and its ok that he got to do this, but disguising the shilling using an experience and then imply skill via ‘pro’ status you do not have is something else and bragging about it.

    • Also, at least he admits cheating his way into the ‘One Mile Long-Range Shooting Club’.

      • heck, i’ve done 500 – 600 yards with an MSR, scope, and off the shelf .223 ‘match grade’ easy and consistently. He could only get 500 yards once with what ever he was using?

    • .40 cal Booger,

      I got the sense from the article that the author was trying to be light-hearted rather than bragging. (The author gave obvious credit to the equipment and spotters who sighted-in the rifles beforehand and called out dope/corrections.)

      I also got the sense that the author was helping us understand that it takes excellent equipment and highly skilled spotters to achieve hits beyond 600 yards.

      • Along those lines, my cousin is a pro charter fisherman, and he refers to his clients as reel winders – because that’s all they do. He does everything else, but they “catch” the trophy fish.

  10. One mile an accomplishment….but my props definitely go to the sniper who in 2017 in “battlefield conditions” who (popped) neutralized an ISIS target in Iraq at a distance of over 3,540 meters. The kill shot was confirmed and corroborated through video footage, That equates: 3,540 meters = 2 miles and 351.3911 yards…..nuff said!

    • Depends on what you do really, I made a mile shot on a toyota corolla sized target but that was accuracy through volume on a M2. For actual rifle shooting my available ranges tend to top out around 200 yards in immediate area and 800 yards if I am willing to drive 3-4 hours so “long range” shooting in NY would be different than Ohio and further west.

      • @ SAFEupstateFML….The above comment I made was in reference to the weapon used was a McMillan long-range sniper rifle Tac-50, weighing 26 pounds, the Tac-50 is a .50 caliber rotating bolt-action rifle boasting a 29-inch, high-quality Lilja barrel and McMillan’s signature fiber-glass stock, also with proprietary muzzle brake to increase accuracy and mitigate the immense recoil generated by the .50 caliber. The Tac-50 comes without any factory-installed sights and is compatible with a wide range of telescopic mounts.

        • Short of shooting across mountaintops in a questionably legal way that unfortunately is more gun than would have a viable purpose up here. Would love to get into it but location and funding often determines what we practice/own. Also wasn’t the most recent records in Afghanistan by a Canadian then an American? Lost track after they started beating 2 miles.

    • Cold bore, too. If you miss the first shot, the target’s not going to wait around for you to calculate your dope.

  11. I can appreciate the gear, the authors sense of humor.
    Would I give it a go on someone’s else dime? Sure, why not?
    Dont have the budget.
    Now, if the author was shooting 9 or 10s on a NRA MR-1 at the 600yrd line, using iron sites and making his own wind calls/adjustments, from the sling supported prone, my hat off to him.

  12. Nothing against those who have taken long range shots.
    But consider what USMC sniper Carlos Hathcock achieved using what was a Winchester Model 70 in 30-06 and a 8 power Unertl Scope.

  13. You might mention at how big is the target. I did a lot of shooting at BISLEY LONG RANGE in the UK when in the Royal Air Force over the for SERVICE RIFLE [A] over Standard IRON sights and the standard Service Rifle, and standard out-of-the box ammunition at the time the Lee-Enfield No4 .303. At six hundred yards the BULL was 18 inches. I shot POSSIBLES that’s 10×10 bulls regularly. BUt you cannot ignore the ballistics and over a mile with the best telescope in the world it’s the MPI [Mean Point of Impact] or the ability all things being equal to maintain a GROUP. NO ammunition in the world maintains a pefect group and the furher ‘out’, the further the range the greater the varience. Even say a 50FPS varience makes a difference.
    On the pages of THe TRUTH about GUNS most responents seem to think that Jonny Sniper regularly take’s the baddie’s head of at a mile. Nonsense. Pretty much any shot over 800yard that could hit a target the size of a mans head includes a lot of luck simply because of the BALLISTICS involved. And no telescope can do a thing about it.

  14. Dropped an elk once at 430 yards, up hill off the hood of a 1967 Toyota Land Crusier with a 338/378 Weatherby nobody called any misses…..

  15. The mental tally on what this setup cost means it’s way out of reach for this retiree. Hell, I can’t even afford the $50 per night No Tell Motel.

  16. Oh heck, ‘spensive gear and tons of help t get results. OK. Try this, go into a military high-power match with your M16 A2, 55 gr ball ammo as issued, no spotter, no spotting scope and the only physical sight adjustment was to flop the rear sight aperture from big to little hole. The course was shot over a usual April weekend with high temps I the low 40’s, on and off sleet and rain, winds varying from your 7 to 12 at 10 to 15 with higher gusts during the precip squalls. Remember, I wasn’t using a scope of any kind nor adjust my sights physically for any range even 600 yds. Results: 3rd place, 4 Leg points and was only topped by 2 high masters using M1A’s tricked out to super match grade, and an experienced spotter plus a vane anemometer. All against everyone who laughed when I showed up at my first ever match with my issued rifle and Ammo. No one had ever completed at this location or annual state qualifying match with the gear I used. 468/500 (20 shots at 600) in this 5 position match. This was all back in the late 70’s. I made the state team. Later that year at the Army Match in Kansas at Ft. Riley, our team won 1st place by a narrow margin. By then I was issued a national match grade M1A, all sorts of ammo, spotting scope, a tricked out M16 and match ammo, and assures that I would have an experienced spotter at each match and practice. I never took my 16 out to 1000 yds, just my M1 Garand with iron sights. That was very interesting. Y’all have fun now into the future.

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