How to Become an Expert in Long Range Rifle Shooting

long distance shooting


Just What is Long Range Rifle Shooting?

Long range rifle shooting is just that – shooting a rifle at a specific target from a great distance. These rifles are often referred to as “Sniper” rifles. You’ve probably seen sniper rifles in action on TV and in movies. The good news is that you don’t have to be a Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS TV show) or even a real-life sniper like the famous Marine Corps sniper Carlos Hathcock (the White feather) to become proficient at shooting this type of long gun. With proper training and lots of practice you can learn to hit what you aim at with some degree of accuracy.

As far back as the 1700s, sniper rifles have played a large role in military and police applications, but they have been popular with hunters and competitive recreational shooters, basically since the iron-age. Today, gun clubs abound throughout the country for recreational and competition shooting.

Perhaps the best-known firearm organization in here in the U.S. is the National Rifle Association (NRA). Founded back in 1871, the NRA was originally formed in New York for the purpose of teaching marksmanship skills to the National Guard for riot control. Over time, the organization’s role has evolved, and today the NRA works tirelessly to protect the 2nd Amendment constitutional rights of all law-abiding gun owners in our nation.

Check out Hill Country Rifles 4,549 yard shot:

3 Popular Long Range Rifles and Their Ammo

If the idea of shooting a target the size of your desk-top computer from several football fields away with one shot appeals to you, you’re going to need a good long range gun to shoot like the best in the business. By best in the business, I am primarily referring to military snipers and their equipment. The first two rifles listed below are just such weapons, but I have included one model that seems to be popular for civilian applications as well.

  1. The U.S. Military utilizes the M24 Sniper Weapons System (SWS). This is called a sniper weapons system because it includes a version of a Remington Model 700 rifle, a detachable telescopic sight, and several other accessories. This rifle was first put into service in 1988 and served admirably during the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq Wars. It remains operational today with a few new variations from the original M24 series that were added in 2010. Some rifle specifications include:
  2. m24 sniper rifle

    • Weight – 16 lbs. with accessories
    • Length – 46.5 inches
    • Barrel Length – 24 inches
    • Cartridge – 7.62x51mm NATO and .338 Lapua Magnum
    • Action – Bolt Action
    • Effective Firing Range – 875 yds. (7.62x51mm) or 1,640 yds. (.338 Lapua Magnum)
    • Sights – Detachable Telescopic with backup iron sights

     

  3. The McMillan TAC-338 Sniper Rifle is the rifle famously used by Chris Kyle, the Navy seal and deadliest sniper in U.S. history; whose life was chronicled in the movie American Sniper. Early in his career, Kyle used the .300 Winchester Magnum Sniper Rifle, but in his final deployment, he was issued the TAC-338 and made his longest confirmed kill shot which was 2,100 yds. (1.2 miles) using this rifle. He was known to have said that he wished he had use this rifle earlier in his career. Here are some McMillan TAC-338 specifications:
  4. mcmillan tac-338 sniper rifle

    • Weight – 11.02 lbs. empty
    • Length – 48.03 inches
    • Barrel Length – 26 inches
    • Cartridge – .338 Lapua Magnum
    • Action – Bolt Action
    • Effective Firing Range – 1,910 yds. (Chris decided he could get a bit more yardage)
    • Sights – Various Optics

     

  5. The Remington 700 LR Model rifle is a popular and affordable (under $1,000), long range gun made by Remington Arms beginning in 1962. This very accomplished and storied firearm is a great out-of-the-box big game hunting and long range recreational and competition rifle. Specifications for the LR:
    • Weight – 8.99 lbs.
    • Length – 41.5 inches
    • Barrel Length – 26 inches
    • Cartridge – .300 Win Mag and 77mm Remington Mag
    • Action – Bolt Action
    • Effective Firing Range – 800 – 1,000 yds. (depending on cartridge used)
    • Sights – Various Optics

 

Of course, there are a plethora of other long range gun manufacturers and models on the market, but it was my intention to mention three of the arguably famous and more popular rifles out there. Depending on the application and size of your budget, you should be able to find a suitable fit for you.

Long Range Shooting Practices and Techniques

Ok, you’ve put in the time and money to buy the rifle, the scope, lots and lots of ammunition, and other accessories you need and feel comfortable with, and are ready to hit the range for some practice. Keep in mind that with practice, comes skill, and skill is more important than equipment.

Getting Started on the Range

long distance shooting ranges

Get to know your rifle. Break it down and put it back together repeatedly. Find the best hand positions for maximum comfort and precision. Study the trigger break so well, you know exactly to the micro-second when it will break. Learn how to clear a jam and reload without giving it a thought. Practice dialing in your scope for various distances firing conditions.

Try shooting from different angles and positions. Shoot from sitting and other standing positions as well as from the prone position. Always position your body squared off with your rifle so that when fired, the recoil pulls the gun straight back into you. This will help you stay on target for follow-up shots.

Establish a breathing technique for squeezing the trigger. A good rule of thumb is to take a couple of deep breaths and slowly exhale completely on the last breath, holding your breath for no more than three or four seconds when taking the shot. Once you squeeze the trigger back, hold it there until you see the bullet hit the target. This should help keep you in position for the next shot.

They say rifle shooting is a skill but shooting in the wind is an art. Assuming you are not using a spotter, you should learn how to adjust your aim for various wind speeds and directions. Keep in mind that the wind downrange is probably blowing from a different direction and speed where you are positioned. The way to shoot accurately in the wind is to practice in windy conditions. (There’s that “P” word again).

Long Range Shooting Safety Tips

range safety

Range safety is the most important consideration in shooting any type of firearm. Rules can vary from practice range to practice range, but they all have one thing in common – The four universal basic rules for shooters:

  • Treat all guns as if they are loaded
  • Never point your firearm at anything you don’t intend to destroy
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
  • Be sure of your target and what is around and behind it

Range safety is never to be taken lightly. If you violate the rules, you will more than likely be invited to leave and never allowed back.

Shooting Competitions

competitions for long distance shooting

Competing in Long Range matches can be a fun way to display your shooting prowess. The sport of long range shooting is growing rapidly throughout the country, and most gun clubs and long range shooting practice facilities host their own events. One such large event is the Long Range Operators Challenge (LROC) that is conducted near Colville, WA. in the springtime. The LROC is planned, directed and conducted by former Army and Marine Corps Snipers, but you need not be a military sniper to compete. It is open to the public.

The National Rifle Association hosts several long-range shooting competitions around the country too. Contact your local NRA chapter for a schedule of planned events.

Long Range shooting, like every marksmanship sport (or any other sport for that matter) takes a lot of time and energy. (A tidy budget too). I think what makes this growing sport so popular are the way shooters are the challenged. Unlike indoor or some outdoor pistol ranges where gravity may or may not be a factor, the long-range shooter has to take the variables of wind, distance, types of terrain, other atmospheric conditions, as well as gravity into account to make a successful shot.

There is only one way to truly master the sport, and that is practice, practice, practice. That old saying “practice makes perfect” is just as relevant today as when it was first uttered. There is just no way getting around the ”P” word is there?

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