Long Range Shooting

Are you interested in long-range shooting? Is one of your biggest goals to successfully shoot paper targets, steel targets, and even varmints, predators and big-game animals from distances of up to 1,000 yds.? Did you answer: yes, yes and yes?

If you can relate to these questions, and have reached the same conclusive answers, you'll undoubtedly face the same challenges that most long-range rifle-shooting enthusiasts have been confronted with.

Where can I practice shooting? Who will help me and teach me along the way? Where can I find quality information to support my interest in this subject? What type of shooting gear do I need to accomplish this feat? Who sells the shooting and optics gear I will need? Why is the equipment so expensive? Surely you don’t have to spend such large amounts of money to shoot well at distances of 1,000 to 1,200 yds… do you?

We think the best way to help you reach your intended destination is to highlight a relatively typical scenario that most long-range shooters and hunters have faced.

Once you've decided to pursue your interest in the long-range shooting arena, give your current firearms and shooting gear inventory a quick analysis to see what in your gun safe will fit the bill. Just as important, be sure to also take stock of your available ammunition.

After talking to some friends, reading some relevant articles and referencing several printed publications, it becomes obvious that typical hunting ammunition is not going to suffice for successful 1,000-yd. target-shooting engagements. You will need high-level specialty ammunition manufactured specifically for such long-range applications. Fortunately, there is a respectable selection of the specialty long-range ammunition for the 7mm Remington Magnum, 300 Winchester Magnum and other cartridges - each in ready supply and availability.

Based upon this research, I learned that my Remington 700 Sendero, chambered in 300 Winchester Magnum, was a proven weapon in the field for this type of shooting. What a relief to know that I don’t have to spend $2,500 on a rifle to begin to learn how to shoot long range.

Something else I learned is that there’s a bit more to long-range shooting than meets the eye at first glance. It was very interesting to note that there was near endless referencing to ballistics and ballistic drop mathematical values. Having ready reference to these bullet drop mathematical values is apparently very necessary in order to engage targets at known distances successfully and, furthermore, to even accomplish these long range shots with successful first shot hits on target.

Where can I find the ballistic information for my ammunition, for my rifle, for my home shooting range?

After wading through the research information, it became evident that the vast majority of the work between the shooter, rifle and the down-range target takes place with the riflescope. The riflescope appears to be the key component needed to successfully engage targets repeatedly at long-range distances of 800 yds., 900 yds., 1,000 yds. and beyond.

Regarding the reference to the ballistic information above, it's paramount to understand that it is the riflescope, and the riflescope alone, that will help you put that information to work in the field, allowing you to successfully and repeatedly hit the intended target at these extreme ranges.

We are pleased to provide you with real-world solutions for real-world issues related to 1,000-yd. long-range field shooting. Based upon the stated scenario, we would like to share some of our proposed answers to many of the questions raised in the musing of this very popular subject. We have limited space to work with, and will try to address the key questions.

Long-range shooting is here to stay. It is not a passing fad. This shooting segment is so popular that it's given birth to a whole new market: long-range hunting. The shooting sports industry is fully engaged in this growing segment of the market, and Cabela's is committed to servicing customers that are interested in this shooting discipline.

Our first advice is to ensure that the gear you have selected reflects, at a minimum, good quality. Our second piece of advice is to encourage you to buy the best gear your budget can afford. This is especially important for mounts, rings, and bases.

Be sure to install your ring-and-base system using the recommended torque value settings. Don't strip the threads!

We suggest either a one-piece or two-piece mil-spec 1913 rail base system. Why? It's a well-proven system that allows the shooter to mount their riflescope in multiple positions to find safe eye relief and obtain a comfortable eye position in relation to both the stock and the riflescope. The one-piece design also ensures ring and scope alignment. Next, we would suggest that you buy quality rings in the appropriate height to mount your scope.

The rings should be of good design, fit, and finish, and should offer a mounting solution that's solid, trustworthy and stable. A good rule of thumb is this: the heavier the scope, the better quality ring you will need. Why? Scopes are always trying to remain stationary under recoil. Together, this ring-and-base system allows the scope to maintain a solid and fixed position under recoil. You can't afford for your riflescope to slip under recoil. If your rifle will serve a multi-function role and weight is a concern for you, we suggest a quality set of lightweight aluminum rings.

In regards to the preferred scope for this type of shooting, we highly recommend a riflescope that uses a 30mm tube. This tube design allows for a greater amount of internal travel. It's this travel that's needed to dial in your MOA or mil-radian values to successfully engage targets at long ranges.

BRAND

What brand of scope is best for engaging targets at a distance of 1,000 yds. or more? This question is a little tougher to answer. However, if we review the last 10 years, the test of time shows us that only a few brands stand out as preferred and purpose-built products for long-range shooting. LeupoldSwarovski, VortexZeissBurris and one of the most dominant brands on the long-range firing line, Nightforce Optics, represent a few real contenders. No matter what brand of scope you select, be sure to get one with good eye relief; this is critical.

MAGNIFICATION

After you determine the brand, you have a few other things to decide upon. First, you'll need to select a magnification range that will best meet your criteria. Consider if you will be using this rifle for hunting, paper punching for groups and shooting 1,000 yds. If so, the minimum power recommendation is 18-20X magnification.

How do you know if your scope has enough magnification? This is a relatively simple answer. If your target can be quartered by the riflescope reticle, then you have plenty of magnification to make a great shot - both successfully and repeatedly. Again, we are referencing field shooting and hunting. It's interesting to note that shooters often buy too much magnification and will never really experience how an appropriately magnified riflescope can enhance their shooting experience.

RETICLE

Speaking of reticles, which one is best? Why? This is dangerous territory. You might have noticed there are many reticle designs. That's because shooters and hunters need different reticles for different shooting and hunting applications. Some shooters like a busy reticle with a lot of lines, dots and data. Others demand a simple and effective reticle. No one reticle does everything best. However, since we are talking about 1,000-yd. shooting, we need to select a reticle that has a clean design, isn't terribly busy and has some intelligence built into it.

We also need a reticle that isn't too thick and that won't cover up too much of the target. In this case, we can reference the Nightforce MOAR reticle. Proven, popular and highly effective at this range, this reticle allows the shooter to identify misses and wind in appropriate minute values. It is also available both with and without reticle illumination for shooting in low-light conditions.

FOCAL PLANE

In today's shooting arena, we can hardly discuss reticles without referencing the subject of either first focal plane or second focal plane reticle designs. Heavily favored because they are non-distracting throughout the magnification zoom range, second focal plane reticles are by far the most popular designs for both shooting and hunting. However, first focal plane designs are gaining popularity with the tactical shooters of the day.

One reason is because today's front focal plane reticle designs are clean, unobtrusive and offer both drop and wind hold values that are accurate at any magnification setting. While each design has value and merit, if we look at the last 10 years for long-range, 1,000-yd. shooting, the second focal plane designs simply dominate the field.

So what is necessary in a riflescope selection for long-range shooting? You will need a riflescope that's very repeatable when you adjust either the windage or elevation. When it comes to long-range shooting, this is vitally important because very few scopes can track with repeatability and trueness. You'll notice we didn't spend much time discussing glass quality. Why? Glass quality is a feature that gets better and better each year. Typically, when a shooter is selecting glass for this type of shooting, they will spend the money that will give them the quality of glass necessary to be successful in shooting field targets in field conditions at 1,000 yds.

MONEY

These riflescopes are expensive! What kind of warranties do they have? Many brands have lifetime warranties, limited lifetime warranties - some even have lifetime no-fault warranties. A quality brand will support you with excellent warranty and service because they truly value your repeat business and brand loyalty. We would like to remind you that the best warranty in the business is the one you don’t need to use!

We want you to make an informed purchase. We want you to be very satisfied with your equipment selection. Please do yourself a favor, take a few minutes on our site, and review the customer reviews on the products we have noted. A satisfied customer, and one who has spent their hard-earned money on this equipment, will likely be your best assurance to know whether or not you have found the right product for your needs.

INITIAL TECHNICAL TIPS:

  • Ensure that the rifle’s action screws are adjusted to the recommended factory torque settings.
  • Thoroughly clean your rifle barrel and action, and apply appropriate lubricants in moderation. Be sure to cover your riflescope before cleaning so as not to contaminate the lens coatings.
  • Have a sufficient amount of the same type of ammunition to begin and end the project with.
  •  Install and use a quality front - we suggest one of medium height that swivels.
  • Because this is field shooting, we suggest you use a shooting mat for prone-position shooting.