After recently attending the Thompson Long Range Shooting School in Utah, here are five things I learned.
#1. Right Caliber in Right Rifle
It all starts with the right rifle in the right caliber. Think fast and flat, such as the .257 Weatherby or .30-378 Weatherby. The longer a bullet has to travel through the air, the more impact that wind and gravity will have on it. But the recoil has to be manageable in order for you to be able to recover quickly enough from your first shot to see where your bullet strikes and adjust accordingly if necessary. Muzzle brakes are very helpful. Make sure all action and stock screws are kept tight.
#2. High Quality Scope is Essential
|Scopes should have bullet-drop compensation or adjustable target turrets, such as the Oculus Pro Team HD Rifle Scope.|
A high quality scope is essential. Whether you choose one with a fixed bullet-drop compensating reticle or one with adjustable target turrets, don't go too high in magnification as you will have a hard time finding your target due to the small field of view. About 14x on the high end is sufficient.
#3. Scope Mounting Critical
Proper scope mounts and mounting are critical. Once your scope is properly mounted, you need to ensure that you hold your rifle level when shooting. I have a tendency to cant my rifle to the right. It's not really a problem at short range, but at 1,000 yards a cant of just 6 degrees (visualized as 1 minute on the face of your watch) moves your bullet 55 inches from point of aim! An anti-cant device will prevent this.
#4. A Tip on Reticle Adjustment
Have you ever adjusted your scope and then fired a round, only to find no change in impact until you fire a second round? Ever seen someone at the range tapping on their scope after adjusting it? When adjusting your scope's reticles, go past the point you want by a few clicks and then click back down to it. This ensures that the scope's internal leaf spring adjustments kick in each time before you fire your next shot.
#5. Ammunition is Vital
You absolutely need to know where your bullets are hitting at all ranges. If you're using a scope with bullet drop compensating reticles, the ballistics of your load needs to match your scope. Your bullets also need to be of proper design and construction for the ranges you are shooting and the game you are hunting. Handloading gives you great flexibility.