Long-range shooting is no joke, it takes a lot of practice to manage to hit the target from far away. It’s not something you can learn and master overnight. There are several factors you need to take into consideration before squeezing the trigger in order to achieve a successful hit. It is important to be aware of the fact that it’s not about how good of a weapon you own or what pieces of gear and gun accessory you used. No, it’s all about skill and patience. So let us present to you the long-range shooting tips that can be very helpful in this matter.
6 Mistakes Hunters Make When Shooting Long Range
1. The long-range scope
The experts in this matter all agree that choosing the right scope for long-distance shooting is essential. Now, the main problem is that most hunters are aware of that fact and that they believe the good scope needs to cost almost as much as a rifle. And that’s simply not true. Even though many great scopes do cost a lot, there are others manufactured in a great quality manner that can provide you with everything you need without leaving you in debt. They can come with improved reticle technologies that can make sure they are very accurate and fully functional. Don’t assume that price always dictates the quality. And bear in mind that whatever scope you get, it will take time and a lot of practice to make you skillful enough.
2. The weather conditions
Make no mistake, the weather conditions are a huge factor when it comes to long-range shooting. It is the thing that affects the accuracy the most. First, there’s the wind. It’s strength, and the direction from which it blows can cause a shift in shot position. Then, there’s the warmth. When the day is too hot, your accuracy may be affected by the mirage situation, and there’s also the matter of the velocity of the muzzle and the powder burn that can be changed. So it would be good to practice your shooting when there’s no wind at all and when the day is not too hot or too bright.
3. Shoulder pressure
When it comes to long-range shooting, the inconsistencies in shoulder pressure can cost you a lot. The skill of keeping the same shoulder pressure can be developed over time, but you will have to practice a lot. This is the aspect that can affect your accuracy tremendously, so you better start sooner rather than later. Now, bear in mind that different rifles have specific calibres and recoils and that shoulder pressure with different types of weapons won’t be the same. If, for example, the recoil is positioned high, you will have to apply extra pressure in order to better control your shooting. It’s something you will get after some time you spend practicing with the same rifle.
4. Trigger control
In order to have a clean and precise shot, you also need to learn how to control your trigger. Many hunters forget about this aspect of the shooting, and they end up failing. When learning how to shoot a long-range, you need to pay attention to having consistency in the aspect of trigger press. You need to have one goal in front of you, and that’s a clean and smooth bullet release. This is another thing that needs practicing, and it takes time. Also, make sure to follow through with the shot. Keep your head on the stock a few seconds after you pull the trigger and run the bolt for the next shot in a way that the position of the rifle stays the same. That should prevent the aim of the rifle from upsetting during the shot.
5. The barrel overheats
It is a well-known fact that the heat will build up as you are shooting. Now, the amount of heat that will be accumulated will depend on several things – the type of calibre, the rifle position, and the weather. The problem is that most shooters forget about this and continue shooting non-stop, which can be a problem because it can lead to your weapon coming to the point of overheating. That’s why you need to take breaks between shoots, but how often depends on your rifle. It would be good to know how many shots you can fire before a resting period.
6. Breath control
This is definitely one of the biggest mistakes hunters tend to make. They forget they need to keep control over their breading when aiming and releasing the shot. According to many experienced shooters, breath control is one of the crucial things when it comes to long-range shooting, but you need to know how exactly to do that. If you cut off your breathing for a while, you will stabilize your rifle, which can result in having a more accurate shot. But if you stop breathing for too long, that can have an opposite effect. In that case, you will experience hypoxia, which will lead to fidgeting, and you will probably rush your shot. The catch is to inhale and exhale deeply, and then to hold on to your breath as you get centred for the shot. But if you don’t manage to release an accurate shot in the next five to ten seconds, then you need to start breathing again and repeat the procedure when you feel ready.
Long Range Shooting Equipment You Must Have
In order to make sure you have success when it comes to long-range shooting, you have to own adequate long-range shooting equipment. The experts say that long-range hunting is an extremely challenging sport, one of the greatest and that owning a good hunting gear is an essential thing. So let’s see what the three most important components are.
It’s crucial for a long-range shooter to have the right calibre, the one that will get the job done. There are several demands it should fulfill. But when it comes to this subject, you need to take the distance of the target into consideration. For example, if you are shooting a target that’s up to 1000 yards away, the 300 Winchester Magnum 30 calibre rounds would be a good choice. It will provide you with great power, good recoil management, and what’s most important, it will not lead to an inhumane shot on an animal. The good thing is that this round is pretty common and quite affordable.
We already mentioned how rifle scope plays a huge part in long-range shooting. Yes, there are hunters who don’t need anything but hunting binoculars and iron sight, but those are experts, and most of us cannot compare to them. So having a good rifle scope is super important. When choosing the right one, you have to know that you don’t need extremely powerful magnification and that you don’t have to invest a huge amount of money in it. The six to 18 power scope will be adequate for your long-range shooting, you just need to make sure it can provide a nice and clear picture. And you will need a pair of high-quality scope rings, that’s not something you should forget because they will keep your optics stable for a long period of time.
For long-range deer hunting, you will definitely need a range finder – a piece of hunting equipment that can help you end hunting day with a prize. It is a small device that works with the help of laser beams that travel to distant objects and measure their distance based on the clock that shows total time beams needed in order to leave and return. That can be crucial for pursuing a large and fast game since you will probably have only one shot. Range finders can but don’t have to be expensive, and it is important to find the set that’s suitable for your shooting and hunting style.
How to Shoot Long Range Like a Pro?
Now we are moving to the tips for long-range shooting and steps you should take from the very beginning.
1. Make yourself comfortable
First and foremost, when hunting, you need to feel very relaxed, so you should find a position that will make you be comfortable enough. Also, you should make sure you are holding your rifle naturally, in a way that’s aiming at the target. The crosshairs should be in the right place. And when moving, bear in mind that you need to do it with your whole body, starting from the legs. You can lose balance and lose the focus on the target if you just twist your torso.
2. Keep the rifle steady
No matter what, during the shooting and hunting session, you need to make sure your rifle is always steady. Given the fact that long-range shooting is usually conducted prone, it is very important to position your body in a way that it’s firmly grounded, with your elbows and forearms on the ground. That way, you will have enough stability to keep your weapon calm and steady. It is recommended to use the weak arm to support the rifle end in the shoulder and to ground it with a back bag or aid.
3. Have a perfect view
In case you are using a scope for long-range shooting, and you probably are, it is important to remember not to pull the trigger unless you have a 100 percent clear view. Bear in mind that any shadow can create parallax error and affect the accuracy of the shot. Also, make sure the rear lens and the front lens are correctly aligned. If you don’t have a clear visual on the target, you are probably going to miss, and in case you are hunting, you most likely won’t kill, but only hurt the animal.
4. Control the shot release
It is crucial that you do this part correctly. That means you should squeeze the trigger with your index finger, or more precisely, with its centre of the pad, so your fingernail remains parallel to the trigger guard. At that precise moment, you need to keep your gaze fixed through the scope. It sounds funny, but in case you blink at the moment of trigger squeezing, there’s a huge chance you won’t hit the target the way you wanted to. It can happen you miss it entirely. Controlling the breath is equally helpful at this phase.
5. Control recoil
When you are looking through the sight of a rifle, the proper way is to press your cheek to the stock, but your head should not be turned on one side or another, under an angle, it should stand upright. That and the firm grip with a thumb placed around it will make sure you control the recoil the way you should. In case you leave the thumb alongside the safety catch or behind the bolt, it can happen the recoil hurt you. So make sure to prevent that from happening.
6. Practice at short range
Many long-range shooters suggest you first practice your skill at a short-range, and then, when you master this step, you should move towards the long-range. That way, you will avoid creating bad shooting habits from the start. It is natural to start from the basics, and practicing at a short-range is exactly that. That way, you will learn how to control windage and elevation properly. When you start being consistent in short-range shooting, that’s the moment when you should try out the long-range.
7. Study wind and gravity
The shooting is partially a science because you need to take many factors from that field into consideration in case you wanna be good at what you do. Long-range shooting is all about measuring the distance from target to weapon, assessing the speed of the wind, its direction, and working with ballistic data. The more precise this information is, the more accuracy you will be able to achieve. So it would be good to get yourself a range finder, a wind meter, as well as an excellent ballistic solution.
8. Consider weather conditions
When someone mentions the effect weather can have on shooting, people immediately think about the wind. It’s true, wind can change the course of a bullet, and it can affect its accuracy, but it’s not the only factor you should be worried about. Extremely high temperatures can also be a problem because it may lead to a mirage situation. The bottom line is that weather can and will impact your shooting, it’s a matter of experience to find out and learn how to beat those conditions or turn them in your favour.
9. Don’t be overconfident
Shooting is about patience, skill, experience, but luck also plays its part. So if it happens that one day you get your game with only one shot, just like that, without fuss and endless hours of waiting, it doesn’t mean the same scenario will repeat the next time. It is very important not to assume anything and that you don’t go hunting with certain expectations because that can mess with your mind. Be humble, respect the game, and play each time like it’s the first. Only then will you be able to call yourself a true long-range shooter.
It is more than clear that long-range shooting is a serious challenge that will question the skills even of the well-established hunters. It’s defined by many specifics, and you will need some time to master them all. The crucial thing for becoming a good long-range shooter is to learn about patience and to remember that the secret lies in practice. We hope you will find these tips helpful and that reading about the most common mistakes of your colleagues will warn you not to repeat after them.