The Art and Skill of Shooting Long Range Guns

 Shooting long range guns takes more focus and accuracy than any type of firearm. Here's what you need to know to become a skilled marksman.

 Long range rifle shooting is the perfect blend of art and skill. From creating your long range gun to learning the body mechanics required to be accurate, long range shooting is a very demanding and very satisfying sport. It can even have benefits for your health, as it reduces stress and requires some level of physical fitness. 

However, there are a number of steps involved with becoming a legendary long-range marksman. In this article, we'll go over all the steps and tips you'll need to hit the range and start making those impossible long-range shots. 

Choosing Long Range Guns

In the world of long-range marksmanship, there is an endless list of equipment that is used to give marksman the edge. From wind gauges to cheek pads, to ballistic computer applications, the amount of equipment out there can be overwhelming and confusing. 

In this section, we'll walk you through choosing all the pieces of equipment you'll need to start your journey as a long-range marksman.  

The first step in choosing your rifle is deciding what caliber rifle you want to use. Long-range rifles come in many different calibers, ranging from the light and fast .223 caliber round used for shorter ranges, all the way up to the big bad .50 BMG round, which can easily reach out to a mile or more. 

The choices can be overwhelming, but when it comes to choosing a caliber, you can use the, "three P's" to guide your choice: Performance, Practicality, Price. 

Performance

For Performance, you're looking at the ballistics of the caliber, including the feet per second of the round and the ranges it is most accurate. 

If you plan on firing on targets under 1,000 yards, lighter rounds like the .223 Remington or .308 Winchester would be good choices since they are shorter range rounds that are still highly accurate.

But if you're going to try for targets at ranges longer than 1,000 yards, you may need a larger, more powerful round like the .300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Lapua Magnum, or even a .50 BMG.

More gunpowder and the heavy weight of the projectile gives these rounds more accuracy at longer ranges.

Practicality

For Practicality, you are deciding if the round is a smart choice based on its availability, both for purchase and rifles chambered in that caliber. 

If you choose a round that only has a few high-end rifles available in that caliber, it may not be a practical choice as a beginner marksman. 

And if you choose a round that isn't widely produced, it may limit the amount you can shoot, based on its availability. 

Choosing a popular, widely produced round that has a wide range of rifles in that caliber ensures that you can find the right rifle and plenty of ammo to shoot with. 

Price

For many marksmen, the price is one of the most important aspects of choosing a round. Dedicated shooters sometimes go through thousands of rounds a month, and with some rounds as expensive as $5 a round, things can get expensive very quickly. 

If price is no object, you can opt for a more expensive, higher performance round, such as the .300 Winchester Mangum (~$2.00/round), .338 Lapua (~$2.50/round), or even the mighty 408 Chey-Tac ($5 - $10/round). These rounds are highly consistent and are meant to hit targets out to a mile or more. 
However, if you aren't looking to break the bank, rounds like .308 Winchester (~$.30/round) or the 6.5 Creedmore (~$1.00/round) still perform consistently and allow you to shoot as much as you please. 

Choosing your Rifle

Now that you've chosen your caliber, its time to choose your rifle. When it comes to choosing your rifle, there are two routes you can take. You can buy a rifle and modify it to your specifications, or build your own rifle, either by buying the parts and assembling it, or having a gun shop or armory build it for you, known as a "custom build".  

Whether you buy your rifle from a gun shop or build it yourself, the most important components will be the trigger, the stock, and the barrel. 
 
Trigger

Making sure that your rifle has a reliable, consistent trigger is very important, as pulling the trigger can have a big impact on your shot down range.
 
Choosing a rifle that has an adjustable trigger that allows you to adjust the pull weight (the amount of pressure necessary to depress the trigger) and position (to the front or back) ensures that you'll have a trigger that fits your personal preferences. You can also get a carbon fiber trigger, which can cut down on the weight of a heavy long range rifle. 

Stock

Since the stock of the rifle will be resting against your cheek and will be one of the largest, heaviest parts of the rifle, it is very important to choose the right stock. 

For longe range rifles, a synthetic stock is often the best choice. Wooden stocks are often vulnerable to changes in the environment like humidity, and the performance and feel of the rifle may change as a result. 

A synthetic stock will provide increased comfort, reduced weight, and reliable performance, as it is resistant to the elements. Be sure to choose a stock that is a good balance between weight and stability as well. 

Barrel

Choosing the right barrel for your rifle is also incredibly important. You want to choose a barrel that is both lightweight and reliable, so look for barrels that offer a balance between weight and performance. 

This often means choosing a barrel that isn't too long that still maintains accuracy, as you don't want the rifle to be too hard to handle for kneeling shots or shots taken without the use of a bipod.
 
Choosing the Right Components

Just like rifles and calibers, there are tons of accessories for long-range shooting. You can purchase optic levels, ballistic computers, and suppressors, all in different price ranges and performance levels. 
 
However, out of all the different components for your rifle, there are a few key pieces you can't do without. In order to hit those long shots, you'll need an optic, scope base, scope rings, and a bipod. 

Optics

The optic, or scope, is one of the most important parts of a long range gun.
 
If you're going to spend money on your rifle setup, this is the item to drop the most money on. A good scope can turn a good rifle into a great rifle, and a bad scope can turn a great rifle into a useless piece of iron. 

When it comes to optics, you have a choice between MOA (minute of angle) scopes or MIL (milliradian) scopes. These scopes allow you to make precise adjustments in order to account for range and other environmental factors. 

The method for adjusting these scopes is different, as they use different measurement systems, but both are great choices. Make sure to try each type out to see which fits your personal preference. 

Another important consideration is magnification. You don't want too much magnification, or too little. Experts recommend a 16X scope or 16 times magnification. It will allow you to make longer range shots, while still able to engage close-range targets.
 
Scope Rings and Base

The scope rings and base are important as well, as you want the scope rings and base to securely hold the scope to the rifle. This prevents the scope from shifting or moving, which means more consistent shots.

A good scope mount can make all the difference, and a high-performance scope mount from companies like Aero Precision will make your long range shots much easier to hit. 

Make sure to choose a scope base and rings that not only fit your rifle but also fit your optic. Once you've chosen your rings, getting your scope mounted by a gun shop or armory will ensure correct installation and a level scope.
  
Bipod

Your bipod reduces the sway of your barrel and helps provide that stable platform to make those long shots. Although many people use bags of sand to stabilize their rifles, a bipod is useful because it allows you to deploy your rifle quickly, even on uneven ground. 

An adjustable bipod is very important, as it will allow you to get into the most comfortable position to make your shot. Make sure to choose a lightweight bipod to make your gun easier to transport and deploy. 

Learning the Techniques

This is where the rubber meets the pavement when it comes to long-range shooting. Even the best rifle setup won't perform if the marksman has poor technique. In this section, we'll guide you through some of the techniques you'll need to learn to become a master long-range shooter. 

Body Position

There are three shooting stances to choose from: standing, kneeling and prone. Most long range shots will be taken from the prone position, where the shooter is lying stomach down behind the rifle. 

Being comfortable behind your rifle is very important as it will result in the least amount of movement. Make sure to adjust your bipod so that your rifle sits comfortably against your shoulder, and spread your legs so they are just wider than your shoulders. This will give you a stable body position to shoot from. 
It is also important to stay active and stretch before and after shooting. It will help you be more comfortable in different positions and improve body mechanics. 

Breathing

Breathing is another critical part of long-range shooting. Because breathing causes your body to move slightly, this can have a big impact on your accuracy down range. Slowing your breathing down, as many do in meditation, can help slow your heart rate and reduce the effect on your shot as well.
 
Try taking your shots at the top (lungs full of air), bottom (lungs empty of air), and middle of your breaths to see which is the most accurate for you. Once you find a breathing technique that is comfortable and effective, stick to it. Consistency will always give you the best results. 

Trigger Pull

Pulling the trigger in a consistent way every time is also important. A little pressure on the trigger that isn't directly backward can push your rounds inches, or even feet, off target.
 
Experts say to "squeeze" the trigger rather than "pull" the trigger; this make sure that the shooter doesn't jerk the shot accidentally. Make sure to only squeeze with your trigger finger; if you tighten your entire hand, you'll pull the rifle off target. 

Using the Data

The most powerful tool in the marksman's arsenal isn't his rifle: it's his log book. While practice makes perfect, the data you record from your time at the shooting range will help you hit shots with more consistency.

Environmental factors like distance, temperature, wind speed, elevation, and humidity can all have big impacts on how the projectile moves in the air. Record all of these factors when your practicing at the range, including your shot placement. 

Recording all of these things will tell you how the environment affects your particular caliber and rifle, giving you the ability to make adjustments before firing and be more accurate on the first shot. 

Hit the Range and Hit some Targets

Now that you've gotten an overview of the art and skill of long-range shooting, from choosing your long range gun and your components to learning the techniques, there's only one step left: hit the range and try your hand at long-range shooting!  

It may seem overwhelming, but with this guide and a little bit of practice, you'll be hitting those 1,000-yard shots in no time. For more tips on how to get your body and mind ready to make those long-range shots, visit our blog for all of your physical and mental health needs.
 
 
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Quotation

"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

Albert Einstein
 

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