Lessons Learned from Long-Range Shooting

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

I recently had the opportunity to try my hand at long-distance shooting. Needless to say, I didn’t do so good. When you’re used to 200 yards being a long shot, shooting at 500 to 1,000 yards isn’t mere shooting, it’s asking for a miracle. Yet there are a whole class of shooters, for whom this is normal.

But my short foray into the world of long-distance shooting taught me several important lessons; ones which I feel are applicable to the kinds of shooting that I do, as well.

The Importance of Triggers

Trigger control has recently become recognized by many experts as the number one factor is shooting accurately, out of what we refer to as the fundamentals of shooting. Previously sight picture was taught as the number one factor, but if your sight picture is off, it will affect your shot placement by a couple of inches. On the other hand, jerking the trigger will make your shot placement low and to the left (for a right-handed shooter) by several inches.

The triggers used for competitive long-range shooting are the most precise and sensitive triggers used on any firearm. Two-stage triggers, with extremely light trigger pulls are common. That’s mostly done to eliminate the little bit of vibration caused that can be caused by overcoming the trigger mechanism; something that amplified over 1,000 yards can make a lot of difference.

In reality, the kinds of hair triggers that are used for long-range shooting may not be practical. Extremely light trigger pulls can be dangerous, especially on a carry gun. But we may not need as stiff a trigger pull as we have. Dropping from five or six down to three and a half won’t make your gun considerably more dangerous and it will help you with your trigger control.

More important than the actual trigger pull is making sure that there are no rough spots in the mechanism, which could cause it to hang up while you are firing. A good trigger job, where you are wearing in the trigger and sear can go a long way towards more accurate shots.

The Importance of Optics

Some would say that long-range shooting is all about optics, although I would have to disagree. Optics are important in the sense that you have to be able to see the target. But as we all know, your focus isn’t going to be on the target, but rather on your crosshairs, overlaid on the target.

But for someone like me, whose eyes aren’t all that good; quality optics are important. If you can’t see the target well, you aren’t going to hit it dead center, that’s all there is to it. So you need to figure out what optics work best for you and make sure you have them.

A lot of shooters will spend a princely sum on buying their rifle or pistol, then look for the cheapest optics they can find. But a serious long-range shooter will spend as much on a scope, as they do on their rifle. They understand the benefit of good optics and pay accordingly.

The Importance of Consistency

The single most important lesson I learned from my brief foray into long-distance shooting was the need for consistency. Serious competitors are all but fanatical about removing inconsistencies in their shooting, especially anything that is not directly the fault of the shooter.

One way they do this is by reloading their own ammunition. Even match grade ammo isn’t consistent enough for this type of shooter. They sort their casings and bullets by weight and even weigh out their powder to the granule, not just the grain.

For you and I normal match grade ammo might make a difference of one minute of angle (MOA). That’s only an inch, if you’re shooting 100 yards. But if you’re shooting 1,000 yards, that one MOA equals ten inches. That’s a huge amount of difference; one they can’t afford. So they take the extra time to load their own ammo, making it as consistent as they possibly can.

While we might not need to go to that level for our shooting, the basic lesson of consistency is still an important one for us to apply, especially in the human factors of shooting. The more consistent we can become in our technique, the more consistent our shooting is going to become; and that’s an important part of the improvement we all need to make. So, work on consistency, not just keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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