#15 Long Range Shooting: Are you competent?

hereinaz

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I don't have much time for this tip, but I've answered some questions in other threads about long range shooting.

The bottom line is that long range shooting can be easy. One problem is that not everyone means the same thing with "long range" and not everyone is shooting with the same Ballistic Coefficient, Muzzle Velocity, and Bullet Weight.

All of those things matter to long range.

Here are some rules of thumb I use to break down how "easy" it is to shoot. I will use my 7 Sherman Short as my sample, running a 180 Berger VLD at 3050 fps MV.

What is the maximum point blank range for your rifle? My 7mm is 250 yards

With my 7mm velocity, if I dial up .3 mil, which is 2.5 inches high at 100 and 2.5 inches low at 250 yards. A full value 10 mph crosswind is about 2.5 inches. BC of the bullet matters little inside the MPBR.​

Everyone should be able to make this shot. There are no environmental conditions that would cause you to miss this shot, wind doesn't matter. Hold crosshair on the animal and fire. Your velocity matters. There is a massive difference between the point blank "range" a 30-30 and one of @Ryan Avery UM cartridges for point blank shooting.​
Double the maximum point blank range of your rifle. My 7mm MPR doubled is 500 yards. I don't think that getting a dope card or CDS turret is enough to otherwise shoot beyond MPBR. There are too many things that a novice or slightly experienced long range shooter doesn't know without field experience encountering the variables that simply don't exist at a range. It isn't as easy as ranging and twisting a couple knobs. But, a little training and practice can get you there.

Rangefinding is not always easy to avoid ranging in front or behind the animal. Inside 500 yards, my 7mm drops less than 5 inches every 25 yards. This allows for you to be off by about 10 feet at 500 yards, and the error is only 2.5 inches. If you are off by 25 yards at 500, you are now hitting 5 inches low or high depending whether you ranged too close or too far.​
Wind is hard to read. You have to not only judge the wind speed, but also the angle, and then calculate the effect. A 7 mph wind drifts about 8 inches at 500 yards. If I call it a 7 mph wind, but it is really 3.5 mph or 10.5 mph, then the wind drift is off by 4 inches on either side of the point of aim. That is barely inside the kill zone of an antelope or coues deer.​
Besides distance, other factors affect the drop to the effect of a few inches depending on all factors like:​
  • aerodynamic jump
  • extreme spread in velocity
  • difference in velocity because of ammo temp at range temperatures vs. winter mountain temp
  • differences in actual temp/pressure vs. the dope card or input into the ballistic calculator
This is why I say double, because a rifleman with reasonable skills and enough long range experience and training can have high confidence of success with the small adjustments that need to be recognized and accounted for.​
Beyond double MPBR requires a mixture of long range experience and learning, that give you sufficient knowledge of and exposure to all the many factors necessary to have high confidence in the shot. Training is often critical to get the knowledge, because you are gaining the knowledge of the millions of rounds that others have fired. Weigh the cost of training against the cost of time and money to get the hard wins through many miserable failures until you learn what others learned. Training is invaluable.

This is why anything double your MPBR requires experience knowledge, and skill using my 7mm data at 800 yards:
  • a "1 moa" gun starts with a group in 8 inches (and a three shot group in .25 moa off a bench is not where you start)
  • a field position with added "wobble" of just .25 moa is 2 inches.
  • a field position with reduced recoil control can easily add 1 moa or more to error, usually "up" so shots are over the back.
  • a ranging error of 25 feet is about 10 inches.
  • wind call error of 3.5 mph is about 10 inches.
    • there can be multiple wind directions over 800 yards, which requires experience to even guess.
    • terrain features can create wind shears and compression that will affect horizontal and vertical movement.
    • a shot across a canyon can be subject to much higher wind speeds and directions that you can't feel from the shooting position.
  • typical factory ammo extreme spread of velocity can vary drop by 5 inches or more.
  • a little bit of moisture in the chamber can increase pressure and velocity.
Do you have what it takes to shoot long range?
 
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So you’re saying I can’t go buy a 6.5 creedmoor and just automatically kill an elk at 1000 yards!? This is bull poopoo, the guy at the gun counter said I could!!!




On a serious note that is all good info and worth reading for everyone, seasoned and newbie alike.
 
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hereinaz

hereinaz

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So you’re saying I can’t go buy a 6.5 creedmoor and just automatically kill an elk at 1000 yards!? This is bull poopoo, the guy at the gun counter said I could!!!




On a serious note that is all good info and worth reading for everyone, seasoned and newbie alike.
Thanks!

I love being a fly on the wall at the gun counter and at the range listening to guys talk about long range, lol. I always seem to hear something new and unbelievable.
 
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hereinaz

hereinaz

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7mm dope from last range session enviro in PHX
 

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Macintosh

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I like the “double mpbr”, never heard that before but it matches more or less with what I’ve experienced. More or less given friendly conditions I feel pretty confident shooting to double my mpbr, and beyond it I recognize that Im not reliable enough to want to shoot at critters there. Never quantified it that way, but it checks out for me.
 
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hereinaz

hereinaz

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I like the “double mpbr”, never heard that before but it matches more or less with what I’ve experienced. More or less given friendly conditions I feel pretty confident shooting to double my mpbr, and beyond it I recognize that Im not reliable enough to want to shoot at critters there. Never quantified it that way, but it checks out for me.
I am glad it makes sense to you. I may have "invented" it as my rule of thumb, cause I always struggled with qualifying an answer based on the yardage. I haven't ever heard it before, but like you, doubling the MPBR range as a ratio puts velocity into the drop and drift bracket that starts to put one major error into definite miss territory. Compounding small errors also puts you into a definite miss.

Using yardage wasn't helpful for enough people without asking about the rifle and conditions. For instance, a 500 yard shot is a completely different adventure for a 6.5 Grendel vs. a 6.5 PRC just based on velocity. That's just based on the numbers, not even factoring in the shooter and controlling recoil.

Throw the shooter into it as a factor, and there is also a difference with what can be done effectively with a 6.5 Grendel by a novice, an "intermediate" like me, and a true pro.

I like to encourage people to learn and train, because it isn't "hard" to shoot a good system. If I have someone who can press the trigger without disturbing the rifle and can control recoil, I can put them on my rifle and have them hitting 1000 yards out of the gate in known wind conditions. Its all because I can set up the rifle system for them to execute the shot.
 

999delta

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hereinaz, Thank you for a well-thought-out long-range tip. I found this site this year after my son, and I drew a Wy elk tag. We're leaving this weekend and I have found a lot of useful information on this site, Thanks to all.
Too give you a little background. I started competing in precision tactical rifle in 2005. I'm lucky to have one of the nicest 1000yd ranges in the country 30 minutes from my house. Back then I got the bug bad and trained weekly. The funny thing is the last 5 deer I've shot have been with in 100yds.
I have a 300wm that I will be taking to Wy and it shoots as good as my tac rifles. That being said your MPBR range rings true to me. Without shooting and training in altitude and terrain I will be hunting 600yds is longest I can control the variables and be confident. And that is assuming winds are light and readable, and I have time to get in solid shooting position. Sure hope if I'm lucky enough to get a shot it's under 300yds.
 
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hereinaz

hereinaz

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hereinaz, Thank you for a well-thought-out long-range tip. I found this site this year after my son, and I drew a Wy elk tag. We're leaving this weekend and I have found a lot of useful information on this site, Thanks to all.
Too give you a little background. I started competing in precision tactical rifle in 2005. I'm lucky to have one of the nicest 1000yd ranges in the country 30 minutes from my house. Back then I got the bug bad and trained weekly. The funny thing is the last 5 deer I've shot have been with in 100yds.
I have a 300wm that I will be taking to Wy and it shoots as good as my tac rifles. That being said your MPBR range rings true to me. Without shooting and training in altitude and terrain I will be hunting 600yds is longest I can control the variables and be confident. And that is assuming winds are light and readable, and I have time to get in solid shooting position. Sure hope if I'm lucky enough to get a shot it's under 300yds.
Dude, that is awesome to hunt with your son! Good luck. And, thanks for the comment. Glad it helps.

With shooting experience, you will know how to make a high confidence shot. That’s cool. Competition shooting gets hammered by purists, but dang it gave me confidence and experience.
 

TaperPin

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Good write up. I’m an old geezer at heart, but learning new things is what keeps us young so I’m embracing dialing for long range beyond 450, and explanations such as yours with some numbers and rules of thumb helps guys like me ease into it.

My nephew likes shooting long range, knocks the crap out of 1 moa gongs way out there with his 300 mag, and says I need to “get with this century pops.”

He had a bull elk standing sideways at 450ish yards in sagebrush in calm conditions and unlimited time. . . and completely missed. Lol

I still have a lot of fun with him at family get togethers - catch and release elk, needs elk shaped gongs, only one bullet needed to scare an elk - the other day he was down to one box of shells and going out for a cow and his girlfriend comically said that’s a lifetime hunting supply until he mans up and decides to kill something. lol

He’ll grow into a great long range hunter, but I’d still love to be in his place: young and so excited at a small bull nothing works right. Lol
 
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hereinaz

hereinaz

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Hahaha, lifetime supply.

Sounds like he has it figured out on the range, but shooting at the range is completely different than in the field. That’s what happened to me. I got it figured out on the range and then I got humbled at PRS competitions.

“Old timers” are deadly cause you come into it slowly and only shoot with confidence.

I bet with a little more info and shooting you can extend your killing zone if you wanted. Still, the vast majority of animals I have killed are inside 400. But, I am happy to be ready when needed.
 
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