How to Shoot at Long Ranges

by Jack Burton
A kneeling position gives great stability and also allows for quick movement.

A kneeling position gives great stability and also allows for quick movement.

Hemera Technologies/ Images

Long-range precision shooting is a skill that takes long hours of practice, a keen eye, a steady hand and a quality rifle with premium ammunition to master. Friction, gravity, atmospheric pressure and the wind are all working against the bullet hitting the bullseye, and accounting for all these variables is necessary for achieving the goal. Weekend or occasional shooters may never match the accuracy of the dedicated shooters, but by practicing a few good techniques, they can improve their shooting ability.

Items you will need

  • Spotter
  • Spotter scope
Step 1

Know the rifle and how the ammo behaves. Each firearm, even those that are the same manufacturer's model, shoot slightly differently. The same applies to the ammo used. One cartridge from a manufacturer can give a completely different shooting pattern than another, supposedly identical cartridge from another manufacturer. Observe the results from shooting dozens of bullets through the rifle and begin to get a sense of how it shoots.

Step 2

Work with a spotter who can tell you where you are shooting to. It is difficult to both shoot and observe at the same time, and having another pair of eyes gives you the ability to know what to adjust to bring your bullets onto the target.

Step 3

Zero in the scope from a bench rest so that you know what you are looking at through the lens is accurate. Lock the gun down so it cannot move, and adjust the gun so that the scope is perfectly on target. Shoot the firearm and see where the bullet actually goes. Adjust the scope to reflect the difference and shoot at the bullseye again. Continue to adjust the scope and shoot until the rifle is firing exactly where the scope says it should. Many long-distance shooters zero the scope for 200 yards.

Step 4

Find a position that gives you support for the rifle. Using your elbows at a bench, kneeling on one knee with an elbow support on the other knee or laying prone on the ground with elbows propped on the surface are all ways to support the rifle and hold it steady. A sling wrapped around the forearm can also provide support.

Step 5

Sight the target through the scope and adjust for distance. A rifle zeroed for 200 yards will hit a 300-yard target much lower because of gravity pulling on the bullet. Adjust the scope to reflect the difference in distance and then aim directly at the bullseye.

Step 6

Study the wind strength and direction. Even a small breeze can push a bullet to the side as it travels toward the target. Again, adjust the scope to allow for the push of the wind while keeping the crosshairs on the bullseye. Your spotter can tell you how far off the target the initial shot is so that you can make the appropriate adjustment on subsequent shots.

Step 7

Use the breathing technique that works best for you, but be consistent. Many long-range shooters take a deep breath and pull the trigger as they are half way through the exhale. Others take a breath and while holding it in, pull the trigger. If you change with every shot, then it will be hard to keep a consistent pattern on the target.

Step 8

Pull the trigger slowly and directly back to you without jerking. "Hooking" the finger, or pulling the trigger to the side when you pull it back, will move your bullet from the bullseye by several inches to several feet.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images