View Full Version : How to learn long distance shooting...
I just purchased a bolt action rifle and scope. I would like to learn to shoot long distance. The problem is that I do not know much about the unsupported rifle positions.
The guy that was teaching me to shoot, is in California and I have moved to Florida. While in CA, I worked on handgun shooting with him. So, I have the basics of sight picture, breath control, trigger control and follow through. What I don't have is an understanding of the unsupported rifle positions.
I have shot rifle mostly from the bench. (muzzle end on a sandbag, left hand under the butt). With this rifle, and the scope, from 15 yards, putting all shots through the same hole (literally) is quite boring when shooting from the bench. Without the bench, not so good.
The book I have been looking for is by Yur Yev, "Competitive Shooting" I think the title is. But this book is very hard to find and very expensive when you can find it.
Any suggestions you guys have, I would welcome.
You will have to also deal with windage and bullet drop that you did not have to worry about while learning how to use a pistol.
My suggestion is to go to the local library. You would be surprised the amount of books on the subject mine has on the subject. While you will eventually have to start shelling out cash for instruction and resources, you can save yourself a lot by taking advantage of the library to get enough knowledge to know what you will need to get.
The obvious answer is contact your local shooting club(s) and NRA chapter. I would also check with LEOs about anyone who might be willing to teach.
You will have to also deal with windage and bullet drop that you did not have to worry about while learning how to use a pistol.
My suggestion is to go to the local library. You would be surprised the amount of books on the subject mine has on the subject. While you will eventually have to start shelling out cash for instruction and resources, you can save yourself a lot by taking advantage of the library to get enough knowledge to know what you will need to get. You are correct about the windage and bullet drop. Here is how I am currently thinking about things. At the moment, I do not have a consistent platform to shoot from, aside from bench shooting. This is due to not knowing the shooting positions. If I shoot on days with little to no wind, and stay under 100 yards, I should be able to at least get decent groupings. As my positions get better, the grouping should get tighter, even if they are low or high or whatever. Once I get tight groups, then I can go to school on the bullet drop. (not to worried about figuring bullet drop, its just math and I program computer games for a living.) From what I gather, understanding windage only comes with experience. So, for me positions are the first step. Is this thinking flawed?
I have been search book stores and gun stores for literature to help out. What I can find is a ton of information on bullet drop, range estimation and mil dot usage. When shooting positions are discussed, they are usually listed in order of stability: prone, sitting, kneeling and off hand. Shooting technique is a page discussion of sight picture, take 3 breaths and let it out half way before holding, squeeze the trigger so the shot surprises you and follow through. This stuff, at this level, I already have from pistol. The offhand position is described as: use right hand on the trigger, left hand grabbing and holding the front part of the rifle and cheek on the butt of the rifle. If they go into more detail, that detail consists of "use of a sling will make your position more stable." I assume here, that you should know what to do with the sling. Those details as well as details to help reduce the wobble of the gun in the offhand position are what I am looking for. Basically, I am looking for a resource which uses more than 1 page of text, or 3 pages of hand drawn pictures to describe proper shooting positions, followed by pages of lists of bullet drop data.
I will have to go down and talk to the local gun clubs and NRA guys. LEOs is a good suggestion as well.
Odd question here... what do good groupings look like for unsupported shooting positions? The rifle I have is sub MOA, with many people claiming 1/2 inch groups at 100 yards. I doubt this is anything but off a bench or in a gun vice. Or can you really shoot that well unsupported? At a hundred yards what are realistic groupings at 100 yards from the basic positions: prone, sitting, kneeling and offhand?
Thanks again guys.
Work your way backward from your target, though. What are you going to be shooting at (paper, bear, rogue hominid), choose an appropriate round (is flat tragectory or muzzle energy on target a priority), look at the ballistics tables I've linked for the chosen round and ensure you've got enough muzzle energy to stop what you're aiming at.
Michael J. Bray
:bow:William, there are some schools out there that do offer good courses out there. East of the Mississippi, I would suggest you look at the precision rifle course offered by these folks:
I've done some handgun, simunitions and patrol rifle courses out there and always enjoy them. My department sends us alt there about every other year for qualifications, as we get time in the live fire houses. The courses fill up rather quickly, however. I hope this helps!:bow:
Thanks for the suggestions. I have not yet found a local rifle course. Those mentioned here require more travel than I am able to do, unfortunately.
I did however take my rifle back to 100 yards, and was able to make 1.5 inch groupings. One one the bullseye, the other a bit over to the right. (this was prone, with a sandbag under the front of the gun) I then shot at some spent 12 gauge shotgun shells, and was able to hit them, pretty consistently. I am guessing though that I should be able to get better than 1 inch groups, from that position though.
Keep the tips coming. Hitting a water bottle at 100 yards, is the funnest thing I have shot at for a long time.
Suggested reading on the topic
The Ultimate Sniper by Maj. John L. Plaster USAR ret.
A very thorough examination of the topic
edit, I cant add direct links yet.
I would recommend "Modern Highpower Competition" by Randolph Constantine. Its over 600pages. its geared for highpower competition, but it covers the fundamentals very, very well. Postions, slings, sights, trigger control, mirage etc, lots of info. I just looked at amazon and there was 1 used one available for $49.
also is Mike Lau's book "The Military and Police Sniper' in addition to basics, this goes over scopes, and uphill/downhill shooting, where highpower does not. Amazon has for $35 new or $22 used. Both are well worth the money for the amount of knowledge in them.
Go to jarheadtop dot com lots of info. The book 'Reading the wind" I cant recommend enough. Actually I have all his books and highly recommend them.
For ballistics tables, I have "Sierra Infinity suite" sierrabullets dot com its a exterior bullets software, well, here I copied the description from their website:
"Sierra’s Infinity Exterior Ballistic Computer Software version 6 provides multiple trajectory charts and graphics, point blank range, calculate zero, uphill/downhill shooting, maximum range, minute of angle, profiled wind, improved atmospherics, revised print formats trajectory in mils and more. Easy to use Windows format makes Infinity extremely user friendly. Bullet library includes all major bullet companies as well as ammunition companies and allows for addition of new and custom bullets. Renowned Sierra Ballistic Consultants Ted Almgren and Dr. Bill McDonald, who have written all Sierra Software since 1970, also wrote INFINITY. Both are retired Chief Scientists from a major aerospace company. Integrated into the Exterior Ballistic program is the entire Sierra 5th Edition Rifle and Handgun Reloading Data manual. This program is available in CD-Rom format only. System requirements are: Windows 7, Vista or XP, 800x600 resolution (1024x768 recommended), IE 6 or higher, Dot Net Framework 2.0 or higher (included in install), 60MB hard drive space. Sierra Infinity Suite Exterior Ballistic program is only $59.95 + S&H"
I have the Dillon 550 progressive reloading press, if you want to get into reloading. Yes, saves money. dillonprecision dot com
I started with a Lee single stage reloader.
Get a data book. there are many out there, it helps to log all your data so you can learn /remember settings for different loads/ammunition.
Hope this helps
Well, I think it's about time I responded to this thread.
Like Martial Arts and just about anything you can't learn long distance shooting by internet, books, or videos. Shooting is a science that can be a very difficult one if you don't have the proper foundation.
Thanks to our beloved Marine Corps I've learned and been doing long distance shooting since 1984 but not until 2004 did I get into precision long distance shooting. In this case a bolt action, scoped rifle.
So, the first thing you need to figure out is what type of long distance shooting you are going to do. For example, is it only benched fixed distance shooting or different distances, position, moving targets, barricades, barriers. etc etc.
My doctor shoots 1,000 yard matches and wins. While impressive I consider it one dimensional. It's always benched and at a fixed distance. He also has the money to get the latest and top of the line equipment. Every so many matches he changes his barrel. His barrel alone cost more than my whole setup.
This is important. All right so you have a rifle. Get yourself a good bi-pod. There are some very good ones out there but I prefer Harris bi-pods (http://www.harrisbipods.com/). I'll explain why and how later.
Next, a good scope with a Tactical Milling Reticle or Mill-Dot reticle. If you have a duplex you're behind the curve. Again, I'll explain later.
A small sand bag to put under you stock when you're prone.
A good back pack.
As been mentioned a data/log book.
Temperature gauge/wind meter.
A ballistic card for your rifle and the ammunition you are using. I use and like Ballisticcard Systems (http://www.ballisticards.com/).
And, if you can afford it a laser range finder.
All right. Lets talk about the basics. I don't recall did you zero your rifle at 100 yards? If not, do so. This is staring point. Everything else from here can be figured out mathematically.
Ok, why the bi-pod and sand bag. Btw, you can make you're own sand bag with old socks and playground sand. One of our sniper made his with sock and some type of beans. He feels he get a firmer adjustable bag that way.
Prone is the most stable platform. The rifle must be stabilized as well. That's where the bi-pod and sand bag comes in. The front is the bi-pod and the rear in your shoulder is the stock. But, if you just use your shoulder the rifle is in essence free floating. Put the sand bag underneath it with your left hand squeezing it. By squeezing it or not you can do minute adjustments and get a very stable platform.
You can also use your back in lieu of the bi-pods. I do this all the time. I actually have a rifle rest on mine.
This picture was taken of the knife but if you look closely you'll see the rest on the lower portion of the pack. Now, if that's too high for that particular range I can rest the rifle in between the upper smaller pocket and the lower larger pocket.
As far my sand bag I've since moved away from one and utilize one that is attached to the rifle. I use the BALS MK 2 Sniper Bean Bag (http://www.skdtac.com/BALS_MK_2_Sniper_Bean_Bag_p/bal.602.htm) on mine.
Here's a picture of mine on the rifle. The cigar is not standard equipment. :D
Here is me a few years ago in a prone position using a pack and sand bag. I've since given that particular pack to a friend.
That's it for now. I will talk about the other stuff in another post.
Ok, lets talk about a data/log book. For simplicity I'll stick to just calling it a data book. Whatever type of ammunition you use you have to document it. If you purchase you have to document the brand, caliber, type, and lot #. If you're going to reload your own then you have to document all the pertinent spec related to that particular ammunition. I don't reload since I get my ammo issued to me. Plus, .308 is a popular caliber and there are quite a few manufacturers that offer match grade ammo. Although, I can imagine that if you do a lot of shooting it can get expensive. You may have to shoot different ammo and weights to find which ones are best through your rifle. Some do better with Winchesters, others with Federal, or even Black Hills.
Key things to document in your data book. Distance, time, temperature, wind speed and direction, POA/POI and cold bore shot. Cold bore means that first shot coming out of the rifle. The rifle is cool or cold thus cold bore. As you continue to shoot the rifle gets hot and can change your POI. This is very important if you're going to compete. That first shot can mean the difference between a hit or a miss. In my line of work that's even more important. That's why our rifles are zero'd in on a cold bore.
Temperature can affect your shot. So you have to shoot and document all the temperatures you're going to shoot in. For example, I know that if the temperature drops below 36 degrees my round drops a half inch.
Keep track of your round count. As you put more rounds through the rifle your rifle will eventually break in and settle in. But, also keep track and know how many rounds the manufacturer recommends before you have to re-barrel your rifle. Don't worry that'll be awhile. I've had mine for 6 years I shoot every month, competed three times with it and I'm only reaching 900 rounds through the rifle.
Learn to read winds speed and directions. Also mirages can and will have an affect on your shots.
That's it for now. I'll be back.
Thanks for the info. Tony, you said:
Next, a good scope with a Tactical Milling Reticle or Mill-Dot reticle. If you have a duplex you're behind the curve. What is a "duplex?"
At the moment, I have a 17 hmr (Savage 93R17 BTVS), with a 3.5-10x scope. From what I have read and from people I have talked to, this should be good out to about 300 yards. I did zero my rifle at 100 yards. (at least enough to get 1.5 inch groupings on the bullseye, from a prone position with a sandbag under the barrel) I have been looking into getting a bipod.
The reason I got the 17 hmr, instead of something bigger, like a 308, is that I want to learn how to shoot first. (the price of rim fire ammo to 308 looks pretty good too) I figure, if I can shoot accurately at 300 yards, in all the positions, that would be a good starting point. At the moment, I want to learn the unsupported positions, standing, kneeling, sitting and prone. My biggest issue right now, is finding out about those positions. For some reason, most books just mention the positions in passing, on the way to the bullet drop data.
3.5 X 10 is fine.
Here is a duplex reticle.
Here is a mill dot reticle.
Now here is a Tactical Milling Reticle or TMR.
The mill dots and TMR assist in range estimation and hold overs.
I got sniper training next week. If I remember I will take some pictures of the positions.
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