In 2017, a Canadian solider set the record for the longest successful shot at over 3,540 meters. Not too shabby. Add to it that they also happened to neutralize an ISIS target in Iraq, and it’s ridiculously impressive.
Just how difficult is it to hit a target under these circumstances? Sharpshooters have to troubleshoot for a LOT of variables.
Wind speed and direction.
And then there’s the gun itself.
All these factors will play a major role in messing with aim at greater distances.
Oh, and the chef’s kiss on difficulty? Fired projectiles get dragged down by gravity throughout their trajectory. This is called “bullet drop.” Even slight under or over-corrections can result in a missed shot.
It doesn’t take a ton of skill to shoot the broad side of a barn. At 300 feet or closer it takes little more than pointing and shooting. Not much will throw your aim off-target. But performing a shot even 1/4 of this world record effort requires a piece of equipment capable of it and intimate knowledge of how it handles. We’re talking about the kind of connection with your rifle that you finish each other’s sentences and never go to bed angry with.
It’s no good worrying about the Coriolis effect if you have no clue how to correct bullet drop to the target. Synching your shot with your breath won’t help you figure out density altitude…
We won’t let this happen to you. Most fundamentals aren’t any fun to learn but not having them will drive you mental. Developing solid close-range habits until they become automatic is essential if you’re setting your sights on specializing in going the distance.
This is your last warning. Do not proceed unless you have the skills to successfully start studying sniping.
To master “going long,” you’ll need to become a frickin scientist. Also, a meteorologist: Today’s forecast? Raining bullets. And lastly, a mathematician. “I call this next trick, the magic bullet.” There’s a lot more than distance you need to compensate for. There is no room for poor technique or bad habits when the bullet “time in-flight” can last almost two seconds.
ONLY THE BEST
Building a “total shooting solution” is the prerequisite to becoming an SSS (Sharpshooter Student). Each part should be well-tuned and tested, from the rangefinder to the ammunition and the rifle/scope. Rifles in the .223 – .260 caliber range are the most user-friendly and will help you avoid bad habits like flinching and jerking the trigger. We’d be happy to chat with you about finding something that will work for you.
You’ll need the best equipment and ammunition you can afford. AND and the experience of using it together. On repeat. The more variables you can control, the better shooter you will become. Shoot the same weight bullet you’ll use when it’s time to hunt or compete. Don’t waste your money on high-tech rounds.
Oil up your gun! Like your favourite baseball mitt, you’re gunna wanna break it in. Many professional snipers find they’re a better shot with a dirty gun and won’t clean their rifles for 200 to 300 rounds.
THE ART OF THE SHOT
Sorta like your bitter ex, the kick of the gun will always tell you what you are doing wrong. You want the gun to come straight back into you. If the scope doesn’t fall right back on target it’s time to change things up until it does.
It’s hard to give concrete advice about shoulder pressure. It’s different for everyone. With various weights, shapes and recoil, each person needs the right kind of support to control the shot. Find where your rifle’s “happy place” on your body is and figure out the pressure you need to apply to sustain it between shots.
Take three deep breaths. On your third exhale, let out all your air. That 1- to 3-second pause is the money spot to shoot your shot.
The Follow Through
You’ve heard it from everyone, from your hockey coach to your parents to your drinking buddies. Follow-through. Is. Everything
Slow and steady, squeeze until your shot breaks. Hold onto that squeeze to the rear and then release the trigger to the front. This way, you avoid upsetting the rifle aim point during the shot.
And for the love of gravy, control yourself! Resist the temptation to take your head off the gun and look downrange at the shot. This is one time you do not want to keep your head on a swivel.
Keep your head on the stock and your eyes locked for 2s after the shot. Finish the ritual by running the bolt for the next shot without moving the rifle.
See the shot hit (or not) through the scope. Even with a spotter, this is the best way to see where you’ll have to make adjustments.
THE SCIENCE OF THE SHOT
We know. You counted on math not finding its way into your guns. Well, we’re not sorry. Like a double-double or a double negative, this is actually pretty positive. Know-how with ballistics, angles, baselines and calibers is gunna get you gooder at shooting stuff that’s wayyyyyyy out there, eh!
Do not accept your gun as zeroed until you get three consecutive rounds within a 1-inch square at 100 yards.
Introduction to Nature
Remember when we taught you that killer math hat trick in the previous lesson? Zero your rifle under good conditions, not too bright or hot. Knowing your rifle’s baseline is set based on a “no wind” reading is crucial. Heat can also create big “mirage” issues, making an accurate shot harder through a scope.
Don’t be like the wind!
It’s never consistent. In winter it’s a little too eager to Netflix and CHILL. There can be many wind directions and speeds between you and a target. You need to recognize and adapt to it. For a sniper, the key WIND to know for a WIN is at two-thirds of the way to the target. Then, there is the fun to say but tricky to understand “Coriolis Effect,” aka hemispheric drift. Learning about how to compensate for it will make a big diff.
The point of impact
Most seasoned shooters know bullets travel out of the barrel in an arc, not a flat line. Take a few shots at targets ranging between 100-200 yards from a held position. Write down where your hits are grouped. Then, move further back. Compare and adjust to the point of impact at near point-blank ranges to the further-out ones.
There are countless ways to level up and improve your long-distance accuracy. From proper posture to trigger control, gun maintenance to round preferences. Practice may not make you perfect, but perfect practice will get you very close!
Hit the books, and before you know it, you’ll be getting GREAT MARKS, MAN.
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