You're going to need a good rifle, a quality scope, a bipod, a butt-cuff and more
Shooting Illustrated's Richard Mann takes you through the basic steps of becoming an effective long range marksman:
Long Range for Dummies
You don’t need $8,000 worth of gear and Navy SEAL sniper training to connect at 500 yards. Get hits by keeping things simple.
Whacking targets at stupidly long ranges has become the cool thing to do. Indeed, it’s gratifying to get behind a rifle, fire a single shot and hit a target the size of a guitar five football fields away. For many, this mastery of ballistics and pulling triggers seems as complicated as calculus and as expensive as an addiction. It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, even an average rifleman with about $3,000 in equipment can be deadly efficient out to 500 yards, with no training at all.
Look at the gear many suggest you need for long-range shooting, and you’ll quickly see why the experts think we’re all trust-fund kids with money to burn. There’s no question the tools of the long-range shooting trade have become highly sophisticated and amazingly precise. They can also be overly complicated for the fellow who just wants to hit the range every month or so and impress onlookers.
Most modern long-range tools are designed for practiced military snipers. If that’s who you are, you’re wasting your time reading this; go play X-Box or watch “The Bachelorette.” This article is a reality show for real folks. With the right equipment, real, average guys can be just as effective out to 500 yards as most wannabe ninja operatives who call themselves a sniper—even if they have been to high-dollar, long-range shooting schools.
You’re gonna need a rifle, and rifles can be expensive. I recently tested a very fine-shooting, custom sniper rifle that could repeatedly put five shots into a single hole at 100 yards. That rifle cost almost $4,000. I cannot afford a four-grand rifle, and the fact is, you don’t need a high-dollar model. If you want one and have the money, go for it. I have three kids and a mortgage, so I took a more practical approach and chose a Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD in .308 Win. Suggested retail: $780. Street price: $645.
With the Black Hills 175-grain Match hollow-point load, this rifle shoots astoundingly well; just as well as the four-grand custom rifle. Combine this precision with a 1:10-inch twist, 20-inch heavy barrel (which also has a threaded muzzle), a Hogue OverMolded Pillar Bed Ghillie Green Stock and Remington’s externally adjustable X-Mark Pro trigger—which felt every bit as good as a Timney—and you’ve got yourself an incomparable bargain when it comes to precision rifles.
You’ll need accessories, too. For starters, there’s the bipod. Harris bipods have been the industry standard for a long time, and that’s the route I went. Serious long-range rifle work is conducted from the prone position, and from there, a 6- to 9-inch bipod is ideal. Both fixed and swivel versions are available. The latter offers a bit more leeway in positioning, but it’s not a must. I chose the fixed version and Brownells had one headed my way for $80.
A butt-cuff or cheek rest is a good idea, too. It positions your eye properly behind the scope and provides storage for extra ammo and important accessories. Shop around and find one you like. I selected the IVS Performance Cheek Pad from Blackhawk. It’s adjustable, and you can build up under it to create an optimal cheek weld. It also holds five cartridges externally and has a generous storage pocket that comes in handy ...
Read the rest of Mann's article about Shooting at Long Range for Dummies on ShootingIllustrated.com.