Back to Rifles

Basics to long-range hunting gear

Basics to long-range hunting gear

All photo credits: Anthony Wright

Long-range hunting is a widely used term in today's forums, articles, and marketing, but what does it really mean? I recently did a post on my Instagram that asked people what they considered to be a “long-range” shot on a game. The responses were just as I figured. Long-range isn’t an exact number. For some, it maybe 200 to 300 yards and, for others, it may be as far as 800 yards. Taking those types of shots—especially at a game animal—is dependent on how comfortable you are behind your weapon along with how often you practice different hunting and shooting positions in less than ideal environmental conditions. Taking longer shots isn't anything to approach lightly; it is your responsibility to be as accurate as you can when placing the reticle on game. You could have the most accurate rifle in the gun shop, but if you don’t know how to use it to its full potential then what good is it? Let's go over some fundamental pieces of a kit, that I would highly recommend, if you are beginning to venture into the highly popular realm of long-range hunting.

Practice, practice, practice

I mentioned this tip in one of my previous articles. Although it's not an actual piece of tangible gear, it is a tangible fundamental. Just like any other thing you do in life well: you have to practice in order to build that muscle memory. With good practice comes confidence; with confidence comes accuracy. In my opinion, longer-range shots always require being in the prone position off a bipod, so practice everything from deploying your bipod, trigger control, bolt manipulation and keeping your rifle on the target while reloading. These practice techniques can actually be done in-home in your living room with zero ammo required or with Snap Cap dummy rounds. You would be surprised how much you and the rifle move when performing these tasks even if they may seem simple. Dry firing centerfire rifles does not harm the firing assembly, so dry fire away! Once you’ve nailed down the in-home portions, move to the range and stick to the same process you practiced in the living room. Also, be sure to mix in some shorter shots from unimproved positions (off a backpack, angled shots, seated, etc.).


Practicing long distance rifle shots

To me, this is a must-have for distance shooting and is well worth the weight it adds to your rifle setup. With plenty of brands on the market, I highly suggest paying for a respectable brand rather than the knock-offs or cheaper options in retail stores. Be sure to find a bipod that works best for your needs and has some solid adjustability, I personally have been using a Harris 6-9 with spiked feet and a Pod-Lok for ease of adjusting cant tension. Although I've used the Harris for over a decade, I recently had the opportunity to use the Atlas bipod on a successful spring bear hunt and they are both awesome options.

Rear support

Once you have the front of the rifle supported and stable, it's time to secure the rear end. You can do this in a couple of different ways. First, you can carry a dedicated lightweight poly bead-filled bag, which will rest between the butt of your rifle and the ground and provide an exceptional amount of stability. Second, you can use an apparatus like the Rugged Ridge Outdoor Gear Rear Support. The Rugged Ridge support locks in a V-shape that stabilizes your buttstock. It only weighs 4.4 oz, making it a light addition to your pack! Lastly, you can use a jacket, extra layers or whatever you can find to help fill the void between the ground and rifle if that’s your only option.

Gear Shop bar

The rifle

I won't sugar coat it—the long-range game isn't cheap! Without diving into a deep dark rabbit hole, I will simply say find a rifle that is accurate and comes from a reputable manufacturer. You get what you pay for when it comes to choosing your rifle, so don’t skimp out on a cheap one and expect it to be phenomenal. Be sure to use premium ammunition as well. You wouldn’t put regular gas in a race car, right? So feed your rifle the good stuff. Caliber can also play a factor. It's well-known that some of the best hunting bullets based on efficiency are in the .264 (6.5) and .30 caliber classes. Make sure you choose the right caliber to get the job done. Also, a muzzle brake is a great add-on so you can keep the rifle on target for seeing impact or if need be, a follow-up shot.

Optics and electronics

Optics and electronics

Having a high quality, repeatable optic with exposed/adjustable turrets to top off your rifle is highly recommended. This enables you to “dial” your scope to the exact required value needed to hit your target without using a hold-over. As far as electronics go, I would get a gadget like a Kestrel wind meter so you know what direction the wind is coming from as well as the value of wind in MPH. This way, you can add that variable into your ballistic calculator to be as accurate as you can. Another key electronic would be your rangefinder. Rangefinders come in a variety of prices, so it’s important to check out the ones with positive reviews. I've used the Sig Kilo 2200 for the past three years, which has been great, but may upgrade to something with a ballistic calculator built-in to be more efficient like the Sig Kilo 2400ABS.

Know your ballistics

Know your ballistics

Taking the time to chronograph, verify and use a ballistic calculator is another must-have. You need to be sure you know where your bullet is going to impact at specific distances. Luckily, in today's world of technology, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist. Do a little research on different ways to make a drop chart. Some can be complicated, but, with a little research, you'll start to understand. If you'd like to see how Brady or I built a drop chart throw a comment below!

In conclusion

Like I mentioned, this long-range world can be a dark hole with information. I hope that I have shone a little light on the subject to give you an idea of what to do if you’re just getting started. This isn’t a guide to make you an expert marksman, but to guide you in the right direction. I can't stress the importance of practicing enough. It’s the most critical aspect when it comes to hunting at longer ranges. Be sure to add what gear you like to use in the comments section!

Stay safe and hunt hard!



Log in or register to post comments.

matthew a. - posted 2 months ago on 01-17-2020 03:35:20 am
Sheridan, WY

If you reload- buy the labradar. Anything beyond 800 yards - MV variations are more important that sub moa accuracy in most caliber / projectile combinations.

Anthony W. - posted 2 months ago on 01-16-2020 09:34:37 pm

Marcos- I really like the magneto speed chrono. But also own a simple Caldwell as well. Have had good luck with both.

Marcos E. - posted 2 months ago on 01-16-2020 09:29:26 pm
Chubbuck, ID

Any chronograph recommendations??

Alexander K. - posted 2 months ago on 01-16-2020 12:07:10 pm
Denver, CO

I should add that I do not shoot game at that distance, just targets.

Alexander K. - posted 2 months ago on 01-16-2020 12:05:27 pm
Denver, CO

Jake - I successfully shoot out to <1200 yards accurately with the Leupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18. I rarely have the magnification set over 10x. The one thing I recommend is owning a First Focal Plane Scope vs. a second focal plane. The difference is that the measurement on the FFP reticle (mils or MOA) stay the same despite the zoom while the SFP scope reticle hash marks are only accurate at a set zoom. This allows me to hold for wind calls with a better field of view. If I have confused you, there are MUCH better resources than me on the web.

Anthony W. - posted 2 months ago on 01-16-2020 11:18:59 am

Deacon- Hopefully in the future with enough demand Brady and myself will team up for a video going over both our techniques!

Isaac- That's a hard question to answer. There's so many right now. Its definitely a consumer's market. It all depends on budget. Shoot me a DM on IG and I can lead you in the right direction!

Jake- once again. Alot of great options in the 5-25x range to fulfill 1000yards. I also like the 3-18x options for weight savings. They too are plenty for 1000+ yards. Aa far as ballistic calculators: Hornady, Shooter App, Bullet drop app, Applied Ballistics calculator

Doug P. - posted 2 months ago on 01-16-2020 04:03:53 am
Midway, UT

Dark Hole is correct. Talk to a dozen long range builders and get a dozen different answers. Bottom line is if your in the market then make sure you shoot the gun your buying first. The totally honest builders will take a deposit, build, then shoot 1,000 yards in front of you. Provide load data, etc.

Deacon M. - posted 2 months ago on 01-15-2020 09:57:35 pm
Denver, Co

How did you go about making your chart, BCs out there are ok but not amazing. A step by step article would be awesome.

Isaac W. - posted 2 months ago on 01-15-2020 06:20:51 pm

Great article. What rifle would you reccommend?

Jake E. - posted 2 months ago on 01-15-2020 04:08:19 pm

Awesome article! Really like how you first point is talking about practice, as I think that's the most important item too!

What would you recommend for a rifle scope? Primarily for magnification for like up to 1000 yds?
Also, could you explain or tell me where I could find an easy way to explain ballistic calculator?