Getting started in Long Range Shooting

Choosing your gear.

One of the first things you might be thinking is, what does it cost to get started in long range shooting?

That tends to be related to your mission, but here we will quickly discuss the basic setup to get started in a general sense. This will give you a feel if it's for you in terms of equipment and budget. Can you afford to get into long range? Long range rifles used to be designed for practiced military snipers, often based on on the Remington Model 700 and other similar actions. Today, with the sport having become popular worldwide, manufacturers have stepped up, offering more cost effective options for the general public. For as little as $2-3000, you can put together a long range "system" (rifle, scope, bipod, range finder, wind meter, cleaning kit and accessories) capable of nailing long range targets out past 1000 yards, using quality ammunition.

So we know we need the “basics” to get started, it is best to focus on your core equipment of rifle and scope first - get the best you can, or save, and make sure you have the right tools to get going. Then you can add on extras. A rifle and scope can be acquired "used" to save money, it’s all about the quality of the system that matters. Examples of budget rifles that all claim sub-MOA accuracy out of the box at long range, are the Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical, the Ruger Precision Rifle, The Tikka T3, Browning X-Bolt Long Range, or the Savage 12 Long Range Precision just to name a few. Today we are spoiled for choices at reasonable prices.

Expert tip: “I don't believe you need a wind meter, LRF and other gadgets to really get started. Rifle, ammo, bipod and rear bag; along with a printed dope card is how we shot long range competitions long before the PRS was a thought in someone's mind.” Mike Rogan, K&M Precision Rifle Training

Of course, there are options to spend a great deal more, such as custom rifles from the likes of Gunwerks and GA (who specialize in long range hunting rifles built to your specification), or the more military type from Accuracy International, Cadex Defence, Surgeon, Barrett, Blaser, Steyr, and many more.

The options are vast, and as usual with any large purchase, taking time to try out what you can, and asking questions at your local club, dealer or Facebook group helps with making the right decision. The time honored saying of "you get what you pay for" generally applies here as does "measure twice and cut once" - Get the very best you can afford, especially with optics (you often want to spend more on optics than the rifle), to avoid having to keep trading up later. You would also do well to consider your "mission" and therefore what caliber rifle you need (hunting, target or match) before you go shopping.

Expert tip: “While generally a good suggestion it is not always the case for a brand new shooter to have to spend more on a scope.  Better to get the best scope that s/he can afford and get learning rather than suffer discouragement due to budget.  I know a lot of shooters ringing long distance with the lesser expensive models. The Athlon Argos BTR for example priced under $400 or the Ares for $800 which is an amazing scope.  In this case the scope does not have to be more costly than the rifle.  Yes it may result in an upgrade at some point but it’s better to get started on whatever budget you have than be discouraged.” Pete Potosky, inventor of the Tracer Hit Light

The Long range precision rifle shooting and hunting course dedicates a large percentage of its content on equipment choices to help you navigate this decision process. In the end, you need a heavy-barreled rifle with a good trigger, bipod and quality stock, plus a good quality higher magnification scope to get started. You will also need high quality "match" ammunition, and few more optional tools, like a rangefinder, wind meter and spotting scope, that we will cover in detail later in the course.

Expert advice: “Don't get caught in the equipment race. No amount of money or equipment will buy you a spot in the winners circle. Buy the best equipment you can afford, find a good load for it and go practice your technique at short range, a lot. Once you are hitting the mark at 100 yards consistently and shooting little bug hole groups then it is time to shoot longer range. Guess what the wind is doing and take a shot. Observe what happened and record that information for later use. Now rinse and repeat often. So many people think it is about the amount of money spent. In reality it's about the amount of time spent practicing.” Daman Pinson (Advanced Long Range Reloading & Shooting Techniques)

Long range shooting is certainly more costly than a basic hunting or target setup, but is also accessible to most shooters with a reasonable budget.


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