Long range shooting

PatMcD

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I don't know why everybody is fascinated with ultra-long range shooting all of a sudden. Especially when they haven't mastered 600 yards, or even 300.
 

Broccoli Iglesias

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To me, a good shooter can make the same shot multiple times. The one offs are fun, and very challenging, but a one off is somewhat BS.

I am impressed by the guys that shoot offhand at 600 yards and put 10 shots in a group the size of a clay target (or smaller), now that's impressive.
 
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I belong to Pelham fish and game and just to qualify on the 200 meter took me a few tries not easy to get 5 shots in the black when you really don’t have a ton of experience shooting past 100 yards and don’t get me started on the 600 it was a while before I qualified for that
 
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I'm good enough with 100 yards. I expect that if I have any encounter (hopefully I do not) it will be within 100 yards or less.

One of my clubs has a 300 yard range. I might try to qualify to use that. But at my age that's about the limit on my eyes with iron sights.
 
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I do shoot my pistol (G34) out to longer distances than most, 200 yards. But at those ranges the ammo is a giant limitation and beyond just having some fun theres no practical use. Most ammo is going to be 2-4MOA from a stock 4-5" barrel. That's a lot of space before you even pick up the gun. Then there's the energy loss to consider.

For things like Jerry Ms 1000yd shot, I would love to see a 100 shot benched group from that gun at same distance. The dispersion has got to be ridiculous even with that quality and his higher end ammo
 

Broccoli Iglesias

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I do shoot my pistol (G34) out to longer distances than most, 200 yards. But at those ranges the ammo is a giant limitation and beyond just having some fun theres no practical use. Most ammo is going to be 2-4MOA from a stock 4-5" barrel. That's a lot of space before you even pick up the gun. Then there's the energy loss to consider.

For things like Jerry Ms 1000yd shot, I would love to see a 100 shot benched group from that gun at same distance. The dispersion has got to be ridiculous even with that quality and his higher end ammo
Dude, thats great shooting at 200 yards with a handgun. Most people cant keep it inside of an 8" circle at 20 yards.
 

RKG

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In theory, down range shot consistency (sometimes a/k/a "accuracy") is an exercise in angles. And if you extrapolate this theory, a shooter who can consistently shoot 1" groups at 100 yards (i.e., 1 MOA) should be able just as consistently to shoot 6" groups at 600 yards and 10" groups at 1,000 yards -- both of which are also 1 MOA.

Regrettably, this theory breaks down when we try to do it. Here's why. Each shot that is fired is affected in it's ultimate trajectory by a long list of factors. At short ranges, like 100 yards, shot-to-shot inconsistency is dominated by one set of factors. Most of those involve shooter technique: trigger discipline, sighting error,breath control.

Once our stalwart shooter has mastered technique, however, two things happen. One is the familiar engineering principle that as a dominant error factor becomes controlled, other factors will become dominant. The other is that as range increases, a number of factors whose contribution to short range error is in the noise now become more important because their coefficient of contribution is non-linear.

A major issue with long range shooting is wind effect. Wind effect on bullet flight is the product of vector magnitude and time of flight. We can estimate time of flight with some precision, but it is virtually impossible to measure the net effect of wind vectors over 1,000 yards. Another knotty factor is BC error. Handloading books usually give one value for BC (Sierra at least usually gives two or three)a, but actual BC varies with instantaneous bullet velocity, which is continuously changing between the muzzle and the target. So, you can chrono your load, look up the bullet maker's published BC value, and then calculate how much holdover is required to hit a 600 yard target with a 200 yard zero'd rifle. If you do this a few times you will find that it never works out. And at 600 or 1,000 yards, BC error can be a lot while it 100 yards it is probably undetectibly small.

We'll skip mercifully over a bunch of other factors, such as muzzle velocity variability caused by ammo varability, propellant temperature sensitivity, and other contributors, barrel resonance, precession, trans-sonic turbulence, and even the Coriolis Effect. Whole books have been written on the subject. Frankly, reading them is less fun than popping off a few long range shots. But, if nothing else, understand that short and long range shooting are two different animals, and adjust your expectations accordingly.
 

McReef

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Most of those involve shooter technique: trigger discipline, sighting error,breath control.

I’d include body position/weapon mounting on the short list, but, in short, it is all about the fundamentals. It is eye opening when you are learning how a seemingly insignificant adjustment in your technique can yield dramatic improvements evident even at shorter ranges.
 
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Shoot the heaviest bullet you can, at the highest velocity possible to eliminate as much wind effect as possible. I.e. for AR I'm shooting 77gr SMKs @ 2770fps (66°F) from 18" barrel. Hand loads.

Calling wind is still a voodoo art form to me.
 

slipknot

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In theory, down range shot consistency (sometimes a/k/a "accuracy") is an exercise in angles. And if you extrapolate this theory, a shooter who can consistently shoot 1" groups at 100 yards (i.e., 1 MOA) should be able just as consistently to shoot 6" groups at 600 yards and 10" groups at 1,000 yards -- both of which are also 1 MOA.

Regrettably, this theory breaks down when we try to do it. Here's why. Each shot that is fired is affected in it's ultimate trajectory by a long list of factors. At short ranges, like 100 yards, shot-to-shot inconsistency is dominated by one set of factors. Most of those involve shooter technique: trigger discipline, sighting error,breath control.

Once our stalwart shooter has mastered technique, however, two things happen. One is the familiar engineering principle that as a dominant error factor becomes controlled, other factors will become dominant. The other is that as range increases, a number of factors whose contribution to short range error is in the noise now become more important because their coefficient of contribution is non-linear.

A major issue with long range shooting is wind effect. Wind effect on bullet flight is the product of vector magnitude and time of flight. We can estimate time of flight with some precision, but it is virtually impossible to measure the net effect of wind vectors over 1,000 yards. Another knotty factor is BC error. Handloading books usually give one value for BC (Sierra at least usually gives two or three)a, but actual BC varies with instantaneous bullet velocity, which is continuously changing between the muzzle and the target. So, you can chrono your load, look up the bullet maker's published BC value, and then calculate how much holdover is required to hit a 600 yard target with a 200 yard zero'd rifle. If you do this a few times you will find that it never works out. And at 600 or 1,000 yards, BC error can be a lot while it 100 yards it is probably undetectibly small.

We'll skip mercifully over a bunch of other factors, such as muzzle velocity variability caused by ammo varability, propellant temperature sensitivity, and other contributors, barrel resonance, precession, trans-sonic turbulence, and even the Coriolis Effect. Whole books have been written on the subject. Frankly, reading them is less fun than popping off a few long range shots. But, if nothing else, understand that short and long range shooting are two different animals, and adjust your expectations accordingly.
That is an impressive mouthful. You sound like you must be a sniper and maybe an instructor also. Thanks for sharing. It is a lot of fun trying while having success and failure learning what to do and not do when stretching out to further distances with experience. What you said about accuracy and BC as bullet speed slows is understandable. Wind calling at 1000 yards is one thing, 1500 yards must be even more difficult. For me learning to deal with wind from 300 out to 600 is going to help me have a chance when I have to go to 1000.


those guys way out past a mile or 2 must be putting a lot of effort to get there for sure.
 

Mountain

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I'll agree that calling the wind is still a bit of a black art, at least for me. I can get close enough for 600 yd shooting to maintain a decent score or get a first shot hit on a torso sized plate, but I'm not good enough (yet?) to be in the money for a competition. A few pointers:
  • Develop and maintain the skill set for sub moa shooting, min distance 100 yards but 200 yards better to start.
  • Develop a consistently accurate (sub moa) load for the appropriate rifle that is sub moa capable.
  • Get the actual chronograph data from your load. know the ballistic coefficient for your projectile, and crunch some accurate ballistics. I like this website for the ballistics calculations: JBM - Calculations. This will get you in the ballpark.
  • I can usually swag windage if I run a 90 degree, 10 mph crosswind calculation, but it would be better to calculate a few different wind scenarios.
  • If your home range doesn't have longer distances: Once you calculate your come-ups in moa or mils, you can verify your scope settings for the come-ups by marking them on a target the appropriate distance upward from your 'zero'. E.g. if you are shooting at 100 yards and your come-up to 200 yards is 2 moa, place a marker / small target dot 2.08" above the center of your 100 yard 'zero' target. You may be surprised how many moa is the come-up from 100 to 600 yards.
  • Once you make the calcs and mark your target for the various come-ups, run your elevation up and down for several shots to make sure your scope is tracking properly.
Do this correctly and you can take this to as far as 600 yards, IMHO.

A recent lesson learned for me was not to stick with a lighter bullet for 600 just because it's a laser at 100 and 200 yards. I did some 'careful fitting' (CMP guys will know this term, LOL) with a Mosin PU sniper I bought off of another NESer and was able to get consistent groups below 1" at 100. Hornady 150 SST's are outstanding in this rifle, at least at moderate distances. In a recent vintage sniper match I did well at 300 with this load, scoring mid-90's out of a possible 100. At 600 I had no misses nor even any bad shots, but I did drop a few more points. The 150's with their lighter weight and flat base were getting pushed around too much at 600, on top of my so-so skills.

Note that I had never shot the PU sniper beyond 100 yards but was able to shoot quite well at 300 and decently at 600 by 'knowing my dope' and practicing the come-ups at 100 yards. I'd prefer to first practice at longer distances (which would have told me the 150's blow at 600), but that wasn't possible this time.

A final comment: I find shooting at 600 yards challenging but not super difficult. Reaching out to 800 and 1000 yards, the difficulty factor increases a LOT.
 
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RKG

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There actually is a technique that has the potential for allowing a long range shooter to quantify un-measurable factors affecting long range shots. It is sometimes called "walking in."

Let's say we want to hit a 2 MOA steel disk at 1,000 yards. Let us assume we have honed our shooter skills, and that we have developed a load that minimizes shot-to-shot variability in powder charge, powder burn, and barrel flex. But we still have to deal with unknown wind effect and unknown bullet drop.

So what we do is take a first shot. Ignore wind altogether and employ our best guess for bullet drop. You'll miss, but if your spotter is doing his job, he'll tell you how much you missed up and down and left or right. Correct for these and you may hear a ding on the second shot, or maybe the third.

Now, there's a couple problems with this technique. In competitive matches where every shot is for record, you'll record a couple of misses. If sighters are allowed, use them to walk your record shots in.

In combat, the dude we want to ice 1,000 or more yards away isn't going to sit around while we dope the shot. What we may be able to do, however, is find a different target that lases the same range and is more or less in the same direction but 10 degrees or so off. Walk a shot into that second target, note the error, and try "for record."

There was a telling application of this some years ago in an episode of Top Shot. Challenge was one shot on a pretty large target at 1,000 yards with a Barrett M82. Quickest time to hit won. First guy was a fellow who supposedly had some real world experience with the Barrett. He plopped down, fussed with doping for a full minute, and then hit on first shot. Second guy was a Navy corpsman who had never touched a Barrett. He fired a quick shot and missed wide. He fired a second shot and missed by two feet. He then fired a third shot and hit. Elapsed time something 20 seconds, and second guy won.
 

PatMcD

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In theory, down range shot consistency (sometimes a/k/a "accuracy") is an exercise in angles. And if you extrapolate this theory, a shooter who can consistently shoot 1" groups at 100 yards (i.e., 1 MOA) should be able just as consistently to shoot 6" groups at 600 yards and 10" groups at 1,000 yards -- both of which are also 1 MOA.

Regrettably, this theory breaks down when we try to do it. Here's why. Each shot that is fired is affected in it's ultimate trajectory by a long list of factors. At short ranges, like 100 yards, shot-to-shot inconsistency is dominated by one set of factors. Most of those involve shooter technique: trigger discipline, sighting error,breath control.

Once our stalwart shooter has mastered technique, however, two things happen. One is the familiar engineering principle that as a dominant error factor becomes controlled, other factors will become dominant. The other is that as range increases, a number of factors whose contribution to short range error is in the noise now become more important because their coefficient of contribution is non-linear.

A major issue with long range shooting is wind effect. Wind effect on bullet flight is the product of vector magnitude and time of flight. We can estimate time of flight with some precision, but it is virtually impossible to measure the net effect of wind vectors over 1,000 yards. Another knotty factor is BC error. Handloading books usually give one value for BC (Sierra at least usually gives two or three)a, but actual BC varies with instantaneous bullet velocity, which is continuously changing between the muzzle and the target. So, you can chrono your load, look up the bullet maker's published BC value, and then calculate how much holdover is required to hit a 600 yard target with a 200 yard zero'd rifle. If you do this a few times you will find that it never works out. And at 600 or 1,000 yards, BC error can be a lot while it 100 yards it is probably undetectibly small.

We'll skip mercifully over a bunch of other factors, such as muzzle velocity variability caused by ammo varability, propellant temperature sensitivity, and other contributors, barrel resonance, precession, trans-sonic turbulence, and even the Coriolis Effect. Whole books have been written on the subject. Frankly, reading them is less fun than popping off a few long range shots. But, if nothing else, understand that short and long range shooting are two different animals, and adjust your expectations accordingly.

In my experience, it always works out. Give me a known load and a known 100 or 200 yard zero and I can easily have a person shooting within 12" of center of a 600 yard target, usually within 6".
 

Mountain

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In my experience, it always works out. Give me a known load and a known 100 or 200 yard zero and I can easily have a person shooting within 12" of center of a 600 yard target, usually within 6".

I'd agree for 600. IMHO not so easy to do that at 1,000. M82 I think 1.5 MOA with target ammo? So not so easy with that.
 
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In theory, down range shot consistency (sometimes a/k/a "accuracy") is an exercise in angles. And if you extrapolate this theory, a shooter who can consistently shoot 1" groups at 100 yards (i.e., 1 MOA) should be able just as consistently to shoot 6" groups at 600 yards and 10" groups at 1,000 yards -- both of which are also 1 MOA.

Regrettably, this theory breaks down when we try to do it. Here's why. Each shot that is fired is affected in it's ultimate trajectory by a long list of factors. At short ranges, like 100 yards, shot-to-shot inconsistency is dominated by one set of factors. Most of those involve shooter technique: trigger discipline, sighting error,breath control.

Once our stalwart shooter has mastered technique, however, two things happen. One is the familiar engineering principle that as a dominant error factor becomes controlled, other factors will become dominant. The other is that as range increases, a number of factors whose contribution to short range error is in the noise now become more important because their coefficient of contribution is non-linear.

A major issue with long range shooting is wind effect. Wind effect on bullet flight is the product of vector magnitude and time of flight. We can estimate time of flight with some precision, but it is virtually impossible to measure the net effect of wind vectors over 1,000 yards. Another knotty factor is BC error. Handloading books usually give one value for BC (Sierra at least usually gives two or three)a, but actual BC varies with instantaneous bullet velocity, which is continuously changing between the muzzle and the target. So, you can chrono your load, look up the bullet maker's published BC value, and then calculate how much holdover is required to hit a 600 yard target with a 200 yard zero'd rifle. If you do this a few times you will find that it never works out. And at 600 or 1,000 yards, BC error can be a lot while it 100 yards it is probably undetectibly small.

We'll skip mercifully over a bunch of other factors, such as muzzle velocity variability caused by ammo varability, propellant temperature sensitivity, and other contributors, barrel resonance, precession, trans-sonic turbulence, and even the Coriolis Effect. Whole books have been written on the subject. Frankly, reading them is less fun than popping off a few long range shots. But, if nothing else, understand that short and long range shooting are two different animals, and adjust your expectations accordingly.

To illustrate one of the items RKG mentioned as a very minor factor, lets consider muzzle velocity variation. Or standard deviation as its called.

I did a class at Sig where over the course of 4 days we worked our way out to 1000 yards. I shot a .308 with my own 175 gr reloads.

my standard deviation was 6 fps. Federal Gold Medal Match averages about 15 fps. American made mil surp ammo averageds 30 fps.

At 100 yards, a SD of 30 fps means a variability in vertical impact in the .1" range.

At 1000 yards its 35"!!!

So at 1000 yards even muzzle velocity consistency is a big deal. As is spin drift, corriolis (sp?) effect, and mostly wind drift.

My numbers may be a bit off. I did the math on this several years ago. But the principal as well as the rough numbers are sound.
 
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