So you’re looking to transition to long-range hunting. You’ve had your luck targeting deer and varmints and want to give those black bears a shot.
That is something different from what you’re used to doing. You probably aren’t sure what, in fact, it takes to pursue an elk from 500 yards away -- or to shoot a moose that’s sitting way beyond that.
Sure, contrary to hitting deer that’s 20 yards away, getting a bullet to hit the target hundreds of yards away can be a daunting experience.
Some shooters take training classes to accomplish this task. Others attend local matches just to learn the basics. And some more choose to stay away from the game altogether.
Even so, whatever you want to do to make it a success, you have to know the basics of long range hunting.
Take Your Long-Range Shots the next Level with These Pointers
While long-range hunting might be intimidating, at least initially, you can shoot like a pro by applying the following tips.
And since we're talking about ranges in the several hundred range, we'll be concentrating on rifles as the weapon of choice.
Use the right ammo
Agree or not, you won’t have the same success using the same ammo shooting different game. Different ammo is designed for different game. What you use to target black bear probably won't work on moose.
You want to use the .444 Marlin if you’re going to target black bears. In the same vein, load your gun with the .300 Win Mag to fire on elk. And, when it comes to hunting moose, you’re good to go with the .375 H&H.
You should also match your rifle with its designated ammunition. Using the wrong ammo can be not only inaccurate but also inconsistent.
Keep your rifle barrel clean
How’s your barrel sending bullets to the target? If it’s shooting with patterns instead of consistent groups, chances are it may be fouled.
Yes, there’s some copper trapped in there.
Barrels get contaminated to some extent during firing, compromising their longevity – and the accuracy of your rifle. Ensure you’re cleaning them, just like other machine pieces.
Copper fouling and powder residues make your rifle discharge unreliably, affecting optimum functionality. So, remove this accuracy-destroying copper build-up in your barrel, as soon as you spot it.
Sure, it may be far from exciting, but cleaning the barrel should be on your to-do list if you’re looking to succeed in long-range shooting.
Long Range Hunting: Be careful how you prone
Looking to crush it in this game? Then prone like an expert.
Prone is the most accurate of shooting positions. In fact, Jeff Copper calls it “the bread and butter of a skilled rifleman.”
This posture helps improve a hunter’s stability while minimizing the effects of recoil during the action, especially in precise shooting.
Nevertheless, you want to prone like a pro, whether you’re firing with a bipod or not. Here's what we mean:
Keep everything level
Often, your scope might seem aligned to the axis of your rifle, but your eyes can’t really level that in the field. And that’s where precise-measurement tools come in.
A spirit bubble, a.k.a. level bubble, might well fit here.
Using level bubbles for precise measurement is a long tradition. It could help avoid eye misalignment while in the field.
Don’t worry, using this tool is as simple as ABC. Just mount it to the scope while leveling it up to the reticle, and you’re good to go!
Break in properly
Not all barrels are ready for action right from the box. You need to break into some of those for optimal functionality.
Breaking in helps enhance the accuracy of your gun, and it’s a key step if you’re looking to up your hunting game.
You should also know that breaking in takes time, at least when it comes to long-range hunting. For that matter, utilize cheaper caliber, provided it’s compatible with your firearm.
Just don’t fail to clean that bore after each shot. You don’t want copper building in there during this time. Doing so could compromise the accuracy of the barrel, even if it’s properly broken in.
Are the rifle screws tight?
A rifle’s operational components should be assembled firmly for improved performance. And that’s where action screws come in.
Depending on their tightness, stock and scope screws can affect a rifle’s accuracy, bedding, and torque.
But the question is, just how tight should these action screws be?
Well, they should be tight enough for a close-fitting and stable foundation of your gun’s functional parts. A snug fit helps keep the pressure constant between the barrel and stock – you don’t want these parts deforming due to a pressure imbalance.
Check often to ensure that action screws are tight. If you’re unsure how to tighten these, recheck your manual, talk with the manufacturers, or consult the gunsmith.
Check that trigger pull
Consistency in trigger control is one of the ways you’re going to make accurate shots. Use the same technique whenever, and ensure you’re having a seamless, clean break while doing so.
Got a trigger with too much creep? Proceed to the gunsmith.
Otherwise, you’ll give it room to deform gradually over time, particularly when placed under load. Which ultimately decreases its clamping force.
Utilize quality rings
It doesn’t matter if you’re on a budget, but you should be purchasing quality rings and mounts. And it helps ensure a secure scope-to-gun connection.
It can be inconvenient getting inconsistent performance just because the scope isn't fixed firmly to your rifle.
For better results, you want to use low mounts with smaller optics. Note that adjusting a scope beyond its maximum range tends to give a crooked, darker image.
Do it right, and you will never have to worry over any loose wheels. That often is the cause for overspending ammunition and precious time on the target.
Do you know how to read the wind?
How good are you at reading the wind?
Let’s face it: The technical jargon used to describe wind conditions in precision shooting can be a bit complicated.
A 3 o’clock wind, for instance, doesn’t mean the wind is blowing at 3 o’clock.
From wind direction to wind value, learning to read the wind is crucial in long-range hunting. It lets you know when to adjust your scope for windage so you can make accurate shots.
Just in case you had no idea, wind changes a bullet’s value of contact.
A full-value wind, for instance, will not only point the bullet in the wind’s direction but also it’ll alter the vertical point of impact.
Among other things, here’s what you should also know: A 12 o’clock wind will slow down a bullet, and a 6 o’clock wind is likely to increase its velocity to a small extent.
On the same vein, a 3 o’clock will push ammunition in an upward diagonal movement to the left. And a 9 o’clock wind is likely to drive bullets downwards diagonally, to the right.
Knowing this and more will let you know how the different types of winds affect a bullet’s value of contact.
Long Range Hunting: Your scope matters
Without a reliable scope, all of the tips above are near useless.
Ensure you’re investing in the best scope you can find so you can set your eyes on the target hassle-free, even in unfriendly conditions.
An ideal scope for long-range hunting should feature sharp glass as well a reliable magnification range. Don’t overlook the need for a large objective lens, either. That helps gather more light, considering the dim-lighting conditions long-range hunting is associated with.
Among other things, you want a rifle scope with decent eye relief
Long Range Hunting: Make Accurate Shots, All the Time
Sure, long-range hunting can be intimidating, but countless folks have had success doing it. What could they be doing right that you’re probably doing wrong? We hope these tips help answer that question.
And no, don’t just avoid the game altogether because you aren’t sure how stuff works. If you haven't, you should start taking gun classes or attending local matches, or both. After all, our detailed tips should come in handy.
Are you a professional long-range hunter? What tips do you have to share? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments.