20x Spotting

Best Long Range Calibre to Start on?

Hey, All!!

I'm looking to get into the world of long distance precision shooting (1,000 yards is my goal but beyond that would be great!!).

I have got some training in rifle marksmanship from my days as a Police Cadet. I learned many things from my regular training and special training sessions from guys who were SWAT/SRT and other Patrol Officers of up to 30 years+. As good as the knowledge is, it's not enough for me to "know what I'm doing" and I've never been able to put the training to use.

I am only going to be able to afford to put together one bolt rifle. I want this rifle to be a good firearm for me to learn the basics and become proficient on. This will be a paper-punching gun for me to relieve some stress and relax -MAYBE go out and drop a coyote or other medium game, if needed.

What caliber would you recommend and why? I'll be hand-loading so scarce rounds and wildcats are not much of a problem.

Consider my experience to be pistol, some shotgun and limited .223 AR.

Lots of great answer so far - you seem to have stuck some gold here.

Honestly - you need to have a very solid marksmanship background before you consider moving to long distance....... if you do not have this, all you will have is allot of frustration, allot of expense - and nothing to show for it.

You learn - on a 22 bolt gun. Look at the nicer target models used in college and your local rifle range competitions. If your local range or club does league shooting or matches - get involved. You will learn more being around better shooters - who will help you, and you can watch - than you would learn on your own.

Your next step - get involved in NRA Highpowre Rifle Competition. This is 200, 300 and 600yd shooting with an 'as issued' AR-15, M1 Garand or M1a using iron sights - no scope. You shoot standing slow fire at 200yds, standing to kneeling (10rd in 60 seconds), at 300yd it is 70 seconds to fire 10rds going from standing to prone, then 20rds or more at 600yds prone with 1 minute per round. In slow fire the target goes down, is scored, and comes back up. This kind of shooting - is done sun, rain, snow, sleet....lol..... you will learn to be a good shot. Depending on your scores, you will be ranked marksman, sharpshooter, expert, and Master. That 600yd portion is usually done in mid afternoon when the wind picks up - you learn about bullet drift and compensating for windage.

You need to be good at NRA Highpower before you begin looking at some of the dedicated long distance matches. If you cant judge windage at 200,300 and 600 yards you will totally lost at 1000. The wind that pushes your match bullets around at 300 and 600 - at least you can see the results..... at 1000 you can not only be off the paper on your first round, you can nail someone else's target - that is gonna get you a new nick name and reputation that may take years to live down.

Walk before you run. Shooting a standard NRA 12 bullseye (10 for score and 2 sighters) 22 target - day comes you are in the low to md 90's firing 10rds standing offhand, no sling..... that will be day to go burn more expensive ammo trying this position at 200yds with your AR or M1a.

The equipment you need for doing NRA Highpower - spotting scope, scope stand, shooting stool, shooting mat, Shooting jacket, etc etc - is all equipment you will need later on at 1,000yd matches. That $89 Bushnell 20x spotting scope you own now - is not gonna hold up in the rain or do you much good at 600yds...... the 20x-60x Leupold Wind River that costs 5x more with the 45 degree view angle will. You will find allot of your current equipment lacking ...... and buying top line gear from places like Creedmore Sports a big help to get into the top 10% of shooters.

If your goal is 1,000 - and you actually have a club or range with that distance that you have access to..... then getting a new Springfield Armory Ultra Match M1a is the way to go. (skip the AR). You very much need to find out the who, what, where, and when of shooting at your local club. My local club doesn't have access to a decent range for doing 200, 300 and 600y yard highpower shooting like I am used to doing...... they only have a 100yd range and fire on 'reduced size' targets. This is fun - but total BS and no help to you. You go shoot at your state match - and all of sudden have to lug all your stuff by hand all day - you will be unprepared. And firing at reduced size targets - doesn't teach you how to judge windage. You very, very much need to associate yourself with a club/range firing actual distance NRA highpower matches.

How good of a rifle shooter you become - all depends on your access to a decent range. If all you have is access to a 300yd range - you would not learn much about windage with a 308 at that distance....... but using a 22 Hornet - that would. You want to be good at long distance - you need to train on a cartridge that is not optimal for the distance of your local range - this lets the wind push it around a bit. And be sure to go shooting on nasty days..... most of these long distance matches are held rain or shine - and only the experienced guys who have fired on a blustery day can keep there shots on target.

I earned a spot on the US Coast Guard National Shooting team while active duty. Military matches - use the exact same rules and firearms as the NRA Highpower matches. You can email me your long distance shooting questions.

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