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To Take or Not Take That Long Range Shot

Steven Woodruff of says, "Visit us at Range Finder Rifle Scopes. Our selection of rifle scopes feature rangefinder reticles like the Mil-Dot or built-in laser range finders.

To begin with letís define what a long range shot is then we can discuss what contributes to successful long range shooting.† We begin by recognizing that what is a long range shot varies from one shooter to another even when using the same cartridge and guns of similar accuracy potential.† This is solely a matter of experience or in other words practice.† For example an average hunter seeking deer or antelope with a .308 300 yards starts to become long range or maybe 400 yards if he has a long enough practice range and time enough to practice regularly.† A military sniper that fires perhaps thousands of rounds per month will consistently hit targets with that same .308 out to 600-800 yards and more.† For hunters letís discuss what is a long range shot and how to be more successful at long range shooting.

1.†††††† The first and most basic element of a long range shot is you the shooter.† The fundamental ethic of game hunting is that every pull of the trigger is made with a quick and clean kill in mind.† That means only shooting if you have a high probability of placing the first shot† in the kill zone.† For most large game that is the heart-lung area and for deer which are the most popular large game that target area is about the size of a paper plate.† I set a personal maximum range as that distance for each rifle-cartridge combination at which I can keep all shots inside a paper plate.

2.†††††† Obviously the first and most basic element of a long range shot is the cartridge.† For a .22LR 150 yards is definitely a long shot.† As discussed above,† with a .308 300-400 yards may be a long range shot.

3.†††††† One consideration is again the cartridge youíre shooting but now instead of concern about ability to hit the target you need to think about bullet energy when it hits the target.† I would shoot at an antelope at 300 yards with a .243 but I would not take a shot at a moose at 300 yards with a .243.† Why?† Because I personally do not believe the .243 has enough energy at 300 yards to ensure a quick, clean kill of an animal the size of a moose at that range.† On a perfect shot in good conditions it would probably work, but game animals are not always standing still in clear sight with no wind and at exactly 90 degrees to our line of sight.

Another important factor is you absolutely need a high quality rifle scope for shooting at longer ranges, either paper targets or game animals.† Preferably that scope will be equipped with a reticle that will help you determine distance to the target, measure the holdover needed at the given range for bullet drop, and measure the hold off required at the game animals position to account for wind drift or the speed of the animalís movement.† We have many options available for you at Range Finder Rifle Scopes including scopes with Mil-Dot and RAPID-Z reticles etc. and the laser range finding scopes from Burris and Bushnell.

Now to answer the question of whether or not to take that long range shot.†† Some hunters refuse all long range shots at game believing it to be unethical or not in the true spirit of hunting.† I like and believe in getting as close to the game as possible.† I enjoy most aspects of the shooting sports so I spend time practicing at all ranges from short to long.† I know the accuracy potential of each of my rifles and the maximum range at which I can keep my shots within the heart-lung area.† I like stalking and getting close but Iím also a realist and know that sometimes conditions conspire and itís either take the long shot or go home empty handed.† Each hunter has opportunities for the same decision.† When itís your time to make that choice make sure your gun has adequate power for the intended game at what you have determined to be your personal maximum range at which you can be sure of making a quick and clean killing shot.† Get and use a range finder or my preference use a good scope that will help you determine the distance to the target. ††Then consider factors relative to the current hunting situation.

1.†††††† †Do youFeature Articles, (or your hunting guide if using one) think there is a reasonable chance of getting to a closer position before hunting light runs out.

2.†††††† What is the game population in your hunting area?† Is there a good chance for another animal with a better shot today?

3.†††††† Do you have an accurate distance to the target?

4.†††††† What are the wind conditions?† Wind direction and velocity can change several times over a range of 600+ yards making compensation nearly impossible without a spotter to give you corrections for follow up shots.

5.†††††† Is the weather getting worse so that additional hunting days are unlikely?

6.†††††† Do you fly home tomorrow or do you have a few hunting days left?

When you know your skill level and the answers to these questions you will know whether to take that long range shot or pass it up and wait for another opportunity.† Good luck and good hunting.† If you want to improve your ability to hunt at longer ranges visit and find a scope that will help you in that improvement process.

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I was born and raised in SW Michigan where I grew up fishing and hunting rabbit, squirrel, and deer but rarely even saw a rifle scope. After joining the USAF my first assignment out of training was to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. There I was introduced to hunting bear and elk and using major caliber rifles with scope sights. What magnificent vistas and what a change from hunting swampland and dense forests with a Winchester Model 94. I quickly learned to appreciate a good quality rifle scope. Now I even hunt squirrel with a scope sighted Ruger MkIII .22LR pistol.

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