Since prehistoric times man has endeavored to increase the range, accuracy and lethality of his weaponry. In the beginning folks were throwing sticks and rocks, then some advanced individual realized that if you sharpened the rock and attached it to the stick the stick would fly truer (range and accuracy) and would be heavier and sharper at the business end (lethality). The arms race had begun. As we move forward in time to the Paleolithic era we see the atlatl (a handheld spear throwing device which utilized leverage to increase velocity), which was later out shined by bows and arrows. Both the English longbow and the Mongol composite bow (many arguments have taken place over which is superior) had the ability to engage targets at ranges exceeding 300 yards at a rate of fire of 8 to 10 aimed shots per minute. These bows had some real advantages over early firearms, but inevitably, technology moved forward with matchlocks, flintlocks, rifled muskets, percussion caps, breech loaders, and culminated in the metallic cartridge era which started in the mid 1800’s. From this time on people have been pushing the ranges of their rifles. During the Second Battle of Adobe Walls in 1874 Billy Dixon, an experienced buffalo hunter, achieved a hit with a 50-90 sharps at over 1500 yards which discouraged the enemy and ended the siege. In the 240 years following, advancements were made in rifle actions, barrel making techniques, optics, powder, bullet design and most importantly the understanding and dissemination of knowledge around long range shooting. Now we are in a golden age for shooting long range. People who have never shot a rifle before can make hits at 1000 yards with equipment that is not cost prohibitive.
What does this mean for us?
Why do we shoot long range? Because we can. It doesn't take superior strength or coordination, keen eyesight or even loads of money. It just takes interest and the the willingness to take a methodical approach following the guidance of those that have gone before. The equipment currently being produced is of higher quality and is more affordable than at any time in the past. There are ballistic solvers that, with accurate input data, can give firing solutions for a variety of rounds at almost any fathomable range. Chronographs that can measure the velocity of a bullet to within 5 feet per second. Rangefinders that can measure within 2 yard accuracy out to 2k yards, and weather stations the size of a deck of cards that can read wind speed at location, detect temperature, humidity, barometric pressure and elevation. With these tools and the proper instruction of their use almost anyone can get hits at distances they previously thought to be only in the realm of Hollywood and military lore.
So, whether you want to increase your kill radius on your next hunting trip, compete in local or national long range matches, or just earn some bragging rights with your buddies at the range remember with the proper equipment a little training and practice you can.
April 2016: Rifle Golf
July 2016: Petersburg Quiet Riot silencer shoot and open house