Long Range: high precision at more than 1,500 meters

Since weapons were invented, distance was always a theme that kept warriors awake. In the Olympics in Greece, participants were given a prize for the one who threw the spear the furthest. English archers have to score targets at 200 meters with longbows and wooden arrows. In the American Civil War, riflemen made confirmed hits at 1,000 meters with black powder and spherical projectiles. Today, snipers have eliminated enemies at more than 2,000 meters. Shooting accurately over long distances is today the trend in the sport we call Shooting.

  • How much is long distance? Wikipedia defines long-range shooting as “a collective term for shooting disciplines where the shooter has to engage targets at such long distances that he has to calculate ballistics and especially wind”, that is, shooting at distances greater than 300m is a technical shot because it requires calibers, ammunition, and ballistic calculations that can maintain speed and avoid wind drift as much as possible.

  • What is the best caliber? There is no one superlative, there are many options. As an example we will consider what was taken into account in the Argentine Long Range Championship organized by the Unión Long Range Argentina (ULRA) on November 19 and 20, 2022. There two categories were considered: Light Caliber, where the butt diameter was equal to or less than .308 Winchester (0.473″; most opted for .243, 6mm, 6.5mm, .260 and .308 Win) and distances were from 450 to 1000 meters. Heavy Caliber: the use of any cartridge was allowed, as long as it did not exceed the diameter of the projectile, and the initial velocity and energy level of the .338 Lapua Magnum (Factory ammunition). In this case the participants used .338 Lapua Magnum, 7 mm, .300 Winchester Magnum and .300 Norma, and the distances were from 850 to 1,500 m. What caliber did the winner get? 7 mm, which means that for this activity it is very important how the shooter prepares, how he reads the wind and knows his abilities in the use of ballistic software. Whoever uses the largest caliber is not always the winner. In this same, it should be clarified that with the import in crisis we do not have many options for Factory ammunition and reloading elements, so when we buy material we must consider that it is “Match”, with tips in accordance with the groove pitch of our barrel and with a highest possible ballistic coefficient (BC).
  • What is BC? The ballistic coefficient is a measure of the external performance of the bullets. The higher the BC, the less drop and wind drift they will have at all distances. In addition, it is the number that is used as input for ballistic applications to inform us about trajectories and allow us to perform calculations.
  • What is striae step? The groove pitch is the measurement that indicates the number of turns that the projectile makes on its axis inside the barrel. Its object is to impart rotation speed to the bullet, so that it has stability in flight to the target. As an example, the rifling pitch 1 – 12 means that the projectile rotates on its axis in the length of 12 inches of the barrel (1” = 2.54 cm). The relationship of the groove pitch with the weight of the tip has a relationship: the greater the weight of the projectile, the groove pitch has to be less.
  • How is a precision rifle? It is one that has been built with the highest standards in terms of components, much more than a conventional hunting rifle. In fact, today the arms and ammunition factories take into account the Long Range in their series models. As for the details, the chassis of the rifles has several accessories. For example, the stock has to be mobile in the height rail, the stock must adapt to the length of the arms, it has a bipod to give it firmness, the trigger tail must be adjustable and two-stroke to avoid pulling during the shot, the barrel must be Bull Barrel, the rifling pitch is in accordance with the point to be used and, among other details, the weapon has a muzzle brake to stay steady in order to facilitate accurate shooting.

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  • Telescopic sights. Within the equipment for this discipline, the sight plays a very important role. There are two ways to choose the measurement system for the elevation and drift compensation turrets: “Moa” (minutes of angle) or “Milliradians” (metric). Moa is an imperial measurement, where a unit is 1.047 inches at 100 yards (100 Y = 91.44 m). And Milliradian, a metric measurement: 10 cm at 100 meters. Regardless of the type of measurement you choose, there are two important things to consider: Parallax adjustment is essential so that crosshair/target distortion can be eliminated. The other characteristic is that the reticle is in the first focal plane, so that it varies proportionally with the magnifications that we place in the zoom and, in this way, the graduation equivalence of the reticle is kept constant to calculate the height and drift correction. Regarding the increases, it will vary according to the distance at which you want to shoot. In the square there are sights that vary from 6/18 magnifications to 6/35. For a distance of 100 to 1,000 m, the first ones are recommended, although there are many more concepts to analyze that go beyond this introduction to the modality.
  • You also need a variety of additional tools if serious activity is planned. Two fundamentals: a rangefinder to measure the distance to the target and a binocular/telescope to certify the impacts. Then it all came from practice and weather conditions: temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and density altitude. All this can be measured with a portable weather station and its data is necessary if you choose to use a cell phone application to perform the precise calculations in order to establish the fall and derive the target based on the data generated by these tools. In the app market we will find a large variety of ballistic software, in fact, almost all ammunition factories have theirs.

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  • How to start in the activity? About a year ago, a group of friends who love long distance shooting formed the ULRA Shooting Club. There you can receive advice to start in the discipline. Once a month they practice in Magdalena (Buenos Aires province) and they are the organizers of the Argentine Long Range Championship and the National Long Range Championship. As an official entity, they have legal status, are authorized by the National Administration of Controlled Materials (ANMaC), and in 2023 they will teach courses on this type of shooting. Those interested can obtain more information by email: [email protected]Facebook: ULRA Unión de Long Range Argentina and through Cel.: (011) 5031-8053.

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