It was 6am, the light was just coming over deer woods as I sat in my stand. With a west wind blowing from my left I knew, from the radio in the truck, that it was only going to blow 15-20 mph. Overlooking the swamp that ran along a lake, I knew the bucks were using it to pass from one wood lot to the next. As the light grew, I could see there was a buck sneaking along the edge of the swamp. I had one chance for a shot, range 375, wind around 10-15 mph, shooting down hill. I had to estimate range, bullet drop and wind drift all in one split second to find an aiming point. He stopped to jump a log that blocked his way; I could take him there. I sighted to the place were he was crossing the log. I held off the buck by about a foot or so for the wind and a little lower then shooting from flat ground. I waited for the buck to stop as I pulled the trigger; he was gone from the scope as it settled back to the point of aim.
One shot kills at this range, and taking shots like this is not for every one. It takes time and practice at the range to shoot this far and hit what you’re aiming at.
The problem with long-range shooting is that every little error in marksmanship, or range estimation, is magnified by what is called geometric progression. A mistake that throws your bullet off by one inch at 100 yards will be magnified at farther ranges. Trajectory is a bullets flight path, which can be compared to an arc of a rainbow. Different bullet weights and powder will affect the arc of the bullet. No matter the gun, at some distance the bullet will drop. This drop at long ranges will be more critical than at shorter ranges. For instance, a 30-30 will drop faster then a 243. Thus, taking shots at long ranges will take work.
Compensating for the wind is the next thing that you have to worry about at long ranges. A bullet will drift left or right, up and down depending on the wind. Take the 17 HMR with a10 mph wind, from left to right will blow a bullet 3 inches at 100 yards to the right. If the same wind is blowing in your face the bullet will impact 3 inches high at 100 yards, no matter what gun you shoot the wind will affect the bullet in some way. To make consistent shot placement out past 100 yards you need to know how the wind affects your bullet.
What can help you with shooting at long range? Shooting aids can help you by steadying your gun. The steadier you are the more consistent your going to be. Range estimation is the next thing you have to do with accuracy. The last thing you have to do is go to the range and use your shooting aid to shoot. It will give you a better feel in the field of what you can do with your shooting aid. Practice makes perfect, the more you shoot the better your going to be.
Shooting long range is nothing to take lightly. Knowing where your gun shoots, judging your range proficiently and understanding how wind drift affects your placement will help you the next time your in the field. The next time you have that big buck in your sights out there at 200 yards, or that big bull on the next ridge, you can take the shot with more ease.