Taking those factors into consideration, Derrick says realistically you are trying to shoot the smallest possible bullet, in terms of recoil, the fastest it can go, with the best ballistic coefficient. By controlling all of those components, ideally you minimize outside factors to make your accuracy repeatable. Fine tuning your setup for long range accuracy is multifaceted, and how you zero your rifle plays a role. Some long-range shooters like to zero their rifle at 200 yards and compensate for bullet spin drift at the same time. Derrick, however, prefers a 100 yard zero for a variety of reasons, including the ease of checking your zero in the field/at hunting camp. Once you’re zeroed dead center at 100 yards, the long-range component of shooting is all about calculation. Derrick says there are some solid apps available like GeoBallistics, BallisticsARC, Shooter and more that allow you to input your rifle speed, ballistic coefficient and more, to calculate where you should be turning your turret to achieve precise shots at different long-range yardages. Once you have a gun you know shoots well and you know the ballistics of, Derrick says in the field then, it’s all about judging the wind. Adjusting for the wind can be difficult because of its ever-changing nature and as a result, Derricks says the wind is something that really separates good shooters from average shooters.
Small mistakes and slight offages at short ranges may not be deal breakers, but those are only exacerbated at longer distances. Playing the long game requires precision. Part of achieving that is having a solid shooting foundation. The prone position is the most stable approach to take, if possible. Derrick says there are frequent form mistakes that shooters make in the prone position that can have an impact on their accuracy, the first of which is not having rear support. While the bipod on the front end provides solid support, it’s up to the shooter to establish support for the rear end. A lot of shooters will carry a sandbag in their pack, wad up a jacket or something similar for support. Derrick dishes on what he has learned from his personal experiences in the field and explains how to use the ball cap you are wearing for rear support – not only is it a good on the fly solution, but you also don’t have to carry extra equipment with you. At more extreme angles he explains how a pair of binoculars can also work well as a rear rest. Aside from rear support, Derrick says that the other issue he sees a lot with prone shooting is that the shooter doesn’t line up square with their rifle. Many people get into the habit of letting the butt of the rifle fall into the pocket where the arm meets the chest. This is problematic because this position is a little more on the outside of your body so when you fire and the gun recoils, it twists you and sometimes to the extent that you don’t see the shot. Making a slight change to your form by moving your rifle butt in where it is seated against your pec or the solid part of your chest can make a big difference. Derrick says in this position, when your rifle recoils your body will take it squarer, the rifle will track back squarer and as a result you’ll see more of your shot impact.
Finally, let’s talk custom rifles. If you want a Horizon Firearms rifle, but don’t want to go through the entire custom process, that’s possible. Lucky for you, Horizon has a great selection of stock rifles available that you can check out online. Hit the “Rifles Ready to Ship” tab at www.HorizonFirearms.com. Between cruising through guns and trucks online, my wife assures me I have a problem and thanks to the cool rifles that Horizon has available I’m pretty sure that you’re about to have the same addiction, too! Derrick says they work hard at keeping around 50 rifles in stock at all times that can ship immediately and notes that they have a constant flow of new options cycling through regularly. He encourages everyone to peruse their in-stock options and says if you don’t see something that hits the mark on what you’re looking for to give them a call or shoot them an email.
Tune in for some great tips on long range shooting with Derrick Ratliff of Horizon Firearms. Be sure to look them up at www.HorizonFirearms.com and follow their awesome custom creations on both Facebook and Instagram. Also, be sure to follow iota Outdoors, Derrick teases that some cool things are coming soon!
Hit your mark,