The 1,000-yard shot is just cool. Chicks dig it, and there’s no doubt that your buddies at the range stand in awe of any guy that can sit down at the line and send one out that far—and hit.
Of course, bench rest shooters and military snipers regularly train at such distance, but most gun guys and hunters don’t fall into either category—I certainly don’t. There’s really just not that many outdoor gun ranges that you can practice at 1,000 and not many real-world uses for the ability.
I shoot for distance to prepare for hunts that I know will require competency at varying ranges, for general proficiency’s sake and,well, because it’s damn fun. I’ve blown up tannerite at 800, shot plenty of water jugs at 600 and pretty regularly tested rifles out to 500 yards.
But, before two weeks ago, I could’ve counted on one hand the times I’d pulled the trigger at a target over 1,000 yards. I suspect that’s the case for most readers.
When I set out for the NRA Outdoors Long Range Shooting School in Evanston, Wyo., in early June, I intended to push my boundaries, and spend two days learning the science of long range shooting and challenging myself to consistently ping steel out to 1,000 yards. The ultimate goal of the course, which was run by instructor and hunting guide Justin Richins, was to apply that knowledge to the realities of hunting in several real-world scenarios laid out in the high elevation of Wyoming’s mountain terrain.
Before the weekend was over I’d achieved my goals, and experienced one of shooting’s most unique classroom sessions. Here’s the list of gear that made me an out-of-the-box 1,000-yard shot—six of eight hits prone off my pack. Not too bad.
<h2>The Right Rifle </h2>The first thing to understand about your 1,000-yard gun is shooting half a mile isn’t as challenging as it used to be. A good spotter will increase your chances of hitting tenfold and the latest ballistic technology will fill in the rest of the gaps. The second thing to understand is, of course, minute of angle (MOA). At the very least, you’ve got to have a gun that will shoot MOA (1 inch) groups at 100 yards, which translates to 10-inch groups at 1,000 if all goes according to plan. Is that the most accurate rifle in the world? Not at all, but it’ll get the job done for less than the cost of a custom bolt gun supped up for going long. <p> <strong>What I Used:</strong> The <a href="http://www.weatherby.com/product/rifles/vanguard_2" target="_blank">Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 line</a> features a match-quality, two-stage trigger and a cold-hammer forged, 24-inch barrel, and is capable of producing .99-inch three-shot groups at 100 yards or less, which qualifies for our long-range discussion. Available in several different models at varying price points, Weatherby touts its Vanguard rifles as "the most accurate 'out of the box' rifles" on the market, and for good reason. I was able to put six of eight shots on target at 1,000 yards shooting prone off my pack, with varying winds to stiffen the challenge. My bench performance at that range was much better. Of course, the rifle could have had an adjustable stock, heavier barrel and other specialized features, but that would certainly require more coin. <p> <strong>Price: $649 to $1,399</strong>