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Long Range Considerations

19 Sep 2020
@ 05:32 am (GMT)

Daniel Schindler

This morning I saw what I believe is a common post on another forum. This individual wants to know which 7mm and optic combination to purchase, being the best for 1,000 yard “hunting?” Where does one begin to explain to this soul why this is not “hunting?” Yes, OK, I know, there are a VERY, VERY few who can actually place a hunting bullet with the correct, remaining terminal velocity inside the 8” killing circle at 1,000 yards. Provided adequate bullet drop has been calculated and compensated for. Provided the animal doesn’t take 2 steps forward as the trigger is pulled. Provided the 10 mph crosswind has been correctly compensated for at 1,000 yards. Provided the rifle, scope and bullet all perform EXACTLY as expected. And, of course, provided the shooter has the skill to perform this shot in an absolute perfect manner. Perfect because that’s what this animal deserves from the “hunter.” It’s called “ethics.” A trigger pull responsibility that falls on every hunter regardless of age, gender or skill level.

We are all aware that equipment does exist that can make this very long, killing shot. The key word there is “can.” Maybe. Provided. Because there also exists a literal mountain of variables that stand in the way and MUST be overcome to make all this 1 shot, 1 kill work. Because now we’re talking about everything hinging on one shot – one try – one bullet. Agree with me or not, there’s risk involved. The risk of wounding this animal is extremely high for your average week-end warrior. IMHO, too high, equipment be damned. This animal – and every animal deserves better.

Trial and error has been a very real component in the hunting fields since forever. Missing and wounding – despite our very best efforts – will and does happen. That does not, however, excuse blasting away at any distance, blindly hoping the bullet will find its mark. Ethics require more than hope. Before that trigger is pulled, there are conditions to be met. Conditions that rest squarely on your shoulders, and mine. Before that trigger is pulled – conditions that clearly define what hunting is – and what is not hunting.

Many will never see my words here. Instead – lured by all the latest manufacturers gizmos and gadgets almost guaranteeing your success – the one factor never mentioned is the ever-present questionable level of shooter competence. And here – good enough at 200 or 300 yards – just ain’t good enough at 1,000 yards. Never will be. Unfortunately, none of us will ever see that mentioned in all the advertising.

Shooting at long distances – and “hunting” at long distances – carry completely different personal obligations and responsibilities. Obligations and responsibilities that are far too often overlooked as so many are seduced by videos and manufacturers promises, not one of which can promise a successful outcome at 1,000 yards under every day field conditions. Collect all the gear you want and be rightfully proud of what you have purchased. Seriously, good on you. But have no delusions about that gear assuring you of a 1 shot, 1 kill at very long distances. That responsibility falls directly on your shoulders and should weigh heavily as you contemplate pulling the trigger.

No one here is disputing the select few who have trained and are capable of dependably hitting their target at long distances. I am disputing those who think they can too. Our freedoms to hunt do not include irresponsible actions. “A man’s gotta know his limitations.”

Thank you for your time here.

Replies

19 Sep 2020
@ 09:44 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Long Range Considerations
Hi Daniel, yes all very true. Last week I was tasked with a small culling job. Expecting just a few animals at close range, I took the .308 and only 10 rounds. Steph and I arrived at the job, only to find that the animals were 430 yards away and would soon run further away. The winds were extremely high, around 15 to 20mph.

As we all know, Mark Walburg can hit a guy in a truck going 35mph from a mile out. But unfortunately, I had to deal with reality. I estimated that drift would be around 20" / 50cm if I timed the wind correctly, but that I would only get one clean (still target) shot, after which it would be running shots in gusting winds deviating by several inches of drift +/- 20".

Ultimately, I got the job done. It was no easy task and I am no fan of having an audience while shooting. But it was made a lot easier thanks to Steph calling ranges. In any case, 500 yards was really pushing the .308 under those conditions. To attempt this following limited practice would have been futile. It would also have been foolish to try to shoot any further under these conditions with the .308 regardless of ones experience level. As you say, one has to know ones limits. I have discussed much of this in the book series but also hunting methods to help tip the scales as much as possible.

As you say, there is too much focus on gear. The new generation of bloggers do not help. Much of this is about the stripping away of the unecessary so that one can remain hyperfocused on basic variables.
22 Sep 2020
@ 05:06 am (GMT)

Daniel Schindler

Re: Long Range Considerations
Thank you for the constructive reply Nathan, much appreciated. My post was not intended to criticize longer range hunting/shooting but solely to point out that one cannot "buy" dependable long range success. That you did have a successful day - with some help :-) - is testimony to your decades of hard work. Good on you Sir!

FWIW...I posted this on another forum where it raised some ire with the long rangs folks (not all however) - and my post was quickly deleted. I discontinued my membership.

Keep up the good work Nathan and know we out here appreciate your sharing your wealth of knowledge.

22 Sep 2020
@ 12:55 pm (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: Long Range Considerations
And good on you, Daniel, for voicing an unpopular opinion to the people who need to hear it. Obviously, you hit a raw nerve. It just goes to show what type of people and the level of ethics that were present on that forum, that they could not or would not consider your point of view. Even if you think you don't agree with someone else's opinion doesn't mean you should censor their views.
23 Sep 2020
@ 09:14 am (GMT)

Robert McLean

Re: Long Range Considerations
Yup been here 3-4 years now. Bought the 7mm Sendero 2 years ago, Sightron Siii, 6-24. Making my own rounds. Its all good at the 200 yard range, nice sheltered shooting table and low wind line of fire. But I haven't been able to hit the gong yet at 1000 off the pack. Only tried with maybe 10 rounds so far and in an unfamiliar wide open spot with no wind analysis help at all. Bunch of hunting buddies with advise is not that helpful. I haven't bedded the rifle either. I figure to burn that barrel off with practice. What maybe 1200 rounds and then get serious with a new barrel bedded? About half way there. May learn to properly clean care for the thing by then too.

It takes alot more than I wanted to admit to myself in the beginning. I would not take a shot at an animal over 400 right now and probably not at that without trying to get closer. Its a respect thing now.
23 Sep 2020
@ 07:24 pm (GMT)

Magnus Vassbotn

Re: Long Range Considerations
Hi Daniel.

Good post, all very true. I find that most decent shooters who are not very dedicated longe range shooters can quickly get out to about 350-400 meters/ 400-450 yards with standard cartridges (6,5x55, 30-06 etc) with good loads, in real world hunting situations. But somewhere between 400 and 500 yards most find their limit for practical hunting. At around 550-600 yards things really start going south. At 500 yards a miscalculation of 2 mph wind means 4" of added or reduced wind drift, with a typical standard cartridge, so more or less outside the vital zone just there. And over 500 yards it is not easy to say if the wind is averaging 4 or 6 mph, or 5 or 10 for that matter. Especially when things are boiling and the time window is narrow. And same thing if it's steep and angle is misjudged by 5-10 degrees, combined with a bit sloppy, rushed shooting. Also 4-6" easilly.

I started long range shooting 13-14 years ago from a desire to be able to shoot animals at long distances, and not from a passion of long range shooting in it self. After 6-7 years gradually increasing ranges, and missing and wounding quite a few at unspeakable ranges (but also killing quite a few), I realized that there is no pot of gold at the end of the trajectory. After a while it is mostly just emotionless numbers, observations and calculations, very far from that thrill of the hunt which brings us all together. Nothing is quite like close up with open sights..

Now I know a bit more than 6-7 years ago, and could probably train myself up to a higher level than before, but I no longer have that urge. Nowdays I view long range hunting not as goal in it self, but an extra skill to fill the bag when close up is off the table. I stick to standard cartridges, well inside 600 yards or so depending on conditions. Mostly inside 500.

If anyone says he is capable of killing an animal cleanly at 800-1000 yards 9 out of 10 times in real world conditions in an unknown terrain and more than 2-3 mph wind, there is probably atleast a 90% probability he is talking bullshit, or heavily modifying the truth. But as you say, there are a very few select people who can - people with a strong passion and dedication for longe range shooting in it self, AND lots of experience with actual hunting. I suspect that last ingredient is missing quite often.

But just to be clear, I don't want to trash talk longe range hunting as a sport. Just want to share my main view here, that in my experience it very quickly gets old and downright boring, compared to really close up. If others find lasting satisfaction from all the training boiling down to that one moment of truth, over and over again, I certainly understand. But just shooting and "seeing if it all comes together this time", doesn't really give much satisfaction. I believe this is the realm where most 1000-yard hunters actually reside.

Cheers, M
23 Sep 2020
@ 08:58 pm (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Long Range Considerations
Magnus...you could well be talking about me.....I am bush hobbit at heart and love the up close n personal,I have managed 3 deer in last few years at 350ish yards,would never have managed it before learning some stuff on here and in the books.re bedded rifle with Nathans Kit.
I have zero interest in targeting deer or pigs way out there but would be more than happy to pop wallabies if opportunity shows itself.
agree with the sentiments given re hunting Vs shooting there are plenty of fellas who think the $$$$ make up for lack of experience....had similar discussion re merits or thermal imaging gear and if its hunting or not.
the term HARVESTING comes to mind.
I have great respect for the abilities of folks who can shoot accurately out long.... the ethics of doing so have ALWAYS been a point of contention,as has using .224s on deer...its doable IF you stick to the rules and make sure you do all you can to minimalize the risk of cocking it up,and be prepared to own it and fix it if you do...we owe that to the critters we target.
learning our personal limits is a personal thing, but having good honest folks who will call B.S. sure does help. having folks who arent afraid to do so is a huge asset and I do appreciate all who have helped educate me.
for me 400 yards will ALWAYS be long....
24 Sep 2020
@ 12:10 pm (GMT)

Daniel Schindler

Re: Long Range Considerations
Gentlemen,

just a quick note to say thanks for viewing my original post objectively. Each of you said what I did..only better.

Much obliged here.

Have a blessed day and remember that it's Nathan who provides us with a place to express our questions and opinions...share our learning and experiences.

Sincerely,

D Lee

26 Sep 2020
@ 07:39 am (GMT)

Monterey Jack

Re: Long Range Considerations
My first step is to always have a reliable cold shot .



Second it to have the scope track from 300 to 800 yards truly.



Cheers

26 Sep 2020
@ 02:13 pm (GMT)

Martin Taylor

Re: Long Range Considerations
So how do we define ethical?

What is the range cut off, when do l stop being a hunter and become a ……….shooter? You know that fingers crossed, hope for the best fella!

I love this discussion, had it many times at the range watching hunters/stalkers & clubs struggle to maintain 2moa groups @ 100 yards using their trusty boom stick & its favourite ammo. Shooting from a solid, relatively consistent rest.
Oh hang on, that’s not a fair observation, mind your own business unethical shooter.

One of these hunters takes an offhand “boiler room” shot on a broadside animal well inside the deemed “ethical X range”, then tries to track up the bubbly lung shot blood drops with the hope that its bailed up before it’s too far into the thick shit for a finisher if needed. Sound familiar? I would call that the average deer hunter but yeah, still ethical! I owed it that.

Where is the line drawn between hunting & shooting, 200 yards, 400, 600 maybe or could l possibly stretch it all the way to 800?

Now back to old mate.
What if the 7mm rifle/calibre/optic combo that is purchased by this poor deluded soul for his unconceivable, unethical 1000 yard shot is a 7mm Practical, chambered into a suitable rig topped with a Sightron SIII or similar using a Large for cal TMK or Eld-M? Mmmmmm, sounds like the latest gizmos n’ stuff.
At the same time he is advised to go off and find suitable training, you know maybe with those tactical bearded guys, built up confidence with a volume rig, say a 308w or 7mm08 of similar design to this new unethical laser beam magnum, then continued training. Switched back over to said magnum, confirmed/validated dopes to these unethical ranges.
Oh & brought another gimmick, one of those Wizz-bang range finder Gizmos’, is he now ethical given the right environment conditions that he has trained in?
Nah he’s one of those “shooters”. Screw those .3moa BS groups that he’s been punching out under field conditions. Oh, look that group’s .5moa see what a joke!
Cold bore shots, oh yeah that’s an offhand fling at a cold pig running past, yep, ethical again.
So, what’s this poor soul’s maximum ethical hunting range now wielding his .3moa magnum? 400 yards, maybe with suitable enviro’s, 500? Do l hear maybe 600? But it could take a step, better be safe 300.

Gee, that’s reads like just few diluted experiences of some shooter l know………….

Glad l sort out Nathan & Steph's advice/training all those years ago and became a shooter, damn the ethics off it all.
26 Sep 2020
@ 03:07 pm (GMT)

Vince

Re: Long Range Considerations
Interesting post Martin,
In the hunting ethics discussion people who shoot close range hardly ever get called out on their choices but fundamentally what it comes down to is an individual hunter's ability to hit an X sized target depending on species every time at whatever ranges they choose to shoot too. (Assuming correct bullet choice, velocity etc)
I primarily bush hunt in the North Island of NZ and ranges are generally out to 100, with most being 25 to 50 yards, but also head south once a year for hunting that tends to be longer range.
Shots taken in the bush all tend to be offhand or some variation of that (I'll generally try to hug a tree or something for support). Shots down south are over a pack usually with much more time to set up for a shot.
I wonder how many bush hunters actually practice their offhand shooting at a range over 25, 50 and 100, I do although not often enough and what it shows is that I can shoot better at 400 over a pack taking my time than I can at anything over 25 yards shooting offhand.
The biggest issue with L.R. these days is companies marketing 1000 yards out of the box. The rifles are probably capable, the majority of their clientele probably aren't, nor willing to spend the time to become so.
I still prefer bush hunting, not a judgement call on anyone simply a preference for the up close and personal type of hunting and possibly I just need to practice more on the offhand stuff up close but it's a bit of a reality call to look at the real world results on paper.
Cheers
Vince
26 Sep 2020
@ 10:27 pm (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Long Range Considerations
Martin.....how far,how fast,what position is ethical can be sorted really quick by answering ONE simple question....are you minute of milk bottle capable 100% of the time????
WTF you ask???
can you CONSISTANTLY hit a 3ltr plastic milk bottle at a given range from given position everytime.....if you can,well you can chest shoot a deer at stationary deer at same range,afterall a 3 ltr milk bottle/jug is pretty darn close to 8"x8"
standing I will back myself to 75 yards on that...sitting braced on knees 150-200
prone over something 300-350
so thats about as far as a deer of pig is in trouble from me.
I cocked it up last month...took offhand shot at twice range normally would at 2nd deer as it exited left into fern,had bum and back half in view,led and fired...got over there with dog.found good half cup of blood,then another patch same size 5 yards away...this should be easy...1.5 hrs later,dog n I still going around in circles...eventually I went where dog,wanted in first place,where we had looked for blood 3 times...but its uphill you dopey dog!!!
no sign at all,no blood at all,kept looking and following Meg...we going in direction of home...highly P.O. with myself....go 4-500 yards and look ahead to see deers head looking at me from 50 yards...only head n neck visible,ears swiveling...took ANOTHER offhand shot at head,deer staggers forward so gets 180grn in boiler room...down she goes...get over expecting to see bullet graze in head..nope nothing,clean miss (I seldom try a head shot) gut deer and carry out whole as not far to wagon,get home and find fist sized hole on rump.close to spine...why the deer staggered....learnt valuable lessons
#1 dont take off hand shot at that range
#2 trust Meg,she knows better than me
#3 the hour n half helped,as deer had settled and stiffened up.
#4 poke hole in boiler room like I normally do and deer is going nowhere
I had got complacent after string of easy shots.
I do alot of offhand shots when targeting wallabies and get rather good at it...but score far more consistently if able to sit down and shoot off knees
Im enjoying this thread immensely,and funnily enough on another forum a chap has just come along asking pretty much the original thing discussion started about...buy a new rifle etc to shoot out to 1000yards and wanted to do it CHEAPLY...
27 Sep 2020
@ 03:20 am (GMT)

Monterey Jack

Re: Long Range Considerations
Is the target hunting you ?

Have you been seen ?

Can you get away to another hide ?

Cheers
27 Sep 2020
@ 06:01 am (GMT)

William Badgley

Re: Long Range Considerations
Almost resisted posting this but its pertinent to the discussion. For nearly 20 years I taught a proficiency course for archery and firearms. A large group of landowners were not very happy with the proficiency of the hunters they allowed to hunt. I suggested they require a proficiency test before allowing them on their land. We trained the hunters first explaining how to fine tune their equipment and how to pass the proficiency test they would take a month later. They were told to go home and practice for that month. I'll spare you all the details, but just tell you we never had more than 50% pass. How hard was the course you ask ? We had three life size deer targets broadside. One at 50 yards that had to be shot offhand. One at 75 yards that could be shot from any position but prone. ( including sticks if you chose ) And one at 100 yards that could be shot from any position including prone over a pack or off a bi-pod. On the back side of the deer target was a life size replica of a deer's lungs in the proper location. The only requirement was that each lung target had to have a bullet hole in it...anywhere in it.
We simply don't practice enough or we don't know our limitations. Nathan has been a God send to all of us that care and want to be better.
27 Sep 2020
@ 07:31 am (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Long Range Considerations
When I discovered this website a year and a half ago, I realized how ignorant I was about terminal ballistics. That you can hit an 8” gong at a given distance doesn’t mean you can make an ethical shot. I had assumed my 30-06 was deadly as far as I could accurately place the shot. My personal best was a 450-yard shot on a pronghorn with a 150-grain cup-&-core at a pedestrian MV. I recovered the unexpanded bullet from the heart. (Nathan explained to me in another thread why that happened . . . low MV, low BC = low terminal velocity.) So all the hype about the 6.5 CM - how it cleaves to velocity, resists wind-drift, etc. - is just that. It’s a 300-yard deer caliber, irrespective of whether you can ring steel at 800 yards. I learned on this website that if I want to shoot animals past 300 yards, I’d better have a high-BC, frangible bullet, the bigger the caliber/cartridge the better.
27 Sep 2020
@ 01:25 pm (GMT)

Martin Taylor

Re: Long Range Considerations
Some sensible, educational posts, exactly what Nathan strives for and why this site is here! Education.

I have witnessed & been told about more Sambar deer lost stalking to boiler room placement than any other placement by far. Nathan has many of my early hunt reports & some autopsy photos of that. Locally they are known as armour plated ghosts for that reason, go figure. My fix was to move shot placement forwards which is nothing new and not accepted by many.

A misplaced shot at 75 yards is just that but the same at 750 or more is unethical, mmmm. A bow hunters arrow drifts rearward at 25 yards and the animal is tracked for the rest of the day & lost………… That’s traditional hunting so better luck next time fella. You owed it the follow up but alas the next shot will be the one.

Every shot l take with one of my LR rigs is prone, supported, planned & within the systems capabilities (I am part of that system). So again, why is this deemed unethical? Because you deem it impossible or out of the skill set of anyone other than a military sniper? I have sort out education and continual training. Yes, marketing crap/hype is a trap but with education you quickly see through it. I’m not elite or different so why can’t our 7mm bloke follow the same path? Again education is the key!
The exact situation that William described is what l found myself mixed in with not that long ago, again trying to help educate. Stalking club members where taking a very similar test for 2nd & 3rd times. I had coached one and offered a sensibly weighted 06 or 308w as the volume of shots in the required time was knocking him around with his amazingly light carry rifle. Anyway, after giving a few technique pointers to a couple of his mates for next time it was then revealed the types of Sambar hunting l do. Well, wasn’t l the evilest “Shooter” that walked the earth. Unethical and immoral the terms used by these very stalking club members that couldn’t pass a basic marksmanship course.
29 Sep 2020
@ 12:57 pm (GMT)

Daniel Schindler

Re: Long Range Considerations
Hat's off to each of you for taking the time to post.

IMHO...Mike Davis summed it all up very nicely. KISS. Go work on milk bottles and learn your limitations. $10,000 worth of equipment cannot / will not ever overcome operator error. Good shooting is a skill that must first be learned and then earned.

Be safe everyone. Always a pleasure and appreciate the dialogue.

Cheers.

30 Sep 2020
@ 07:10 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Long Range Considerations
Previous post deleted. Spamming motherfucker.
30 Sep 2020
@ 07:29 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Long Range Considerations
If any of you want to hear a bit more about how or why I started reaching out to longer ranges, I have time stamped a phone interview I did for the Aus Hunt Podcast below. Just keep in mind that none of this conflicts with Daniels initial post. I have also spent time at the range and hunted with Marty. I have seen the effort he puts into this also and his comments echo my own thoughts on the other side of this coin.

https://youtu.be/sIOMAAYyMFU?t=1538
02 Oct 2020
@ 05:30 am (GMT)

Joshua Mayfield

Re: Long Range Considerations
I had to listen in segments over some time but it was well worth it. Kudos to the host for asking questions, being open to your answers, and giving you space to elaborate. I've been reading your material for several years now, Nathan, but I really enjoyed hearing you verbally discuss and distill some concepts. I remain grateful to you for sticking to your guns - no pun intended - and remaining accessible in various ways to the average Joe like me.
02 Oct 2020
@ 07:29 am (GMT)

Daniel Schindler

Re: Long Range Considerations
+1 Joshua.

An average Joe here too.
 

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