A rifle that shoots 1-inch groups was once a gold standard. Now, most out-of-the-box rifles are capable of that level of accuracy, but it can take testing various factory or handloading ammo to come up with the right ammunition for a particular rifle. Bullets with high ballistic coefficients are best and they should be moving at the highest velocities for the chambering. This results in less estimation of trajectory and wind drift because the bullet arrives on target in the shortest time. Deer are not difficult to down when a bullet hits them in the right place. The right place is from the shoulder to the last couple of
ribs, which is about the size of a sheet of notebook paper held horizontally, or 8-1/2 inches high by 11 inches long. A rifle that will shoot 1-inch groups at 100 yards shoots 4-inch groups at 400 yards and 5-inch groups at 500 yards, so it’s more than adequate. Choosing the right telescopic sight is as important as choosing the right rifle. It should be clear, bright, durable, and of correct magnification. For long-range deer hunting, a variable of 3-9x to 4-12x is sufficient under most circumstances. These scopes’ lower-end magnifications allow easy acquisition of deer-sized game when opportunities occur at closer ranges. If you’re hunting
in the wide-open West, a 6x-18x scope may make sense, but don’t overcompensate and use scopes with higher than necessary magnifications. More important than magnification is your ability to see the target and reticle clearly on the same focal plane. A larger-diameter scope with a larger objective lens may produce better clarity and brightness, but the scope should not be so large and heavy that it upsets the rifle’s balance or fit. Larger-diameter scopes may require higher than normal mounting rings, which can lift your cheek from the stock resulting in a poor cheek weld. A rifle/scope combination that doesn’t instantly bring your eye into alignment is a giant step toward a miss. A long-range scope should have an adjustable objective for parallax, which is apparent reticle movement if your pupil is not centered with the ocular lens. A rangefinder is a handy gear item that is useful in determining the distance of the shot or to objects in the area where a shot opportunity should occur. Some scopes have reticles that can aid with range estimation and others have built-in range finders. Using a bipod, attached to or separate from the rifle, is also a great way to achieve better accuracy under field conditions. Bipods attached to the rifle are Conditions. Many conditions are detrimental to long-range shooting accuracy. The top is the lack of a solid rifle rest. As a varmint hunter, I’ve gone as far as lugging front and rear sandbags into the field. This is impractical for most big-game hunting. Nevertheless, I have used sandbag rests in elevated stands. They’re much better than simply resting the stock fore end on the side of a wooden stand usually better for sitting and prone shooting positions.
This stand is set up for long range shooting overlooking a clear-cut and a woods road. It is of solid construction with the legs set in concrete for stability. Yet, in a strong wind, it could still sway enough to make a bullet go astray and miss a buck.
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