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Long Range Precision Shooting Competition Fundamentals, Equipment, Tips & More

Long range precision shooting is a growing sport as different folks try to take the “ring” on their go around. The first record was a US Navy Seal at 5000 yards in September of 2017. That shattered the record of Hill Country Rifle Team of Texas when they shot at 3,800-yard and 4,120-yard records set in 2015 and 1016 respectfully. The current record is 5,280 yards (3 miles) set by Bill Poor of Tuscola, Texas using a customized rifle chambered in .408 CheyTac built by Vestal’s custom rifles. The CheyTac cartridges of .375 and .408 are a series of cartridges based on the 505 Gibbs case. They are the first choice for long range records. The .416 Barrett based on a shortened .50 BMG (12.7x99mm) case is also quite popular. None of these shots are in the Guinness as they only count records with iron sights, no optics. But this shot is phenomenal, hitting a 53-inch square target, with one hit in 8 shots. This is beyond small arms range finders and other shooting aids. It takes 14 seconds to travel 3-miles with a 3,160-fps muzzle velocity. That means a shooter must deal with physical phenomenon that the average shooter has never ever considered as a factor. Over three miles wind drift is a factor. Passing over that distance the bullet is under the influence of the wind, gusts and wind directional changes will be adversely affected.

Minute of Angle (MOA) Range Calculator

Flight time is 14 seconds, along time to buck the wind. The range is 5,280 yards or 15,840 feet. A 1 MOA (Minute of Angle) is approximately 1-inch per 100 yards that is 52.8 minutes of angle, nearly a whole degree. Typical guns shoot to 1 MOA or less. A 53-inch wide target is slightly less than a 1 MOA (55.2816 inches; 1 MOA is 1.047-inches per 100 yards or 29.1mm at 100 meters. One-inch MOA is used up to about a 1,000 yards. The difference tends to accumulate beyond that.

Milliradian Measurement Calculator

Another angular measurement is mils, or milliradians. Used in the military for artillery the mil has the unique capability of having the ratio of 1 unit/1000 units. At one thousand yards a mil is a yard, at 1000 meters the mil is 1 meter and at 1000 feet the mil is one foot. The actual mils per 360 degrees is 6283, but NATO standard is 6400 per 360 degrees, and is found on most compasses. So, 5,280 yards is 5.28 mils.

World Record for Longest Rifle Shot

It has already been announced the next attempt by Charles Melton will be 6,000 yards or 1 degree. There are hurdles. Take bullet stabilization. Most long-range attempts are made with monolithic (solid copper-nickel alloy) low-drag bullets. These are CNC turn on a lathe. These are long bullets with boat tails and long secant radius ogives (curved part of the bullet). Another characteristic is a relatively short bearing surface in relationship to the bullet’s length. They must be spun faster to stabilize.

Long Range bullet Stability in Transonic Speed

Transonic velocities are of concern for these bullets. The transonic region is from MACH 1.2 down to MACH 0.8 or 8/10ths the speed of sound. As the bullet enters the transonic region as it slows, the pressure point moves back along the bullet action, tending to destabilize bullets. These low-drag bullets are long in relation to caliber and have boat tails. Bullets for nearly any cartridge will be passing or have passed through the transonic region at 6,000 yards. Even the 408 CheyTac is supersonic to about 2,300 yards and has G1 ballistic coefficient of 0.945 over 3,825 yards. At 6,000 yards it passes through the target at sub-MACH 1 velocities (sub-sonic).
We will have to wait and see.