Precision shooting is arguably more of an art than any other type of shooting in the discipline. Sure, it takes practice and consistency to become excellent with handguns. But precision shooting requires a totally different type of mastery, lots of practice, and high-quality equipment to produce consistent results.
Interested in trying out precision shooting for yourself? Check out this beginner’s guide to precision shooting for a brief overview of what you can expect.
If you’re really serious about getting into precision shooting, make peace with the fact that you’ll have to spend a little bit of money. You’ll have to purchase excellent equipment and high-quality cartridges, plus some analytical gear, to calibrate your rifle perfectly and maximize your accuracy.
This doesn’t even touch on the fact that you need to learn precision shooting skills before spending a dollar. The good news is that most of the skills you need for long-distance precision shooting can also be learned by shooting at intermediate ranges – say, 300-700 yards or so.
So start there – become familiar with your rifle, learn how to zero your weapon (we have a few guides about that on this very site), and become comfortable with breathing patterns so you don’t inhale and throw off a shot at the last moment.
MOA – What Do You Need?
Obviously, more accurate rifles will result in more accurate shots! But exactly how accurate of a rifle do you need?
Your rifle’s MOA or minute of angle should be around 1 or better if you want to land consistent and precision shots at longer distances of greater than 800 yards or so. While buying or calibrating a rifle to this accuracy level, you’ll also want to make sure you have an excellent scope that can make repeated and accurate adjustments.
Make sure it’s a durable scope as well – high-powered rifles tend to do a number on cheaper scopes.
Remember, high-powered rifles use larger bullets with higher powder charges. This necessarily produces more recoil.
Another piece of equipment you’ll need is a ballistics calculator. You can find several free pieces of software that you can install on a tablet like an iPad, or you can spend around 20 bucks for a more detailed program.
Why do you need a computer to become a better precision shooter? You’ll need to put in your rifle and cartridge data. The program can help churn out specific values you can use to calibrate your rifle for longer distance shots. It’s a lot easier than doing it with a pen and pencil, trust us!
For instance, a typical ballistics calculator program will have you input:
- muzzle velocity
- bullet length
- ballistic coefficient
- optic height
- target distance
- wind speed and direction estimates
Once the program gathers all this information, it’ll pump out a value for how many clicks you should use for windage and elevation on your rifle scope. You can then calibrate or zero your rifle with much more accurate information than if you tried to do this by hand.
Practice, Practice, Practice
This is a bit of a bare-bones overview, so let’s summarize and focus on the last variable as well. You need:
- an excellent rifle and optic to go with it
- good cartridges that suit the rifle
- decent experience with shooting rifles in the first place
- a good ballistics calculator program to help you calibrate your rifle for long-distance shooting
Once you have all that stuff, remember that you’ll only become better at precision shooting if you practice a lot. Your rifle will steadily become more accurate and you’ll learn how it feels, how to compensate for recoil, and how to school your breathing into a manageable pattern.
Practice makes perfect, especially for long-distance precision shooting compared to casual backyard plinking.