For a very long time, the default answer for “How far can you shoot with accuracy?” has been 300 yards for competent hunters with decent rifles.
Even the best marksmen out there, the guys who hit the shooting range three or four times a week and shoot with self-assured confidence, even those guys haven’t been able to reliably hit a big game animal from much beyond 300 yards. Field & Stream’s resident gun expert David E. Petzal commented on the idea in the latest issue.
However, just as technology has changed the way we read books, listen to music, and communicate with one another, it is also changing the way we shoot. New guns, scopes, and other pieces of equipment are now being developed that can help you find out how to extend your shooting range to 400 yards.
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Just think: soon, we might be able to hit a deer from five football fields away!
Of course, shooting 400 yards reliably with a new state-of-the-art rifle isn’t going to be any easier than shooting 300 yards reliably with the rifle you’ve been using for years. While 300 yards is technically the maximum range for most hunting weapons on the market, most hunters don’t have the skills or consistency to hit a target at that range over and over again.
Imagine yourself standing in the end zone of a football field and aiming your rifle at the goal post. Can you hit a small target mounted on that goal post? What about if you add another football field? Or another? At 300 yards, even a target the size of a deer or an elk is going to look miniscule. Add another football field, and you’re basically shooting in the dark.
Not only is your vision drastically compromised at 400 yards, but your bullet is as well. No matter how fast your gun shoots, your bullet is going to arc toward the ground as it travels. At 400 yards, it might drop as much as two and a half feet, meaning that even if you have a scope that can sight the deer dead on, you’re still going to be 30 inches off the mark. Easily solved, you might say; just elevate the barrel and shoot high!
But estimating altitude drop is tough too – since accurately judging the range can be impossible without the right gear – and even if you take the drop into account, you still have to factor in the gust of wind that could cause your bullet to go a foot or more to the left or right.
So is shooting at 400 yards even possible? Of course it’s possible. There are professionals that can land accurate shots from 500, 600, maybe even 700 yards. But it’s not a skill that comes easy.
Buying the right gear – a high-quality rifle, cartridges of aerodynamic bullets, rangefinders that can accurately calculate the distance to the target, etc. – is a step in the right direction, but what you really need is time and place. You need time to practice shooting, and you need a place wide open enough for you to shoot at targets that are four football fields away from you. If you spend enough time shooting at that range, your ability to shoot 400 yards – to judge the distances, to play the angles, to counter the wind – will emerge.
But as with anything else in shooting, you’re going to have to dedicate yourself to it.