Best Long Range Shooting Accessories Guide: 2019 ( Expert Tips for Your Rifle and You)

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Long range shooting is a fairly gear-intensive pastime, especially if you’re trying to learn and improve. When you’re starting out, the wealth of gear available to help you make that 1000+ yard shot can seem a bit daunting, especially if you don’t know what you really need, or are on a tight budget.

I’ve been involved in the long range precision shooting, and extreme long range shooting worlds for about a decade now, and I’ve had the privilege to not only compete alongside some of the best shooters in the world, but to also learn from them.

During that time, I’ve gained a solid understanding of what gear it takes to be successful with this kind of shooting, and what you can save money by skipping.

Let’s get into it.


Ballistics Calculator

Product

Kestrel 5700 Elite Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics

Top Pick

  • Employs the Applied Ballistics bullet library of custom drag...
  • Measure up to 15 environmental parameters at your fingertips
  • Improved high resolution screen for any lighting (even sunlight)...
  • Scratch and breakage-resistant window
  • Made in the USA Energizer Brand Ultimate Lithium AA batteries for...

Our rating

Details

  • Employs the Applied Ballistics bullet library of custom drag...
  • Measure up to 15 environmental parameters at your fingertips
  • Improved high resolution screen for any lighting (even sunlight)...
  • Scratch and breakage-resistant window
  • Made in the USA Energizer Brand Ultimate Lithium AA batteries for...

Technically, you don’t need a ballistics calculator. That said, you absolutely need a ballistics calculator, and there’s no reason not to have one.

If you’re going to be doing any kind of shooting out past 400 yards, there’s a lot of information you need to take into account to be able to accurately predict where your shot is going to go. There’s wind resistance, ballistic coefficient of the projectile, projectile mass and velocity, wind speed and direction, other environmental factors that affect air density (humidity, temperature, barometric pressure) and once you get past 1000 yards you have things like spin drift and the rotation and curve of the Earth (sorry flat Earthers).

Now, you can pull out your paper, pencil, and graphing calculator and do some advanced trigonometry and a little bit of calculus and get all that figured out just in time for the wind to change direction and completely ruin everything you just did, or you can invest in a ballistics calculator.

With a ballistics calculator, you plug a few numbers in and the clever little box will tell you “adjust nine mils up, and two left” and then you can drill that 1,200 yard target cold, provided you do your part.

So, hopefully that explains the need and advantage of a ballistic calculator at longer ranges, now you just need to get one.

If you’re an occasional shooter, or don’t reach much past 1,000 yards, get yourself one of the many apps that are available for both Android and iPhone. My personal favorite, even though it costs $30, is the Applied Ballistics app. It’s well worth the money, and is actual the same as the software used to power high-end dedicated ballistics computers like the Kestrel 5700 Elite, which is both a ruggedized ballistics calculator, and advanced weather meter in one.

Sidenote: a wind meter like this can be extremely helpful when you’re learning to make wind calls, as you can use the meter to check the estimate you made based on things like the movement of foliage, range flags, or mirage.

Notebook/DOPE Card

Product

Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Top Spiral Notebook, 3" x 5",...

Top Pick

  • Weatherproof paper: 100 pages/ 50 sheets per pocket notepad....
  • Wire-o binding: tough impact-resistant wire-o binding won't lose...
  • Write in the Rain: use a standard pencil or an all weather pen...
  • Waterproof notebook cover: POLYDURA material creates a tough but...
  • Recyclability: Unlike synthetic waterproof paper, wood-based Rite...

Our rating

Details

  • Weatherproof paper: 100 pages/ 50 sheets per pocket notepad....
  • Wire-o binding: tough impact-resistant wire-o binding won't lose...
  • Write in the Rain: use a standard pencil or an all weather pen...
  • Waterproof notebook cover: POLYDURA material creates a tough but...
  • Recyclability: Unlike synthetic waterproof paper, wood-based Rite...

The key to long range shooting accuracy is consistency, and you can’t be consistent without recording your DOPE. Data On Previous Engagements is a way to track what your rifle and ammo are doing at what distance, and in what conditions.

The best way I’ve found to record this in the field is with a weather-proof notebook when I’m hunting or just generally traveling light, and then with a more dedicated DOPE record book when I’m back in camp, or trying things out at the range. This will allow you to track where the rifle impacts with your chosen ammo in certain conditions. The calculators are all well and good, but if something goes wrong, they won’t be able to tell you where you made your mistake.

Finally, you’ll want to have this information, which will basically amount to adjustments in MOA or MILS, handy in a way that you can use. Some folks use DOPE disks inside their flip-up scope covers and some use tactical armbands that hold a DOPE card (or a QB playbook holder if you aren’t trying to cosplay as a soldier).

Either way, having this little cheat sheet handy will make it a lot easier to hit the target quickly, and will keep you from having to memorize too terribly much.

Spotting Scope

Product

Vortex Optics Diamondback Angled Spotting Scope, 20-60x80

Top Pick

  • The Diamondback 20-60x80 Angled Spotting Scope is a superb choice...
  • XR fully multi-coated lenses combined with a retractable,...
  • A twist-and-lock collar allows you to move the scope for various...
  • Other convenience features include the smooth, easy to use focus...
  • O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, the Diamondback delivers...

Our rating

Details

  • The Diamondback 20-60x80 Angled Spotting Scope is a superb choice...
  • XR fully multi-coated lenses combined with a retractable,...
  • A twist-and-lock collar allows you to move the scope for various...
  • Other convenience features include the smooth, easy to use focus...
  • O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, the Diamondback delivers...

When you’re learning to shoot at longer ranges, there’s one piece of information that is absolutely invaluable: where your shots are actually hitting.

Even with none of the other gear or information on this list, if you can spot your misses, you can eventually walk your shots onto the target through the persistent application of lead downrange and a healthy dose of patience (or stubbornness).

Just as importantly, all the long range shooting gear in the world won’t help you if you can’t see where your shots are impacting, and since the most feedback you’re likely to get at 1,000 yards is a lack of a ping! when you miss the steel, good luck figuring out where your shot actually went. And if you don’t know where it went, you can’t adjust accordingly and could easily spend all day missing.

A good spotting scope is designed to help you spot your misses, either by the impact against the backdrop or by reading the trace of the bullet as it moves through the air. It will also allow you to read mirage, or the movement of air as reflected by your optic. In some cases, this is the only way you’ll be able to get an accurate wind call if there are no other range markers to use, and unlike a wind meter, it will be able to tell you what the wind conditions are all the way to the target, rather than just where you’re standing.

Generally speaking, the wind about three quarters of the way to your target is the most important, and a weather meter next to your rifle isn’t going to be able to give you that info. A good spotting scope can.

This scope has remarkably good glass, a wide objective lens, high magnification, and a ruggedized construction that will keep the scope from breaking on you in rough conditions like trekking over a mountain after that trophy buck, or during a high-pressure match where you knock it over off a table into some gravel (not that I’ve ever done that).

For backpack hunting (or shooting on a tight budget), I like the Minox MD ($199.99), which is more than good enough for most hunts, and can be stretched to 1,200 yards or so in a pinch at the range.

For long range shooting at the range or competition field, I would love to have a Leica APO Televid-82 ($2900+), but since my Powerball numbers haven’t come up yet, I settled for a Vortex Diamondback 20-60×80($499) which has served me well for a number of years. I’ve also used the Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope ($799) my dad owns, and I’d say it’s probably the best choice for most shooters that have the extra money to spend.

A Comfortable Shooting Platform

Product

Wiebad, LLC Wiebad Pump Pillow Coyote,Coyote,8.50" X 10.50"...

Top Pick

  • The largest of the Wiebad line of shooting support bags, designed...
  • Its increased height allows it to fill gaps and reach points of...
  • Don't let its size fool you, the Wiebad Pump Pillow may be large...
  • Dimensions: 8.50" x 10.50" x 7.50"
  • The WieBad Pump Pillow was made to be used for positional...

Our rating

Details

  • The largest of the Wiebad line of shooting support bags, designed...
  • Its increased height allows it to fill gaps and reach points of...
  • Don't let its size fool you, the Wiebad Pump Pillow may be large...
  • Dimensions: 8.50" x 10.50" x 7.50"
  • The WieBad Pump Pillow was made to be used for positional...

One of the most important things to have when you’re trying to shoot at any kind of significant distance is a comfortable, well-supported shooting platform.

For prone shooting, this should include your bipod and rear shooting bag. I like the Armageddon Gear Gamechanger a lot, but for a lot of long range shooting I use an old school squeeze bag like this one from OneTigris as its a little more maneuverable. You’re going to use/need the Gamechanger more though in PRS competition

I also pack a Wiebad Pump Pillow for PRS stuff as well, which really helps when shooting from the uncomfortable and unconventional shooting positions that match directors love to torture challenge shooters with during a stage. This bag is incredibly light but very bulky, which makes it great for filling gaps and otherwise facilitating shooting from odd positions.

And of course I don’t ever want to be laying on sticks and rocks and the like when I’m shooting so I also have a selection of shooting mats, my two favorites of which are the Armageddon Gear Ultralight Shooting Mat for hunting and the like, and the Voodoo Tactical Padded Mat for Range shooting where I’m not worried about weight.

Scope-Mounted Level

Product

Vortex Optics Riflescope Bubble Level 1-inch

Top Pick

  • Use on 1-inch riflescope tube for the most precise long-range...
  • Use the bubble level to ensure that the rifle is perfectly...
  • This will eliminate potential error caused by shooting a canted...
  • Mounts quickly and easily to the riflescope tube

Our rating

Details

  • Use on 1-inch riflescope tube for the most precise long-range...
  • Use the bubble level to ensure that the rifle is perfectly...
  • This will eliminate potential error caused by shooting a canted...
  • Mounts quickly and easily to the riflescope tube

This is a simple addition you’ll see on many PRS-style rifles, and it is immensely useful in the field where you are rarely if ever going to be able to find perfectly level ground. A scope mounted bubble level will allow you to ensure your rifle is leveled and not canted to one side. This is especially important with long range shooting because even a little bit of a cant can cause a miss.


Other Miscellaneous Long Range Shooting Gear

There is obviously a ton of stuff out there that you can spend your money on, and far be it from me to tell you that you can’t spend your hard-earned dosh on anything that you think will help you.

That said, there are some other little things that I’ve found to be very helpful for me personally.

First, a good pack is essential in my mind. A solid pack is going to let you carry all of this crap, plus things like snacks, water, and sunscreen, and will even act as a front bag/bipod for field shooting.

I love a good pack, and of the roughly ten million that I’ve bought or been allowed to test, I keep coming back to the Hill People Gear Ute. HPG is one of the most practically-minded gear manufacturers on the planet in my opinion, and their Ute is an absolutely bomb-proof pack that can work as a daypack or a multi-day backcountry pack.

Next, get a spotter. Find a shooting buddy, bribe your spouse, harass your kids, whatever you need to do, but having another set of eyes helping you make wind calls or spot misses is absolutely invaluable, especially when you’re learning the basics.

Now, most field shooting is going to be at unknown ranges, but you can in theory use the MIL/MOA hashes in your scope to estimate distances. Practically, this doesn’t always work though because you need an object of a more or less known height in order to do that. For that reason, I bring a rangefinder. Specifically, this one from Vortex which is good to 1,300 yards, which is more than enough for hunting, and sufficient for competition as well.

Next up, a few additional conveniences. Binoculars or even a monocular are much easier to scan with than a spotting scope or the scope on your rifle, especially if you’re just casually watching other shooters on the line at a PRS match, or hiking to your shooting position on a backcountry hunt. That Vortex monocular weighs nothing and stays in a pouch on the chest strap of pack at all times.

Kneepads! Kneepads look dorky! Kneepads are bulky! If you’re over 30, have any kind of knee damage, or just don’t want your knees to hurt the day after a PRS match, wear some freaking kneepads. Ask your buddies how well they’re moving the next day and see if they still think you look like a dork.


Parting Shots

There’s a lot of long range shooting gear out there for long range hunters, target shooters, and precision rifle competitors. Hopefully this has given you a better idea of what you need to be successful in this sport, but please don’t feel like you have to have all of this to get started. A rifle, scope, ammo, and knowledge are the only real essentials you have to have for long range shooting.

That said, this stuff definitely makes it easier to not only shoot well, but to improve. I try to learn something new or improve on something every time I squeeze a trigger, and this gear helps me do that by mitigating some of the challenges associated with hitting a target several football fields away.

I don’t know about you, but whether I’m trying to take home the prize at a competition or put meat on the table for my family, I’ll take every advantage I can get.

By

Matthew Collins is an active contributor here at GunBacker. He’s enjoys both competitive shooting and gunsmithing. When you don’t see him at the range, you can catch him on Instagram and other gun related websites.

The Daily Ammo

The latest firearms reviews, gear reviews and safe shooting tips for responsible gun owners.

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