Have to throw in my 2 cents here. My 13 y.o. Son and I have been on a similar quest started about a year ago. Here is our just under a $1000 learning set-up. A Remington 700 varmint in 7 mm 08. That gave us a stock rifle with a longer 26" heavy barrel. I think this was the largest caliber in that barrel. ( The extra weight seems to help with recoil vs his youth model 700, same caliber, 20" barrel. With 100 fps more on the same loads out of the longer barrel). Accurate enough to take us out to a 700 yard hanging steel plate so far. Not sure if We are good enough shooters off a bench rest to brag about sub moa. Topped it with a 4.5-14 x 40 Nikon Buckmaster bdc scope. Then added the Monarch high replacement turrets that drop right into place on the Buckmaster. A $74 nice upgrade that gives easy to read 1/4 moa clicks and consistent return to zero. Under $400 on what seems to be quite good optics. I now don't even use the bdc circles and would just go with the nikoplex reticle. We are hand loading at my father in laws. He was set up for everything 30 06. We bought our own dies and supplies and use quite a bit less powder in a 308 size case with great 7 mm ballistics, that catch up to and pass the 30 after 400 yards or so. (from what I've seen that last statement could start a few good arguments). Less in the rifle has left room for some of the other necessary long range accessories. We got a CED M2 chronograph
, an invaluable help in developing our hand loads. We are now shooting beyond what our used Nikon Monarch 800 rangefinder will read. (I got it used from a golfer for $100, putting it to much better use than it's previous life). Time to spend more $$$ on a 1600 something or other rangefinder. Also no surprise that my big gift last Christmas was a nice spotting scope and tripod that lets us see our holes in targets at 300 yards. And now a Kestrel
wind gauge for my birthday at the end of this month. Maybe my wife will go for that new rangefinder as my son's birthday gift next month.... Luckily He already had an iPod touch. The $10 isnipe ballistics app has worked great for us and shows me that we run out of clicks at 890 yards shooting the 162 Amax at 2800 fps behind 45.2 grains 2000MR, fire formed, neck sized Winchester brass, WLR primers. With little to no pressure signs. (A year ago not much of those last sentences would have made sense to us, how far we have come!). Oh but now, if I were to remount with a 20 MOA rail we could click to well beyond 1000, and maybe even reach that 1200 yard plate our crazy range has up. (google Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf, lucky to have it less than an hour from home). But then, would I maybe want to upgrade to that Monarch scope with a bit more magnification? That comes with the high turrets included and get the finer crosshairs? When does the spending stop?
All in all I have to say this has been a great father son year and I don't think we have spent any on video gaming. We have enjoyed our venison and have decided that My Son's 454 yard mule deer last fall wasn't just a lucky shot and we now have the confidence to hunt further this coming season. What a great country we live in for now, and "fight" to keep it that way. God bless those that do