Definately listen to these guys. You don't need to spend a ton of money when you're starting out. My rig looks pretty "unexciting" compared to others' here:
Browning A-Bolt, pretty much the same as the day I bought it 13 years ago or so (factory stock, barrel, etc). I have done a few things to it (rechambered from 300 Win Mag to 300 RUM, new trigger, bipod) but none of those were necessary to do what I'm doing with it now. I did them because I wanted to, not because I needed to. Even with those additions, I have a whole lot less money in it than even a fairly cheap custom rifle and it gets the job done.
The guy behind the trigger is the limitation right now, not the rifle.
To the new posters, welcome. I hear this quite often about wanting/needing the very best equipment to start. Great goal...but maybe not so realistic.
For many, the cost of a custom rifle and other equipment takes this style of shooting out of reach. It doesn't have to be.
That savage in a 308 or 300Win mag WILL be effective as a LR rig. It is just a matter of degree.
Remember that knowledge and experiece cannot be bought. What you learn from working with a production rifle and getting it to shoot will teach you more then "buying" or trying to buy that experience.
All of the tricks in rifle and load tuning are used in a production rifle. In fact, because they need more tuning, you are going to learn a lot about the subtleties that elude most "hunting" reloaders. It should be possible to get consistent sub MOA performance from modern day rifles. There are many that will perform as well as a custom job.
Spend money on practise. That is where the biggest dividends will come from. With time and experience, that production rifle will become more accurate.
The difference in a production rifle and a custom rifle can be as little as 1/4 MOA decrease in group size. The error in misjudging the wind or light/mirage could equal a few feet.
Jerry and the others have already explained things much better than I could.
The only other thing I can recommend is Practice, Practice, Practice and then Practice some more... When you get down to it, if you don't know where your rifle will put a bullet at any given range, then it will not make any difference how much you have spent.
Keep records. Write down your scope settings for each range, wind conditions, weather etc. It sounds like a lot, but in a very short while, it becomes second nature.
With the efforts in Afghanistan, the need for sniper/scout teams was proven beyond a doubt. If it were not for the response of the JSF2, bad things could have happened to some friendlies.
In fact, this group has been specifically requested by the US to aid in any conflict with Iraq. Really, the only contribution directly requested for.
It seems these Canucks used some pretty good equipment and techniques to do an excellent job. I think this will set the presidence for other countries to develop these types of units as they work well in the new threat environments. Very cost effective too.
Being a civi, I hope to never experience the fog so speak from zero experience. However, I feel that training helps in times of extreme stress. If proper equipment handling is taught then practised, there will be lower incidence of damage during normal operation.
Sounds like the blind working with the ill informed to produce the impossible. Isn't bureaucracy grand?
Same BS in Canada and all on the tax payers expense.
Wouldn't it be great if they just admitted they don't have a clue about shooting, firearms, or "pro" work and leave it to the people in the field to make it happen.
Sure, come up with a list of requirments and a budget. But, leave the medling out of it (politics should not be controlling engineering). I bet if the US/Canadian armies let the shootin public submit ideas based on their requirments, they would come up with amazing equipment at no cost except for a plaque and photo op. Hell, some would even complete the testing and development.
But then we couldn't have events like Vietnam, Somalia, and Iraq (oops not happened yet).
Well, this has gone way off topic. Let's all try and introduce shooting of any kind to someone this year. By example, we can slowly change the preceptions of media, politicians and public opinion.