Len, here is one more piece of "candy":
LONG RANGE REALITIES
The topic of shooting at game animals at long range is controversial. There are two extremes: "no way, under any circumstance", and "why not kill at the longest distance that your rifle, ammo and personal skill can handle". If you are adamantly in the first group, you might as well skip to the next article because I am about to cover this topic in detail, discussing the realities of long range shooting as they are today.
I have been researching this subject for two years, talking to hundreds of hunters throughout the U.S. and Canada. My discussions have been in hunting camps, at rifle ranges, in gun-shops, on aircraft, and about anywhere that I can generate some opinions. I have also contacted some special individuals whose wisdom I respect, who have unique perspectives on hunting and shooting. As my information base has increased I have noted a change in my own attitude toward this topic.
Truth is, I am somewhat pessimistic about the average hunter's ability and interest in shooting at long range. The bottom line is that most hunters do not have enough interest to obtain the skills, knowledge and equipment to take long shots on big game animals. That's right, most hunters could be shooting accurately at longer range than they currently are.
Before I lose another batch of readers, understand that I am not demeaning, ridiculing or trying to tell anyone what they should do. I have simply learned that most hunters are not using the potential of their equipment. Perhaps this article will change that for some individuals.
WHERE DOES LONG RANGE START?
What is long range? In other words what is a long shot? What is "long" to some shooters might be "duck-soup" to other guys, so just where does "long" start? Is a 100-yard shot through heavy cover at the exposed white patch on the throat of a buck a long shot? Is a sixty-yard running shot in a black swamp a long shot? Is a 320 yard shot at a huge whitetail standing broadside out in a clover field a long shot?
I believe that we should only call shots "long" by the actual distance involved, not by the difficulty imposed by a particular situation. In other words, the first two examples above are shooting challenges that require excellent marksmanship, not long-range skills. I have personally made such shots, and felt that they were "long", indeed they might have been 'long for a neck-shot' or 'long for a running shot in cover', but they are not true long range shots for the purpose of this article.
Some folk might turn down a 320 yard standing shot at a big buck, indeed most individuals that I talked to indicated this was too far for their liking. As a target the vital area of a big buck is not a difficult challenge at that distance, but there are many other factors which might make it a "long" shot for some shooters. These factors are both atmospheric, physical and mental and we will consider them later.
I believe that "long" starts at 250 yards for most hunters. 200 to 250 yards is also a common description of "long". I learned this by asking the following simple question. "How far are you comfortable shooting to? What hunting distance is long for you, anything farther thanů?" The firearm in question was always a centerfire rifle, obviously handguns, shotguns and muzzleloaders have totally different parameters. Again, for this article we will stick with rifle accuracy. Rifles are by far the most common deer-hunting tool and I have the most data on rifle shooters.
Two hundred and fifty yards can take on many perspectives in the hunting field, particularly when a trophy buck is involved. Many hunters are handicapping themselves by accepting that 250 yards is a long shot and that any shot longer is probably beyond their capability. Unfortunately, the truth is that any shot beyond two-fifty IS BEYOND THEIR CAPABILITY, but this does not have to be so.
KEYS TO LONG RANGE SHOOTING
What elements are involved in examining shooting long? First, I believe close is best. The closer the shooter is to a target the better the accuracy should be. In other words a fifty-yard shot can be placed with more exact precision than a five-hundred yard shot. Note I said EXACT PRECISION. Next, I believe that hunters should only shoot when they are virtually assured that their bullet will strike a vital zone of their target. Let's say a 90 percent confidence level - you should be ninety percent sure that the bullet will be delivered properly. I am not going to argue 90 or 95 percent, most hunters feel that 90 percent is a reasonable goal. Last, we should all agree that wounding is unacceptable. As hunters we owe it to our sport, our quarry and ourselves to do everything in our power to prevent wounding from happening. We should make every effort to eliminate any variables that we have power over, such as poor equipment, lack of skill and bad judgment.
We also must be realistic and accept that wounding can happen, that sometimes bullets are deflected, animals move unexpectedly, or elbows slip at the crucial moment. Wounding an animal is a personal loss, a wound that we as hunters should feel in our soul. When it happens we instinctively prefer to rationalize the situation, "hit a twig", or "just a flesh wound". Sometimes we might tend to rationalize our own stupidity, "Guess he was going too fast.", or "I thought I could hit him".
Believe me, wounding is gut-wrenching time. I know what it is like. Your head is spinning with thoughts. The sight picture, the sound of the bullet impact, the reaction to the bullet, your last sighting of the critter, the blood on the leaves - and then the hollow feeling that you just blew it. Your guts feel sick. You wish that you could call back the bullet, rewind the clock. That you had not fired that damn bullet. You know that somewhere a critter is bleeding and in pain because... You hate to say it, because of me. This is the side of hunting that we sometimes have to get through and that we must learn from. And prevent from happening again.
You will notice that I have not mentioned anything about ethics. The more I learn about this subject, the more convinced I am that ethics is NOT a factor. What? It "is" or "is not" ethical to shoot long shots at big game? Everyone has heard an "expert" preach that long shots are unethical. I do not believe that any person has a right to impose his or her ethics on anyone else, period. As sportsmen we are governed first by the laws, regulations and acts set down by our game agencies. After that we should conduct ourselves according to the basic rules of good sportsmanship - I am not going to get into that here. From these rules and from the influence of our parents, elders and peers, hopefully we develop a code of conduct that shows respect and enables us to enjoy hunting and the outdoors. I am not aware of any ethics that dictate what distance deer should be shot at.
SHOTS AT LONG RANGE
Let's get back to long shooting. I propose that long shooting has a place in hunting, that we as hunters should learn the skills so that we can use them if necessary. I do not agree that anyone should shoot at targets that bleed. A big game animal is far more than a "target". I do not believe that a "hunter" should deliberately back off to make the shot longer, or set up at ridiculous distances just to see if he can make a shot. If killing an animal merely gets down to ensuring that you have cranked on the correct minutes of angle, you are no longer a hunter, you are a killer. Might as well shoot at Shetland ponies or Holsteins in the back forty.
Just were does long rang shooting fit in? Ask any western mule deer hunter, or prairie whitetail seeker. How about the beanfield shooters in South Carolina, Sendero hunters in Texas or someone sitting on a hydro cut-line in Michigan? Deer do not always appear where we hoped. Sometimes when they show up they are much further away than we planned.
I have hunched near a heavily used trail expecting a buck to walk right up to me and been confounded when he showed up two fields over. The reality of some hunting habitat is that game is usually aware of the hunter and likely to move out before he gets as close as he would like. Hunting big coulees in the west, or river-breaks is a good example of this. Some habitats do not enable getting as close as the hunter would prefer, either he makes a longer shot or does not ever get an opportunity for a kill. Another major reason for long shooting is to put a wounded animal down, before it might get into heavy cover, or the blood trail is lost.
THREE TYPES OF LONG RANGE SHOOTERS
My discussions and interviews indicate that there are three types of long range hunters. The first is the "Hail Mary Shooter", individuals who are basically unprepared and simply hold over and let fly. Let's face it, this is how the majority of long shots are taken. Distances range from 250 yards and extend out to five hundred or as far as seven and eight hundred yards (or until the buck is out of sight). I will not comment on the sportsmanship of this type of shooting. Obviously the 90% confidence requirement is not a consideration as it really should be.
The second category could be called the "Serious Long Range Shooter". These hunters have gained an appreciation for what their rifles can do at longer range and they have made an effort to get their shooting skills up to the ability of their rifle. They have purchased equipment that enhances long range shooting capability. These hunters may have bought Beanfield Rifles such as Winchester Laredo's, Remington Sendero's or Weatherby Accumarks or even had rifles custom built. Their rifles and equipment will be tuned to ensure maximum performance. Long range starts at 400 and extends to 600 or 700 yards. Their confidence is very high as they have shot extensively out to these distances, have knowledge about compensating for the effects of wind and other variables and they are usually above-average marksmen.
The third type of long range shooter is the "Extreme Range Hunter". These fellows are not common in the sport of hunting. They have variously been described as the elite practitioners of the long-range aspect of the sport, and as "wanna-be snipers" who should not be allowed to try shots at the ranges that they consider sporting. These hunters utilize equipment and techniques that very few average hunters even know exists. Battleship rangefinders, Russian rangefinders good for several miles, portable shooting-benches, pre-ranged hunting locations, and firearms that are essentially heavy caliber benchrest rifles. The fact is that these specialists do kill deer at unbelievable distances and they do so with confidence and regularity. They tend to only shoot under absolutely optimum conditions so variables of bullet flight are minimized. They take long range shooting to a level that NASCAR has taken the family sedan to. Long range for these hunters starts at seven to eight hundred yards and extends out to the best part of one mile. Controversial and in a tiny majority, these fellows consider that their hunting activity is a challenge that they wish to pursue. Not everyone agrees with their activities and some states are considering legislation restricting the maximum weight of hunting rifles.
A long range shooting acquaintance of mine, Dave King from Damascus, Maryland suggested that I categorize hunters by their equipment (and hopefully skills). His first category probably describes most of the initial category just described as these hunters shoot out of the box Remington M-700's, Winchester M-70's or Ruger 77's in popular calibers, with 3x - 9x scopes. Dave's next group owns rifles with heavier barrels, factory or custom beanfield rifles with higher power optics and possibly higher performance calibers. He did not include the extreme range shooters as they are such a tiny percentage of hunters. Dave feels that hunters who make the effort to obtain better long range equipment tend to use it more so as to get their skills as close as possible to the potential of their equipment.
I am not going to go into ballistic data discussing downrange muzzle velocity and energy capabilities of caliber "X" versus caliber "Y". I prefer to assume that readers have the common sense not to attempt to use unsuitable calibers and bullets for any hunting activity. Various experts tout formulas that "determine" energy after the bullet leaves the muzzle. These numbers are only numbers (some formulas indicate that the .220 Swift has more muzzle energy than my good old .45-70 - which is a better moose caliber?). I believe that we as hunters should select calibers and bullets that have proven long range capabilities.
When a properly constructed bullet passes through or destroys vital organs the animal will die. Chub Eastman at Nosler warns about a common mistake made by hunters who wish to shoot at longer range. Chub has seen far too many individuals switch from standard calibers that they shoot accurately up to big magnum calibers. The reality is that 90% of casual shooters cannot shoot magnums as well as standard calibers because of the increased recoil and muzzle-blast, so the benefits are never realized.
In a nutshell, category one hunters will not take downrange velocity and terminal performance into consideration. Category two hunters will ensure that they are using optimum calibers and bullets for the ranges that they intend to cover. Since we must consider real-world situations, with a few exceptions I believe that the smaller legal calibers in the .24 to .26 range can fail to deliver suitable long-range performance. I am talking .243 Winchester up to the .260 Remington and am fully aware of the performance of long range whizzes such as the .257 Weatherby, .25-06 and 6.5-284. We are talking clean kills on deer at long range, past 300 yards. Some small caliber bullets tend to fragment or lack penetration to break bones and make decent entrance and exit wounds. Dan Lilja, one of the most talented barrel makers and long range hunters in the U.S. considers the .257 and .270 Weatherby magnums and the .264 Winchester magnum to be minimum calibers for his long range shooting.
I have read that the human skeleton and body mass is not unlike the whitetail deer, so calibers that the military has found optimum for long range use should be good deer hunting loads. This includes the .308 Winchester with 165/168 grain bullets up to and including the .300 Winchester Magnum. Do not miss-understand that statement, the .223 military cartridge is not suitable for the long range hunting we are discussing, nor is it used by military snipers. Suffice to say that most hunting bullets can be expected to perform as reliably at long range as they do at extremely close range. I suggest that hunters use common sense and select fairly heavy bullets in their favorite caliber. Think about retaining energy rather than blazing muzzle velocities.
Here we go, let's look at the real key to long range shooting. I consider hunting accuracy as the ability to deliver a round of ammunition to an intended target at ranges desired or required. How many deer are killed from 100-yard benchrests? Hunting accuracy is not about minutes of angle. Chub Eastman at Nosler once told me, "Hunting accuracy is minute of whitetail!". Chub wants the most accurate rifle and load that he could handle in the field, but he is exactly correct - killing the animal with a properly placed bullet is what this is all about.
I mentioned my pessimism about the shooting ability of the majority of hunters. Why is this so? No doubt our lives have changed and we just don't have as much time to go to the range, plink at tin cans or shoot as much as we would like. There are too many hunters who don't have the time, interest or dedication to obtain and maintain good shooting skills. Fortunately deer are fairly big targets so hunter success is quite high, despite the inept shooting of "one box a year" type guys.
How good should your shooting be? Determine how far you can consistently hit a ten-inch paper plate, or better yet bust ten-inch party balloons. Practice will increase the distance more than switching rifles and loads. Shoot from hunting positions and utilize field hunting rests such as Underwood or Stoney Point shooting sticks, Harris or Rugged Gear bipods or the nifty little Snipepod.
THE KEY TO LONG RANGE SHOOTING
Enough about lack of shooting ability, let's look at what skills, knowledge and equipment will optimize long range shooting. First we must recognize that KNOWLEDGE, SKILL and EQUIPMENT are the essentials. We have to have them all and use them together.
Knowledge includes understanding how and when to shoot, skill includes the physical act of placing shots accurately at required ranges and both of these create a demand for equipment capable of delivering the shot.
I do not have room to go in-depth into these three key areas. Let's discuss them enough to create an understanding of what is involved. Knowledge is probably the largest requirement as we are talking about having a sound understanding of hunting, marksmanship and external and terminal ballistics. Skills required include marksmanship under a wide range of conditions and there is only way to obtain the necessary proficiency. That is pulling the trigger. Equipment requirements can be met quite easily if one has lots of money, or acquired over time through a trial and error basis. Equipment obviously includes a flat-shooting rifle, quality optics and the best ammo available. It also includes things like laser rangefinders, field shooting rests, cheat-sheets and other specialized long shooting assets.
BADLANDS LONG RANGE SHOOTING COURSE
I recently experienced the ideal way to learn long range shooting. I attended a long range shooting course put on by Bobby Whittington at Badlands Tactical Training in Grandfield, Oklahoma (580-479-5559). The course is intended to provide long range shooting skills for tactical and target shooters. I was extremely impressed with the knowledge and skill enhancement that was taught. Bobby and long range rifle instructor Steve Suttles ran me through their basic course with the intention of using my knowledge and background to help design a brand new hunter's course. Available in early 2001, the HUNTER'S LONG RANGE SHOOTING COURSE combines proven military based marksmanship training with practical hunting skills.
Accurately placing your first shot at hunting distances is the bottom line. Hunters can learn to do this consistently by employing knowledge and skills that the military has perfected. Badlands training covers basic marksmanship skills and keys on the fundamentals such as accurately correcting for wind, reading and understanding mirage, light changes, shooting at angles and other topics. I learned to utilize the mildot ranging system, and to employ it on full-body big game targets. The objective of the training is not to make everyone a sniper, it is to extend each individual's confidence zone for accurate shooting to the maximum. This might be four-hundred yards for some shooters and seven-hundred yards for others. The new course will provide shooting instruction and ample practice at long range, on moving targets, and even opportunities to shoot from treestands and shooting towers. The four-day course is very reasonably priced and guaranteed to improve your shooting skills. Check out Bobby's web site at www.snipernet.net.
When I attended the Badlands course I was drilled on the intricacies of the mildot system and I am determined to improve and maintain my ability to use this system. Not everyone has a mildot reticle in their scope, and Bobby teaches how to calibrate and use ordinary duplex hunting reticles to range using the mildot system. I must admit that I have become virtually dependant on laser rangefinders in recent years. I believe that rangefinder reticles are a great asset for long range hunters, one that is not battery dependant or effected by bright sunlight as are lasers.
Several companies offer rangefinder reticles and they are definitely worth considering. I rely on the TDS system as offered by Swarovski and Kahles, (see Sidebar) for much of my hunting - for shots out to 500 or 600 yards. I also have become confident enough with mil-dot to use them in the field. No doubt other reticles work well, I suggest that you consider mildots or a rangefinder reticle with your next scope purchase, or contact Premiere Reticles - (540) 722-3522 - for installation of a custom reticle.
I mentioned that I have been working on this topic for a couple of years. Some of the most interesting data gathering was actual shooting assessments of hunters as they prepared for upcoming hunting seasons. Here are some of my results.
I placed twelve-inch circular targets (Shoot-n-See) made by Birchwood Casey at 100, 200 and 300 yards. I asked dozens of shooters to take three shots at each range, from any field position except prone (prone was allowed at 300 yards). No bench shooting. Then we repeated the shooting with the use of field shooting rests. I offered the use of Underwood and Stoney Point shooting sticks, Harris and Rugged Gear bipods and Snipepods. Shooting was done with my Winchester M-70 rifle in .308 Winchester, with a great Burris 3x - 9x scope in Burris mounts. I then allowed them to shoot the test with their own rifles if they so wished, and every shooter did so.
Results are quit interesting, but also somewhat disappointing. Here are summaries of the shooting tests.
M-70 - no rests
100 yds - 6.5"
200 yds - 66% hit
300 yds - 100 % declined
M-70 - field rests
100 yds - 6.0"
200 yds - 66% hit
300 yds - 10 % hits
Personal rifle - no rests
100 yds - 7.0"
200 yds - 66% hit
300 yds - 75% declined or no hits
Personal rifle - field rests
100 yds - 5.25"
200 yds - 66% hit
300 yds - 5% hits
An interesting fact came to light - the shooters did not do significantly better with the field rests when they first used them. If the shooter tried three or four 3-shot strings his accuracy increased noticeably. No doubt this was do to familiarization with the rest as they require practice and getting used-to.
Making long range shots at big game animals is not a simple task. We have discussed the essentials and now I would like to complicate things by suggesting more factors that should be considered. When a shot is made the exact location that the animal went down or was last seen must be marked. In addition the position of the shooter should also be marked with a broken branch or even an inflated balloon or some flagging tape. The time of day is important for a couple of reasons. Light has significant influence on the accuracy of out distance estimates and it also effects how we place our sights. LIGHT'S UP SIGHTS UP - LIGHT'S DOWN SIGHTS DOWN is a military rule of thumb. Time of day also determines how much light is left for tracking or finding the critter. Hunters must also consider impending weather, the type of habitat and proximity to heavy cover, the presence of snow for tracking, the availability of a back-up shooter (just in case) and even the presence of other hunters who might beat you to the kill.
Hunting is becoming more expensive, and trophy animals are definitely in great demand. When the trophy of a lifetime steps out, in a limited-draw area that you have applied to hunt in for several years, you have a lot of time, money, effort and satisfaction riding on the bullet. Even if the buck steps out in the back-forty the hunter should be able to place his shot accurately - or he should not shoot at all. Long range shooting is not magic and it is not fluke. Long range shooters do their homework, they work very hard at ensuring that the bullet travels true. Long range shooting involves mathematics, attention to detail and practice. A LOT OF PRACTICE in varying situations. That's what it is all about.
SIDEBAR - 1 THE TDS TRIFACTOR RETICLE SYSTEM
Last year I began hunting with the relatively new TDS Tri-factor reticle system, available in selected Swarovski and Kahles riflescopes. The TDS reticle features four heavy posts from which medium-thickness crosshairs extend to intersect in the middle of the field of view. The end of each post is calculated to be the perfect lead position for running shots on big game. Below the intersection of the crosshairs are four ranging-bars or small etched lines that appear to make a Christmas tree design. These lines provide a straight line aiming reference point to the target at distances beyond one hundred yards.. The first bar is quite short, the second about double in length, the third longer again and the fourth bar is the longest of the set. The length of each bar conforms to the correct hold-off for a 10 MPH wind at the appropriate shooting distance. The spacing between bars enables precise elevation hold-offs for virtually any hunting load and can be used for accurate range estimation. The system is self-limiting to either five or six hundred yards maximum, depending on the flatness of the caliber being used. The inventor T.D. Smith imposed this limitation to ensure that the hunter will not shoot beyond the highest success distances for applicable calibers. T.D.'s system is the fastest, most accurate hunting system available.
.308 Winchester HS Precision Pro-2000 rifle
Swarovski 3x - 12x TDS scope
Five shot groups at 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 with Winchester Supreme 168 Ballistic Sivertips ammo and the Swarovski 3x - 12x TDS using the crosshair at 100 and the distance bars at each appropriate range. Shot on 12X. Wind calm. Clear skies. 29 degrees C.
Distance (yds.) Group Size Group Location
100-crosshair 0.72" Zero Distance
200-bar #1 1.45" 0
300-bar #2 3.00" 0
400-bar #3 4.80" 0
500-bar #4 5.95" 2.1" low
EQUIPMENT CHOICES OF SEVERAL WHITETAIL HUNTERS
PAT DURKIN - Editor, Deer and Deer Hunting Magazine
Rifle: Weatherby .300 Weatherby mag or Remington 700 in .300 Remington Ultra Mag.
Ammo: Factory ammo - 180 Grain
Scope: Zeiss 3x - 9x, or B&L 4200 scope
Additional Optics: 7x or 8x binos and a Bushnell 800 Laser
Amount of Practice: 200 - 300 rounds plus shoot in back yard with a high-end air-rifle for trigger control practice
Longest Shot: 250-300 yards estimated
CHUBB EASTMAN - Nosler Bullets
Rifle: Custom Winchester M-70 in 280 Ackley or a Wildcat called the 6.5 T. H. & E "Blowhole Express"
Ammo: .280/140 Nosler Ballistic Tips, 6.5/120 Nosler Ballistic Tips
Scope: 2.5x - 8x Leupold
Additional Optics: Leupold or Swarovski
Amount of Practice: Shoots Continuously
Longest Shot: 400 yards on a Montana buck
DAN LILJA - Owner, Lilja Precision Rifle Barrels
Rifle: Custom built .270 Weatherby Magnum, 30" barrel
Ammo: Handloaded 130 gr. Nosler Ballistic Tips
Scope: Leupold 6.5x - 20x
Additional Optics: 10x50 Aus Jena Binocs, Kowa spotting scope, laser rangefinder
Amount of Practice: Shoots continuously
Longest Shot: 1000 yards on a whitetail
BLAINE PAINTER - USAF Pilot Yokota AB, Japan (now Texas! - also known as AFP)
Rifle: Remington M-700 in .300 Winchester magnum
Ammo: Handloaded 180 grain Sierra Game Kings
Scope: 4x - 14x Leupold
Additional Optics: Nikon 8x42 binocs, will be getting a laser
Amount of Practice: 300 rounds minimum from various field positions.
Longest Shot: 318 yards, head on shot
Mike Miller - Police Officer, SWAT sniper, California, manufacturer of Quick Cuff Sling system
Rifle:Remington M-700 in .308 Winchester, custom built
Ammo: 165 grain Speer Handload
Scope: U.S. Optics 1.8 - 10 SN3
Additional Optics: Nikon 800 Laser, Leupold 25x spotting scope, 10x40 binocs
Amount of Practice: Shoots at least once per week, all year
Longest Shot: 442 yards on a California buck.
MILO HANSON - Holder of the B&C World Record Whitetail
Rifle:Winchester M-70 detachable mag. .30-06
Ammo: 165 grain Winchester Supreme
Scope: Redfield 3x - 9x sighted in 2" high at 100 yards
Additional Optics: 7x50 Binocs
Amount of Practice: Shoots with family and friends before the hunting season
Longest Shot:est. 400 yards on a Saskatchewan buck.
LONG RANGE TOOLS
I have begun using some accessories that are specifically intended to help make those long shots that we have been discussing. First, I highly recommend the BALLISTICARD SYSTEMS from Schwiebert Precision (800) 378-2174 or www.ballisticards.com
. Lou Schwiebert makes laminated ballistic range cards for virtually every caliber and load known to man, even odd-ball handloads. The cards have
essential info such as Trajectory, Scope clicks ('Come-Ups') for sight adjustments, Wind Deflection, modified trajectories for Up/Down Angles and even suggested Leads for various big game animals. Many shooters are finding that adjusting their scopes for long shots is far more accurate than guessing hold-over. These cards facilitate quick, accurate adjustments. The Ballisticards come in sets of three, green for the listed velocity, red for hot weather were the velocity can increase 100 fps and blue for cold weather were velocity is likely to have dropped 100 fps. Ballisticards are very well made and will stand up to hard field use.
Also check out the long range shooting aides from T.R.G.T.-L.L.P., web site www.trgt.com.
Although the Sniper Data Book might sound a little on the military side, it contains excellent marksmanship information and charts, as well as data pages for listing rifle and shooting data. I am particularly impressed with the idea of mapping shooting "fields of fire", as might be of value for beanfield shooters and Sendero-type long range hunting. Drawing a simple map with lasered distances make great sense and will definitely help make long shots if they are offered.
Mildot reticles are not exclusively the domain of the military and law-enforcement agencies, as they are appearing in many hunting scopes. Without going into the math, mildots require the use of numbers and formulas, and the quickest way to arrive at mildot distances is the Mildot Master. This handy plastic slide-rule is easy to work with and very accurate. Available from TRGT an direct from the manufacturer, address in previous article.
Another great shooting aid is the Tactical Intervention Quick Cuff sling. The Quick Cuff sling functions as a handy carrying sling and a superb shooting sling. I recently watched Steve Suttles shoot five shots into four inches - from the SITTING position with the use of the Quick Cuff from a distance of 400 yards. The sling is also available from TRGT or direct from the manufacturer. Check out www.tacticalintervention.com
Another essential in my long-range kit is the Kestral 2000 wind meter, a pocket sized wind-meter that gives accurate readings and is easy to use.
The above toys might sound like sniper gear, but they are all useful hunting tools and should be considered by any serious long range shooter.