First-shot Kills On Game at 1,000 Yards

Len Backus

Staff member
May 2, 2001
I've had first-shot kills on deer out to 700 yards and I'd like to try to extend this range. I'd enjoy seeing a discussion about the effects of mirage, wind and other factors on this subject. As to wind, I'm refering to vertical component...not the more typical sideways drift. Sideways drift I think I can handle mostly by limiting my shots to very low wind velocity. But I've never shot in competition and this other stuff is still a mystery to me.

Unlike shooting for groups in competition, challenging enough by itself, a first-shot kill on animals also requires the shooter to be right on-target with no sighter rounds.

So come on, you 1K competition gurus who also kill game with one shot at 1K. Share your wisdom with the rest of us mere mortals. Explain to us why our accurate rifle will shoot good groups but seemingly shift its group's point-of-impact by as much as half-minute from day-to-day (and sometimes hour-to-hour) when target shooting under varying sun and wind conditions.

I'm a "quantify it" kind of person so try to give examples that we can use as a rule-of-thumb...even if not exactly precise.

[ 09-21-2003: Message edited by: Len Backus ]
I'm so glad you started this thread, 'cause this phenomenon drives me to drink at times!

You probably know this well, but one thing that I've been trying very hard to account for (ever since Dean Michaelis emphaticatically lectured me about it a couple of years back) is the temperature of both the chamber/barrel and the ammunition at the time of firing. And this is reflected in the results I've obtained after chronographing the exact same load under virtually identical climatic conditions, but with drastically different chamber/barrel and ammunition temperatures. For instance, the difference for me at 1000 yards in my .300 WSM after taking my ammunition out to the range in a cooler and then promptly shooting a few rounds long before they warmed up, as opposed to letting them bake in the afternoon sun of southeast Texas for 30 minutes prior to firing, meant a gross difference of about 12-14" rise on the target. The difference in the temp. of the respective groups in this case was certainly > 30 degrees!


I'm interested in getting geared up for 1000 too, haven't killed anything but paper out past 640 myself.

Wind is what kicks my *** sometimes, but I'll post my thoughts on that and first shot kills in another thread. Shifting groups has been a problem in the past like you refered to.

Funny you should mention it because I had talked to Phil about it over the phone last week. He was telling me a few things about POI shifts he might share with you. He's really the guy to talk to about that part of it too. A really nice guy, very knowledgable, and very generous too, and you'd enjoy talking to him. He used to post here, but caught some serious flack via email over a couple things he was sharing and just gave it up after that. I'll ask him to call you if you want?

I've been using this Palm device with the ballistic programs in it to modify drops for different atmospheric conditions, angles, range etc. I'm sure I've increased my effective range a couple hundred yards at least by using it and moving away from multiple paper tables that use many different values... alot of guessing going on when stuck with unchangable values on printed drop charts and you've only got something "close" to go by.

I started watching mirrage dirrection etc at various ranges using the focus knob as Sam suggested a while back, it definitely helps.

Should be an interesting thread.

[ 09-22-2003: Message edited by: Brent ]
Here are some of my thoughts and experiences. Please don't take them as the final solution.
As far as vertical goes, a tail wind will make the point of impact be higher than your zero. A head wind will push the POI down..That is a general rule and how much depends on the wind velocity. Also I have noticed the first shot on a clean barrel usually hits higher than it does on a fouled barrel. If that is the case for your gun then you would need to shoot a couple of times before you put yourself in a position to shoot at something at 1000yds, maybe the evening before the hunt.

You will have to do quite a bit of practice and get a feel for your gun and how it reacts to a clean barrel as opposed to a fouled bore, and to differing wind conditions. Also temperature and elevation has something to do with it as well. If you practice at sea level and then hunt at 10000ft there will be quite a bit of difference in where the POI will be...Gives you lot's to think about, doesn't it.

Keep us posted on how it goes..
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