U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- I get this question a lot from shooters who want to learn the ends and outs of one of the most difficult disciplines in shooting. Maybe you just watched Shooter with Mark Wahlberg or American Sniper and want to get an idea of what is possible and what else has Hollywood perverted. Or maybe you finally feel confident with your shotgun, pistol and now you want a new challenge. Regardless of your reason, this discipline is often the least pursued by many shooting enthusiasts for good reason.
A buddy texted me this week a picture of a nice bolt gun he saw on a shelf in a local gun store and asked if he should buy it. I replied, “as long as you’re willing to invest the time and money in learning to use it.” There is so much that goes into becoming proficient, way, way downrange that it takes months to train the best snipers in the military.
My sniper school was three months long. Though I know there are many out there that can shoot circles around me I do feel qualified to offer some guidance on how to pursue this discipline. Unless you have a dear friend with legit credentials, plenty of time to teach you, a sufficient range and gear you can borrow, my advice is that you attend a course.
Long-range marksmanship is like skiing or fly fishing.
They all share a level of serious complexity that will take time and seasoned instruction to get competent. Many of these schools are one-stop shops where all you have to do is pay the fee and show up with the right clothing and a positive mental attitude. Since most of the ranges I’ve been to don’t have an adequate facility and most shooters don’t have the gear to get started these specialty schools are the way to go. Not to mention the amount of information and practice needed to drill a man-sized steel silhouette at 1,000 plus yards is enormous and worth paying a pro.
Personally, I believe the folks who can benefit the most from these kinds of courses are hunters. I talk to many hunters who have never taken a shot past a couple of hundred yards. Which has nothing to do with their talent or ability but hinges solely on knowledge, practice, and confidence. Having the skills and confidence to take longer more accurate shots extends your lethal range and lessens the chances of injuring an animal that should have wound up dressed and in the freezer. Not to mention it is so much fun and impressive to look at how small a target is 6, 7, 800 yards away and have the confidence to nail it repeatedly.
I attended a course out in Hamlin, Texas at T-Diamond Ranch late last year to put the new SIG Cross through its paces and collect some data on the rifle. The course was put on by Greg Ray at Outdoor Solutions. The course was very thorough, professional, and well done. Most of their instructors were law enforcement and retired military. I was impressed with the comradery and the demeanor of the instructor staff. Many of the other students were from all over the country and it was really cool to see that many of the groups turned the school into a guy’s trip where they had a blast ragging on one another and actually got to learn something cool and important. Courses like these often allow a follow-on hunt if you are willing to stay a bit longer and pay extra. I stayed and bagged my first Texas boar which is something that I’d wanted to do for a long time. This particular school also has other courses that also teach hunters how to prepare their wild game in a delicious fashion.
The next courses I’m planning on attending are being put on by SIG Academy. They have several long-range classes for those wishing to increase their knowledge and capabilities. I’m always impressed at the level of talent of their instructors. They are funny as hell and always keep the pace and enthusiasm up. Their PSR 103- Reach for a thousand yards course and their Unknown Distance course are on my list this year to improve on the fundamentals and improve my overall long-range. Here is a list of all of their long-range courses.
Bottom line, you probably don’t have that friend with these skills that have the time and willingness to pour a couple of days of training into you to give you the basics. So, taking a course from a reputable group is hands down the way to get a taste of sending lead way, way downrange and hearing that sweet gong it makes upon impacting steel several hundred yards away and then hearing it, 4 or 5 seconds later as it travels all the way back to your ear.
You can do this, and it isn’t as expensive as you may think.
Next time your boys are talking about going skiing again, or hitting the blackjack tables in Vegas tell them you have something else in mind, something better and much harder to do.
About Eli Crane
Eli Crane is a man of faith, a husband, a father, a veteran, and an entrepreneur.
Eli joined the Navy the week after 9/11. He spent 9 years as a Navy SEAL. After 5 deployments in the Navy, three of them to Iraq he decided to turn the page. You might have seen him and his wife Jen on ABCs hit show Shark Tank where they successfully landed a deal with Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary.
Eli is also a brand ambassador for Sig Sauer firearms and a member of the ACVBA (advisory committee veteran business affairs) in Washington DC.
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