In the hunting world, long-range shooting has become all the rage. The idea of purchasing a series of parts that can result in reaching out to touch something at 1,000 yards is pretty alluring. It makes sense from a “he who dies with the most toys, wins” perspective. Shooting long range also sounds pretty great if you don’t like stalking or the part of hunting where you need to get on an animal that may or may not be there by the time you move into position. Long-range shooting in a hunting situation also makes sense if you are a trained marksman who has gone through the gauntlet of military training that it takes to accomplish something like an 800-yard shot, easily. But the thing is, most of us aren’t Carlos Hathcock (if you don’t know who that is, see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Hathcock).
Military snipers trained to hit targets at long distances are skilled operators who dedicate their lives to that level of skill. They have the cool toys because they’ve learned how to use them, and they need to. Most hunters don’t require the same outfitting.
To do any kind of serious hunting of big game, a hunter must invest in optics. Binnoculars, spotting scopes, rangefinders, but first and foremost—a scope. Trends in the outdoors industry have hunters itching to reach deep into their pockets and purchase scopes with advanced target turret systems so they can dial in from further out. If you’re a little foggy on what a target turret system is, click here (go ahead, we’ll wait).
Many of today’s hunters think that using a souped-up target turret system to dial in and compensate for range windage is essential. Sure, I guess if you are intent on shooting antelope at 1,200 yards across a featureless desert plain, that may be somewhat of a necessity. Dialing in your DOPE (distance of previous engagement) also looks really cool. But the average American hunter is after game that is easily taken at distances of three-hundred yards or less. Layman’s terms … forget dialing in, just buy a quality scope with a ballistic reticle and you are all good.
Here is why you don’t need to dial in:
- Scopes Vary
The majority of rifle scopes on the market today are built to be adjusted by a ratio of ¼ inch by 100 yards per click. Some of these scopes actually come up short in reality. At closer distances, using a rifle zeroed at 100 yards, the difference of dialing in compared to holding over are minimal at best.
To work the dials properly, you must first correctly determine exact range, then use math to find out how many minutes of angle (MOAs) you need to adjust the dials for. Things like this aren’t even a factor when you choose to use a ballistic reticle instead.
- Pressure + Mathematics
Imagine doing math while the biggest deer you’ve ever seen just stepped into the meadow and is heading at a steady lope from your 3-to-9 o’clock. Picture yourself there, doing math, turning dials and attempting to think calmly while this monster buck struts through your field of fire. Now, imagine him moving from your 6-to-12 o’clock, causing you to re-dial your turret. What if he moves again? See the point?
Don’t worry about dialing in. You don’t need a $600-plus, finger-adjustable turret system for bullet-drop compensation on your scope. Spend some time looking at durable, fog-proof, water resistant, mid-level rifle scopes that will suit your preferred range and choice of cartridge. Buy a scope that has a ballistic reticle and learn how to use your holdover points. Practice. Spend entire days practicing. Often times the rifles and scopes on the market today are capable of shooting more effectively than the average shooter can shoot. Choosing a scope that can shoot across an Afghani desert won’t make you a better shot. A little bit of discipline with a modest output of finances can take you further than you think it can. It’s worth the money you will save and the meat you’ll put in the freezer.