Novice Rifleman has questions about sniper/dmr/precision shooting????


August 10, 2004, 01:52 PM
Ok first off I shoot for fun. I have no desire to shoot any living thing. Heck I don't even hunt. Ok I could probably plug a duck but they are really just fish with wings but I digress.

On many sniper/designated marksman rifles they seem to topped with anywhere from a 3x-8x scope. Now I have very moderate rifle skill and 100 yards is a big deal to me.

Now I can get pretty good groups at 100 yards with a 9x scope and I have been known to pull off a sub 1 inch group at 100 yards with my VEPR .308 POSP 4X scope combo but this leads me to my question.

How do you use something like a 4x-8x scope to engage targets at 500-800yards. I have a hard enough time getting any kind of groups from a bench at 100 yards. I am assuming something man or even small deer sized here. Once again this is for size comparison academic purposes only.

Now with a scope or irons I can easily get on a standard target at 100 yards without much care for grouping but stretch that out to 500 yards or so and I can't really fathom getting hits. I have never really tried so maybe I would be more apt to make hits then I think.

Anyhoo how do you guys do it? 4x and even 8x just doesn't seem like a lot of magnification to me.


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August 10, 2004, 02:19 PM
You will be very surprised at how well, or perhaps even better, you can do with a 4x-6x powered scope over the larger models for a few reasons:

1) large power equals less field of view - harder to locate your target
2) parallax - an issue with higher powered scopes causing point of impact to change with differing cheek welds (position of head on stock)
3) steadiness - the higher the scope magnification power, the more you notice just how unsteady you really are.
4) mirage - the higher the power, the more effect mirage has on defining your target.

I am fortunate enough to share a private range, with my dad (who is 71 and still loves shooting) with targets out to 1,100 yds. I am always very impressed with shooters using only 4x scopes at the long range targets. They may not shoot the consistent match winning groups but they can definitely keep hits in the NRA 10 rings with them - plenty good enough.

Just my opinion - of course.

August 10, 2004, 02:33 PM
NRA Highpower Rifle competition is shot a 200, 300 and 600yds with iron sights (1 MoA groups aren't uncommon). A scope is nice for being able to pick out targets easier, but if you can't judge and adjust for wind and temp, you aren't going to do well at long range.

Jim Watson
August 10, 2004, 03:25 PM
You have three different situations.
Targets: In formal target shooting, the targets are clearly defined, are at known ranges, and you get sighter shots.
Hunting: Most hunters have a brag about a long shot on game. They don't mention the misses and cripples.
Military sniping: You don't care if you only cripple an Iraqi.
Police sniping: The FBI has not shot anyone even as far as 100 yards the last report I saw.

Beetle Bailey
August 10, 2004, 04:10 PM
I'm just a rookie here (shot my first rifle about 12 months ago) and I have never shot a sub-MOA group. Like you, most of my rifle shooting is at 100 yards or less, but every once in a while I head out to a range with 600 yard steel targets (just to see what I can do ;) ).

My first time there, I admit I was a little intimidated by the distance, but once I got a few hits at 200, I went to 300. After mulitple hits at 300, I went to 400. That started to get a bit tougher, but I had a buddy spotting hits and misses for me and that helped a lot. I was shooting steel COM, rams, chickens, turkeys, and sheep targets. Oh, and a few bells and geometric shapes IIRC. This was all with iron sights rifles using a sandbag.

Another friend was shooting a Savage 10 FP in .223 with a scope set at 4.5x IINM so I used it to shoot at a steel circle at 600 yards. Once I figured out how much to hold over, I was getting hits about half the time, and the target was a little smaller than COM. I surprised myself because I kept thinking those shoots were next to impossible to make. They aren't. They are tough, but don't sell yourself short ;) .

'Course, all the distances were marked out for me and the wind was either calm or blowing in at me, so that makes it fewer things to worry about.

Art Eatman
August 10, 2004, 05:23 PM
It takes time, shooting, familiarization, discussion, and repeat all that a bunch of times. :)

I feel fortunate that for the last forty-ish years I've had a place to shoot, right where I live. It was not until a few years back that I finally built a 500-yard range here at the house.

Experience in shooting and studying my rifle and the ballistics tables pays off. My first time out, my pet '06 was zeroed for 200 yards (3x10 variable). That means about a four-foot guesstimation holdover at 500 yards. First shot? 6" low at 5:30 on the clock. Second shot? 1" low at 6:00 on the clock.

I later reset my scope for 500 yards and got two four-shot 0.8 MOA groups, and 8 of a fairly-fast 10-shot string (two called flyers) were in a six-inch group.

But old guys who've been shooting a long time are supposed to be able to do that.

Just keep meddling around and follow the learning curve and you'll get there. I can pretty much guarantee it. :) It won't take any forty years, either.


August 10, 2004, 06:56 PM
Mr. Eatman, what is your pet '06? Is it a Winchester Model 70?

August 10, 2004, 09:08 PM
Go read Art of the Rifle (, then get off the bench and practice. If you can, go take courses Long Range Rifle I-II from Storm Mountain ( and General Rifle from Gunsite (

Art Eatman
August 10, 2004, 11:37 PM
My pet '06? Back around 1970 I got a wild hair about using a 26" barrel. I figured with max handloads I could nearly equal a .300 Win Mag's 24" barrel performance. I wound up with a Weatherby Mark V with a "#2 Profile barrel". That was the only over-the-counter 26" rifle available. (I'd tried to build a rifle with a Shilen barrel, but they were way behind on filling orders.)

I put a Canjar trigger in it, and rebedded the forearm and shimmed it. The Weatherby trigger never would adjust righteously, and groups had been poor until I tweaked the bedding. I've mostly used a Leupold 3x9x40 until 1997 when just for the heck of it I decided to try a Simmons 44mag 3X10. The rig is sorta on the heavy side, but I've killed a bunch of deer with it.

I've put probably around 4,000 rounds through it, and the doggoned critter will still shoot inside one MOA.

I put a shoe on the trigger, which is set right at two pounds. The shoe sorta spreads the pressure, and it feels really light. Work for me. :)


August 11, 2004, 08:02 AM
With long-range shooting, I've found the most benefit is just shooting and practicing. The first time I took my AR-15 to 600-yards, I was intimidated. After lugging my gear to the line, adjusting my sights, and going prone, I went for it. First shot, miss. (Major cant in position, needed more windage adjustment.) Second shot, on the 5. Third, 9-ring. After that I settled down and it wasn't such a big deal.

The biggest trick is either adjusting your sights or knowing holdover. Gravity is bad to bullets after 300 yards, no matter what you're shooting. Case in point: With that AR-15 and, ahem, warm handloads, the difference between 200 and 300 yards is about 2.5-minutes (about 7.5" drop between 200 and 300). Switching to a more aerodynamic bullet (read: flies flatter) for 600 yards, I have to come up for around six feet or so of drop (from a 300-yard zero). Forget this correction, and your bullets will be falling short.


August 11, 2004, 08:33 AM
Since you're asking about sniping, most military snipers use 10X scopes, and most police snipers use 3-9X scopes. Drop by Sniper's Hide ( some time and look around. You can learn an amazing amount from this site. It's the primary forum I go to. Have fun, shooting rifles is a blast! (har,har!)

August 11, 2004, 11:30 AM
Reading the ballistic tables and learning something like the mildot method of rangefinding will help, but practice and experience is the largest part. The more experience you get the easier it is to get the feel of an unfamiliar rifle or caliber. So get a case of ammo and shoot it up, repeat as necessary, and have fun!:)

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