We live in a very interesting time where affordable rifles specifically designed for long range shooting are commonplace.
For example, an entry level Ruger American Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor or 308 Win will set you back 400 dollars. A Savage Axis, Thompson Center Compass, or Rem 783 can all be had for even less than the Ruger.
Capable scopes are now very affordable from Vortex, Burris, SWFA, Nikon and Athlon. With premium options from Nightforce, Leupold, US Optics, IOR, S&B, etc all available. “Acceptable” glass is in the 200 to 300 dollar range, and “good” glass starting at 400 and moving up.
Premium ammo is available from Federal, Hornady, Lapua, etc. Handloading supplies have never been more available and multiple high quality cannister grade temp stable powders exist.
So the question is, why is this all happening now?
The answer comes down to a shift in demographics, the appreciation for “sniper culture” and the introduction of marksmanship competitions that are specifically designed for long range accuracy. F Class, F/TR Class, PRS, and even “outlaw competitions” created a venue, where there is no requirement to use a sling, so bipods and tripods can be used to help steady the rifle. Movies that venerate our military snipers as protectors of American servicemembers on the ground in harms way have definitely popularized long range rifle shooting in a way that the old 300 meter free rifle event in the Olympics never did.
But, these sorts of cultural shifts aren’t a new thing in the world of firearm sporting competition. The “practical pistol” movement saw the rise of USPSA, IPSC, and combined with 3 gun, and 2 gun competitions makes for a very robust “practical oriented” sporting culture.
Now…this has shifted competitors away from High Power and Bullseye pistol shooting. And to be honest, those competitions aren’t exactly “fun” unless you are a serious accuracy nerd who loves to focus on the fundamentals of marksmanship. But, since most people are more interested in “activity shooting” rather than seeing how tight they can make groups while keeping High Power or Bullseye legal stances and equipment, more people are moving towards sports that suits the gear they like, not the gear set up for a sport.
And this is not a bad thing, but it does lead to a bit of a culture clash between the old guys who can use iron sights, and the newer crowd that sees absolutely no need for iron sights and will put a red dot or scope on a carbine and a scope on a bolt rifle. For the pistol shooters, a much larger number of “service pistols” have been declared legal, but I think that’s a bit too late to matter at this point.
The other big factor is the internet. Now if someone is interested in long range shooting, they just open up a browser tab and get to searching, and availing themselves to some great (and some not so great) resources. Literally a young person who came from a family of non-shooters, non-firearm owners, can get on the internet and find the advice (some better than others) about what to buy, where to train, and how to fit in with the “gun culture.”
So…how are you practicing so that when it comes time you can make the shot?