Longrange Hunting Course
Last year, Pete from Onward Hunting got in touch to tell me about some guys he was hosting from the Crosshairs Longrange Hunting School. This was a longrange hunting course being hosted by himself and Hamish.
Since 1999 Mike Perkins has been holding these courses – with classes being held in Idaho, Utah, Texas, North Dakota, California, Arizona and of course, New Zealand.
I did a bit of research online, liked what I saw and worked with Pete to help a bit with promoting this event – making people aware of it and organising some of the 09’ers to get down there.
Held in the hunting grounds in Whanganui, a road trip down (with some awesome conversation that I really should have recorded) and we were there!
Mike Perkins has been involved in training rifle shooter for the last 35 years; he served as a police sniper on Swat Teams for 27 years and has been a master sniper instructor for the past 20 years. The man knows his stuff. He’s also patient and has a wicked sense, of quiet humour.
Dennis VanAcher has been helping Mike, having previously been a student, Dennis, also one of the guys behind TacPac (which you can pick up over on the Gearlocker).
Both are also hunting guides, taking clients out to practise what they teach.
These guys have taught plenty of people the fundamentals of long range shooting. Their teaching style is relaxed and practical and intercut with plenty of personal anecdotes and knowledge. This is a proper long-range hunting course.
Theory and Practical
The first night involved a quick zero confirmation and then some classroom theory.
When crashed for the evening, then up to a hearty breakfast and a solid day of shooting. Drop Data confirmation was the name of the game. With plenty of shooting from 200m to out over 1k. Each time, recording the required drop and forming some decent DOPE (Data on Previous Engagements) for the guns.
I was shooting my 308, so kinda knew that beyond 1k was always going to be a bit hit-or-miss – I am well into transonic at that point, so the hit percentage, regardless of my actual shooting, is low. However, a couple of shots rang the gongs. With the wind and the reality of ballistics though, it’s not something I would consider an effective range for that particular setup.
What was really interesting to me was some of the positional shooting we were taught – especially the stuff that involved a shooting buddy in a supporting role. It’s amazing how much someone simply leaning up against your back, or, in a standing position, simply getting under your trigger side to support the loose arm can steady up your shooting.
Though I generally hunt alone, a couple of the tricks I learn will mean that if I do happen to have a second person along, I will be making sure to utilise them in any tricky shots.
We had a great variety of shooters and for that matter, firearms along for the course. Several guys had never shot out much further than 100 and with a bit of guidance, had some very long hits.
I did note a lot of 7mm Rem Mags, and a whole lot of carbon out there – several rigs being a featherweight. Thankfully, for the shooters, there was generally a brake or a suppressor on the end of them, as a magnum lightweight rifle is a handful in anyone’s hands.
Get along to some training!
Guys spend a lot of money on their equipment. But for some reason, many are hesitant to spend money on learning how to use it. Yes, you can grab a pile of ammo and spend a day shooting at the range, but that also means you might just be learning and reinforcing some bad habits that, while not initially a problem, may eventually bite you in the arse.
As Frank Galli from Snipers Hide often says – “there are a lot of good, bad shooters out there”.
Go invest in yourself. If you want to hunt long, go to a longrange hunting course. Spend some time with some people who can instruct on the fundamentals, but even more importantly, can stand back and observe your shooting, then point out what/where/how you can improve it.
The Crosshairs lads will be down again next year – so pop over to Precision Shooter and subscribe to ensure you get notified of the next round of courses – you will also get updates on competitions – the perfect way to practise what you learn.
The course content is excellent, your hosts Pete and Hamish are awesome folk, you will learn a lot, you will get to spend quality time shooting and you will make some new friends.
In the 09? Need some help getting the gun sorted before you head out? Want to also learn some basics of hunting? How about also considering our Hunting Rifle Setup Course or our Precision Hunter Course.
The ethics of Longrange Hunting
Oh, no, you don’t get away without a mini rant!
Now, I have never shot an animal past 200 meters – likely closer to 100 in reality. Most of the hunting I do is either heavy bush or dense enough land where I can stalk close before pulling the trigger, and, it should be emphasised right here, that the tutors weren’t necessarily suggesting people should be pushing themselves out this far all the time, rather, should you find yourself in a situation where you need to reach out a bit further than you normally would, practising, understanding and being competent to do so, greatly opens up hunting for you.
However, a reality check – just because you hit a gong at 1k, doesn’t mean that is now your hunting distance.
1 shot, even if its a first round hit, doesn’t mean you can do it again, and again, reliably. I hit at 1000 – took me about four shots, couldn’t do it immediately after. The target was sizable.
We need to understand something called Error Budget.
I am putting together a longer article on this – but here is a simple, mathematical example taken out of Coldbore (Applied Ballistics offer a similar situation called WEZ) –
Based on a simulation off 100 shots, on a 6″ target (what I personally consider a ‘kill shot’ window), with my .308, allowing for a really, unrealistically low margin of error for an actual hunting situation (ranging within 1m, calling wind with .5 m/s, myself, my rifle reliably shooting within .5 moa) I still only have a 50/50 chance of hitting – despite me doing everything right. If guys were willing to take an actual reality check on the situation, they might also realise they are in a similar situation. Sobering, but reality.
This is before even discussing terminal ballistics – if I hit an animal at 800 with the projectile I was using, it wouldn’t be overly effective anyhow.
Remember – you only ever see the hits on Facebook. Not the misses, not the injuries. Reality check.
I take people, even on the basic day out to 650 meters – I make this clear to them, that this is not they should be hunting at. However, hitting gongs at 650, 800, 1000 meters is great for your confidence at 200 meters. As it should be.
Good training is invaluable – understanding your own capabilities and limitations is priceless.