Quick List of things you'll need: Rifle, Scope, Bi-pod, Notebook, Binoculars (7 to 10 power is best) Shooting Mat or Blanket, Spotting Scope (if you'd like, not necessary), and tools you may need to work on your rifle or adjust your scope. And ear and eye protection, of course.
If you don't have time to read this page in its entirety, scroll to the bottom and read "what not to bring." If you don't have time to read any farther than this paragraph--please be aware that the most common fail we see is shooters showing up with scopes which will not dial enough elevation for long range work. So if you're planning on attending a class--be SURE to let us know precisely what scope you have on your rifle. This much said, it continues to amaze us how folks will take time off work, spend the money to travel and lodge, and pay tuition for the class--and not even bother to read this page. They show up with severely compromised equipment, and they end up not doing as well as they otherwise may have. If you're coming to a class--do yourself and us a favor and READ THIS PAGE!! :)
Okay, right off let me say... check all of the torque on the rifle's scope base screws (yes, you'll probably have to remove the scope to do this) and on the rings and ring caps. Also, check torque on the rifle's action screws (the screw behind the trigger guard on a Savage 10 or 110 is *not* an action screw, by the way)... scope base screws should be set at 20 inch pounds minimum (and a max of 25 inch pounds), and blue thread locked in our opinion. De-grease screws and screw holes with acetone, brake cleaner, etc. before applying the thread locker. We have seen TONS of loose scope bases, followed by loose action screws on client's rifles. Go over your rifle carefully and make sure everything is tight. (And this applies even if you've had someone at Bass Pro or Cabela's mount your scope)...
Our philosophy at BangSteel is to trend away from as much gadgetry as we possibly can, while still allowing long range hits. There are plenty of long range shooting schools that will teach you how to use state of the art rifles, optics, ranging gizmos and such. Our mindset is decidedly different--and to many of you, we hope refreshingly different. If I were to state to most of the long range instructors around the country that I can have a guy dialing shots with a 4 power Tasco scope and hitting targets at long range, then dialing it back and successfully confirming his 100 yard zero--they'd say "he's crazy"... :) But it can be done. We're not talking match grade precision here--just practical accuracy that will allow you--in a "have to" situation--to hit a deer in the vitals at 600 yards with that lowly little scope, simply by dialing the "coin slot" turret using the system I've designed.
Now... did anybody hear me say that you should sell your nice equipment and bring a Walmart rifle and a Chinese scope to the school? I hope not. Bring the best you have; the best you can reasonably afford. But if the best you have is indeed a Walmart rifle and a cheap scope, we'll help you get the most out of it, while at the same time teaching you how to use better equipment once you're able to get some.
I mentioned on the home page that our goal is to reach those 19 out of 20 shooters who have been sidelined by the notion that they must invest thousands of dollars into their equipment before they can be even remotely successful at hitting targets at long ranges. "Buy the best and cry once" goes the mantra... but these days, many of us are already crying just filling our gas tanks. Yes--buy the best equipment you can reasonably afford. But know too that you can "over-do" it, and your family's needs may suffer as a result of your unwise purchases.
For years I've been shooting low cost rifles at long ranges and hitting the targets just fine. And while I do have some higher dollar equipment now, I didn't used to have such... and I'm even finding that some of the old rifles I modified with stuff I found at Lowe's home improvement store can acquit themselves pretty well against higher cost rifles I've bought in more recent years. As part of the introductory course, we will cover some of the "almost free" modifications you can make to your own rifle to improve its accuracy--be sure to ask about this during the classroom discussion.
"Glad for me I've already got the good stuff," you might say... But what if something happened and you lost that "good stuff?" Could you put something together that would work, using unassuming, common equipment? And would you know how to use that rig to make long range shots?
An accurate rifle does not have to be expensive. I have seen rifles that literally came straight off the shelf at Walmart shoot sub MOA groups consistently.
We are not talking about bench rest competition guns--or any type of competition rifle for that matter--we're speaking of practical rifles, the one which you're likely to have if per chance it can be said that you ever really need a rifle. We don't carry competition rigs into the woods and fields to hunt game with (most of us don't, anyway)... we carry the practical rifle. I define the practical rifle as one which is not too heavy to carry about, but which is also at least 1.5 MOA accurate. That means the rifle will shoot groups not exceeding 1.5 inches at 100 yards consistently--day in, day out. Many factory rifles will shoot sub-MOA groups consistently, and of course the more accurate, the better.
We note that Savage rifles, and even the Stevens line of Savage, are generally good rifles and meet these needs with either minimal or no modifications. Rifles from Remington, Winchester, Ruger, Sako, Tikka and others can also be very accurate. I had an older Remington 700 ADL that would shoot super tight for a sporter weight barreled rifle. We don't want to favor or promote any certain brand of rifle, but will say that if your budget is very limited, the Savage line seems to really rise to the occasion without requiring a large investment. Savage has now released the Axis in a heavy barreled .308 version--which will probably be a really good low cost choice. We've recently purchased a Ruger American Predator in .223 Remington, and with its 8 twist barrel, it can send 75 to 77 grain bullets easily to the 1000 yard plate--so consider that for another low cost, low recoiling option. I'm also seeing some really great performance from Marlin's newer bolt guns.
Optics... If you have a Leupold Mk4, or a Nightforce, or a Schmidt & Bender... or a Zeiss... great! :) All superb scopes, to be sure. But if you do not have an expensive scope, please know that you can get many scopes for less than 300 dollars which will meet the needs of the long range practical shooter. We'll need to see what is currently available in this price category as the market changes quickly these days. We do equipment consultations which you can purchase by clicking the button at the bottom of this page (this involves a phone call, and some email exchanges while we're on the phone).
Unfortunately, it is possible to purchase some scopes which are, quite honestly, junk. It pains me to see someone spend their hard earned money on a Sightmark, Barska, "Counter-sniper", BSA, NC Star, Leapers, or other such scopes with some kind of "tactical" flair. These low cost sub-grade scopes come under so many different names it's hard to list them all... Unfortunately, the 200 to sometimes 300 dollars you'll spend for one of these will be totally lost, and could have purchased you a much nicer, useful scope.
BINOCULARS... A decent pair of binoculars will help you immensely in target acquisition during the course. Seven to ten power is about right for the magnification. If you're needing to pick some up and you don't have a lot of extra cash, check out the Athlon Neos 8X binoculars. They'll amaze you for well under 100 dollars.
SCOPE BASE... with few exceptions, you should install a quality 20 MOA scope base on your rifle. This will allow you to dial enough elevation to reach 1000 yards, and farther in most cases. At this time, due to a preponderance of "so called" 20 MOA scope bases that keep showing up (which are merely re-packaged flat bases) we are only recommending Nightforce, Ken Farrell, Badger, Leupold Mk4, and Warne 20 MOA bases. The DNZ 20 MOA bases are probably also fine. If you have any questions about a particular base, email us. Nightforce has their "standard duty" line of bases out now, and they are a good value, and the quality can be trusted. The Burris Signature rings with a set of 20 MOA offset rings are also a good choice. The 30mm Burris Signature rings actually come with inserts which will allow 10 or 20 MOA of offset. The Burris XTRii Tactical rings are an outstanding value, and with these rings you won't need a 20 MOA base (just a regular Picatinny base is fine)... For the standard 1 inch Burris Signature rings, you'll need to purchase the offset kit separately. Another option worth considering which is less expensive and will work is the Leupold "Long Range" scope base, which gives about 15 MOA (should be enough), and has the traditional Redfield style mounting system. This base and rings together should cost under 50 dollars.
The emphasis then, to recap, is on affordability but not at the cost of functionality. You may already have what you need to successfully engage long range targets--even out to 1000 yards--sitting right there in your gun safe. If you choose to enroll in our practical long range riflery course, we will privately (either by phone or email) go over the rifles and scopes you have now, and make a determination as to what equipment you should bring to the class.
What is a "high powered rifle"?
You hear that term thrown around a lot, usually by the dunder-headed media telling you how someone committed some sort of crime with a "high powered rifle." Probably from his "arsenal." And he didn't even have a hunting license. And he wasn't even in the military... and a box of "dum-dum" bullets was found in his home... :)
The definition of " high powered rifle" is subjective, of course, but for our purposes we will say that a rifle is a "high powered rifle" if it can deliver a bullet to the target at 1000 yards (one thousand yards) with enough energy to kill a deer. That makes it tough for the the .223 Remington to qualify, though with the right bullet it can be pressed into such service. If you're wanting to come to the course with a .223 Remington chambered rifle, just be sure you can shoot the heavier, higher BC bullets accurately. If you can shoot 1.5 MOA or better at 100 yards with bullets weighing at least 69 grains, your .223 should do the job. You might not make the 1000 yard target, but we'll have you banging steel reliably out to at least 600 yards.
The .308 Winchester is the most common long range cartridge (of non-magnum class) that you'll encounter. I do have a preference for the .308 because that's what I'm most familiar with, but other cartridges are as good and some are probably better for what we'll be doing in the course. Popular choices these days are the 260 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5x47 Lapua, and .243 Winchester.
The 30-06 is fantastic, as is the 270 Winchester...
The .243 Winchester is also a viable choice. If you have a fast twist barrel, load it with 105 grain Hornady AMAX's, or perhaps better yet Sierra's 107 grain Matchking (8 twist minimum for the 107's). If you have a standard twist .243, use the Hornady 87 grain VMAX, which has a fantastic BC of .400, making it a better long range bullet than even Nosler's 95 grain Ballistic Tip. (and yes, that .400 BC of the 87 VMAX has been proven in flight; it's not an exaggeration)...
For the sake of our steel targets, we do discourage the use of heavy magnum cartridges for the school. The lower powered magnums such as the 7mm Remington Magnum and the 300 Win Mag as well as the "short mags" or WSM's as they're sometimes called are normally okay. But the Remington Ultra Magnums, higher powered Weatherby magnums, and the .338 Lapua Magnums are not suitable for the course. You can bring the big magnums for a private class, if you'd like to get the most from them.
As mentioned earlier, we will consult one-on-one by phone (after you've booked a class) or email about your particular equipment, and at that time I can make any recommendations or suggestions as to what you should bring.
You'll need to plan on bringing 140 rounds of ammo for the 2 day class. You won't necessarily shoot all 140 rounds (or 70 rounds per day) during the class, but of course you don't want to run out of ammunition before your objectives are completed. You will want to bring the most accurate ammunition you can assemble (if you're a hand loader), or the best factory recipe you can get if you shoot factory ammo. Factory ammo should be from the same lot number. I can recommend Optimal Charge Weight load recipes in our initial consultation if you're not currently satisfied with the accuracy level of your rifle.
Please email us your handload recipe before coming to the class. We need to be reasonably sure that the load is not under-powered for the job. You don't want to find that out after loading up 200 rounds, and making the trip all the way to Virginia (and this has happened)... so please let us know what you're loading before you spend time and material assembling your loads. Just because you can shoot tiny little groups at 100 yards that doesn't necessarily mean your load will make the trip to 1000 yards. Let's talk about it before you do a lot of loading you'll end up regretting... Additionally, we continue to have folks show up with handloads with mixed brass brands. THIS ALMOST NEVER WORKS! You must keep your brass segregated by head stamp, and lot number if possible. Please do yourself and us a favor, and be sure your handloads are not built with various brass case brands.
Electronic hearing protection is HIGHLY recommended. You don't want to have difficulty hearing the range officers or other shooters while you're on the firing line. You can get functional electronic muffs for around 40 dollars.
Binoculars are very helpful. The best magnification range for binoculars is 7 or 8 power, but up to 10 is okay.
A bi-pod is 99% mandatory. You don't have to have a 100 dollar Harris model, but you do need a functional bi-pod. I say 99% mandatory because it's possible (possible but not probable) that you could convince me that you'll shoot better off a front bag than a bi-pod. We will not be using any equipment that you won't find yourself with in the field, so don't bring any front rests or jigs of any kind that are not practical for field use. The 9 to 13 inch bipod will work best for you, and the ones with the leg notches are MUCH easier to use than the standard type. A bi-pod which swivels to allow you to level your shots is also a big help. We really like the Harris SLM bipods, in the 9 to 13 inch version. If you have a 6 to 9 inch bipod, you might want to consider bringing a couple of flat sandbags with you to plant the feet on for the longer range shots.
Plan on bringing a shooting mat or blanket to lay down on. While you're welcome to lay on the bare ground, you may want some barrier between you and the ground. A canvas or tarp of some sort will also work.
A good rear bag (I use homemade sand bags) is also a must. You can use one of ours if you don't want to pack one, but it's best to bring a rear bag that you're used to using. As an aside, empty sand bags or "sand socks" can be carried in your field pack and filled with loose dirt on-site when you need them...
It is HIGHLY recommended that you purchase and install a scope leveling device (called an anti-cant level) of some sort on your rifle scope. Go to any of the major shooting supply wholesaler's websites and search "anti-cant level" to see what types are available. Leveling the reticle is critical to accurate long range shooting, and it's all but impossible to get a good, level sight picture without a permanently mounted scope level. The Wheeler and Vortex levels cost 30 to 35 dollars, and work every bit as well as the 100+ dollar modes some vendors are selling. We are not talking about the Weaver and Wheeler kits that allow you to level your scope to the rifle itself (and these don't always work so well anyway)... we're talking about a RIFLE MOUNTED bubble level, which mounts permanently around the scope tube or to the Weaver or Picatinny scope base. Look up "scope anti-cant level" ...
Rifle sling. A rifle sling can also be of help when it comes to holding the rifle tight in the prone position for good recoil control. The nylon type you can get for a few bucks at Walmart work great.
If you have a spotting scope, bring it. For those who don't have a spotting scope, you will likely be spotting with your rifle scope (yes, it's possible)... Shooters may at times work in teams of two, and this will provide ample time to teach spotting techniques to each person.
Good hearing protection is mandatory. Binoculars may also be helpful. If you have a wind meter, bring it. And go on and bring your laser rangefinder... We will be teaching ROUGH range estimation using the scope's reticle, but you'll find that in practice such estimations are just that-- estimations--and they can be off more than you'd wish. We'll have more to say about this in the classroom, but suffice it for now to say that you cannot consistently nail down the exact range of extremely distant targets using the reticle of your scope for ranging. You can get close, but that's the best you can do. I do realize that some schools teach that you can get exact ranges by using the scope's reticle, but what you're going to find there are instructors who already know the distance to that target, and they know ahead of time what the subtension of the reticle has to be to make the range come out right... In the real world, your target's actual size will 9 times out of 10 need to be approximated, as you don't have nifty little 18" wide plates to range off of. And that throws anything more precise than +/- 50 yards at long range right out the window. And even when you do know the exact size of the target, you can't always tell if it's angled slightly away from you, or leaning forward or backward a bit... and just try to reticle range when the mirage is at a boil... :o
Please bring cleaning rods, brushes, patches, and solvents with you. Bring torx and hex wrenches and any other special tools you may need to dismantle your rifle's scope rings, mount, and action screws in the event it would be necessary. Bring a notebook, a calculator (or use the one on your phone) and pencils/pens... some shooters like to use index cards in a small pocket sized file pack to keep notes on.
contact: email@example.com (if you don't receive a reply within 24 hours, please copy your email to firstname.lastname@example.org)...
Okay... what NOT to bring. :)
Do not bring 1/8 MOA adjusting target scopes. These will rarely have enough elevation in them to get you much past 500 yards, and many of them curiously have weird turret revolution values of 7 1/2 MOA for instance... this is a nightmare for trying to dial your elevation anywhere beyond the first revolution of the turret.
Do not bring more than 2 rifles. Your second rifle should be just that--a second rifle, in case your primary rifle breaks down. To get the most from this class, you'll need to concentrate on ONE rifle, and ONE rifle only. If you have other rifles you'd like to try out at our range, book a private day clinic or private 2 day class, in the which we'll have more time to dedicate to the extra gun.
Do not bring more than ONE type of ammo. The ammo you're using should all be the same stuff--not 2 or 3 boxes of 150 grain bullet weight, and 3 or 4 of 180 grain... etc. Choose an ammo, and bring plenty of that, and leave the other stuff at home. :) Be sure your factory ammo is from the SAME LOT NUMBER.
Do not bring handloads with mixed head-stamps (different brass brands). You'll be wasting your time at long range work with such ammo. Keep your brass all the same , otherwise accuracy will be unacceptable for consistent hits beyond 500 yards.
Do not bring target scopes with too much magnification, for instance 8 to 32 power scopes with 1 inch tubes. These will have extremely limited erector travel. Please note that just because the scope's elevation turret is still clicking as you dial up, that doesn't mean that the erector is still moving. A 3 to 9 power scope is much better than an over-powered Chinese made target scope. The Bushnell 10x Elite mildot scope and the Redfield 3 to 9 Revolution TAC (when you can find them) and some of Nikon's scopes for under 200 dollars which you can find at Walmart all are much better choices.
Do not bring Remington Cor-lokt ammo... it's great hunting ammo for inside 100 yards, but won't work for you in the class. Be careful on your ammo choices... email if you have any questions. We are happy to help you with choosing equipment *after* you've booked a class.
Do not bring military surplus ammo (like old machine gun stuff removed from the belts). Some surplus ammo might work okay, but since the odds are overwhelmingly against it being satisfactory, you should find something of better quality so you'll be sure to get the most from your rifle.
Do not bring bipods taller than the 9 to 13 inch variety. Field bipods designed to be used in the sitting position simply will not work for prone shooting. If your bipod cannot adjust to be some length under 12 inches, it's not going to work for you. While the 6 to 9 inch bipods can work, it's much better to have a 9 to 13 for the longer range shots on our range. Our favorite unit is the Harris SLM, 9 to 13 inch.
Do not bring a chronograph. There will not be time to set it up and use it. If there's a good reason to employ a chronograph during the class, we have one on hand. If you believe you would benefit from a phone consultation regarding your equipment selection, you may purchase the consultation by clicking on the button below. The cost of the consultation is 30 dollars.
Note: We do offer telephone consultations for equipment selection, see link at bottom of this page...
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