How to Shoot Targets at Long Range

••• sniper rifle on the tripod and optical sight image by Vladimir Melnik from Fotolia.com

Long-range target shooting requires knowledge of wind variables, range of elevation and bullet drop. Rounds when fired come out of the rifle barrel at an arc. Over long distances the bullet reaches an apex of arc, then begins to drop. Depending on the target's distance, the bullet can drop as much as 30 feet or as little as 2 feet. The wind can also greatly affect the round's trajectory. A strong east or west wind can blow the round off target, so adjust the windage of your sight or scope accordingly. Mastering these skills requires a great amount of practice, but once these skills are honed, accuracy on a long range can be easily achieved.

Sight the long-range target in on your scope, and look for visual wind indicators. If shooting on a target range, set up windage flags near the target. The flag position will give you a good indication of wind direction and speed. A limp flag will indicate a zero value wind and will not affect the trajectory. A flag that is flapping erratically or stuck in a sideways direction indicates a strong left or right wind, possibly in excess of 10 mph.

Fire a round at the target, aiming at center-mast, or dead center of the bull's-eye.

Identify where the shot hit the long-range target. If the shot is high above the center, adjust your elevation controls downward. If the shot lands to the left or right of center, windage adjustments need to be made.

Turn the windage knobs to the left or right, one click at a time, to compensate for the wind. A right wind needs a right turn on the knob of one click per two inches away from the target's center. Use the same process for a left wind.

Adjust the long-range rifle's elevation knob up or down depending on the round's strike above or below the target's center. For a round that strikes above the target, adjust the elevation knob down one click per two inches above the target, and adjust the knob up for rounds that hit below the target.


  • Never point a weapon at anything that you do not intend to shoot or kill.
  • Keep your finger straight and off of the trigger until you're ready to fire.


  • Control your breathing to a slow, natural, relaxed rhythm.
  • Squeeze the trigger slowly and steadily as you breath out for a smooth shot.


Photo Credits

  • sniper rifle on the tripod and optical sight image by Vladimir Melnik from Fotolia.com