Long range competition shooting equipment for hunters


Heavy rifles, sandbags, and giant shotguns don’t sound like they’d be fun to shoot because they’re not. But, there are some competitive shooting devices that can really work for hunters. Recently, I dived down the long range rabbit hole taking lessons and shooting matches like the PRS and NRL Hunter. I wanted to see if there was anything hunters could learn from range shooting, and I wanted to see if the equipment precision rifle shooters use would translate to the field.

While I wouldn’t bring an 18-pound, 25-pound competition gun into the woods, I did find a handful of useful things hunters should consider adding to their kits. And even if you draw the line at taking long shots in game, the tools below can help you make ethical kills at reasonable distances, no matter where you shoot.

1) Git Lite padded shooting bag

Rifle sitting on a rock with a pouch under the stock.
A pint-sized Gamechager bag from Armageddon Gear. Gears of Armageddon

In the competitive world of marksmanship, it’s hard to get by without a backpack. For those who haven’t shot one before, these are small canvas sandbags that you can rest a rifle on in various positions. At the bevel, you tuck it under the butt of your rifle for a solid rest. When shooting an obstacle, you can place it under the front so that the rifle does not slide around. I used one for the first time at a PRS match and thought it was nice, but I didn’t think I would ever bring it hunting because it was too heavy. Then I learned about Git Lite.

Git Lite is a fill material for shooting bags that acts like sand, but is extremely light (and much more durable than other plastic fills like airsoft BBs). When you rest a rifle on a bag filled with Git Lite, the bag will mold around the stock and stay put, giving you a stable platform to shoot from. Armageddon Gear makes a mini-sized version of their popular Gamechanger bag, so light I carry it in my binocular harness. I use it as a binocular rest when I’m shooting glass, a rifle when I’m shooting, and a pillow when I’m taking a nap.

2) Carbon fiber tripod

Tripod on a white background.
Kit from Dy Vets Sporting Goods. Two Sports Vets.

Carbon fiber tripods have made their way into hunting because they are truly versatile tools. I started carrying one for glass a few years ago, but never thought I’d give it up until I took a long range class and shot my first match. The problem with most quality tripods is that they are expensive – as expensive as some hunting rifles. Cheap tripods won’t hit your gear budget as hard, but they’re too wobbly for long distance shots.

However, there is a good option. Dan McNamee of Two Vets Sporting Goods offers high-quality carbon fiber tripods for shooters for much less money than his competitors. I use the No Name tripod for match shooting because it’s a little bigger and offers more support, and I take it for Kit hunting. The kit is compact and slim, but strong. There are great attachments for locking a rifle to a tripod, but I like to keep things simple. I run mine with my shooting bag and something called a tac table. The shooting bag helps keep my binoculars in place and allows me to quickly switch them to a rifle if I need to take a shot.

3) Range finder binoculars

Sig Sauer KILO10K-ABS HD Rangefinder Ballistic Binoculars

Long-range shooting gear is great until you maneuver around a rangefinder, ballistic calculator, and binoculars every time you see an animal. I flashed the rangefinder binoculars before shooting an NRL Hunter match. Most competitors used them because binoculars saved them time. NRL Hunter matches require you to find, range and shoot targets in less than four minutes. Rangefinder binoculars like the Sig Sauer KILO10K-ABS HDs let you do all of the above in a split second.

The KILO10Ks come preloaded with Applied Ballistics software and can collect all the atmospheric data needed for ballistics calculations. Once you create a profile for your rifle and ammunition, all you have to do is press the button and the KILO10K will range your target and output a ballistic solution. I still carry a dope card as a backup but haven’t had any issues with KILO10Ks yet.

4) Springfield 2020 Waypoint model

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY - 2020 WAYPOINT with carbon fiber barrel

Springfield loaned me a Waypoint to shoot in 2020 and I liked it so much I bought it. Simply put, the Waypoint feels like a custom rifle, but retails for a fraction of the cost. And being made mostly from carbon fiber, it comes in easily under 12-pounds for the NRL Hunter series, so I can race it all summer and take it out on the field in the fall.

Last year, I shot the Waypoint at a shooting class in Colorado and was able to hit targets up to a mile away. At over $2,000 for the carbon fiber barreled version, it’s not cheap, but it’s probably the best deal on a quality custom rifle. Also available with a stainless steel barrel, the Waypoint features an enlarged ejection port, a recoil plug that is machined into the receiver, tool-free bolt removal for service, EDM garages, threaded barrels, five QD mounts, and a ring bolt. .

5) Leupold Mark 5HD

LEUPOLD - MARK 5HD 3.6-18X44MM RIFLE SCENE

There are some prime focal plane (FFP) lenses that I wouldn’t find it with, but the 3.6-18X44 Mark 5HD is not one of them. For starters, it’s compact and as long as a standard hunting scope. It has a stout 35mm tube, but the Mark 5HD is actually 20 ounces lighter than other objects in its class. And, in terms of controls and interface, the Mark 5HD is easy to use with a live reticle available at MRAD or MOA.

I have sent over 1000 rounds down low with my Mark 5HD and can say that it provides repeatable and consistent accuracy. When I shoot, I limit myself to shots about 350 yards, which is a chip shot for this course. I also found it easy to shoot targets while at low magnification at close range, which can be tricky with other FFP scopes. The Mark 5HD won’t feel like your standard hunting scope and may take some getting used to. But once you do, there’s not much you can’t do with it.

6) Atlas Bipod

ACCU-SHOT - CAL GEN 2 ATLAS BIPODS

Throwing a rifle through various barricades and obstacles during a match will separate gear into two categories: stuff that works and stuff that breaks. I asked a number of competitive shooters which bipod they trust to get the job done and they all mentioned the Atlas.

Atlas bipods are rugged with a rounded texture on the legs for easy manipulation under stress. There are faster bipods to set up and there are cheaper bipods out there, but in my opinion, the Atlas hits the sweet spot. I chose a fairly simple version that doesn’t extend left-right and uses an adapter plate from Area 419 to connect to an ARCA rail.

7) Area 419 Hellfire

area-419-mouth

I’m a little on the fence about hunting with muzzle brakes. When I was working as a tour guide, I found that the muzzleloaders my clients would bring were noisy and annoying. However, they do offer an advantage, especially if you’re shooting alone and don’t have someone to help spot your shot. By reducing recoil, a brake allows you to stay on target for a follow-up shot if necessary. In a competition, this is incredibly valuable. On the field, it can be, too.

Personally, I think it’s up to you whether you want to shoot with a muzzle brake on your rifle or not. If you do, consider the Hellfire from Area 419. It’s easy to install with a self-timing thread design that lets you change brakes with a press. And because the gas ports point to the sides, it doesn’t blow dust back into your face when you’re lying down.

8) Area 419 Universal ARCA Rail

area-419-arca-railway

If you’ve ever attached a camera to a tripod, you know exactly what an ARCA rail is. Basically, it’s a dovetailed piece of metal that attaches directly to any tripod head. Some precision rifle manufacturers today are machining a long ARCA rail so the gun can be attached to accessories like tripods and bipods, and in the competition world, things like shooting bag plates. Area 419 also makes universal ARCA rails to mount to the front of your rifle, giving you the ability to lock in the same accessories.

Read more: The 5 Worst Hunting Rifles Ever Made

For the hunter, this is good for three reasons. Number one, ARCA rails are much stronger than sling swivels for attaching a bipod. Two full-length ARCA rails allow you to move your bipod to different positions, allowing you to shoot steep angles from the prone position. Third, if you shoot with a glass tripod, you can clamp your rifle to that tripod via the ARCA rail for a stable shooting platform.





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