By Kimu Sensei
Since the 1990s LRS (long-range shooting) has been on the rise and become more and more popular. The last decade has given us new and improved ammunition and equipment, making it normal for the elite shooters to hit bulls-eyes in clusters of hits (5-10 cm diameter) from 1,000 yards. High quality factory-made ammunition can vary up to 20 m/s, which may mean that you shoot either 50-100 m too long or too short during the LRS. When shooting from a 1,000 yards distance, the perfect LRS ammunition, should vary up to 3-4 m/s only. However, there is pronounced difference between shooting in the western part of United States, where there generally is a 0-4 m/s constant wind on a long straight stretch, to the eastern part of the United States and Europe, where there may be “snake-tails” i.e. a highly varied terrain with uneven gusts ranging from 0-12 m/s. This means that a team can be very successful in the western part of United States and a total failure in the eastern part and in Europe. There is no doubt that the best teams are the ones that do well in both east and west.
In short, any rifle shooter from the 1. division can do well on a distance up to 700 m, if the wind is 0-4 m/s. Shooting outdoor in the eastern part of the United States and Europe where there are many unknown factors is when the sheep get separated from the goats. I have, several times, seen deeply frustrated world champion rifle shooters, struggle to perform at the normal long-distance ranges. I have, however, also experienced this in pistol matches where world champions in shooting on ranges succumb to the pressure of too many unknowns.
Most competent shooters can easily achieve very good results on a 400 metres distance. The distance from 400-700 m requires an extra good shooter, with a decent and solid education for the continuous hits, and the knowledge of why you actually achieve these hits. The fact remains though, that with good wind conditions and the right equipment, most 1. division rifle shooters can achieve good results, and with the proper training, some will even achieve excellent results despite the challenges of the wind conditions and shooting with quick repetition. This sport requires that you often perform “practical shooting” on changing targets; different in sizes and shapes, hidden, open, at different heights and moving, due to the “Wind window” and you will typically only have a maximum of 1-2 seconds after the target has been identified.
Distances from 600-1,000 m require very competent and well-trained shooters that typically attend a 6-10 weeks full time shooting course. On these courses the shooter usually fire 700-1,000 good shots, but it is sometimes required to fire up to 3,500 to 5,000 good shots per subsequent year, as well as further education. As mentioned before, there are rules for ammunition and weapons during the civil matches in the United States and the Commonwealth. Mostly 308/300 WinMags, 155 gr Match or homemade Berger hybrid ammunitions is used to obtain the best quality. But when it comes to shooting from 1,000 m, it requires a totally different equipment for the consistent accuracy, as well as rifles and equipment of a special quality. Here we are talking about 338 LM and 0.50, which are extremely powerful hunting rifles with a very high impact. The bullets are heavier so that they can perform better in the wind, and are usually 250 gr and 300 gr match scenar or Berger Hybrid. It is only the very best and most educated shooters who can achieve a consistent accuracy under difficult conditions. According to Brian Litz the overall average of bulls-eye accuracy at 900 yards is minimum 90%, minimum 75% at 1,100 yards and minimum 60% at 1,350 yards when shooting under tolerable conditions.
The disciplines Long-, Extended- and “Ultra Long Range Shooting, are usually reserved for “shooting nerds” and special trained military personnel on SOF (Special Operations Forces) level. This is shooting that in all settings uses a spotter, who team up with the shooter from distances of 1,000+ m, 1.500+ m and 2,000-3,000 m + respectively. The natural limitation is usually the access to a shooting range of that size, but here the US is perfect. Long Range and Extended Long Range shooting are, as mentioned in the introduction, the shooting discipline that has made the biggest impression on me. Three gun and medium long range shooting at many different targets, usually from 400-800 m with very fast repetition, has also made a vast impression on me. But I must say that they hang very well together with the IPSC – Practical Shooting, which I have been trained extensively in, by some of the world’s top civilian cover military shooter legends, who kindly shared their knowledge with me and thus the POMW project.
Basically – besides the difference between guns or rifles/carbines, the main difference is the size of the lead needed for the target – i.e. how far in front of a moving target you should aim, which surprises most people, including myself, but luckily there are quite a few overlaps between the principles and competences. This is, on the other hand, not the case for Long Range Shooting above 1,200 m and Extended Long Range Shooting above 1,500 m – which is a discipline of its own. I have within these disciplines had the privilege to be trained by the absolute best instructors and to have practiced together with the very best shooters. For this I’m very grateful and humbled. I have been very lucky to be invited, especially in the beginning, either directly or via networks, to shoot at particular events and shooting matches. In the beginning I was carried through the systems, but later when I had acquired the technical competences, and as an individual, I was invited to various programmes on an equal basis with others. I then continued with my education and kept training with the world’s best LRS shooters – and here we are not talking about the world champion level, but the level above! It is just like martial arts; you can become world champion, but after that it’s up to you and your ego if you want to be really good. Those LRS shooters can do things that many would regard as impossible or too fancy for an action movie, and at the same time they are so pleasant, easy to like, humble and discreet, and in addition you can trust them 100%. It is a very special companionship.
In December 2013 the POMW project ended officially. This means that it now is all about maintaining the achieved skills, knowing that they will become rusty, but fortunately the POMW Technical Manual and the essential knowledge will not be lost. As it requires around 20,000 good pistol shots and 3500 to 5000 good rifle shots, alongside 20 to 30 times this amount of dry firing, to stay at the same level of competence as when I was “on top”, it is not realistic when considering the new international 5-year project. In my spare time the SHIELD KISS insert link now requires all my attention, just like the POMW project 2011-2013 insert link did it – but it was worth it as I enjoyed every minute of it!
So looking back – it has been a lot of very hard work considering that everything else still needed looking after (family, Shindenkan, work, friends, etc. 🙂 ), but I have never been a person who does things – that I have agreed to – half-heartedly. So I have no choice but doing my best and see how far my wings can carry me.