Military long-range precision shooting has been used effectively in combat for much longer than most realize. In one case, a sniper was brought into an area that had been taking serious casualties from an enemy insurgent marksman. Sniper-versus-sniper missions are one of the most dangerous assignments, so the newly positioned sniper first placed a piece of headgear on top of a parapet so that it was exposed to the front. He was rewarded with a through-and-through shot just under the cap where a person’s head would be. The sniper then placed a rod through the hole, sighted along it, and figured out where the insurgent took the shot from. Using his telescopic sight, he located and killed the insurgent shooter with one round.
The author’s spotter at Leupold’s three-day course on long-range shooting at Gunsite Academy was equally adept at hitting the steel targets, which were hidden in the high desert Arroyos below us at distances up to 1,000 yards. The spotter made steel ring with his Leupold-topped Weatherby.
Did this take place in Afghanistan or Iraq or even Vietnam? No, that particular engagement occurred on U.S. soil during the Civil War (or the War of Northern Aggression, as my friend Jim Barry likes to quote). Those fundamentals of ballistics, optics, weaponry, windage and elevation have stayed the same as technology has advanced, and today snipers are making shots from distances that were impossible just a few decades ago. What has changed? One of the biggest and most important improvements come from companies like Leupold, who has used feedback from shooters to continually improve its optics. Leupold optics are now the U.S. military’s most used telescopic sights for long-range shooting.
Leupold knows that a “one size fits all” telescopic sight is impractical, results in tactical compromise, and forces misses where only hits count. Leupold now has optics, reticles and magnification all matched to specific calibers, loads and bullets and for every possible application. But fully utilizing a Leupold optic takes superb training, and Leupold has an excellent program that provides just that.
Long-Range Shooting Class
To experience the usefulness and quality of the Leupold equipment and training, I attended a three-day class on long-range shooting sponsored by Leupold and Weatherby at the incredible Gunsite Academy. Gunsite instructor Walt Wilkinson and rangemaster Mike Moore started with range safety rules and student expectations. Leupold’s instructor, Tim O’Conner, took over as the student shooters selected their firearms for the course, Weatherby .308 Vanguard Series 2 TRR RC (range certified) bolt-action rifles and Leupold riflescopes. I selected the Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 4.5-14x50mm M1 TMR riflescope. O’Connor spent our classroom time teaching us advanced optics and how to properly mount and zero a scope, which we did using Leupold mounts and scope rings.
With rifles slung, the class of gun writers and editors packed into trucks that bounced along the dusty desert roads of Arizona to the Gunsite ranges for two and a half days of trigger time. Using Black Hills 180-grain Nosler Accubonds, we finished day one dialing in our telescopic sights at 100 and 200 yards. The morning of day two, with the basics understood and optics sighted in, the students began to obtain and log DOPE out to 800 yards to prepare for the real challenge that awaited us.