The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Long Range Rifle Competition

MINUTEMAN REVIEW may be compensated for purchases done through links on our site. To learn more about this, you can read through our Affiliate Disclaimer here.

Last Updated on May 14, 2021.

Writer for Minuteman Review, handgun aficionado and artisan firearms reviewer. 

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Long Range Rifle Competition

There’s nothing quite so satisfying as hitting a target you can barely see, having taken into consideration wind drift and bullet drop along with a dozen other factors. Long range shooting competitions take this satisfaction and give it a steely edge

If you want to ring steel at 700 yards, you need to understand the different types of competitions, get the right gear, and start shooting.  


Types of Long Range Competition 

There are two main categories for long range rifle competitions – PRS and NRL. There are also T-Class and F-Class matches, and the PRC or Precision Rifle Competition rounds it out. Here are some more details about which matches may fit you best. 

Two shooting specifications for targets are KD, known distance, or UKD, unknown distance. You can also shoot as a solo competitor or as a team, with a shooter and a spotter working in tandem

PRS Series

Precision Rifle Series (PRS) events are relatively new and hope to combine speed and precision on the long range shooting range. From a variety of positions, competitors shoot at targets at both known and unknown distances. 

Shooting distances vary from 100 to 1,000 yards, and shooters are awarded points every time they hit the target. Thirty matches spread across 20 states to narrow the playing field into a final match. There are three divisions in PRS shooting competitions, open, tactical, and production. There is also one gas gun division. 

NRL Events

The National Rifle League is limited to the area west of the Mississippi, whereas PRS events occur across the country. There are similar challenging courses with a range of distances, both known and unknown, but there are no divisions

T-Class

These competitions have short, medium, and long range shooting competitions, and they also have several stages to their competitions, which you have to complete under time constraints. T-Class competitions want to offer competitions to military, police, or sporting shooters. 

The six different disciplines of T-Class shooting are:

  • Extreme long range
  • Ultra long range
  • Tactical sniper
  • Multigun
  • Rimfire
  • Support and backup firearms

F-Class

An F-Class series is an excellent place for beginners, and they’re run by the ICFRA or International Confederation of Fullbore Rifle Association. The F-Class competitions have smaller targets than regular targets that you must hit anywhere from 300 to 1,000 yards away. 

In this division, you have the F-Open and the F-TR divisions. The F-Open allows any caliber up to 8.89 mm and has a weight limit of 22 lbs. The F-TR is a restricted class that allows optics, but the rifle has to be a .308 Winchester or a .223 Remington.

PRC

Precision Rifle Competitions are becoming more popular because they test your skills anywhere between 100 to 1,800 yards with simple scoring (hit or miss on steel targets) and various positions like prone, sitting, standing, giving competitors ample opportunity to score.


Get the Right Gear 

If you’re interested in starting long range shooting competitions, you need to have the right equipment to compete. You need to decide between factory or custom-built rifles as well as different kinds of optics. 

Rifles

You’re looking for a long caliber, AR-type, or bolt action rifle that’s either factory-built or custom. If you opt for factory-built, you have no shortage of options, including Ruger Precision Rifles, Masterpiece Arms, or Salvage. 

Some of the most popular rifles in the bolt-action category are a 6.5mm Creedmoor, Savage Model 12 Long Range Precision Rifle, or a .308 Winchester. For a semi-automatic, try the .308 Winchester or a .223 Remington. Due to these guns’ popularity, ammo is easy to find

(Note that muzzle brakes and suppressors are prohibited in F-Class shooting competitions, so you’ll need a thread protector if your rifle came with a brake.) 

If you would like to custom-build your rifle, you need to ensure that you have all the requisite components. Every gun consists of a barrel, a muzzle suppressor, action, labor, and trigger. If you’re building your own, you need some rendition of these primary elements:

  • Detachable magazines - These types of long range rifle competitions aren’t the places for small round capacity magazines. In many of these events, you’re trying to move as fast as possible while remaining as accurate as possible. Make sure all your magazines are compatible with your rifle and cartridges to avoid errors on the field. 
  • Quality mount - If you don’t pay for a quality stand, you may regret it in the heat of the competition. Look for an ARCA-Swiss mounting system on your tripod or bipod mount that’s M-Lok capable
  • Two-round holder - These little devices can be lifesavers when you’re in the middle of a timed round. It could be the difference between losing multiple points or cleaning up in one stage. 

You need excellent optics to sight the target from such extraordinary distances along with your rifle, mount, and extra magazines

Optics

For these types of long range competitions, your optic scopes need to be crystal clear. For the range of 600 to 1,000-yard range, you’ll need magnification of 10 to 30x, but you’re not aiming for max magnification as that can make images overly unstable at the highest levels

As is the case with your mount and rifle, you don’t want to spend meager amounts on your scope as you will regret it in the thick of competition. Look for a First Focal Plane Scope, as its reticle stays small while the scope is zoomed out and gets more prominent as you zoom in. 

Ammunition

When you’re just starting in long range shooting competitions, opt for factory-grade ammunition. As you progress in the sport, you can learn how to reload your own to your rifle’s specifics.

Before you compete, take your rifle out to the range and try different brands of bullets with different specs. This way you can determine which brand and spec works best in your rifle and compliments your style of shooting.

Once you have determined which type of ammo your rifle prefers based on your shooting style, use that type when competing.


Start Shooting

The final step in your journey to start competing in long range shooting events is to show up to shoot. Without taking the plunge, you will never know how it feels to hit steel from 900 yards out on a timed run. 

At the minimum, you will need a heavy-barrelled weapon with a sturdy stock, a good trigger, and a reliable bipod, as well as a high-powered magnification scope. Later, you can begin to reload your bullets or invest in other tools like a spotting scope, rangefinder, or wind meter.