JIM & MISSY GILLILAND
Shoot better, farther, with advice from this hard-shooting husband and wife team.
Long-range shooting aces Jim and Missy Gilliland have a knack for hitting their mark in hunting and competitive shooting situations. Both are Federal Premium brand ambassadors who compete on the Precision Rifle Series (PRS), which routinely challenges participants to hit targets at ranges of 150 to 1,600 yards, often from less-than-ideal shooting positions. While Missy’s forte is competition, Jim is also an acknowledged hunting authority with an uncanny ability to drop game at extreme distances.
If you’d like to shoot better, farther, the following advice from this hard-shooting husband and wife can help make it happen.
Defining Long Range
Every shooter has his or her personal definition of a long shot. Depending on the firearm, sighting system, ammo and shooter’s expertise, it can range from under 50 yards to more than a mile.
“The PRS matches we shoot typically max out from 1,000 to 1,600 yards, with most shots from 350 to 900 yards,” Missy explains.
“FOR ME, ANY SHOT OVER 400 YARDS MERITS EXTRA CARE, BECAUSE THERE’S A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TAKING A POKE AT A PIECE OF STEEL AND MAKING A CLEAN, KILLING SHOT ON AN ANIMAL.”—JIM GILLILAND
“The long-range hunting world has really exploded in recent years,” Jim adds. “It’s not unheard of for someone to take a 500- to 800-yard shot or longer. However, long-distance hunting shots aren’t the same as target shooting. For me, any shot over 400 yards merits extra care, because there’s a big difference between taking a poke at a piece of steel and making a clean, killing shot on an animal.”
Whether you’re hunting, plinking or competing for a national title, the Gillilands say the following considerations are key to expanding your effective range and enjoying more consistent accuracy.
Fit For Action
A form-fitting rifle and scope fuel improved accuracy. The Gillilands advise shooters to set up their rifle with the correct length-of-pull, comb height and overall feel and handling for their personal taste. “If you can’t lay behind your rifle, completely relaxed, and comfortably watch a three-hour movie through your scope, it’s not set up right,” says Jim.
“IF YOU CAN’T LAY BEHIND YOUR RIFLE, COMPLETELY RELAXED, AND COMFORTABLY WATCH A THREE-HOUR MOVIE THROUGH YOUR SCOPE, IT’S NOT SET UP RIGHT.”—JIM GILLILAND
“Fit is critical to accuracy,” adds Missy. “Shooters who struggle to find the right eye relief on every shot never realize their full potential. A comfortable cheek weld allows you to maximize your optics and return to the same spot on the stock every time, which is as important with firearms as an archer having a consistent anchor point.”
Target practice hones shooting skills, but not all types of practice generate equal benefits. “Missing impossible shots and making short-range chip shots won’t make you better,” says Jim. “Instead, challenge yourself to improve by focusing on difficult shots you can achieve. I recommend practicing on the hardest shot you can make at any given moment.”
“Shooting from the positions you expect to encounter in a match or afield is also important,” offers Missy. “Breaking bull’s-eyes from a bench rest is fine for zeroing a rifle, but doesn’t prepare you for making difficult offhand shots when the chips are down.”
The Right Ammo
“Choosing high-quality ammunition is paramount,” says Missy. “Federal makes a great 6.5mm Creedmoor 130-grain Berger round that I use when teaching classes for other women about long-range shooting.”
In competition, she favors a 6mm Creedmoor. “I practice with my .223 trainer rifle, using Federal Premium 73-grain Berger ammunition,” she adds. “My .223 training rifle is built exactly like my 6mm competition rifle. It weighs and feels the same as my competition rifle, so it’s great for practice.”
“Sometimes rifles can be picky with ammo,” Jim notes. “Test a variety of loads to determine which ones your rifle shoots well.
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