I first got interested in what is now called practical long-range rifle shooting by hearing stories from a friend from 3-Gun about the International Tactical Riflemans Championship. This was a match that combined extreme physical exertion with long-range rifle and carbine engagements spread throughout the natural terrain. The challenge, adventure, and pragmatic utility of the skills appealed to me immediately.
Other than the ITRC, some of this same 3-Gun crowd had been shooting the Blue Steel Ranch Steel Safari in Logan NM for several years. The the idea to find a venue to shoot long-range targets in the field on a regular basis, several Colorado shooters put together some money to buy targets and establish a field long-range match at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton NM. This match initially served as a location to practice for other matches like the Steel Safari and ITRC, but has since grown into a very competitive venue on its own.
I first competed in a major long-range match as the "carbine shooter" at the 2004 ITRC. My partner was the designated bolt-gun shooter. The next year, we returned with roles reversed. The first year we came in 13th place; the next year we came in 7th place. Since then, I've shot a lot of other practical long-range and multi-gun events, and been involved in running a bunch of local and major matches.
In 2005, I noticed that a lot of my fellow shooters were going through the same decisions that I had had to make while setting up my gear, so I wrote the article on long-range optics. Since then I've written and published about three dozen articles on long-range, 3-Gun, and practical shooting equipment. These have a lot of good information and many - I hope most - questions can be answered by them.
For reference and background, here are some of the most relevant articles on practical long-range shooting:
What Is Practical Long-Range Rifle Shooting?
Practical precision rifle shooting involves engaging small and/or distant targets at the limit of weapon, ammunition, and shooter capability under time pressure in field settings.
Applications include but are not limited to: very small targets 1/4"-1" at 100 to 200 yards, so-called "cold bore" shots, arbitrary unknown distance targets, moving targets, ranging, shooter/spotter communication, and combinations of all of those under time constraints.
Generally, these include everything a rifleman is likely to find in any "sniper", "tactical", or "field" rifle match. The typical platform is a bolt action rifle, though an auto-loader of sufficient accuracy and appropriate caliber can do the job with some trade-offs.
For our purposes, consider "long range" to reach to the load's trans-sonic boundary (the point at which the bullet slows to 15 to 20 percent faster than Mach 1). For example, with typical 308 loads and rifles, we are interested in ranges from 25 yards out to about 700-1100 yards, depending on ambient conditions and the particular load.