Update your long-range shooting skills in a short weekend.
A brand-new world record was recently set in the King of Two Miles competition—this time crowning a queen in Lindsay Paul. Not only was she the first female victor of this insane long-range shooting competition, but she also managed to land three consecutive shots with a .375 CheyTac at 3,520 yards (2 miles).
What’s of great interest is that, even 10 years ago, this would’ve been considered an unapproachable feat for even the best shooters on the planet. Yet, as technology has marched on, we’re seeing what were once considered distances reserved for the elite being conquered by more shooters, even down to the novice hunter level. Enter Greg Ray and his Outdoor Solutions Long Range School.
School’s Out Forever
There are usually two types of pitfalls for long-range shooting schools: military-type and hunting.
Military-type schools typically sell an experience for those who idealize sniper culture. I’ve sat in these classes with a straight face and, for the life of me, can’t tell you what actual skills I gained. The main issue here is that most of these mil-spec guys are trying to make target shooting or hunting into some sort of war game, which is just not applicable either in terms of mindset or gear choice for the average person wanting to improve their shooting skills.
Likewise, the hunting classes I’ve attended are usually the opposite in terms of practicality. Whereas the military classes expect you come in with a rifle already set up of a certain quality using ammo you’re familiar with, most hunting classes have struggled for uniformity in training. Many of these classes are designed for the once-a-year hunter who just wants to fire at longer ranges to see what his gear does.
A .30-30 isn’t the same as a .30-06, and even then, I’ve been on the line with guys shooting .375s. The majority of long-range shooting classes for the hunter have been good attempts, but they’re often taught by people with a rudimentary knowledge of ballistics and rifle setup. “You’ll be a good 2 inches high at 100 yards if you want to shoot 300 yards” is usually the order of the day when it comes to this type of teaching, and confidence is rarely earned at the end of the day.
Greg Ray’s Gambit
I attended the Outdoor Solutions Long Range School recently, and I found myself completely surprised by this course—the professionalism of the cadre and execution of the training was second to none. It successfully avoided the common pitfalls and succeeded in passing along useful information.
The owner of Outdoor Solutions, Greg Ray, has developed a program so simple and intuitive that a complete novice would be able to hit targets out to 1,000 yards with confidence after just a couple days using off-the-shelf rifles and optics. Ray’s course has never had a student fail to connect at 1,000 yards after just a few hours on the range. Let that sink in.
Ray’s school is unique in that it maintains a careful blend of practical elements; it borrows from military-type shooting, long-range competition and a hunter’s emphasis on field conditions. It connects the most important part of these elements and packages them into something that completely dissolves the mysticism around long-range shooting.
Many people in the class with me had never fired beyond 100 yards on the first day, and by late afternoon were printing groups at 1,000 yards with relative ease. There was no fluff or skunkworks secrets here; the methods were simple and completely effective. Better yet, the humility of the instruction staff made it all the better. Despite their long list of credentials, they were extremely down to earth and made everyone feel welcome—a far cry from many classes where you must deal with an unapproachable cast of diva instructors.
“I started the long-range school program out of necessity,” said Ray. “As a booking agency for Western Big Game hunts, our clients, especially clients from the East, were ill prepared for some of the shot distances required to hunt out West. It’s a rare case to get within 100 yards of an antelope in the wide-open plains, and 100 yards seemed to be the average distance most of our clients from Pennsylvania, Ohio and other Northeast states were comfortable shooting.”
“We started our schools with the hunter in mind,” Ray continued. “Yes, we teach to shoot out to 1,000 yards, but we are not advocating shooting at animals at that range. Our thought process is practicing at the further distances makes you much more proficient at the shorter distances. Plus, it teaches the shooter not only his limitations, but the limitations of his gear.”
When it comes to gear, I tend to err on the side of going in with a bit more gun than I need. I’m in love with case-hardening and rich walnut, but most of my field guns are carbon fiber and titanium. I brought a couple high-end precision rifles, and while they were excellent performers, what impressed me was that Ray’s class had a set of stock Remington 700 and Benelli Lupo rifles with direct thread suppressors and Zeiss optics. These guns were completely off-the-shelf and, once zeroed up with Federal 6.5 CM ammo, printed great at every distance.
These guns retailed for only a percentage of what I brought, and that was intentional on Ray’s part.
“What sets us apart from other classes is we are not trying to sell our clients a $9,000-plus custom setup,” added Ray. “Not that there is anything wrong with that; it’s just not what we do. Our focus is on the training and making our clients better shooters and more ethical hunters.
Right On The Money
The entire class lasted for several days, and during that time we covered far more material than I can relay here. Since the class, I’ve really began to rethink the way my rifles are built, how much they weigh, and if I should suppress them.
Out of all the classes I’ve had, this is one where I actually learned something about my guns and gear, and I’ve taken those lessons to heart. For one, my guns are too heavy but right on as far as optics and caliber. Getting out of the target shooting mindset is what this class did for me, and learning my rifles and gear were making me slower and more tired was disappointing.
I’m not exactly an old dog, but after Ray’s class I certainly learned some new tricks.Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the December 2021 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
More On Long-Range Shooting:
- Precision Rifle Upgrades: From Stock To Sniper Superstar
- Nine Long-Range Shooting Fundementals To Master
- Accuracy Enhancing Support: Choosing A Bipod
- Legacy Skills: Becoming A Well-Rounded Long-Range Marksman
- Becoming Your Own Spotter
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