Gun Digest

Long-Range Shooting Ethics: How Far is Too Far?

Long-range shooting ethics.

Just because you can make a long-range shot on a game animal, doesn't mean you necessarily should. How far is too far when it comes to long-range shooting?

What I’m about to say at this point in the ranging story will not fly well with some, but it needs to be addressed.

I have a problem with big game hunters over-extending range in order to bag a trophy deer, elk, or whatever. I do believe the big game sport hunter needs to curb their range limits, so as not to wound game in the process.

While 600-, 800-, and 1,000-yard shots are very spectacular, I believe they need to be reserved for varmints and paper targets. Long-range shots on game are very workable, but long-range in this case should not exceed the dead-on killing limit of the cartridge and the shooter. In other words, give the animal you’re hunting a break by working toward a clean, humane kill.

At 400 to 1,000 yards, you know as well as I do that anything can happen to that bullet en route to the target, and the game animal will pay the price for a less than well-thought-out move on the hunter’s part.

Some time ago, I watched a television program in which hunters were shooting elk from one mountain across to another. That, my friends, is no longer hunting, but an exercise in the use of advanced ranging equipment, rifles, and big cartridges. At best, it is simply shooting and little more. Be responsible when using these new and, yes, very effective tools.

As we move steadily through the 21st century, we see new developments all the time in both guns and loads for long-range work. Word has it that some folks are in the process of building an ultra long-range sniper rifle off a Russian anti-tank gun system that will drive a bullet of about 37 millimeters to a target in the next county.

There is also word that a 40mm sniper rifle is under development by still another group of experimenters. The point is to never say never, but always remember that nothing, regardless its size or design, takes the place of woodsmanship, shooting skill, basic know-how and, most of all, ethics, by the hunter in the field.

This article is an excerpt from Gun Digest Book of Long-Range Shooting, 2nd Edition.


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