And I guess that’s why I’m up on the 3EM soapbox today. I want to suggest that we need to think about something a bit. Here it is: long distance shooting. An outfitter friend tipped me to this trend at least a decade ago and it’s grown like a cancer since then. He said that he was getting clients every year who weren’t really interested in hunting, per se. They just wanted him to get him within 1,000 yards or so of a game animal so they could set up like a military sniper and kill that animal from some amazing distance. These Chris Kyle wannabes have even spawned an entire niche of expensive weaponry to do their thing: 6.5 x 284, .30/.378, .338 Lapua - heck I’m sure there’s somebody out there looking down the barrel of a .50 BMG at some unsuspecting antelope as I write this. Just Google “long distance shooting” and see what you get.
But let’s be real clear about what this is: It is shooting. It is dang cool to be able to hit a milk jug at 1,500 yards. Never having been much more than an adequate shooter on the best day I ever had, I’m impressed with someone who’s willing to learn to hit a target almost a mile away. The evolution of both rifles and optics has enabled regular people to achieve amazing accuracy at amazing distances, given a willingness to shell out a lot of cash for the appropriate technology and a lot of practice.
So if you’re into target shooting at ultra-long ranges, God bless you. By all means, shoot a lot. Buy some real expensive guns and reload a lot – the excise taxes on all those guns and reloading components fund a lot of cool conservation work. Get good at it. I want you on my team if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse. But if you’re out there shooting at an elk at 1,100 yards, shame on you. You’re not a sniper – you’re a lazy slob, and you’re certainly not a hunter. Don’t post your kills on social media – I don’t want the rest of society to confuse you with someone I care about. Those are not targets, they’re wild, free-ranging animals and they deserve more respect than you’re ever going to be capable of giving them.