So you want to learn how to shoot long range? The first thing you’ll need is to learn ballistics. Here is why:
When you are aiming with your iron sights or with your scope’s reticle, you are actually aiming at a specific point where you know the bullet will be during its flight at your target distance in the specific environmental conditions in which you are shooting. If the distance changes or the environmental conditions change, you have to re-adjust your sights to be able to hit the target again. Since bullets don’t fly in a straight line, you will have to know its path of trajectory and how it is affected by distance and external forces if you want to be able to consistently hit the target, regardless of distance or environment.
To get started, let’s cover some general terms.
Ballistics: the science that studies the behavior of a projectile, in our specific context, that translates to a bullet firing from a firearm. Ballistics divides in four branches:
Internal ballistics: focuses on what happens within the firearm, until the bullet leaves the barrel.
Transitional ballistics: often omitted or associated with either internal or external ballistics, transitional ballistics studies the behavior of the bullet from the moment it leaves the muzzle until the pressure that pushes it forward, generated in the barrel by the powder combustion, settles.
External ballistics: the behavior of the bullet in flight, from the moment when the pressure behind it settles, until the moment it hits the target.
Terminal ballistics: the behavior of the bullet when it hits the target and the effects on it.
For the time being, we’re going to focus on external ballistics. Now that we’ve gotten started, we’ll need to cover some more specific terms. I’ll introduce some of the most common (and most important for our discussion) terms in the Part 2. Stay tuned!