EXTREME LONG RANGE (ELR)
ELR? Extreme Long Range rifle shooting is something that has been around since the rifle was invented...being to, shoot a projectile to the maximum limits over a very long distance and hope to hits what you aimed at... Now days, the the nature of the activity has evolved to it now being a very professionally organised shooting activity with specific processes and goals.
WHAT DISTANCES MAKE IT ELR? Let's break this down to the current generally accepted categorisations of distances, then take it a step further...
Firstly, we need to understand, that there is a definition of certain distances that are considered as ELR. However, the event of shooting ELR does not mean that only those distances are shot. However an ELR event does require at least 30% of the targets be in the ELR distance band, which is totally different to the fact that ELR is not limited to extreme distances.
- Short Range 0 to 50.
- Mid Range 50+ to 100
- Long Range 100+ to 150
- Extended Long Range 150+ to 200
- Extreme Long Range 200+ to...as far as you can...
- Short Range 0 to 300.
- Mid Range 300+ to 600
- Long Range 600+ to 1200
- Extended Long Range 1200+ to 1700
- Extreme Long Range 1700+ to...as far as you can...
The above Short, Mid and Long range distance designations are basically accepted by the USA NRA.
ELR? Anybody can do it...and many
do it informally. It can be at targets with distances beyond the norm, or
just a very long range shot while out hunting. Do not get caught up in
having the best gear. ELR is for all levels, and shooters self and
equipment progress at own pace.
WHAT IS ELR? "ELR" as a recognised
term, generally refers to shooting rifles:
- In a precision type shooting format.
- At steel targets, or generally at targets where a "hit" is all that is needed.
- Using firearms that are fitted with accessories beyond the typical rifle (muzzle brakes, sighting solutions to get beyond normal elevation).
- Working in teams with spotters to look for the fall of shot and walk shots on.
- Score points per hit then move on to farther targets.
- Pushing the boundaries of bullet, ammunition and rifle performance. If it is easy, there is something wrong...
ELR ORIGINS "ELR"
seems to have really taken off from around 2015 thanks to a lot of notice to the
event in Raton New Mexico USA called "King of 2 miles" or Ko2M for short.
rifle CLASSES AND WEIGHT LIMITS?
- RIMFIRE: We have no limits on any rimfire rifle or configuration. Basically, it is any rifle, any scope, any any...and may the distances sort you all out...
- CENTREFIRE: We follow a similar categorisation to ELR in the USA for classes of rifle:
- LIGHT GUN: Any rifle up to a calibre of 338 and a rifle weight limit of up to and including 25lb (11.24kg) ready to fire weight . A rifle over weight rolls into Heavy Gun.
- HEAVY GUN: Any rifle of any calibre up to .50 and a weight limited to 50lb (22.68kg) ready to fire weight.
We may also recognise a local "Sporter" class which is any rifle ready to fire weight of maximimum 7.5kg.
Equipment? This is again an open field. Basically there are continually evolving rules for ELR and the well know match, the King of 2 Miles.
In Australia, we see the rules as needing to be kept
as simple as possible. Here is what we practice:
- Come with a good attitude, or don't come at all.
- Any rifle, prescribed by the limitations of the facility being shot at.
- Any cartridge or calibre, prescribed by the limitations of the facility being shot at.
- Any sighting system, prescribed by the limitations of the facility being shot at.
- Any shooting position, prescribed by the limitations of the facility being shot at.
Do you see the common denominator here? The governing rules are more around acceptance than the equipment itself. Too easy!
There is some equipment that certainly make shooting a
rifle setup for ELR much more comfortable:
- Adjustable sight base, because a scope has limits that are not conducive to ELR, and even scopes with a lot
of elevation would prefer to shoot around the middle of their adjustable travel.
- Adjustable cheek piece is very important to maintain a good firing posture and eye position. Also it should
be able to taper down to allow for the rifle (barrel) angling upwards.
- Muzzle brake to watch the trace and sight impacts - minimise muzzle/gun movement.
What CARTRIDGES? There are NO limits!!! We shoot ELR in 2 groups (and of course apply some common sense).
- RIMFIRE: Shoot distances from 0 out to 600
yards...or more (remember that NO limits thing?). But, there are many rimfire cartridges, from the old 22LR to 22 Mag, to
newer 17 HMR, etc... Well, in Australia, shooting a full course (described
below), plainly shooting rimfire in ELR is a natural leveller...and we've see NO advantage of one
rifle configuration or type of ammunition over another for many physical ballistic
transitional reasons. For example:
- 17 cal may be faster, but they don't carry like 22LR for longer distances.
- Super sonic 22 may get there faster, but may not be more accurate.
- Sub sonic ammo may be more accurate but may be more wind affected and not make the distance...
...and the list goes on...
- CENTREFIRE: Shoot distances from 0 to...as far as you can... It is more about target size than the distances shot...but the point is, to start close and increment out to as far as you can go before it just becomes an impossible task. The main game of ELR Centrefire is 0 to 2 miles...however due to equipment and running costs, and the extreme effort to setup a course, many matches max out at between 1 and 1.5 miles.
Firing Position? This is another thing governed by the facility... The Ko2M and all the like require the shooter to be prone off a bipod. Prone is great when on manicured land. But here in Australia, we suffer from several things like drought, dust, meat ants, fire regulations and total fire bans, hills, limited places to shoot, anti-gun and anit-shooters (2 different groups, but we won't get into that here) and fox/dingo fences, etc. Let's face it, for the majority of the population, we can't all just drive 5 min down the road and start shooting extreme distances just anywhere we like.
The positions to fire must first and foremost must fit the capable use of the facility...eg. Some places will have fencing to be shot over, so prone is impossible. Some places may have the ground too dusty to shoot off, muzzle brake or not. So, we let the shooter choose their position. The main thing is having FUN (that is the hard part for some). Shooting prone, shooting off a bench, shooting off the back of the truck, shooting off a fence post, who cares. If you care about what others are doing, you do NOT belong...as that is NOT what ELR in Aus is about.
Targets? The targets are generally steel plate, suspended on chain or hooks of sort...but should be hung in such a way that they can move under impact and produce a nice ping when struck... LOVE THAT SOUND!!!
Targets should be square in shape. Square maximises the target size of bought material - it costs about as much to buy enough material for a round dia 600 target as it does for a square 600 x 600 target. And, square targets obviously offer more coverage than a round, so the targets are more forgiving of impacts that result as corner shots. Square targets also offer a betting sight picture at distance, especially during time of heavy heat mirage. Finally, a square target is much easier to hang - ie. off the top corners.
Some ranges have used paper targets on pit gallery ranges, where the targets are marked manually. There is a large light coloured target backer (aka screen) typically large to allow the spotting of misses (eg. butchers paper). Then centre is a dark/black coloured paper target of the size of the steel target corresponding to the distance being shot. Shots are marked and indicated to the firing line with the use of a spotting disc (aka, shot spotter) in the target to indicate the point of impact. The spotter should be an appropriate size, to not overwhelm or saturate the target image for the shooter.
Distances & Target Sizes? There is no exact size of a target for a distance, however Aus work on a target size of approx 1.5 MOA, considered a fair size. It will still be very hard to hit at distance, but not impossible in average conditions. If targets are impossible to hit, then shooters will lose interest. It is not about just hitting target...but how many times you can hit it...
- RIMFIRE: Australia want to keep this easy...as this is a course that can be shot on MANY ranges...
- CENTREFIRE: For the sake of ease, Australia has settled on starting at a quarter mile (400m) at approx 3MOA to help shooters get on target faster. Then targets increment out by a quarter mile...out to 2 miles (where possible). Of course, if you want to go further, or have more or less targets, or targets closer, PLEASE DO SO!!! Just have fun!!!
It is important to understand that targets can be set-out and arranged however the host wishes. The main thing to remember is simple - don't make it too hard. You want more people hitting targets than missing, else the fun isn't there, and people lose interest.
If going to a facility where distances are limited, but you want a full compliment of targets (ie. maximise round count), it is better to bring the given target closer, and bunch the targets up. Sure the course may be easier, but again, have fun!
FIRING POINT / FIRING LINE? An elevated firing position is a desired feature and definitely an advantage. There is no exact height that is better than another, but the greater the angle to shoot down to a target, before becoming uncomfortable, the more relevant the perceived 2D spotted impact will be for walking shots onto target. Let's just give it a height of 50ft/15m to start with.
All shooters should be aligned to each other. Nobody excessively further forward or behind the firing point line. This is a common and reasonable practice, but even more important when shooters are using muzzle brakes.
The use of muzzle brakes can cause particles to rise up
off the ground. The shooter has the right to use the equipment of his
choice, per the rules. So any shooter who is beside a shooter causing
concern with particles rising or blast, then that shooter should self regulate
and take action to avoid issue or injury (eg. vacant the firing point)
TARGET LAYOUT? The layout of the targets will be very dependant on the geographical layout of the property being shot over.
Working on the assumption that the perfect parcel of ELR friendly land is available, then it would consist of:
- The targets spread across a range would ideally slope down
to the first couple of targets then gradually rise to no higher than the firing
point for the farthest target.
- Targets are laid out in a common general direction opposite to the direction of the sun so the targets are in as much sun, for as
long as possible. For example, in Australia, the ideal direction to shoot would be between east-south-east to south.
- Targets are generally staggered Left and Right of the previous target working back to the longer distances. This avoids confusion for any
shots at other targets where the shooter elevation zero is off causing splash around before or after targets.
- Targets should be as square to the firing points as possible. The target sizes are small enough without making them being apparently smaller due to misalignment.
- It is ideal to have a small stop-butt behind or close behind each target. (See spotting shots section for reasons why).
COURSE OF FIRE? We have found that even though there is a prescribed course of fire, it isn't long before all guns are on the line blazing away at targets. It is easy to have so much fun that the anticipation of the activity takes over the process... But remember the first rule - have fun!
For the (serious) meets, the course is as follows:
- Targets are placed at each prescribed distance.
- There are multiple firing points typically along a single firing line.
- Each string is a maximum of 5 shots in 5 minutes.
- 5 minutes starts from the firing clear of the next shooter and all equipment. When the time starts, the shooter takes and builds position on the firing point, the begins to fire at the required target with maximum number of rounds.
- Shooters start at the closest target...and have 5 shots to make a maximum of 3 hits. The hits can come in any order of shots. If the 3 hits come before the 5 rounds are fired, the shooter may continue to fire all 5 rounds (eg, shooter hits 3 out of 3 shots, with 2 remaining, so the shooter may chose to fire the remaining 2 shots within time remaining).
- All firing may be done with the aid of (unlimited) spotters giving feedback to the shooter as each shot is fired.
- When time elapses, that shooter vacates the firing point. After 2 minutes, the next shooter is given 5 minutes to repeat the course.
- When each shooter has completed that target/distance, all shooters cycle through the next target/distance. This repeats until the course is complete.
SPOTTING SHOTS? Spotting is very important, and an absolute skill. There is a LOT to it, as what one see's only tells some of the story.
Each shooter should team up with a spotter. They are welcome to work together. Shooters may even have multiple spotters. And, if people are doing nothing, getting "on the glass" is often appreciated by shooters.
The job of the spotter seems simple enough - to spot the shots. But it is anything but easy. Confidence, how to call, what information to give, understanding the arc of a bullet, etc...
A projectile travel is 3 dimensions, and changes in velocity through its flight. If a target is in the middle of a FLAT field, at say 2000 yards away, then shots going what appear to be just a little over or a little under the target could be missing by a much greater margin. Because the bullet is travelling in an arc, an accurate sight correction value is almost impossible to interpret by just Walking shots onto target can be very expensive. , so a close stop-butt to the target allows misses around the plate to be called reasonably close based on the visual 2D sight picture. For example, a bullet that impacts 20 or 30 metres behind the target as a 2D may only look approx 4" over the target. Lot's of bullet flight path considerations need to be understood.
SCORING? Unlike some of the big matches in the USA, there is NO relay shoot-off. We do NOT believe in people going at lengths to attend a meet, then have the risk of sending them home after 5 shots.
- Every entered shooter is given the time and support to shoot the whole course, or as much of it up to a full course as they like.
- Each string is 5 shots.
- Each hit is worth 1 point.
- 3 hits max required from the 5 shots each string to also receive bonus points.
- A shooter will receive bonus points for 3 hits based on:
* 3 hits in a row at any stage during the 5 shots. This is worth 3 points (1 for each hit) plus 2 bonus points.
* 3 hits in any sequence during the 5 shots. This is 3 points plus 1 bonus point.
NOTE: If 3 shots are registered before the 5th shot, there is no need to shoot the 5th or any excess shots after the 3 hits. BUT, we are about fun, so hammer away!!!
Scoring examples during a 5 shot string (0 miss, 1 hit):
- 0 0 0 1 1. Score =
- 0 0 0 1 0. Score = 1. Total 1.
- 0 1 1 0 1. Score = 3. Bonus 1. Total 4.
- 0 1 1 1 -. Score = 3. Bonus 2. Total 5.
- 1 1 1 - -. Score = 3. Bonus 2. Total 5. Winner on count back.
- 0 1 1 1 1. Score = 3 (not 4). Bonus 2. Total 5. Would NOT win on count back to above. Last shot is excess and for fun only.
- 1 1 1 1 1. Score = 3 (not 5). Bonus 2. Total 5. Would NOT win on count back to above. Last 2 shots are excess and for fun only.
CONSIDERATIONS & OBSTACLES There are a lot of issues or challenges a shooter may face when shooting the course. It can result in a less enjoyable ELR experience, rather than a very exciting and potentially rewarding activity. Some understandings of what to expect up front may help, likewise some planning.
- CANNOT SEE SHOTS. Without doubt, not seeing hits on target or even surrounding impacts is always an issue, especially at the farther distance targets.
- Australia is one of the worse countries for poor sighting/spotting conditions, especially in warmer weather and full sun. It is recommended to run matches out of the warmer period, more from late March to late October.
- During the warmer of the months, even when not the hottest of months, if the forecast is for full sun, look to start as early as possible, enjoy a long lunch break and finish later in the day.
- Seeing the splash is everything when shooting ELR. Setting up targets at extreme long distances that has the impact area in the shade, into scrub, or any area that makes it hard to spot missed shots will definatley work against you.
- SHOT SPOTTER OR COACH CALLS ARE OFF. This result is usually 1 of 2 things, or both.
- Spotting shots from your spotter and coach should take place from directly behind the shooter, aligned with the barrel/bore which allows them to watch the vapour trace and follow the shot. If a person agrees to spot your shots from an angle, have that spotter move to behind you, or you may be better off with no spotter at all, Incorrect spotter information can make things worse as it may cause confusion and second guessing.
- Dealing with the reality of a miss, apparent bullet impact to actual bullet impact, then working out an actual required sight correction value. This is because the bullet travels in an arc and possibly is bending with wind conditions, etc. A stop butt of some sort should be as close as possible. The closer a bullet impact that misses is to the target in front, the less margin for an incorrect correction value.
- NOT KNOWING WHAT THE CONDITIONS ARE DOING. If you can see what is out there, then you can't ever know. And previous shots only carry relevance for a few seconds in changing conditions. With targets out at multiple distances, the target frame is a good base for some wind indicators (wind flags).
- WAITING LONG ENOUGH. When taking the long distance shots, it can take up to 8 seconds for the bullets to get there. Some shooters have a habit of not waiting long enough, and they are not watching at the time of impact. Know your shot times and wait accordingly.
- HIT OR MISS...TO BE SURE. With wind, splashed targets, mirage, and lack of bullet energy at distance, it is impossible to know for sure, sometimes, if a person hit the target. And, it is important to know, afterall, this is what the shoot is about. There are some tools to help with this:
- TARGET FLASHERS - IMPACT INDICATING LIGHTS. Lights connect to the target. When detecting an impact, then flash a strong light that can be seen from the firing line. There are many types out there, but consider easy to buy, maintain, costs, transport, setup, etc.
- Major benefit is they are easy to setup and provide instant feedback while on the gun (no need to be looking elsewhere, eg. at a display).
- Major disadvantage is they don't show where the shot landed. On a large target, edge shots count, but the next shot carries a high chance of missing without a correction.
* * * LOOK AT THE WATERS RIFLEMAN TARGET FLASHER SOLUTION * * *
- TARGET CAMERAS - TARGET VISION CAM. Another good method that is great for actually seeing where the bullets impact, is using a camera at the target line and relaying the image back to the firing line. There are a number of products out there, but the main thing to look for is HD, because after a few impacts on target, less than HD can make determining the shot in question more difficult than it needs to be.
- Major benefit is they provide immediate feedback and show exactly where the shot landed.
- Major disadvantage is they don't sequence shots, so multiple shots over each other may not give an exact impact location. Also, expensive and take time to setup.
* * LOOK AT THE WATERS RIFLEMAN TARGET CAM SOLUTION * * *
WHERE CAN I SHOOT ELR There is no one answer to this. For the most part, true ELR is very informal.
RIMFIRE ELR is relatively easy to do, and most any TR range can shoot it. Most Fullbore ranges should have the ELR process follow the same process - using a fixed target line and moving the firing point backwards. Paper targets with manual pit marking works very well.
CENTREFIRE ELR is difficult because we just don't have the ranges in Australia to allow true ELR to take place. There are some in Aus that advertise they shoot Extreme LR, and shoot to 1000 or 1500 yards, but they are only shooting Extended Long Range, not the hard-core Extreme. ELR starts at approx 1700 yards, so finding a spot to do legit ELR can be difficult (refer to the above - direction, elevations, undulations, line of site, access, lighting, etc). Most of this shooting is done word or mouth, which you may be able to get a group going of your own and start doing it...
ELR SUPPLIERS OF INTEREST So many good sources of ELR equipment and information are out there, but there is a lot of rubbish also. We hope this site is of some use, with its information provided all in good faith of wanting to increase awareness and activities of ELR.
- BRT shooter supply. BRT will sort all your needs for equipment, accessories, ad-on bits and loading equipment and components. Stuart and Annie have more time in the sport and on the trigger than most club total memberships have. They can help. http://brtshooterssupply.com.au/
- PORTER MACHINE WORKS Co. Ian Porter is the maker of extremely good quality scope rings at a competitive price. Tell him you are an ELR shooter, and he'll look after you. http://www.portermachineworks.com.au/
- WATERS RIFLEMAN. David Waters has been shooting all his life, shot in many countries in many disciplines. David began shooting LR a very long time, with the odd occasion of shooting ELR informally just for fun well before it became formalised...and the last several years have seen David chase many ELR events mostly in the USA ( competitively shooting to 2.5 miles). www.watersrifleman.com
- APPLIED BALLISTICS. Probably the greatest contributors to ELR over the last 5 years, with their experts pushing the ELR into formal territory and now a lot of experience with running ELR championships. http://appliedballisticsllc.com/
- MARK AND SAM AFTER WORK make some great watching videos and are as Aussie as they come. https://4aw.com.au/index.htm
- PRECISION RIFLE BLOG is a great source of some very accurate reports and good ready https://precisionrifleblog.com/2018/05/29/elr-goes-mainstream/
www.aihpa.com for multi-course rifle shooting on the international scale...
THANK YOU... AUS ELRA would like to thank the contributions of those world class and championship winning shooters who helped to compile this information, not just Australian shooters, but also those from other countries, such as the USA, Scandinavia, etc.
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