Over the years some random thoughts, ideas, and goals have made their way to my bucket list. Some of the goals have gone unchecked for years, some for decades. One of those goals was to make a thousand-yard shot.
I cannot recall the exact moment during my early teen years this potential future accomplishment was penned to my list, but I remember thinking, at the time, a one-hundred yard shot on a deer was a test of true marksmanship. A magazine article in Outdoor Life or NRA American Hunter mentioned marksman making hits at a thousand yards, and I thought it was a feat only one or two people in the world ever add to their list of completed tasks. In other words, it was perfect for my bucket list.
Although making a thousand-yard shot has been on my bucket list for over twenty-five years, I have never even attempted it. In fact, for years, I considered the 200-yard targets that my father, brothers, and I practiced on for deer season to be long-range. My eyes were opened to the potential of adding a check to the 1000-yard shot box after consistently making hits at 500 yards with my JP-15™ chambered in .223 Wylde topped with a Vortex Razor 1-6x optic.
As my wife will attest, I can be quite stubborn. So, as the idea rolled around in my head, I was already making plans for this twenty-five-year goal. That meant making some decisions putting them in place:
As I surveyed my current selection of rifles, I knew I wanted to find something more suited to the task of sending a projectile to that range with consistency. I also knew I wanted a bolt gun for the job. Bolt guns were what I knew when I was twelve so completing the task with a bolt gun seemed to make sense.
My next step was to choose a caliber. As you might have guessed, the articles I read in the 80s talked about the .308 with reverence. That was an easy choice as well. Fortunately for me, the guys at JP were very interested in this little project of mine. Their JP MR-10™ stood out as an excellent choice for the job, and the team at JP stepped in to help me check this box.
Next up was optic selection. Although I had a Vortex Razor 4.5-27x in my dreams, it was the Vortex Viper PST 5-25x was in my budget. So, that’s what showed up to my door along with a set of Warne Rings.
As the necessary pieces started to arrive at my doorstep, one more important question was left to be answered: where? My home state of Pennsylvania isn’t known for huge stretches of flat open country. After asking around, I finally found a “semi-local” Sportsman’s Club with a 1000-yard range. I filled out the application and—boom—I had a 1000-yard range.
Next on my list was ammunition capable of one thousand yard accuracy and consistency. I asked a couple of my buddies about factory long-range ammo, and they recommended Federal Premium Gold Medal Match (Thanks, Lou and Andy). I ordered six boxes and waited for my first chance to put everything together.
With all the pieces now in place, it was time to hit the sight-in range. I dialed in the Viper on the MR-10™ at 200 yards pretty quickly. The groups at this distance had me excited to start stretching the legs of the .308. I quickly moved on to 300 yards, then 400, and then 500 yards. The rifle, ammo and optic impressed me, to say the least.
And that’s when my inexperience in long-range shooting started to show through. I did not own a chronograph, and I knew nothing about “dialing” at that time. My thanks again to Lou and to Buddy for the use of their chronographs. Thanks to them, I got accurate information on the velocity the Gold Medal Match was producing in the MR-10™.
While I was at it, I also got a much-needed crash course in dialing and some of the ballistic calculator options out there. With my new dope in hand, the next step was to confirm these “holds” and start pushing the gun to further distances. This meant getting to the 1000-yard range.
My first trip to the started with high anticipation but ended with a lot of frustration. My spotter had to bow out unexpectedly for work, so I headed out alone. My inexperience in long range was on display as I attempted to work out the bugs between computer-generated holds and real-life impacts. Instead of confirming holds and crushing targets, I just added questions to my notes and brass to my range bag.
All those questions needed to be answered before I spent any more time at the range. So, following about one text for every yard I planned to shoot, I got as much information out of Lou as I could, and hopefully enough to make this happen.
The hour-and-a-half drive to the range had plenty of anxiety mixed in with the anticipation. I knew the goal was within reach, but the memory of the last frustrating and unproductive outing still haunted me. Fortunately, this trip to the range proved to be super productive.
Lou’s advice was to take the generated holds, methodically record the impacts and adjust accordingly. I really had to remember that this is not 3-Gun. This is a totally different game, and a lot of the skills don’t transfer over. This might seem like logical advice, but it was not intuitive at the time. I wanted to look at the holds, send rounds downrange, and hit the targets. If needed, I could just produce accuracy by volume—a known side-effect of shooting 3-Gun. I knew now that I had to put that mindset aside to reach my goal.
After working out the holds with some minor adjustments, I was close. Every trigger press felt like it was going to be “the one.” I could feel that it was just a matter of time now…
Then, in a moment, it happened.
I remember it vividly. I took a breath, let half of it out as I slowly applied rearward pressure until the trigger broke. When the sound of that bullet striking the target hit my ears, I was excited and relieved at the same time.
After that, I was consistently hitting big steel targets at a distance of ten football fields with the MR-10™. I could have spent the rest of the day shooting that big piece of steel at 1,000 yards. The sound of the impact was extremely satisfying and the weight was off of my shoulders. Now, I was having fun.
But I wasn’t at the big finale yet. It was time to step it up a notch. Hitting a big RTE steel target was great, but I wanted to step it up a notch. I figured a football would be a fitting target to cap off a 10 football field goal. With the help of a great spotter (thanks Marc), I dialed it in and struck a football five times in a row at a distance of ten football fields. More challenging, but definitely more satisfying.
As I packed my gear and drove home that day, I felt the significance of my achievement.
To say I had a good time with this project is an understatement. Achieving a goal that had collected dust on my bucket list for over twenty-five years was incredible. In the process, I learned a lot about the long-range game. From understanding chronograph data to confirming holds, calling shots, reading wind, and dialing an optic, they all played a part.
This project started as simply checking a box. It ended with me gaining a greater understanding of shooting long range. My eyes were open to a whole world of shooting I’d never really thought about. I also achieved something my twelve-year-old brain considered nearly impossible.
I want to thank my wife for being understanding and listening to me as I worked out the details, oftentimes out loud. I also want to thank Jesse and the team at JP Enterprises for providing the JP MR-10™ to make it all happen. Finally, I want to thank Lou, Marc, Andy, and everyone else who got me “dialed in” to make this happen.
Garrett Boop is an educator and active hunter from Pennsylvania. Along with the other members of the Keystone Armory Shooting Team, he's also an active 3-Gunner and adrenaline junkie.