Long-range hunting is appealing for a number of reasons, including learning a new skill and the thrill of getting an 800+ yard shoot. It requires skill, patience and an investment of both time and money. Accuracy is the number one element that will ensure that you get your shot, but there are many other things that contribute to making your shot.
A long-range rifle is much different than the double-barrel shotgun that your granddad uses to hunt quail with. Investing in a high-quality long-range rifle will make a huge difference down the road. Do your research and consider the weight and size when making your decision. You want the gun to fit you and your size so that you are the most comfortable that you can be while taking aim.
Equipping your rifle with high-grade optics and glass will give your eyes a break. Your target will already be difficult enough to see without impeding your sight with a low-quality scope. You will be relying on your optic to give a sharp and clear picture of your target to give you the best chance of making your shot. In combination with your trusty rangefinder, you will be shooting like a pro in no time.
If your hands are not as steady as you would like to them be, you may want to consider investing in a bi-pod or tri-pod to rest your gun on. You can find pods that are both fixed or swivel and some are equipped to serve as either. For added comfort, you can add a butt-cuff or a cheek rest to your setup to make those long waiting hours a bit more bearable. Often, chin rests have a storage pocket in them to store additional rounds for easy access too.
Holding your breath can be harmful to your aim and is very typical for beginner long-range shooters to do when they first start out in the field. Train yourself to exhale as you pull the trigger to avoid a large exhale after you pull the trigger that will cause an angled trigger pull. Holding still and not fidgeting when taking aim is very difficult for most first time hunters but gets easier with time.
Just as the slight movement caused by your breath can throw off your shoot, so can a gust of wind. Due to the distance that your ammo will have to travel to get to your target it can be largely affected by wind direction and speed. If there is a breeze, note the direction and turn slightly into the direction that it is blowing to help correct your shot. Note where your shot lands and adjust accordingly if wind speeds increase of decrease. Use a wind meter if necessary.
Long-range shooting is often considered a science to perfect. It will take a bit of familiarity and practice, but with the right equipment and commitment, you will be making the target with ease each and every time. Take it slow and practice until you feel confident enough to take your basic knowledge out into the field and off the range. You will be impressed as you watch your range get further and further every time.