The basic precepts of the 1000 yard club are as follows:
1. Buy as much rifle as you can afford
2. Buy as much scope as you can afford
3. Shoot ammunition that is accurate in your gun
4. Shooting is an exact science and can be improved at every distance by scientific method
5. Practice accuracy consistently in field conditions
Luckily for the average open country hunter, modern advancements in fire arms leave the 200-400 yard shooters quite a few options. Remington, Browning and particularly Savage have very accurate out of the box rifles. Savage has developed their own loyal market by being the first mass produced brand to offer target grade triggers on production rifles. Aftermarket barrels and triggers aren’t necessary for this range, however they do add to the accuracy of the rifle and it’s always fun to have as much accuracy as you can afford.
Scopes come in many variations, and I personally want one that starts at 3 or 4 power and is variable up to 9, 12 or even 16. The low end allows a wider field of view and quicker target acquisition at short ranges. The higher the magnification, the easier it is to pinpoint the crosshairs on long range targets. So if you buy a 6-24 variable and jump a deer at 30-40 yards, you have a half chance of getting the scope on him quickly! Since a lot of deer encounters do happen quickly and under 100 yards, don’t give up the lower magnification. It might cost you in opportunities. Reticulated scopes have additional aiming points under the crosshairs that are supposed to hit dead on at longer ranges. The dots are great! Make sure that they match your actual field results, and don’t take them for granted. The scope is the single biggest investment in accuracy. Buy a good one and you are halfway to your goal.
Factory loaded ammunition is notorious for shooting larger groups than the rifle is capable of. Some guns “like” factory ammo and some don’t. Premium ammunitions are expensive and may help while hand loaded ammunition is consistently the best available. Learning to hand load and the variables involved is actually quite simple. Go to the local gun shop and start asking questions. There are volumes and volumes of information, charts and tons of equipment. Don’t let it intimidate you, once you have a caliber and objective in mind you narrow it down to usable information very quickly.
Shooting is an exacting science so guessing at elevations and ranges will hinder your progress. Get a range finder and practice at the range until you KNOW what the results will be when you pull the trigger. The charts in any hand loading handbook are a great benchmark to start from.
Practice at the range and under field conditions. If you are going to shoot off a bi-pod, use it. If you plan to shoot off of a log or branch, practice it. Once you can hit a milk jug full of water consistently, it’s time to punch your tag at that distance.