I recently received a copy of a new book that will likely prove most popular with those shooters just entering the sport of long-range competitive shooting. Recently made available to the public by its publishers, Paladin Press, you could consider this book as a primer of sorts -- that is, a book that deals with the essential basics about how to make the first shot count.
As I was on my way out the door the other morning to have breakfast at a local restaurant, I grabbed my just-arrived copy of this book to take with me so I'd have a some interesting reading material. Morning newspapers are nice for most folks, I suppose, but given a choice of USA Today or something about long-range shooting, it's an easy choice to make. After ordering a few items off the menu, I did a quick peruse through the book to get a feel for how it was written and to see the quality of the photographs and captions. Paladin Press did another fine job, as usual, of putting the book together. Besides clear pictures with easily-read and descriptive captions, the various examples of artwork (reticles, for example) were nicely executed.
Authors Noblitt and Gabrilska put together a basic, no-frills manual that clearly defines what a rifleman needs, in equipment and knowledge, to hit targets at long distances, out to 1,000 yards and beyond. Primarily consisting of five chapters, Dead On describes what what is meant by "long range," shows how to properly set up a rifle for this type of shooting, takes you step-by-step in the correct way to establish a zero, covers known-distance target shooting, and concludes with a discussion on making first-round hits.
Nothing I found in the book would be considered "over the head" of most readers. Terms are explained in simple language, there is an abundance of pictures and drawings to help the authors get their points across, and perhaps the nicest thing I discovered about the book is that it's very current. That is, most of the equipment discussed seems to include relatively recent items, such as Burris Signature rings and inserts as well as the Leica Geovid laser rangefinder. However, as the gun industry is a fluid thing, it's often hard to keep up with all the changes -- for example, the Lytespeed 400 is now known as the Yardage Pro 400, as made by Bushnell. Still, a rose by any other name is still a rose.
I must point out that if you're an experienced shooter and handloader, and would consider yourself fairly knowledgeable in the ways of the gunsmith (with regard to bedding a rifle and things of that nature), then you may want to "pass" on this book. It's actually an exceptional piece of work, but my honest feeling is that it's intended audience is people who are just starting out... but for such novices, this book is an invaluable resource well worth the modest cost. Everything a new long-range shooter could ever want to know is talked about, from cleaning and maintenance, to gunsmithing improvements, to accessories, to how to boresight your rifle using a collimator.
A couple of things that I feel are particularly noteworthy for new shooters are the explanation of estimating wind directions, speeds, and values -- and the two appendices at the end of the book. On page 71 of Dead On, there's a very nice "so THAT'S what they mean" drawing on determining wind values, and the accompanying discussion of "wind" is covered nicely and worth reading over more than once. Appendices A and B, Scope Adjustment Charts for Common Cartridges and Long-Range Shooting Sources, respectively, are simply a wealth of information to anyone looking for basic ballistic information (even for rounds like the .30/378 Weatherby Magnum and the .50 BMG) or sources for accessories such as riflestocks, optics, bullets, reloading supplies, gunsmithing tools, and chronographs. (Appendix A, alone, has almost 80 pages of ballistics tables!)
One thing I must point out though, which is no doubt true for many runs of first-print books, is the error on page 78. I was eating my breakfast, browsing through the book, when I found the mistake. As soon as I got home I sent an E-mail to Warren Gabrilska and to Tina Mills, my contact at Paladin Press. I heard back from both Warren and Tina -- as well as Jon Ford, Editorial Director at Paladin. Apparently, the mistake I found (and any others that the authors may have subsequently found since their book went to press) will be corrected in the second printing, according to Jon. Before I explain the nature of the mistake, I want to point out that the book is STILL a good book. It shouldn't be "trashed" because of this particular error, and I only point out this mistake because it's so obvious. Indeed, it's unclear as to who bears responsibility for it happening -- but the important thing is that it has been identified and will be corrected.
During the discussion of
using a scope to determine the distance to a target, the following comment
is offered as the definition of a mil-dot reticle:
"The mil (short for millimeter) dot duplex reticle for range finding was developed by the U.S. Marines for use on their sniper rifles."
Well, to quote Ronald Reagan in his debate with then-President Jimmy Carter... "that's simply not true." The "mil" in "mil-dot" reticle is short for "milliradian," a particular unit of measurement that subtends (i.e., "spans" or "covers") 3.6 inches at 100 yards or, of course, 36 inches at 1,000 yards. Understanding the use of a mil-dot scope, specifically how to use it to determine the distance to a target, is key to making first-round hits. Therefore, this was a serious mistake in the book, but the matter has been addressed and apparently will not be repeated in subsequent printings. As I said, I suspect such things are fairly common in books during their first run. Aside from this, however, the book offers much valuable information that new shooters should find very beneficial. I have no reservations about recommending this book to anyone "getting into the game" of tactical sport shooting. Indeed, I consider Dead On something of a "Long-Range 101" textbook that many new "students" will want to add to their personal library.