Hunting’s Newest Controversy: Snipers

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Hoas, Dec 13, 2016.

  1. Hoas

    Hoas AH Enthusiast

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    The sport is divided on the ethics of using long-range shooting systems to take down game.

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    During his first 25 years hunting big game, Robert Phillips never killed from farther than 250 yards. He wasn’t certain how to calculate the pull of gravity on a bullet traveling farther than that, not to mention the harder-to-calculate effect of wind.

    But four years ago, Phillips invested in a rifle and sighting system that does all that calculating for him. On a hunt in New Mexico this fall, Phillips downed an elk with one shot from 683 yards. His longest kill with this new gear came at 1,180 yards, four times beyond any conventional range.

    “From that distance, the animal isn’t frightened. It’s not jittery. And you’re not jittery either,” says Phillips, a home builder in Columbus, Ind.

    In this ancient American sport, the newest thing is a long-range-shooting system that measures distance, determines wind effect and fires high-powered ammunition. These systems turn hunters into snipers by taking the guesswork out of calculating the effects of gravity and wind on a bullet traveling as far as a mile. Applying technical expertise to firearm sighting systems, new players such as Gunwerks and TrackingPoint are winning shares of a market long dominated by venerable brands like Remington and Winchester. “A TrackingPoint Precision-Guided Firearm ensures never-before-seen precision at extreme distances,” says the website of TrackingPoint, based in Pflugerville, Texas.

    Of about 14 million rifle hunters in America, about 5% are using new long-range systems, estimates Gunwerks founder Aaron Davidson. “And I would expect that 5% to turn into 50%,” says Davidson, a mechanical engineer who started his company in 2006. In the hopes of spurring such growth, Davidson’s company produces a cable hunting show called “Long Range Pursuit,” which he says gains about 300,000 viewers a week.

    But as if big-game hunting weren’t controversial enough, many of the sport’s own practitioners disapprove of long-range hunting, calling it a violation of a tradition known as fair chase. Getting close to a deer or elk requires stealth and patience. Within 300 yards, the snap of a twig or sudden shift in wind can alert a wild animal that danger is near, sending it under cover. For the hunter, evading a wild animal’s exquisite senses can be one of the greatest thrills of the sport.

    In this ancient American sport, the newest thing is a long-range-shooting system that measures distance, determines wind effect and fires high-powered ammunition. These systems turn hunters into snipers by taking the guesswork out of calculating the effects of gravity and wind on a bullet traveling as far as a mile. Applying technical expertise to firearm sighting systems, new players such as Gunwerks and TrackingPoint are winning shares of a market long dominated by venerable brands like Remington and Winchester. “A TrackingPoint Precision-Guided Firearm ensures never-before-seen precision at extreme distances,” says the website of TrackingPoint, based in Pflugerville, Texas.

    Of about 14 million rifle hunters in America, about 5% are using new long-range systems, estimates Gunwerks founder Aaron Davidson. “And I would expect that 5% to turn into 50%,” says Davidson, a mechanical engineer who started his company in 2006. In the hopes of spurring such growth, Davidson’s company produces a cable hunting show called “Long Range Pursuit,” which he says gains about 300,000 viewers a week.

    But as if big-game hunting weren’t controversial enough, many of the sport’s own practitioners disapprove of long-range hunting, calling it a violation of a tradition known as fair chase. Getting close to a deer or elk requires stealth and patience. Within 300 yards, the snap of a twig or sudden shift in wind can alert a wild animal that danger is near, sending it under cover. For the hunter, evading a wild animal’s exquisite senses can be one of the greatest thrills of the sport.

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    Mike Jernigan, a disabled veteran, uses his TrackingPoint 300 Winchester Magnum. PHOTO: MIKE JERNIGAN

    Proponents of long-range hunting acknowledge that it can improve a hunter’s chances of making a kill. But what’s wrong with that, they ask, given that hunters often spend tens of thousands of dollars on equipment, travel and licenses in pursuit of animals whose numbers are abundant—sometimes overly abundant? They also say that long-range systems don’t eliminate the element of chase or the grind of hauling heavy equipment up mountains. “It’s no cakewalk,” says Phillips, a 65-year-old Gunwerks customer.

    As for ethics, proponents say that super-accurate sighting systems make hunting more humane at any range, by killing animals instantly, thereby reducing the risk of wounded prey escaping. “Without TrackingPoint 14% of animals shot suffer and require two or more shots to be killed. Many are never found,” says a TrackingPoint document. “With TrackingPoint 99.5% of animals are cleanly harvested.”

    South Carolina home builder William Sinnett bought a TrackingPoint system not only for himself but for his business partner, who had a habit of jerking when he fired upon a big-game animal.

    “He had a tick, so he’d just wound an animal, and sometimes we’d find the animal and sometimes we wouldn’t,” says Sinnett, a former military sharpshooter. Since using the TrackingPoint system, however, “my business partner hasn’t missed a shot,” says Sinnett.

    Proponents of long-range shooting also argue that the virtues of creeping close to a big-game animal are overblown. They note that bow hunting—which requires extraordinary stealth—often wounds rather than kills. “Bow hunters wound animals that get away—and that’s unethical,” says Phillips.

    One factor likely to limit growth is cost. While a conventional deer rifle can be bought for a few hundred dollars, these ultra-sophisticated rifles and shooting systems can cost a few thousand dollars up to nearly $25,000.

    Credit:
    KEVIN HELLIKER

    Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/huntings-newest-controversy-snipers-1481316596
     
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  2. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    I've looked into the Trackingpoint system and it's some impressive tech. I think there are definitely exciting applications for military use and for disabled hunters.

    I don't have issues with systems like that from an ethical standpoint, but I would not personally use them for hunting. I enjoy the challenge of stalking and getting as close as possible.

    I do like having an accurate rifle- my go-to rifle is a 1/2 moa gun and I can accurately shoot it out past 500m... at the range. I won't shoot it that far on a hunt if I can avoid it- but it does help my shooting confidence knowing that the shot will go where I'm aiming.
     
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  3. CAustin

    CAustin BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    I don't have such a system but I don't object to the use of such. As far as I am concerned it's just a different level of mastery. It's still hunting in my view.
     

  4. Adam S

    Adam S AH Senior Member

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    I think it's interesting technology and I can see the appeal. To me, not having to get close would cheat me out of a majority of the excitement of hunting. I understand that there's certainly a challenge and fun figuring out all the variables to hit a target way off in the distance, but I can do that on the range. To me, if someone is hunting legally and ethically, I'm all for it even if it isn't my cup of tea.
     
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  5. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    I won't argue its hunting by definition. It is. I also won't argue that there are folks out there that can make 1100 yard shots. There are.

    What I question is the ethics of such a shot. It takes roughly 1.5 seconds for a bullet to travel 1000 yards. How many steps is that for a grazing animal? An extra gust of wind? Also, has the TP system updated and actually measures wind at distance now? Perhaps it does and I'm not aware. I haven't kept up with this as I have no interest in the system personally.
     
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  6. 375 Ruger Fan

    375 Ruger Fan AH Elite

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    There's a company called Gunwerks (https://www.gunwerks.com/) that builds long range "Systems" and also has a TV show. I'm sure many of you in the US have seen it. It is pretty amazing how they can dope the wind and dial in the range and hit a critter at 900 or 1000 yards. As amazing as it is, it's not something that interests me. However, I realize the debatable issue is when does it quit being hunting and become just shooting? Archery only hunters might argue anything with a firearm is "shooting" and not "hunting." A guy that uses open sights only might suggest that anyone using a scope is cheating. Most mainstream hunters might say anything within 300 yards (or pick a number) is their own personal, ethical limit.
     
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  7. BigJohnx13

    BigJohnx13 AH Senior Member

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    His longest kill with this new gear came at 1,180 yards, four times beyond any conventional range.
    Shooting animals at this range is harvesting, culling, animal control or what you want to call it but not hunting in general as the basic and ethic of hunting is not present

    These systems turn hunters into snipers by taking the guesswork out of calculating the effects of gravity and wind on a bullet traveling as far as a mile.
    Exactly what this is stating, turning hunters into snipers and not hunters into better hunters. A bad hunter will get a better kill ratio with this system but he is still bad in everything else like scouting, tracking, stalking and also takes more chances on poor shots because he relies too much on his new super accurate system.

    As for ethics, proponents say that super-accurate sighting systems make hunting more humane at any range, by killing animals instantly, thereby reducing the risk of wounded prey escaping.
    Any rifle/bow used within the limits of the weapon/cartridge will kill an animal instantly. If you put this sighting system in a low powered cartridge you will still be able to hit at longer ranges but the bullet will not have the killing power to kill the animal.

    “Without TrackingPoint 14% of animals shot suffer and require two or more shots to be killed. Many are never found,” says a TrackingPoint document. “With TrackingPoint 99.5% of animals are cleanly harvested.”
    A Report or survey (trackpoint document) always favours the one that compiles the report or pays for the report!

    They note that bow hunting—which requires extraordinary stealth—often wounds rather than kills. “Bow hunters wound animals that get away—and that’s unethical,” says Phillips.
    Yes Bow hunters wound animals sometimes. So does Rifle and Handgun hunters. The matter of fact is that using the wrong equipment and wrong shot placement and trying to shoot more that your capability is what is wounding an animal. Bow hunters actually wound less animals because they know they have to rely on their maximum skill and equipment to make a kill and too many times won’t take a shot where a rifle hunter will take a risk on a poor shot relying too may times on the bullet to do the job.. The same shooter using this Tracking point system and trying to shoot more than his capability and what the system can deliver will also wound an animal. If you take a 1000 yard shot and the animal moves two steps for better grazing how many animals will be wounded because animal movement cannot be predicted by this system?

    As for me, I prefer hunting the Bushman way!
     

  8. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Ambassador

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    I wonder how it measures the wind. Is it at the rifle, is it downrange a 100 yards or 500 yards, multiple distances? The problem with the wind doping is the winds can be at different speeds and directions downrange. This can result easily in misses or more importantly wounded animals.

    To argue against this is a slippery slope as there are some hunters who shouldn't shoot beyond 100 yards. I personally don't want to shoot beyond 300 and at that distance I want a proper rest. I don't know nor do I think I should say for others what their distance limitation should be taking all variables into consideration.
     
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  9. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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  10. Traditional Mozambique Safaris

    Traditional Mozambique Safaris SPONSOR Since 2015 AH Legend

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    It's not my cup of tea.......but each to their own. A lot of hunters battle to tell if they have wounded an animal at 200 yards, calling a shot at 1000 yards....
     
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  11. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I'm looking into this new system that ensures the animal never knows you are present, clean kills are guaranteed and processing and cooking is inherent in the harvest procedure.

    You can watch from your office computer and never have to actually be present or develop any type of skill set.
    It is the perfect point and shoot system.

    The older system was a bit crude but got the job done.

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    The latest update really is a step ahead. Much more precision is possible depending, as we all know, on the projectile being launched.

    Going price about $2Billion. Manufacturer says everyone should have one, but they will do quantity discounts.

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    The action



     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017

  12. Mekaniks

    Mekaniks GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    It won't be long and outfitters will be getting requests something like this... "I would like to take animals x,y and z and want to take all my shots beyond 750 yards".
     
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  13. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    After watching some of the long range episodes (stumbled across) filmed in South Africa I think it has already happened.
     
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  14. jeff

    jeff AH Elite

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    I spoke to a well known long range group who has their own show and they admitted that they shoot about four shots on average before they hit, they just don't televise their misses.
     

  15. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Interesting that you say "hit". That is my impression exactly.
    Woundings.... edited out to promote the product. It's all an illusion.

    I have never missed a shot and there is no video just to prove it. :ROFLMAO:
     
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  16. Saul

    Saul AH Enthusiast

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    As far as long range hunting rifles go, I have unfortunately bought my fair share. I went through this phase and as a result have purchased a .338 Allen Express and .300 Allen Express rifle, both of which are capable of extremely far range shooting and are incredibly powerful. These are both gorgeous hand-built custom rifles with extreme reach. They live in my safe. I much prefer using my bow or my .280 Ackley.
     
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  17. Mekaniks

    Mekaniks GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Likely not long before start seeing "long range packages" advertised on outfitters websites and at the shows
     

  18. Velo Dog

    Velo Dog SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Hello Hoas,

    I don't even own a variable power scope so, the rest of my rant here is probably redundant.

    Nonetheless:
    All this current trend in technologically advanced equipment does not interest me whatsoever.
    For myself, a rifle scope or "shooting system optic" as some call it, that is made with a lot of moving parts, including but not limited to;
    Batteries, solar panels, range finding multiple reticules that light up in your choice of colors, a menu (in multiple languages, including Ebonics), keyboard, video Ping-Pong game, satellite phone, weather station, surround sound speakers, espresso press, egg poacher, hat steamer, bagel toaster, car key locater, hand warmer, cellphone charger, conference call option, carbon monoxide detector and so forth is not anything I care to be associated with in any way.

    I have to conclude that those fellows who have such contraptions and participate in 1,000 yard "hunting", evidently do not embarrass as easily as I do.

    Grumpy Old Man out.
     

  19. Wheels

    Wheels AH Legend

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    Three to four years ago, our local SCI chapter did a free 1,000 yard shoot for the members. Gunwerks provided the equipment and instructors. We were all on benches with sandbags. We started at 500, went to 750 then 1,000 yards. Targets were 9" steel gongs. A spotter called out wind, told us to wait and when we were clear to fire. As I remember, none of us had problems at 500 or 750 yards. There were a few misses at 1,000, but not many. Everything was just dialed in. I was impressed with their equipment. The most important piece of the equation was the guy calling the wind. The guy who called for me was incredible. I don't know what is entailed in having/learning his abilities, but I know I don't posses them now and probably never will. The experience was fun, and I had a blast.

    That being said, there is a lot more to hunting for me than pulling the trigger from distance.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
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  20. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    That!
     
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