We recently hosted our Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous in eastern Idaho, where I got to join the mile club. I had never had an opportunity to shoot out to a mile before but was all in. There is nothing quite like the feeling of hitting a target at that kind of distance. However, while I was busy celebrating my now seemingly small achievement, the Nomad Rifleman team was celebrating its new world record for extreme long range rifle shot, just on the other side of the Grand Tetons.
Nomad Rifleman Team Sets New World Record for Extreme Long Range Rifle Shot
Led by Scott Austin and Shepard Humphries, the Nomad Rifleman team finally saw its years-long plan come together. But this wasn’t their first rodeo. Back in 2020, the team helped a client achieve the Wyoming state record of 3.06 miles. Setting the Wyoming state record for longest hit on target only spurred a desire to go even bigger.
In late 2020 they began planning to set a new world record for extreme long range shot. Only this time, it wasn’t for work, it was just for the challenge, fun, and bragging rights. The distance to beat was 4 miles, set by Paul Phillips and his team in 2019. But there was a lot of planning to do.
The original target date for the attempt was scheduled for June or July 2021. However, a shot like this cannot be achieved with any ordinary rifle and requires a custom-made, one-of-a-kind precision rifle.
The rifle, chambered in .416 Barrett, comprised custom parts from Canada, New Zealand, Arkansas, South Dakota, Washington, and elsewhere. The challenges presented in this build set the team back, and it was finally completed in May of 2022. Then came months of testing.
According to Shepard, “With this kind of shooting, nobody has yet figured out how to get first-round hits. This isn’t the kind of thing where you buy a new rifle and some ammo right off of the gun store shelf and go get lucky.”
Unfortunately, the 422-grain bullet landing at 689 feet per second didn’t provide enough dust signature to identify the impact point. So, Shepard and his wife Lynn Sherwood-Humphries devised a plan to use audio spotting to supplement visual spotting.
Of course, this presented another issue, they had to be close to the target. In other words, down range.
Keeping the Spotters Safe
Armed with a plan to identify impact points, Lynn—also involved in long range shooting herself—would lead the new spotting team. However, now came the task of keeping the spotting team safe downrange.
The Nomad team settled on building steel bunkers for the spotters to sit in during the live fire exercise. After various testing sessions, the team determined the correct thickness of steel and began building prototypes. Once they found the correct design, they set up the spotting stations leading up to the target.
With the rifle ready and spotters secured it was time to set the stage. So, the team reached out to Jackson Hole Shooting Experience instructor Zack Shelton to build the target. Using a wood frame, he selected two thin sheets of 4’x10’ metal and painted an 8-inch circle in the center. According to some reports, this is the equivalent of hitting an area the size of a pinhead at 100 yards.
Time to Set a New World Record for Extreme Long Range Shot
Early morning on September 13, 2022, the team headed to cattle country near Pinedale, Wyoming, for the big day. They chose early morning because winds are typically the calmest. This was important because, for every mile-pre-hour change in wind, they had to adjust their aim almost 26 feet further to the left of the target.
Not to mention, at 4.4 miles, there are a lot of variations in the wind along the flight path. Add to that the Coriolis effect, which means a target at that distance is moving slightly due to the Earth’s rotation. There was a lot that could go wrong, so making the calculations for this shot was a real challenge.
Shortly after 7:00 a.m., the shooter (who remains anonymous) sent the first hand-lathed 422-grain .416 Barrett round downrange. Off to a promising start, the first shot landed within 30 yards of the target. But there was still a lot of work to do.
Throughout the day, the spotting team radioed each other to come to a consensus on where each shot landed. Once they agreed, they radioed the shooting team, who made adjustments and kept shooting.
Just before noon, Austin made the wind and elevation call of 1,092 MOA up, hold 17 MOA left. This was on top of a 36 MOA left mechanical wind adjustment made at the beginning of the day for an overall 53 MOA. Likewise, their calculation for spindrift was 93.80” right. With the calculations and adjustments complete, the bullet’s flight path was 2,500 feet above line-of-sight.
“We Have Our First Hit! Confirmed! Confirmed Hit!”
24 long seconds after the shooter sent the 69th shot, spotters heard the unmistakable reverberation of metal being hit. Sure that it wasn’t Lynn’s bunker or the camera systems, the call came in from Wade:
“I thought it was the target, man!!!”
Once spotters refocused, the call went out to the shooting team:
“WE HAVE OUR FIRST HIT! Confirmed! Confirmed hit!”
Wanting to be sure it hit the target, the spotters radioed in, asking for the shooting team to hold tight while they went to confirm. With all five spotters approaching the target the fresh bullet penetration was confirmed. After finding the bullet in the dirt behind the target, they texted a photo of it to the team below:
“You guys looking for this?”
Even more impressive, not only was the hit within the one MOA 40-inch radius, but it was also only 3 1/8 inches to the left of dead center of the bullseye.
Although the team is quick to point out that the hit is not scientifically consistently “repeatable,” it is still quite an accomplishment. Not to mention, they now hold the world record for the longest long range shot.
In an odd coincidence, the hit landed on the 69th shot. This is the same number of shots it took Paul Phillips to achieve the earlier world record for the longest rifle shot.
Tactical-Life would like to congratulate the Nomad Rifleman team on an amazing accomplishment. This was an incredible feat, indeed. Although the shooter wants to remain anonymous, we would also like to congratulate you on an incredible shot. You know who you are, Cool Hand.