Review of The Long Range Shooting Handbook by Ryan Cleckner
by Kirk Lawson
Ryan Cleckner, retired Special Operations/Army Ranger Sniper, Instructor for 1st Ranger Battalion, Combat Veteran, Attorney, entrepreneur, podcaster, and… author, has written a book on Long Range Shooting.
If you want a book full of vivid reminiscing of combat or teaching how to be a “genuine sniper” then this book is not for you. There were a few pics of Mr. Cleckner in apparent deployment but no “action shots.” And, truth to be told, while they give Mr. Cleckner’s book some personality, they’re really not very good pictures of him. They seem to be amateur shots by friends. Even later on in his book, when demonstrating shooting positions in what seems to be a hunting or outdoors environment, the photos are simple and clear. This is not a tell-all war stories memoir poorly disguised as a how-to book. It is, well, most definitely a how-to book.
If I were to try to summarize it up front, I’d say for the National Rifle Association School of Long Range classes, which are beyond their Basic Rifle course, Mr. Cleckner’s book should be its default handbook. If a College were to offer a 101 level Long Range Rifle shooting class, Mr. Cleckner’s book should the the required Textbook.
The Long Range Shooting Handbook covers the fundamentals of long range rifle shooting in detail and does a better job of covering all the bases than other books on riflery I’ve read.
The book is available in traditional paperback and electronic .epub formats, currently for around $25 and $10 respectively at this time. There are 20 chapters as well as an Appendix, tables, and pages for personal information logging.
When I write that it covers the fundamentals, I do mean that. While Chapter 1 is “Firearms Safety” and is short, only two pages long, Chapter 2 is “How To Use This Book.” As odd as it sounds, this is a very helpful chapter. We all think “of course I know how to use a book. Duh!” But Mr. Cleckner spends time describing how to best read and apply the contents in appropriate context.
The chapter on ammunition is more than just a tiresome rendition of “primer, case, powder, bullet.” It covers the differences between extruded, flake, and ball powder as well as the different shapes of projectiles and why some are “better” than others. The chapter also defines otherwise arcane terminology such as “secant,” “shank,” and “tangent,” how they apply to bullets and why you should even care. This is accompanied by clear and easy to understand illustrations. This level of detail and care are applied throughout the book.
There are, naturally, chapters on equipment, including rifles, scopes, spotters, and mounts. He seems reluctant to recommend specific brands and frequently reiterates that the fundamentals of shooting are more important than fancy gear.
There is a chapter on ballistics and how it impacts long range shooting, differentiating between internal and external ballistics. While much of it a basic shooter would assume really isn’t needed, just line up, find your clicks or hold over, and pull the trigger, Mr. Cleckner spends time writing about things an uninitiated long range shooter might not clearly understand such as the Ballistic Loophole, Uphill/Downhill Effect, Trans-sonic Zone, and Additive Shift.
Naturally, there is a chapter (Chapter 9) going in depth into units of measurement. This includes yards and meters but also Minute of Angle (MOA), Miliradians (Mil and “Mildot” measurements), how to use them, and how to estimate or shortcut them for time and efficiency. The final element there, how to estimate and shortcut for efficiency, is a quite welcome treatment of the subject which I don’t recall ever seeing in any other book. That alone made the book worth reading to me.
And the subject mater just goes on. Again, this is a very thorough book. It covers, quite literally, everything a rifleman, regardless of experience level, would need to know to get into long range shooting.
If that were not enough reason to purchase this book, Mr. Cleckner is also a philanthropist. 25% of this book's proceeds will be donated to two military charities: the Special Operation Warrior Foundation and the Sua Sponte Foundation. So you can buy the book, learn the fundamentals of long range shooting and simultaneously support veterans charities.
In conclusion, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. Buy it.