I recently came across a Facebook post by The Ballistic Edge, a company that specializes in precision rifle training. The post simply had a diagram of various sized circles set into three sets of shooting distances, and the relative importance of various elements of shooting when it came to hitting target at those distances.
This graphic represents their opinion, but it more or less correlates with my observations (particularly with the first category of 0-500 yard shooting, since I have very little experience with 1,000 yard and beyond shooting).
Notice that regardless of the distance, the three most important elements are marksmanship, wind calling, and a solid zero. Further down the line in importance are ballistic solutions (computers), dispersion (barrel precision), scope error (expensive optics), and ammunition (fancy match ammo).
Interestingly, my observation is that most people getting involved in shooting spend the most time and money focusing on these later elements rather than the first three. At practical marksmanship ranges, particularly those within 500 yards, you are better served by simply going out and shooting. I’ve said repeatedly that all the specialized equipment in the world really only applies to people who have already mastered the first three elements of marksmanship, wind calls, and their zero.
Also of note is that once you cross the 1,000 yard threshold, wind calling becomes the most important element, and all the other components become of about equal importance to one another. This is an example of long range marksmanship being about the system that supports hitting those targets at those long ranges.
So what am I implying by posting this? I am simply saying that most of us, in most circumstances, are better served by buying quality ammunition (not necessarily match grade), and shooting whatever weapon system we have on hand until we master the first three elements. It only benefits us to spend exorbitant amounts on other things when we have mastered these.