Q&A with a Precision Rifle Shooter and Engineer, Cal Zant

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Lifelong hunter and gun enthusiast Cal Zant tapped into his engineering background to create PrecisionRifleBlog.com, one of the most informative sources for shooters on the web.

OL: When did you start shooting long-range?
I got into long-range shooting to improve as a hunter. I took a class where we shot out to 1,000 yards. My instructor was good and I got hooked. I love the elegant mix of science and art that goes into it.

OL: Your background is in computer engineering. Is it fair to say you’re a bit of a gun geek?
CZ: Definitely. I’m a nerd among nerds. The first time I shot at a target at a mile, I missed 20 times. I went back and did the calculations and figured out what I was doing wrong. Next time I hit it on the first shot. I had the Coriolis effect backwards.

OL: You’re a hunter, too. What’s your take on the long-range-hunting craze?
CZ: I know some guys who do that, and I’ve seen Facebook contests for who can take a deer at the longest distance. I don’t think most guys practice enough to do that. The way I see it, the ethical distance to shoot a deer is the distance at which you can hit a 10-inch plate 10 times out of 10. For some guys, that might be 200 yards; for others, it might be 800.

OL: When did you start PrecisionRifleBlog.com?
CZ: In 2012. I wrote for almost two years before I had a following.

OL: That’s certainly changed now. Was there a particular piece you did that put you on the map?
CZ: There’ve been a couple of them. The first one was the McMillian stock photo gallery I did. Then a buddy asked me what I thought he should look for when buying a scope. That’s a loaded question. Marketing people like to focus on what’s different about a scope and not about what you need. So I wrote a list of the features I look for when I’m interested in a scope. That post is still one of my highest rated blogs. And finally there’s my tactical scope test. I couldn’t be more proud of that—I put more than 400 hours into it. I didn’t expect that going into it. But if I set my mind to something, I’m going to finish it.

OL: What’s your general philosophy about testing gear?
CZ: Don’t take anything for granted. Measure everything. If I can’t find a way to objectively quantify something, I won’t write about it. I try hard to remove my opinions and let the data speak for itself. I’d rather my website disappear forever than be a source of bad information. If I’m not helping people, then I’ve wasted a lot of time here.