January 3rd, 2018

The Whims of the Wind — Slow-Motion Windflag Video


Photo of Aussie Wind Flags courtesy BRT Shooters Supply.

A while back our Aussie friend Stuart Elliot of BRT Shooters Supply recently filmed some interesting videos at the QTS range in Brisbane, Australia. Stuart told us: “I was shooting in an Air Gun Benchrest match here in Brisbane, Australia. I finished my target early and was awaiting the cease fire and took a short, slow-motion video of windflag behavior.” You may be surprised by the velocity changes and angle swings that occur, even over a relatively short distance (just 25 meters from bench to target).

Here are windflags in slow motion:

The flags show in the videos are “Aussie Wind Flags”, developed by Stuart Elliot. These are sold in the USA by Butch Lambert, through Shadetree Engineering.

Here is a video in real time:

Stuart says this video may surprise some shooters who don’t use windflags: “Many people say the wind doesn’t matter. Well it sure does — whether for an airgun at 25 meters or a long range centerfire at 1,000.” This video illustrates how much the wind can change direction and velocity even in a small area.

Permalink - Videos, Competition 1 Comment »
September 22nd, 2016

Good Wind Reading Book for Competitive Shooters

wind reading book Camp Perry Miller Cunningham

Readers often ask us: “Is there a decent, easy-to-comprehend book that can help my wind-reading?” Many of our Forum members have recommended The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters by Linda Miller and Keith Cunningham. This 146-page book, published in 2007, is a very informative resource. But you don’t have to take our word for it. If you click this link, you can read book excerpts and decide for yourself. When the Amazon page opens, click the book cover (labeled “Look Inside”) and another screen will appear. This lets you preview the first few chapters, and see some illustrations.

Other books cover wind reading in a broader discussion of ballistics or long-range shooting, such as Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting by Bryan Litz. But the Miller & Cunningham book is ALL about wind reading from cover to cover, and that is its strength. The book focuses on real world skills that can help you accurately gauge wind angle, wind velocity, and wind cycles.

All other factors being equal, it is your ability to read the wind that will make the most difference in your shooting accuracy. The better you understand the behavior of the wind, the better you will understand the behavior of your bullet. — Wind Book for Rifle Shooters

The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters covers techniques and tactics used by expert wind-readers. There are numerous charts and illustrations. The authors show you how to put together a simple wind-reading “toolbox” for calculating wind speed, direction, deflection and drift. Then they explain how to use these tools to read flags and mirage, record and interpret your observations, and time your shots to compensate for wind. Here’s are two reviews from actual book buyers:

I believe this is a must-have book if you are a long-range sport shooter. I compete in F-Class Open and when I first purchased this book and read it from cover to cover, it helped me understand wind reading and making accurate scope corrections. Buy this book, read it, put into practice what it tells you, you will not be disappointed. — P. Janzso

If you have one book for wind reading, this should be it. Whether you’re a novice or experienced wind shooter this book has something for you. It covers how to get wind speed and direction from flags, mirage, and natural phenomenon. In my opinion this is the best book for learning to read wind speed and direction. — Muddler

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
March 18th, 2016

Benefits of Wind Flags for Varmint Hunting

Improve Your Hit Ratio by Using Wing Flags
It’s not unusual for varmint hunters to invest $3,000.00 in a custom rifle, pay thousands more for spotting scope and laser rangefinder, and spend countless hours loading ultra-precise ammo. Yet, when they head off to the prairie dog fields, they’ll omit an essential piece of gear that can make the difference between a hit and a miss.

We’re talking about windflags. Many casual shooters, varmint hunters, and even some “tactical” shooters disdain windflags as gadgets suited only for the accuracy-obsessed benchrest crowd. In fact, windflags are just as important for the varminter as for the benchrest competitor. You may think that you can easily notice a major wind shift. But consider this, a change from a light 2.5 mph left breeze to a 2.5 mph right is a 5 mile per hour switch. That is enough to make you miss a prairie dog even at just 200 yards.

Here’s a chart that shows the effect of a 5 mph full-value (i.e. 90-degree) wind change at various distances. The values assume a typical .250 G1 BC varmint bullet launched at 3500 fps at a 3″-wide critter (center hold).

Varmint Hunter Wind Flag

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on windflags. Even a bit of surveyors’ tape on a post is better than nothing. A simple windflag, placed at your shooting station, helps minimize the effect of cross-winds. If you align your shooting position so the breeze is at your back you can shoot with greater confidence even in high winds. Watch the way the windflag blows, and shoot at the dog mounds that are directly downwind.

Our friend Boyd Allen offers another tip: “When you go varminting, be sure to bring some kind of portable target stand. Accuracy or zero problems are much easier to diagnose and remedy if you can set up a target at 100 yards. A simple wood, A-Frame design, hinged at the top, works well, stores flat, and is easy to build.”

Windflag photo courtesy Flying Fish Fundamentals, makers of single-and dual-vane wind flags.
Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
September 8th, 2013

"Miracle Device" Cuts Groups in Half — Guaranteed

Well, yes, that headline is a come-on. But there’s truth in the promise. The “miracle device” to which we refer is a simple wind indicator aka “windflag”. Remarkably, many shooters who spend $3000.00 or more on a precision rifle never bother to set up windflags, or even simple wood stakes with some ribbon to show the wind. Whether you’re a competitive shooter, a varminter, or someone who just likes to punch small groups, you should always take a set of windflags (or some kind of wind indicators) when you head to the range or the prairie dog fields. And yes, if you pay attention to your windflags, you can easily cut your group sizes in half. Here’s proof…

Miss a 5 mph Shift and Double Your Group Size
The table below records the effect of a 5 mph crosswind at 100, 200, and 300 yards. You may be thinking, “well, I’d never miss a 5 mph let-off.” Consider this — if a gentle 2.5 mph breeze switches from 3 o’clock (R to L) to 9 o’clock (L to R), you’ve just missed a 5 mph net change. What will that do to your group? Look at the table to find out.

shooting wind flags
Values from Point Blank Ballistics software for 500′ elevation and 70° temperature.

Imagine you have a 6mm rifle that shoots half-MOA consistently in no-wind conditions. What happens if you miss a 5 mph shift (the equivalent of a full reversal of a 2.5 mph crosswind)? Well, if you’re shooting a 68gr flatbase bullet, your shot is going to move about 0.49″ at 100 yards, nearly doubling your group size. With a 105gr VLD, the bullet moves 0.28″ … not as much to be sure, but still enough to ruin a nice small group. What about an AR15, shooting 55-grainers at 3300 fps? Well, if you miss that same 5 mph shift, your low-BC bullet moves 0.68″. That pushes a half-inch group well past an inch. If you had a half-MOA capable AR, now it’s shooting worse than 1 MOA. And, as you might expect, the wind effects at 200 and 300 yards are even more dramatic. If you miss a 5 mph, full-value wind change, your 300-yard group could easily expand by 2.5″ or more.

Forest of Windflags at World Benchrest Championships in France in 2011

If you’ve already invested in an accurate rifle with a good barrel, you are “throwing away” accuracy if you shoot without wind flags. You can spend a ton of money on fancy shooting accessories (such as expensive front rests and spotting scopes) but, dollar for dollar, nothing will potentially improve your shooting as much as a good set of windflags, used religiously.

Which Windflag to buy? Click Here for a list of Vendors selling windflags of various types.

Aussie Windflag photo courtesy BenchRestTraining.com (Stuart and Annie Elliot).

Permalink Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
August 9th, 2013

Handy Do-It-Yourself Wind Flag Carry Kit from Mike Ezell

Forum member Mike Ezell (aka “gunsandgunsmithing”) has a clever use for a utility box. By fitting some inexpensive rod clasps to the box, he devised a handy rig to haul his wind flags and adjustable poles. Mike tells us: “With this modified utility box, I can tote six flags and six poles all in one hand. I used this set-up at a match last weekend. It worked great, and several shooters liked the idea. I simply carried the case, with poles attached and flags inside, to the target. I then set them up one at a time as I walked back.” That’s a slick system that will save time and energy when you’re setting up for a match or practice session. Nice invention Mike!

Wind Flag, Windflag, Ezell tote carry box, wind probe

Wind Flag, Windflag, Ezell tote carry box, wind probe

Mike Ezell Wind Flags
The wind flag sets inside Mike’s handy box are a design he makes himself. There is a pinwheel style rotor in the front, with a carbon/fiberglass wind vane in the rear. The “tails” are key to the system. Rather than have just a strip of fabric, which can curl and twist easily, Mike fits what amounts to a long, small-diameter wind sock. As the wind blows, this tubular tail fills with air and points back. This lets you clearly discern wind direction.

Wind Flag, Windflag, Ezell tote carry box, wind probe

Ezell Wind Flags and Poles for Sale
Mike is proud of his wind flags and they are becoming popular with other shooters. Mike writes: “They are top-quality flags, made of the very best materials — NOT coroplast. The wind vanes are made almost entirely of carbon fiber and fiberglass, to be as light, sensitive and durable as possible.The pivots are made of Teflon and the colors are high-quality vinyl. I just recently added a green color option per request from other shooters. I back these flags with a 30-day, 100% SATISFACTION guarantee”.

Mike sells the single-vane flags for $60.00 each. At the request of many shooters, Mike also now offers a dual-vane version — call for pricing. You can also purchase the multi-section poles from Mike for $45.00 each. These extend up to 15 feet in height and include step pegs. If you’re interested, call Mike at 270-542-6022, or send email to: mwezell [at] logantele.com.

Permalink New Product, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
December 7th, 2012

Eight Stocking Stuffers for Shooters, All Priced under $10.00

Christmas is coming up soon, so today we’re featuring a hand-picked collection of “stocking stuffers” for precision shooters. You can order most of these items online, and if you get your orders in soon, your selections should arrive before December 25th. So as not to bust your holiday budget, all of our selections are priced under $10.00. These items are handy tools that you’ll use over and over again at the range and/or at your loading bench (so you’re allowed to buy them for yourself, even after Christmas).

Gifts $1 to $5 


Surveyors Tape
$1.99
Hood quick estimator group size gauge
Hood Kwik Estimator
$2.50
Edmunds bifocal Magnifier
Bifocal 3X/6X Magnifier
$2.75
Sinclair Barrel Mirage Shade
Barrel Mirage Shade
$4.95

Surveyors’ Tape. Always watch the wind when you shoot. Inexpensive, Day-Glo Surveyors’ Tape (aka “Flagging Tape”), attached to a stake or target frame, makes a good wind indicator. It will flutter even in mild breezes, alerting you to both angle and velocity shifts. This should be part of every range kit. Don’t leave home without it.

Hood Kwik Estimator. Here’s a very handy tool to measure your 6mm groups. Bracket the group within the diverging lines of the Kwik Estimator and you’ll instantly get a good approximation of the actual group size. No more trips to the tool box for calipers. The inexpensive Kwik Estimator fits in a shirt pocket. (Thanks to Boyd Allen for this suggestion.)

Bifocal 3X/6X magnifier. This handy, inexpensive dual-power magnifier is always close at hand on our loading bench, because it helps with so many task. We use a compact magnifier to inspect bullet tips, to check brass chamfers, and inspect the internals of triggers and other parts. Priced at just $2.75, a magnifier like this (or the folding variety) is a “must-have” item for every hand-loader.

Sinclair Barrel Mirage Shade. For high-volume varminters, and competitors who shoot fast in warm weather, a mirage shield is absolutely essential. This prevents hot air rising off the barrel from distorting the image in your scope. The aluminum Sinclair shield can be trimmed to fit, and comes with stick-on Velcro attachments. Two lengths are available: 18″ for short BR barrels, and 24″ for longer barrels.

Gifts $6 to $10 


Dewey Crocogator
$6.50
Ballistol multi-purpose gun lube
Ballistol Aerosol Lube
$8.99
Sinclair Barrel Storage Bag
Sinclair Barrel Bag
$9.95

Sinclair Load Block
$9.99

Dewey Crocogator. The Crocogator tool, with knurled “teeth” at both ends, is simple, inexpensive, and compact. Yet nothing zips though primer-pocket gunk faster or better. Unlike some cutter-tipped primer pocket tools, the Crocogator removes the carbon quick and easy without shaving brass. One end is sized for large primer pockets, the other for small.

Ballistol Aerosol Lube. Ballistol is a versatile, non-toxic product with many uses in the reloading room. We have found it is ideal for lubricating cases for normal full-length sizing. It is clear, not gooey or chalky like other lubes. It is very, very slippery, yet is easy to apply and just as easy to wipe off. As you lube your cases, the Ballistol will also clean powder fouling off the case necks. For heavy-duty case forming and neck expansion, we’ll still use Imperial die wax, but for every-day case sizing, Ballistol is our first choice. It also helps prevent your dies from rusting and it even conditions leather. Ballistol is a favored bore cleaner for Black Powder shooters because it neutralizes acidic powder residues.

Santa Christmas Stocking giftsSinclair Barrel Bag. If you run a switch-barrel rig, or take spare barrels to a big match, this simple but effective barrel bag will protect your valuable steel. The bag is moisture-resistant vinyl on the outside with a soft, quilted interior to protect the barrel’s finish and delicate crown. There are two sizes: one for barrels up to 26 inches, the other for barrels up to 31 inches. Both sizes are priced at $9.95 per bag. That’s cheap insurance for those priceless barrels.

Sinclair ‘Poly’ Loading Block. We’ve tried wood and injection-molded loading trays, and we prefer Sinclair’s white polyethylene loading blocks. They featured chamfered holes properly sized for the particular case you reload. The blocks are heavy enough to be stable on the bench, and the “dishwasher-friendly” material is easy to clean. The standard Poly Loading Block holds 50 cases, while the Competition Loading Block holds 25 cases with a tray for empties. For a bit more money, there’s also a Heavy-Duty 50-case model with an extra-thick 1″ base.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 1 Comment »
February 6th, 2011

IBS Rules Changes for 2011 — Brakes, Flags, Record-Breakers

At its January 15, 2011 Annual Meeting, the International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) adopted some new rules affecting both long-range and short-range competition. First, by a significant margin, IBS long-range shooters voted to allow muzzle brakes in Heavy Gun class. This will allow the Light Guns (which often have muzzle brakes) to compete in both classes. The purpose of the change is to draw more competitors, and allow those shooters, who can only afford one rifle, to shoot in both classes.

Muzzle Brake
Muzzle brakes are now allowed in both Light and Heavy Gun Class in IBS Long Range events.

This change, which applies to both 600- and 1000-yard matches, was supported by the Long Range Committee and endorsed by the Executive Board. Comments in the recent IBS Survey also showed broad support for this rule change. A few folks grumbled that allowing muzzle brakes in HG events will make Heavy Gun relays more noisy, but since Light Guns already employ brakes, most shooters have learned to live with the nuisance.

Temporary Rule Changes Adopted
Both temporary 2010 rule changes were soundly passed with about 90% of the mail ballots in favor. All shooters will be effected by a change that allows recognition of all record-breaking efforts, regardless of match or relay. Short-range shooters must now comply with tighter restrictions on placement of wind flags — once an Agg begins, the flags must stay put.

Wind Flag Location Regulations
Flags will be essentially restricted to the lane in front of shooters. After an aggregate commences, wind flags cannot be moved except by range personnel, and never for the shooters’ convenience or advantage.

Multiple Record-Breakers on Same Day
If multiple competitors break a record on a given day, regardless of the match they attended or the relay on which they shot, each one is given full credit for breaking the record. The best score shot on that day is recognized record going forward. This Rule, as adopted, is NOT retroactive

IBS 1/15/2011 Annual Meeting Summary (with Rule Changes)

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »