January 14th, 2019

Wind-Reading Tips from Champion Shooters

Shooting Sports USA

The digital archives of Shooting Sports USA magazine (SSUSA) features an Expert Forum on Wind Reading. This outstanding article on wind reading starts off with a section by ballistics guru Bryan Litz, author of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting. Then four of the greatest American shooters in history share their personal wind wisdom. Lanny Basham (Olympic Gold Medalist, author, Winning in the Wind), Nancy Tompkins (Past National HP Champion, author, Prone and Long-Range Rifle Shooting), David Tubb (11-Time Camp Perry National Champion), and Lones Wigger (Olympic Hall of Fame) all offer practical wind-reading lessons learned during their shooting careers.

CLICK HERE for Full Article in Shooting Sports USA Archive

CLICK HERE to Download Article Issue in Printable PDF Format.

Whether you shoot paper at Perry or prairie dogs in the Dakotas, this is a certified “must-read” resource on reading the wind. Here is a sample selection from the article:

Shooting Sports USA



Visit www.SSUSA.org

Shooting Sports USA magazine (SSUSA) has a modern, mobile-friendly website with tons of great content. Log on to www.ssusa.org. There you’ll find current news stories as well as popular articles from the SSUSA archives. The SSUSA website also includes match reports, gear reviews, reloading advice, plus expert marksmanship tips from the USAMU.

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October 12th, 2018

Field Skills: Reading the Wind When Hunting

On LongRangeHunting.com, you’ll find a good article by Shawn Carlock about wind reading. Shawn is a veteran law enforcement marksman and a past USPSA national precision rifle champion. Shawn offers good advice on how to estimate wind speeds and directions using a multitude of available indicators — not just your wind gauge: “Use anything at your disposal to accurately estimate the wind’s velocity. I keep and use a Kestrel for reading conditions….The Kestrel is very accurate but will only tell you what the conditions are where you are standing. I practice by looking at grass, brush, trees, dust, wind flags, mirage, rain, fog and anything else that will give me info on velocity and then estimate the speed.”

Shawn also explains how terrain features can cause vertical wind effects. A hunter on a hilltop must account for bullet rise if there is a headwind blowing up the slope. Many shooters consider wind in only one plane — the horizontal. In fact wind has vertical components, both up and down. If you have piloted a small aircraft you know how important vertical wind vectors can be. Match shooters will also experience vertical rise when there is a strong tailwind blowing over an up-sloping berm ahead of the target emplacements. Overall, Shawn concludes: “The more time you spend studying the wind and its effect over varying terrain the more successful you will be as a long-range shooter and hunter.”

This Editor, as a life-long sailor, also has some suggestions about wind. Many folks may not realize that wind can cycle, both in direction and in speed (velocity). If you are patient, you should be able to sense the timing of the cycles, which will help you predict shifts in wind direction and velocity. While it is tempting to shoot in the lulls, sometimes the true wind vector (angle + speed) may be most constant when the wind is blowing stronger.

Another tip for hunters is to orient your shot, when possible, in alignment with the wind direction. Try to face into the wind, or have the wind at your back. This is especially effective when shooting in a varmint field. Use a string of tape on a pole to show wind angle. Then shoot directly into the wind or with the wind directly at your back. This will minimize horizontal deflection caused by the wind.

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April 9th, 2018

Shooting Skills: Reading the Wind When Hunting

Norway Hunting Snow

Thomas Haugland, a Shooters’ Forum member from Norway, is a long-range target shooter and hunter. He has created an interesting video showing how to gauge wind velocities by watching trees, grass, and other natural vegetation. The video commentary is in English, but the units of wind speed (and distance) are metric. Haugland explains: “This is not a full tutorial, but rather a short heads-up to make you draw the lines between the dots yourself”. Here are some conversions that will help when watching the video:

.5 m/s = 1.1 mph | 1 m/s = 2.2 mph | 2 m/s = 4.5 mph
3 m/s = 6.7 mph | 4 m/s = 8.9 mph | 5 m/s =11.2 mph

More Interesting Videos from Norway
There are many other interesting videos on Haugland’s YouTube Channel, including Game Stalking, Precision Reloading, Shooting Fundamentals and Tips on how to use a Mildot Reticle on a scope with MOA-based clicks.

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February 8th, 2017

Wind Wisdom — Terrain Effects, Mirage, and Anomalies

Steven Blair F-Class Wind Tips

For you guys competing at the Berger SW Nationals this week, we’re repeating an excellent article by Steven Blair on wind reading. Steven, a top F-Class shooter, talks about mirage, topography effects, tail winds, and other subtle factors that can cause frustration for shooters. Steve explains that wind effects can be complex — there’s more going on than just velocity and angle. You need to notice things like berm locations and effects of temp changes over the course of the day.

Wind Reading Tips for Competitive Shooters
by Steven Blair, 2012 California State Long Range F-Open Champion

Assess the Terrain and How the Wind Will Interact with It
Before you begin a match, take a few minutes to look around the range at the terrain, any obstructions, range topography (berms and backstop), and trees, buildings or structures that could affect wind flow over the range. Imagine what might happen if the wind was from the left or right, headwind or tailwind. Depending upon the direction, significant effects may be seen on range. A head or tail wind may ripple across the berms, causing elevation changes, both high and low. A tall side berm, like the east side berm at Ben Avery, may cause turbulence when the wind comes from that direction. Blocking features might shield most of the wind but a break along the range can funnel strong gusts through the gap with no other indications. Take a few notes about the effects of different wind directions and refer to them if the prevailing direction changes. (Tip courtesy Tony Robertson.)

Steven Blair F-Class Wind Tips

Use a Spotting Scope, Even When Shooting a Scoped Rifle
A good spotting scope can “see” mirage much more clearly than even an expensive rifle scope. Take your spotting scope to the line and position it as sling shooters do, close enough to use without much movement. Focus the scope approximately 1/3 of the way down range or where the most significant wind effects are likely to occur. Take a quick look while waiting for pit service, glance at the flags and compare to your scope sight picture. I often see ambiguous indications at the target through the rifle scope, but see a clear indication of wind direction and speed through the spotting scope at the shorter distance. When shooting the Arizona Palma Championship at Ben Avery last weekend, I was scoring while the wind was coming from the east. Shooters up and down the line were out to the left, losing points. Mirage at the target looked moderate and the flags weren’t indicating strong wind. As I focused the spotting scope back, the mirage suddenly looked like it was flowing twice as fast around 500 yards than it was closer or farther. It wasn’t until I realized that the access road cut through the berm there that I understood what was happening. (Tip courtesy Gary Eliseo.)

Steven Blair F-Class Wind Tips

Don’t Over-React to Something That May Be an Anomaly
On ranges with sizable berms, a headwind or tailwind can cause significant elevation problems. It is generally not possible to see or predict when this will occur. When the conditions exist that cause elevation changes and other competitors are experiencing the same problem, the best strategy is to ignore it. Certainly, avoid shooting when the head or tail wind is gusting, the same as you would in a crosswind. But, if you react to random, range-induced elevation changes, the only likely result is to make it worse. Whether the problem is caused by range or ammunition, maintain your waterline hold until you have evidence that something has fundamentally changed.

Steven Blair F-Class Wind Tips

My .284 Shehane will usually require a click or two down during a string as the barrel warms. That is normal and manageable. But, if your shots are just bouncing up and down in the 10 ring, leave it alone. The same is also true of an occasional gust pushing a shot into the 9 ring. If the conditions have not changed and one shot just went out, it may be the result of a random occurrence that was not predictable. (Tip courtesy “School of Hard Knocks”.)

Adjust Spotting Scope Focus and Magnification as Needed to View Mirage vs. Target Details
In F-Class we only need to see mirage, spotters, and scoring disks. That does not take a lot of magnification. My scope is a Nikon 25-75x82mm ED. It is a superb scope for the money and makes it trivial to see minor variations in mirage. It is good to have the high magnification available, and it can always be reduced if necessary. I use different power settings for different situations.

Steven Blair F-Class Wind TipsSetting Magnification Levels
During a match, in very good viewing conditions, I set my spotting scope at 75X, full power. The mirage is more subtle in the morning and greater magnification is needed.

During a match with heavy mirage I set my spotting scope at about 40X. I have no problem seeing mirage, even at this magnification.

When practicing at 300 yards or closer I set my spotting scope at max power (75X) so I can see the little 6mm holes from my 6BR rifle. I usually need to focus back and forth between shots to see both bullet holes and mirage.

Steven Blair, 2012 California State Long Range F-Open Champion, has been shooting since childhood and competing for over 30 years. Before retiring, Steve spent 16 years in Engineering and IT with General Atomics. He has held Engineering and Marketing positions with several firearms companies and worked on projects from pistols to 155mm howitzers.

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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

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September 5th, 2016

SSG Sherri Gallagher — How to Read the Wind Video

Reading Wind Sherri Gallagher

Sgt Sherri GallagherThe ability to read the wind is what separates good shooters from great shooters. If you want to learn wind-doping from one of the best, watch this video with 2010 National High Power Champion (and U.S. Army 2010 Soldier of the Year) Sherri Gallagher. Part of the USAMU’s Pro Tips Video Series, this video covers the basics of wind reading including: Determining wind direction and speed, Bracketing Wind, Reading Mirage, and Adjusting to cross-winds using both sight/scope adjustments and hold-off methods. Correctly determining wind angle is vital, Sheri explains, because a wind at a 90-degree angle has much more of an effect on bullet lateral movement than a headwind or tailwind. Wind speed, of course, is just as important as wind angle. To calculate wind speed, Sherri recommends “Wind Bracketing”: [This] is where you take the estimate of the highest possible condition and the lowest possible condition and [then] take the average of the two.”

It is also important to understand mirage. Sheri explains that “Mirage is the reflection of light through layers of air, based off the temperature of the ground. These layers … are blown by the wind, and can be monitored through a spotting scope to detect direction and speed. You can see what appears to be waves running across the range — this is mirage.” To best evaluate mirage, you need to set your spotting scope correctly. First get the target in sharp focus, then (on most scopes), Sheri advises that you turn your adjustment knob “a quarter-turn counter-clockwise. That will make the mirage your primary focus.”

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August 17th, 2016

Whidden on Winning at Long Range: Part 1 — The Wind

Camp Perry John Whidden Wind Reading Long Range Championship

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks won his fourth Long Range National Championship at Camp Perry this month. In this article, the first of a three-part series on Long Range competition, John shares his thoughts on wind strategies and keeping one’s composure in pressure situations. John tells us Camp Perry was very challenging this year: “The 2016 Long Range Championship will go down in my memory as one with quick wind changes that made it very easy to shoot a 9.”

How to Win at Long Range Shooting
(Or at least what worked at the 2016 National Championships)

by John Whidden, 2016 National Long Range Champion
The NRA Long Range National Championships at Camp Perry Ohio are now in the history books and the competitors are home and reflecting on what they could have done to improve their score. I think anyone who has ever competed always knows they could have done even better if they had changed this detail or that aspect. This is the case regardless of where a shooter places in the standings, even for the winners.

John Whidden National Long Range Championship Camp Perry 2016 Wind Reading

This year the winds were reasonably tough. We mostly have either headwinds or winds from the 2-3 O’clock positions with speeds often in the 9-11 mph range. The changes came quickly and we had to be on our toes. Fortunately the course of fire allows the shooters some options. For the 1000-yard matches, we typically have 33 minutes for preparation, an unlimited number of sighter shots, and then 20 shots for record. Many shooters will shoot about 3-5 sighters and complete the task in about 15 minutes.

The 2016 Long Range Championship was definitely a match where you had to fight for every point during the whole event.

In preparation for shooting by watching the wind, I realized that the quick changes were going to add to the difficulty. Given the conditions, I chose a strategy of choosing only one condition to shoot in and waiting during any changes away from my desired condition. This plan meant that I would have to be very patient and plan to use all of my 33 minutes allotted time if needed.

The sun was shining for most of the matches so we had mirage to look at. There are plenty of flags at Camp Perry and I was glad for them!

As the wind speeds get higher I think a shooter should study the appearance of the flags. Some people look at the flag, and some really LOOK at the flags. The difference is observing things like how many ripples are in the flag, how far the flag stands off the pole, the angle of the flag in a headwind or tailwind, and how high the tip of the flag is relative to where the flag is attached to the pole. These details make all of the difference.

Time Management and Patience
Patience in wind reading can be a virtue. Choosing a condition and being patient has probably yielded more success in my long range wind reading than any other method. It’s not the only way to go, but on a day when you have time available and patience on your side it can yield a win! It should be obvious now that keeping a timer and managing the available time along with the number of shots remaining is an important part of this.

John Whidden National Long Range Championship Camp Perry 2016 Wind Reading
John Whidden National Long Range Championship Camp Perry 2016 Wind Reading

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April 17th, 2016

Brain Trust: Emil Praslick Offers Advice on Wind Reading

Emil Praslick USAMUTo succeed in long-range shooting matches, given the high level of competition these days, you’ll need solid wind-reading abilities. We’ve found an article by SFC Emil Praslick III, retired USAMU Service Rifle coach and U.S. Palma Team Coach, that can help you make better wind calls in competition.

Emil Praslick, now retired from the U.S. Army, is considered one of the best wind gurus in the United States, if not the world. During his service with the USAMU he authored an excellent two-part article on wind reading that is available on the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) website. Both articles contain helpful illustrations, and are “must-read” resources for any long-range shooter–not just Service Rifle and Highpower competitors.

Click to Read Articles:

Reading the Wind (Part One) | Reading the Wind (Part Two)

Part One covers basic principles, tactics, and strategies, with a focus on the 200-yard stages. Emil writes: “There are as many dimensions to ‘wind reading’ as there are stages to High Power competition. Your tactical mindset, or philosophy, must be different for the 200 and 300 yard rapid-fire stages than it would be for the 600 yard slow-fire. In the slow-fire stages you have the ability to adjust windage from shot to shot, utilizing the location of the previous shot as an indicator. Additionally, a change to the existing conditions can be identified and adjusted for prior to shooting the next shot.”

In Part Two, Praslick provides more detailed explanations of the key principles of wind zeros, wind reading, and the “Clock System” for determining wind values: “The Value of the wind is as important as its speed when deciding the proper windage to place on the rifle. A 10 MPH wind from ’12 o-clock’ has No Value, hence it will not effect the flight of the bullet. A 10 MPH wind from ‘3 o’clock’, however, would be classified as Full Value. Failure to correct for a Full Value wind will surely result in a less than desirable result.”

USAMU Praslick wind clock

Praslick also explains how to identify and evaluate mirage:

Determine the accuracy of the mirage. Mirage is the reflection of light through layers of air that have different temperatures than the ground. These layers are blown by the wind and can be monitored to detect wind direction and speed.

Focus your scope midway between yourself and the target, this will make mirage appear more prominent. I must emphasize the importance of experience when using mirage as a wind-reading tool. The best way to become proficient in the use of mirage is to correlate its appearance to a known condition. Using this as a baseline, changes in mirage can be equated to changes in the value of the wind. Above all, you must practice this skill!

Click HERE for more excellent instructional articles by Emil Praslick and other USAMU Coaches and shooters.

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February 11th, 2016

Three National Champions Reveal How to Read the Wind

Blast from the Past: As we get set up in Phoenix for the 2016 Berger Southwest Nationals, we thought we’d revisit one of our more interesting features from a few years back. At the 2010 SHOT Show, we had the unique opportunity to corner three “superstars” of High Power shooting, and solicit their wind-reading secrets. Carl Bernosky, David Tubb, and John Whidden all shared some championship-caliber wind wisdom in video interviews. If you shoot competitively, you’ll want to watch these videos. David’s video is worth watching twice because some of the key points he makes go by pretty quickly.

In the three videos below (in alphabetical order), Carl Bernosky (10-Time Nat’l High Power Champion), David Tubb (11-time Nat’l High Power Champion and 7-time Nat’l Long-Range Champion), and John Whidden (2-Time Nat’l High Power Long-Range Champion) shared some of the wind-doping strategies that have carried them to victory in the nation’s most competitive shooting matches. This is GOLD folks… no matter what your discipline — be it short-range Benchrest or Long-Range High Power — watch these videos for valuable insights that can help you shoot more accurately, and post higher scores, in all wind conditions.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

We were very fortunate to have these three extraordinarily gifted champions reveal their “winning ways”. These guys REALLY know their stuff. I thought to myself: “Wow, this is how a baseball fan might feel if he could assemble Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Ted Williams in the same room, and have them each reveal their hitting secrets.” Editor’s Note: These interviews were conducted before Bernosky and Tubb won their most recent National Championships.

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January 30th, 2016

Wind Reading Resources from JarHeadTop’s M.Sgt. Jim Owens

Readers often ask for a good, authoritative resource on doping the wind and reading mirage. Many Forum members recommended M.Sgt. Jim Owens’ Wind-Reading Guide. With 22 sets of wind charts, this is offered for $14.95 as a printed book or $12.95 in CD format. Owens’ Reading the Wind and Coaching Techniques clearly explains how to gauge wind speeds and angles. Owens, a well-known High Power coach and creator of Jarheadtop.com, offers a simple system for ascertaining wind value based on speed and angle. The CD also explains how to read mirage — a vital skill for long-range shooters. In many situations, reading the mirage may be just as important as watching the wind flags. Owens’ $12.95 CD provides wind-reading strategies that can be applied by coaches as well as individual shooters.

As a separate product, Owens offers a Reading the Wind DVD for $29.95. This is different than the $12.95 CD. It is more like an interactive class.

Played straight through, the DVD offers about 75 minutes of instruction. M.Sgt. Owens says “You will learn more in an hour and fifteen minutes than the host learned in fifteen years in the Marine Corps shooting program. This is a wind class you can attend again and again. [It provides] a simple system for judging the speed, direction and value of the wind.” The DVD also covers mirage reading, wind strategies, bullet BC and more.

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August 24th, 2015

Long Range Shooting Error — Why People Miss

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Long Range Shooting Error Wind Call Kestrel Laser Rangefinder

Applied Ballistics has created a new series of YouTube videos about precision long range shooting. Featuring ace long-range shooter and professional ballistician Bryan Litz, these videos address various topics of interest to long-range marksmen. In this week’s video, the second in the series, Bryan Litz examines the most common causes of ballistics shooting errors at Long Range.

Watch Applied Ballistics Video about Common Mistakes in Long Range Shooting:

Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics often hears the question: “What are the main reasons people miss their target at long range?” To answer that question, in this video, Bryan explains the most important variables in Long Range shooting. Bryan says: “Probably the number one thing is range — you have to have a [precise] range to your target because your bullet is dropping, and to hit the target you need to correct for bullet drop.” Distance may be indicated on the target bay (or berm), but for open ranges you should ascertain distance-to-target with a quality laser rangefinder. Even when the distance to target is shown with a sign or marker, you may want to confirm the distance with your rangefinder. (You may be surprised — we’ve seen marked target distances at commercial ranges off by 25+ yards!) Bryan says: “Get a good laser range to the target and you’ll be within a couple yards”.

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Long Range Shooting Error Wind Call Kestrel Laser Rangefinder

After distance to target, the most important variable is the wind. This is the most challenging factor because the wind is constantly changing. Bryan explains: “After 300 or 400 yards, the wind [will] move your shots off the target if you don’t correct for it. The best way to account for the wind is to measure it at your location with a Kestrel. The Kestrel can give you the speed and direction of the wind at your location, which can baseline your wind call for your long-range shot.” Bryan acknowledges that there will still be variables: “The wind isn’t always blowing the same downrange as at your location… and the wind is always changing”. Bryan notes that you need to account for variances in wind between the time you gauge the wind angle and velocity and the time you actually you take your shot.

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February 17th, 2015

Brain Teaser: Do You Know the Rule of the Square?

wind drift wind reading 6mmbr rule of the squareHorizontal Wind-Drift vs. Distance
OK, here’s a challenge question for you.
Let’s see if you get it right.

Q: If the wind is blowing 10 mph from 9 o’clock and if my horizontal wind deflection is 0.7 inches at 100 yards, what is the horizontal drift at 1000 yards?

You may be thinking, “Well, since the target is ten times more distant, the wind-drift should be around 7 inches, maybe a little more since the bullet will be slowing down.” That sounds reasonable, right?

WRONG.

As you move from near to far, the increase in lateral deflection (from a 90° crosswind) is (roughly speaking) a function of the square of the multiple of distance. If your target is two times farther away, you use the square of two, namely four. If your target is five times farther away, you use the square of five, or twenty-five. In this example, the increased wind drift (from 100 to 1000 yards) is at least 0.7″ times (10 X 10) — over 70 inches (give or take a few inches depending on bullet type). We call that the Rule of the Square. This Rule lets you make a quick approximation of the windage correction needed at any yardage.

Precision Shooting and the Rule of the Square
I was going through some back issues of Precision Shooting Magazine and found many references to the Rule of the Square. This made me curious — I wondered how well the Rule really stacked up against modern ballistics programs. Accordingly, I ran some examples through the JBM Ballistics Trajectory Calculator, one of the best web-based ballistics programs. To my surprise, the Rule of the Square does a pretty good job of describing things.

EXAMPLE ONE — .308 Win (100 to 400 Yards)
For a 168gr Sierra MK (.308), leaving the muzzle at 2700 fps, the JBM-predicted values* are as follows, with a 10 mph, 9 o’clock crosswind (at sea level, 65° F, Litz G7 BC):

Drift at 100: 0.8 MOA (0.8″)
Drift at 200: 1.6 MOA (3.3″)
Drift at 400: 3.4 MOA (14.4″)

Here you can see how the Rule of the Square works. The rule says our drift at 200 yards should be about FOUR times the drift at 100. It the example above, 0.8″ times 4 is 3.2″, pretty darn close to the JBM prediction of 3.3″. Quoting Precision Shooting: “Note that the deflections at 100 yards are typically a quarter of those at 200; lateral deflections increase as the square of the range”. Precision Shooting, June 2000, p. 16.

EXAMPLE TWO — .284 Win (100 to 1000 Yards)
For a .284 Win load, with the slippery Berger 180gr Target Hybrids, the Rule of the Square still works. Here we’ll input a 2750 fps velocity, Litz G7 BC, 10 mph, 9 o’clock crosswind, (same 65° temp at sea level). With these variables, JBM predicts:

Drift at 100: 0.5 MOA (0.5″)
Drift at 500: 2.5 MOA (13.3″)
Drift at 1000: 5.9 MOA (61.3″)

Again, even with a higher BC bullet, at 1000 yards we end up with something reasonably close to the 100-yard deflection (i.e. 0.5″) multiplied by (10×10), i.e. 50 inches. The Rule of the Square alerts you to the fact that the effects of crosswinds are MUCH greater at very long range. In this example, our JBM-calculated drift at 1000 is 61.3″ — that’s over 100 times the 100-yard lateral drift, even though the distance has only increased 10 times.

Note that, even with a 5 mph 90° sidewind, the “Rule of the Square” still applies. The 1000-yard lateral deflection in inches is still over 100 times the lateral deflection at 100 yards.


Why This All Matters (Even in the Age of Smartphones)
wind drift wind reading 6mmbr rule of the squareNow, some would say, “Why Should I Care About the Rule of the Square? My iPhone has a Ballistics App that does all my thinking for me”. Fair enough, but knowledge of this basic Rule of the Square enables a shooter to make an informed guess about necessary windage even without a come-up sheet, as long as he knows the distance AND can fire a sighter at 100 or 200 yards as a baseline.

For example, if I see empirically that I need 1″ windage correction at 100 yards, then I know that at 600 yards I need at least roughly (6 x 6 x 1″) or 36 total inches of drift correction, or 6 MOA. (To be precise, 1 MOA = 1.047″ at 100 yards). I can figure that out instantly, even without a ballistics chart, and even if my Smartphone’s battery is dead.

*Values shown are as displayed on the JBM-figured trajectory tables. The numbers can be slightly imprecise because JBM rounds off to one decimal place for both inches and MOA.

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January 22nd, 2015

Plug-in Turbine Turns Your Smart Phone into a Wind Meter

weatherflow wind meter anemometer wind gauge turbine smart phone iphone app

Gear Report by Kip Staton
Shooters in the market for an accurate anemometer that doesn’t break the bank need to take a hard look at the WeatherFlow Wind Meter, which retails on Amazon.com for just $34.95. Even though it is inexpensive, owner reviews have been overwhelmingly postive (so long as the software is compatible with your device). One Amazon reviewer says the WeatherFlow measures wind velocity as accurately as his expensive Kestrel.

A big part of the reason the WeatherFlow Wind Meter is so inexpensive is that you’ve probably already got the brains of the system in your pocket. Yes, it connects to and communicates with any standard smartphone or tablet, in either iOS or Android flavors. Users simply download the free WeatherFlow Wind Meter app to their smart device, insert the anemometer into the headphone jack, and can immediately start measuring the wind.

weatherflow wind meter anemometer wind gauge turbine smart phone iphone app

weatherflow wind meter anemometer wind gauge turbine smart phone iphone appOf course, the first question any serious shooter will ask is “How accurate is this thing?” Pretty dang accurate, as it turns out. The device was calibrated by the University of Florida’s Aerospace Engineering Department, and the unique design allows it to consistently report to within a half a percentage point of the true wind value, even if the breeze is up to 15 degrees off-axis to the meter.

Wind speeds are measurable from as slow as two miles per hour to as high as 125 MPH. The Wind Meter outputs average, lull, and gusts windspeed data to your phone, with velocities indicated in 0.1 MPH increments. Furthermore, a hard-sided protective case is included for safe transportation.

Naturally, since the WeatherFlow Wind Meter is App-based, it’s connectable to a variety of social media websites and distribution sources. This makes saving and sharing information about climate conditions a breeze.

About the Writer
Kip Staton is a freelance gun writer based in North Texas, and loves to blog about news within the firearms industry and his perceptions on marksmanship at KipStaton.com. He served as the weekend range manager of the North Texas Shooter’s Association from 2010-2012, at which point he began performing sales consultations for a major online firearms retailer. Currently, Kip is a content marketer, copywriter and digital strategist for an award-winning Dallas marketing agency.

To read more gear reviews by Kip, visit KipStaton.com.

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November 6th, 2014

Riding the Wave — Wind-Reading Advice from Mr. Salazar

German Salazar wind readingIn response to questions from a fellow F-Class shooter, German Salazar offered some expert advice in an article entitled: Basics: A Few Wind Reading Tips. Here are highlights from that essay. You can read the entire article on German’s Rifleman’s Journal Website. German cautions that: “I certainly am not attempting to make this short item into a comprehensive lesson in wind reading, but there may be a nugget or two in here for the newer shooter. There is, however, no substitute for range time and coaching.”

Preliminary Matters — Holding Off vs. Knob-Turning
Let’s begin by eliminating one topic altogether — I realize that the predominant method of wind correction in F-Class is holding-off with the crosshairs of your scope rather than adjusting the windage knob. I am a firm believer in aiming at the center and turning the knob as needed, but we’ll leave that for another time and focus on seeing what the wind is doing.

The Wave — Wind Cycles and Shot Timing
I find that most shooters begin to shoot immediately when the time commences rather than waiting for an appropriate moment in the cycle, this often leads to lost points early on. If you’ve been scoring prior to shooting, hopefully you’ve observing the flags and your shooter’s shot placement. It’s a very useful way of gaining some insight into the day’s wind patterns before shooting.

German Salazar wind readingMy technique is based on the understanding of wind as a cyclical wave motion. That statement alone should give you plenty to think about[.] Imagine for a moment, a surfer. He waits for a gentle swell, gets moving on it and rides it through it’s growth and ultimately its crescendo and hopefully avoids being swallowed in its crash. Wind typically behaves in the same fashion as that wave and a smart shooter behaves as does the surfer — get on early in the wave, ride through the major change and get off at the right moment. Knowing when to stop shooting is every bit as important as shooting quickly through the predictable portion of the wave; getting back on to the next wave is a matter of delicate judgment and timing.

When you are on that rising (or falling) wave, the idea is to shoot very quickly to minimize the amount of change between shots and to make a small adjustment on each shot. Too many shooters waste time trying to analyze the exact amount of the change, by which time it has changed even more! Get on with it, click or hold over a set amount and fire the next shot quickly. This is the foundation of how I shoot and it is very effective as long as you know when to start, when to stop and you have a good man working the target – a slow marker is the death of this method.

Watch Shots from Other Shooters
We all watch the wind flags, of course, and the trees if your range is so blessed (ours are fairly barren), and many other small wind indicators. Watching the shots of your fellow shooter can also be a very useful tool and should be observed whenever possible. When a good shooter next to you comes up with a poor shot, it should signal you to stop and reassess conditions as they may not be what they appear.

German Salazar wind reading

While scoring for another shooter, take a moment to scan the line of targets. You’ll be surprised at how most of the shot markers move in unison to one side and then the other. The sad truth is that most shooters are behind the changes in the wind and they will get carried to either side of the bull as the wind changes. You’ll see this in the targets as they come up, and once learned, you’ll find that the line of targets is as useful as another row of flags.

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October 18th, 2014

Video Introduction to Wind-Reading with Sniper’s Hide Boss

Frank Galli (aka “Lowlight”), the head honcho of Sniper’s Hide, has created a good 15-minute wind-reading video for the Scout web network. This video, a segment from the Sniper’s Hide Day One DVD, covers many of the important basics of wind reading. It’s a helpful introduction for those getting started in long-range rifle shooting.

Click Image to Go to Video Playback Page:
lowlight snipers hide wind reading video

Quote 1: “On the range, people describe the wind as the Great Equalizer. Next to your drop, drift from wind is the second most important consideration for the long range precision rifle shooter. Unlike drop, which is predictable, the wind is a constantly changing factor.”

Quote 2: “Wind is like water. It’s important to understand how terrain will effect the wind, how it will change the direction, velocity and consistency. It’s responsible for turbulence, it’s responsible for unseen changes that will throw our shot off. Wind will ebb and flow just like waves crashing on the beach. We need to understand the frequency and velocity of each wave.”

CLICK HERE to Watch Wind-Reading Video.

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June 5th, 2014

Windmeter with Rotating Head Shows 90° Crosswind Values

The new-for-2014 Caldwell Crosswind Professional Wind Meter does much more than measure wind velocity. Along with Current Wind Speed, this device will measure and display: Average Wind Speed, Max Wind Gust, Temperature, Station Pressure, Barometric Pressure, Altitude, Density Altitude and even Wind Chill factor. Select among mph, ft/min, km/h, m/s, or knots for the wind speed units.

Caldwell crosswind wind meter

The swiveling impeller head (set parallel to barrel) allows you to determine an interpolated 90° crosswind value to use in your ballistics calculations. This eliminates a lot of guesswork.

You might say, “Why do I need a rotating head, I can just turn the whole wind meter to align the impeller axis with the wind?” Yes you can, but then you merely get a raw speed value, and you have to guesstimate the wind angle, and then calculate your actual windage correction based on the vector.

The rotating impeller ring on the Caldwell simplifies the job of calculating windage. The swivel head is designed to show an effective 90-degree crosswind value, no matter what the actual wind direction. Here’s how it works. Hold the unit with the display screen facing you. Then rotate the impeller head until it aligns with the barrel axis (bullet line of flight). The plastic shell surrounding the impeller is specifically designed so that the blades will spin faster or slower depending on the true wind angle. This allows the unit to estimate the effective 90-degree crosswind value (for your ballistics program). Pretty clever eh? See diagram to understand how this works:

Caldwell crosswind wind meter

This unit comes complete with rotating anemometer head, protective holster case, and one CR2032 battery. The unit has an auto “Power-Off” feature to preserve battery life. There is also a “Data Hold” function plus an LCD Backlight. NOTE: When figuring effective 90° crosswind values, Caldwell recommends using Average Wind Speed mode rather than Current Wind Speed.

Caldwell crosswind wind meter

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April 26th, 2014

Praslick Teaches Wind-Reading Skills

Emil Praslick USAMUTo succeed in long-range shooting matches, given the high level of competition these days, you’ll need solid wind-reading abilities. We’ve found an article by SFC Emil Praslick III, USAMU Service Rifle coach, that can help you make better wind calls in competition.

SFC Praslick is considered one of the best wind gurus in the United States, if not the world. He has authored an excellent two-part article on wind reading that is available on the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) website. Both articles contain helpful illustrations, and are “must-read” resources for any long-range shooter–not just Service Rifle and Highpower competitors.

Click to Read Articles:

Reading the Wind (Part One) | Reading the Wind (Part Two)

Part One covers basic principles, tactics, and strategies, with a focus on the 200-yard stages. Emil writes: “There are as many dimensions to ‘wind reading’ as there are stages to High Power competition. Your tactical mindset, or philosophy, must be different for the 200 and 300 yard rapid-fire stages than it would be for the 600 yard slow-fire. In the slow-fire stages you have the ability to adjust windage from shot to shot, utilizing the location of the previous shot as an indicator. Additionally, a change to the existing conditions can be identified and adjusted for prior to shooting the next shot.”

In Part Two, Praslick provides more detailed explanations of the key principles of wind zeros, wind reading, and the “Clock System” for determining wind values: “The Value of the wind is as important as its speed when deciding the proper windage to place on the rifle. A 10 MPH wind from ’12 o-clock’ has No Value, hence it will not effect the flight of the bullet. A 10 MPH wind from ‘3 o’clock’, however, would be classified as Full Value. Failure to correct for a Full Value wind will surely result in a less than desirable result.”

USAMU Praslick wind clock

Praslick also explains how to identify and evaluate mirage:

Determine the accuracy of the mirage. Mirage is the reflection of light through layers of air that have different temperatures than the ground. These layers are blown by the wind and can be monitored to detect wind direction and speed.

Focus your scope midway between yourself and the target, this will make mirage appear more prominent. I must emphasize the importance of experience when using mirage as a wind-reading tool. The best way to become proficient in the use of mirage is to correlate its appearance to a known condition. Using this as a baseline, changes in mirage can be equated to changes in the value of the wind. Above all, you must practice this skill!

Click HERE for more excellent instructional articles by Emil Praslick and other USAMU Coaches and shooters.

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October 10th, 2013

Wind Box Shelters Scales When Reloading at Outdoor Ranges

Shooters who reload at the range, during the course of benchrest matches, or during load development sessions, can benefit from having a portable scale to weigh charges. Even if you throw charges, using click values, a scale allows you to double-check the accuracy of your throws. In addition, having a scale handy lets you weigh and sort components during load development.

Many reloaders prefer “old-fashioned” balance beam scales for range use. They are relatively inexpensive and simple to use. With a beam scale, unlike electronic scales, you don’t have to worry about weak batteries or finding AC power. The problem when using any scale at an outdoor range is wind. Wind can cause powder to blow out of the pan and even a light breeze can actually cause a beam scale to perform erratically.

Beat the Breezes with a Wind Box for your Scale
Forum member Boyd Allen has come up with a smart solution for reloaders who use scales outdoors — a windproof scale enclosure, aka “Wind Box”. This is something that can easily be built at home with common tools. Boyd explains: “Many guys have good set-ups for loading at the range, with clamping mounts for powder measure and press. But they lack a good enclosure for a scale. This is vitally important with beam scales because they have a lot of surface area to catch the wind. With much wind at all, the beam can oscillate to the point that is not really very usable. While a low-profile electronic scale may be less wind-sensitive, breezes DO affect weight read-outs on digital scales. And of course you always have the issue of blowing powder particles.”

Wind box range reloading

Boyd Allen has used his Wind Box successfully for many seasons. He explains: “Some time ago, I got this idea, and was fortunate enough to have a friend, Ed Hellam, who liked the idea well enough to build us both one. He did a fine job, but since this was the prototype there was at least one lesson to learn. The original viewing pane was Plexiglass, and I discovered that it would hold enough static charge to throw the scale off 0.1 grains, so another friend, Bob Smith, modified my Wind Box, replacing the Plexiglass with a tempered glass faceplate. Thank you Ed and Bob….

The essence of the idea is to have a scale set up in a box with a clear cover that can be opened and closed. On one side the trickler handle/control emerges through a ‘just big enough’ hole. You raise the cover, add a sub-target-weight thrown charge to the pan, and then close the cover. With the cover secure, the set-up is protected from the wind, and you can now trickle up to your desired charge. It works very well. The scale in the photo is an old Ohaus that I picked up. It is actually more sensitive than my RCBS 10-10 and works fine. You can adapt this Wind Box design to any beam scale, or portable electronic scale. Simply adjust the dimensions to fit your particular scale and trickler.”

Wind box range reloading

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July 22nd, 2013

Great Article on Reading Mirage

South Texas marksmanship trainingThere is an excellent article about Mirage on the South Texas Marksmanship Training Center (STMTC) website. This article explains what causes mirage and how mirage can move the perceived aiming point on your target. Most importantly, the article explains, in considerable detail, how you can “read” mirage to discern wind speeds and wind directions. With simple but effective graphic illustrations, this is one of the best explanations of mirage (and mirage reading) we have found on the internet. This is a “must-read” for any serious competitive shooter. Here is a brief sample from the article, along with an illustration. NOTE: the full article is six times longer and has 8 diagrams.

The term “mirage” as used by the shooter does not refer to a true mirage, but to heat waves and the refraction of light as it is bent passing through air layers of different density. Light which passes obliquely from one wind medium to another it undergoes an abrupt change in direction, whenever its velocity in the second medium is different from the velocity in the first wind medium; the shooter will see a “mirage”.

The density of air, and therefore its refraction, varies with its temperature. A condition of cool air overlaying warm air next to the ground is the cause of heat waves or “mirage”. The warm air, having a lower index of refraction, is mixed with the cooler air above by convection, irregularly bending the light transmitting the target image to the shooter’s eye. Figure 1 shows (greatly exaggerated) the vertical displacement of the target image by heat waves.

South Texas Mirage Reading article

Heat waves are easily seen with the unaided eye on a hot, bright day and can be seen with spotting scope on all but the coldest days. To observe heat waves, the scope should be focused on a point about midway to the target. This will cause the target to appear slightly out of focus, but since the high power rifle shooter generally does not try to spot bullet holes, the lack in target clarity is more than compensated by clarity of the heat waves.

CLICK HERE to Read Complete Mirage Article

Mirage Is Your Friend
While hot days with lots of mirage can be frustrating, mirage can reveal how the wind is flowing (and changing). If you learn how to recognize and read mirage patterns, you can use that information to shoot higher scores. That’s why many leading long-range shooters tell us: “Mirage is your friend.” As the STMTC article explains: “A mirage condition is not a handicap, since it offers a very accurate method of perceiving small wind changes[.]”

Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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May 29th, 2012

Wind-Reading LaserScope Patented by Israeli Nuke Lab

Imagine a “smart scope” that can range your target AND calculate windage correction. Such technology may appear in riflescopes fairly soon. The Israeli Government’s Soreq Nuclear Research Center has received a U.S. patent for a new laser-based technology that can gauge wind vectors as well as target distance, using a laser rangefinder coupled to a rifle-scope. The Israeli system is called LIDAR, an acronym for Laser Identification Detection And Ranging. This new technology could, potentially, be a major boon for long-range shooters, both military and civilian. Ironically LIDAR was first developed for environmental monitoring (not for use with weapons). A LIDAR system was used for 3-D mapping and modeling of wind-driven plumes from the Israel Electric Company’s Rabin power plant.

Credit The Firearm Blog for breaking this story on the new Israeli LIDAR technology for sniper scopes. Below you’ll find the LIDAR Patent Application Abstract, which has a good summary of how LIDAR reads the wind.

The new Israeli LIDAR unit gauges wind speed by detecting fluctations in laser signals sent out from the integrated scope/LRF, reflected back from the target, and then received by photodiodes in the scope/LRF. Other scopes have used built-in LRFs to measure distance-to-target, but Israel’s patented LIDAR goes one step further, using the laser to gauge BOTH target distance AND wind vectors (i.e. velocity + direction). This information is entered automatically into software. The software then calculates a ballistic solution compensating for distance, wind angle, and wind velocity. If it really works, LIDAR represents a remarkable technological achievement. The Israelis claim LIDAR works for targets at distances of 500m or greater. Why won’t it work at closer ranges? Presumably the wind-induced laser fluctuations are too small to register at closer distances.

Current Integrated LaserScopes for Hunters
While the Israeli LIDAR system may seem like science fiction, it’s not that far removed from the lastest commercial optics. Engineers on both sides of the Atlantic have already integrated laser rangefinders (LRFs) into rifle-mounted “consumer” optics. Just this year, Burris introduced an affordable “consumer” scope, the Eliminator, that ranges the distance to target and then displays the ballistically correct aiming point on the vertical crosshair. The amount of hold-over is automatically calculated with reference to ballistics formulas. At right is a view through the Burris Eliminator; the illuminated dot shows the calculated aiming point.

While such technology can help a shooter compensate for bullet drop, windage compensation is another matter. A shooter must still gauge crosswind angle and velocity, and then hold left or right accordingly. If the LIDAR system can perform this task reliably, that is a major advancement.

DARPA “One Shot” System to Have Wind-Reading Capability
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is proceeding forward with a One-Shot Sniper System, another “Super-Scope” that will have day/night capability, and calculate both elevation AND windage correction automatically. Prototypes have already been tested, demonstrating that a laser beam can be used to “measure the average down-range crosswind profile”. The wind data is combined with readings of temperature, humidity, and target range to provide a very sophisticated ballistic solution. DARPA’s Spec for the One Shot program calls for a 12-42X Direct View Optic (DVO), a Riflescope Display Assembly (RDA), and an Integrated Spotting Scope (ISS) with rangefinder that ranges to 2 km, and provides “crosswind measurements”. The system will be “menu-selectable” for .308 Win, .338 Lapua, and .300 Win Mag. DARPA has budgeted big bucks for the One Shot system. The ISS, by itself, is expected to cost $85,000 per unit (for the first 15 units).

These systems will never replace the utility of an experienced shooter who possesses the skills of wind reading, but it is a real boon for less experienced shooters. In terms of military utility, it is a game changer. I’ve seen and used a prototype of the One Shot, and it does perform as advertised. — SFC Emil Praslick III, USAMU Coach

Can Wind-Reading Systems Work in the Real World?
From what we can tell, the LIDAR system, and America’s competing One Shot System, are both designed to measure crosswind speed and angle AT THE TARGET primarily. But as any experienced long-range shooter knows, wind is rarely constant along the entire path of the bullet. There can be a 10 mph left wind near the firing point, a 5 mph tailwind in mid-trajectory, and a 20 mph right wind 1000 yards away. Importantly, wind close to the shooter has more effect on the bullet’s path than wind far downrange — that’s a matter of simple geometry. Therefore, any wind-reading system could provide incorrect solutions if it is not able to read and calculate different wind vectors along the full bullet flight path. Presumably LIDAR and One Shot systems will attempt some kind of crosswind averaging, but that will be a very challenging task, without multiple wind sensors downrange.

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