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May 15th, 2024

Tips on Wind Reading with Emil Praslick III — Wind Guru

To 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.

Emil Praslick USAMU

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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May 1st, 2024

Wind Speed or Wind Direction — What Is Most Important?

Wind reading bryan litz speed direction

Wind-Reading Lesson from Bryan Litz

Q: What’s more important — wind speed, or direction?

A: Obviously they both matter, but they do trade dominance based on direction. For example, a 10 mph wind between 2:30 and 3:30 is only changing its value from 9.7 to 10 to 9.7 mph (bracket of 0.3 mph). However a 10 mph wind between 11:30 and 12:30 is changing its cross wind component value from 2.6 mph left to zero to 2.6 mph right (bracket of 5.2 mph). There is the same 30° change in direction, but this results in a massively different bracket.

Point being, in this case, a direction change is far more critical if it’s near 6 or 12 o’clock. A small direction change when it’s close to 3 or 9 o’clock is negligible.

On the contrary, a change in wind SPEED when it’s near 3 or 9 affects your crosswind component directly. But for a near head or tail wind, a fluctuation in wind speed only causes a small fraction of a change to the crosswind component.

SUMMARY: If you’re in a near full-value wind, pay more attention to wind SPEED. If you’re closer to a head- or tail-wind, nailing the exact DIRECTION will be more important.

Get More Tips on Bryan Litz Ballistics Facebook Page
This post is from the new Bryan Litz Ballistics Facebook Page. FB users should check that page regularly for more tips from Bryan, American’s leading ballistics expert and founder of Applied Ballistics LLC.

READ MORE TIPS HERE: www.Facebook.com/BryanLitzBallitics

Bryan Litz coaching Team USA in Canada using a WIND PLOT.

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April 27th, 2024

Wind Reading Basics for PRS and NRL Competitors

Sniper's Hide Frank Galli Wind Reading Book Basics

For many riflemen, reading the wind is the toughest challenge in long-range shooting. Wind speeds and directions can change rapidly, mirage can be misleading, and terrain features can cause hard-to-predict effects. To become a competent wind reader, you need range-time and expert mentoring. In the latter department, Frank Galli, founder of Sniper’s Hide, offers a detailed digital resource: Wind Reading Basics for the Tactical Shooter.

Wind Reading Basics is much more than a 47-page eBook — it has charts, instructions for ballistic calculators, and even embedded videos. Galli explains: “We break down the formulas, walk you through using a ballistic computer, and give you all the information in one place. From videos, to useful charts, we make it simple to get started. It’s all about having a plan, and we give you that plan.”

Galli’s Wind Reading Basics, priced at $7.99, can be downloaded from iTunes for iPads, iPhones and iOS compatible devices. Here are sample sections from the eBook (which includes videos):

Sniper's Hide Frank Galli Wind Reading Book Basics


Sniper's Hide Frank Galli Wind Reading Book Basics

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April 11th, 2024

Three Great Rifle Champions Reveal Their Wind-Reading Secrets

wind reading John Whidden, David Tubb, Carl Bernosky

In this article, three great champions reveal their wind-calling secrets in video interviews. We first published this “Three Champions” story a few years ago. If you are a competitive shooter, and you want to learn more about reading the wind, you should watch all three of these interviews. These guys are among the best shooters to ever shoulder a rifle, and they have much wisdom to share.

At the 2010 SHOT Show, we had the unique opportunity to corner three “superstars” of High Power shooting, and solicit their wind-reading secrets. 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 (6-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.

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 all three men won their most recent National Championships so the introductions may list a lower number of titles won. For example, John Whidden won back-to-back LR Championships in 2016 and 2017.

Top photo courtesy Rifleman’s Journal.

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April 9th, 2024

Great FREE Resource — Shooting Sport USA Articles Archive

Shooting Sports USA

NRA publication Shooting Sports USA (SSUSA) has thousands of articles online, all free for the reading. Many of these stories have been written by top competitors, including National and Olympic Champions. You will find SSUSA articles spotlighted every week on the NRA Competitive Shooting Facebook page. We recommend you bookmark that page as a valuable resource. Here are four notable SSUSA articles that have been featured on Facebook this month. Go to SSUSA.org to see even more current articles, with new content every day.

Shooting Sports USA Mirage Read optics scope

Here is an insightful, fairly lengthy 1850-word article about the phenomenon we call mirage. The article explains how and why mirage appears, how it can best be monitored, and how mirage can indicate both wind velocity and direction. Top competitors follow the adage “Mirage is your friend”, because mirage can often be the most important indicator of wind variables — sometimes even more important than wind flags. “The mirage is more sensitive than the flags since it has less inertia and momentum”, wrote Desmond T. Burke, in his book, Canadian Bisley Shooting, an Art and a Science.

Well worth reading, this SSUSA article talks about the properties of mirage. Here is a sample:

“Mirage — can make all the difference between a shot landing squarely in the X-ring or being victimized by an undetected downrange breeze. The true power of mirage is found in its ability to betray the subtlest of breezes downrange. Its fluid movement… can not only provide wind direction, but speed as well.

Typically, the ability to detect mirage is maximized on warm, sunny and sultry days. Expect mirage to be most pronounced in mid-morning or early afternoon, although it ignores these rules with regularity[.]

Mirage is extremely powerful at identifying winds of less than 12 mph, particularly those gentle breezes subtle enough to not even bother moving the flags.

When there is no wind, or a gentle head or tail wind, mirage will appear to be ‘bubbling’ directly up from the ground. Many call this ‘boiling’, and it is probably the easiest of all to detect.

As a general rule of thumb, when wind speed increases, overall height of the waves produced by the mirage is reduced. Large peaks and valleys in the waves mean that particular mirage is being driven by a very slight breeze. Conversely, crest size is reduced with wind speed, making it harder and harder to detect, until the mirage disappears entirely at somewhere around 12 miles per hour. In other words, the taller mirage’s waves appear, the slower the breeze.”

South Texas Mirage Reading article
Diagram from SouthTexasShooting.org.

Shooting Sports USA barrel maintenance break-in procedures Glen Zediker

Authored by the late Glen Zediker, this article covers barrel break-in procedures. It is particularly useful for dealing with factory barrels. We CAUTION readers — with outstanding, hand-lapped custom barrels from top barrel-makers, you may want to do very little break-in — clean sparingly and keep barrel heat low. Do NOT use abrasives aggressively. On our Krieger and Brux barrels, we simply wet-patched every 2-3 rounds for 20 rounds and the barrels shot superbly from the start with minimal fouling. But for factory barrels, a moderate break-in process may prove beneficial.

Zediker explains: “Lesser, lower-cost barrels are going to have more pronounced … imperfections within the bore[.] These imperfections are largely tool marks resulting from the drilling and rifling processes. And if it’s a semi-automatic, like an AR-15, there might be a burr where the gas port was drilled. The goal of break-in is to knock down these imperfections, thereby smoothing the interior surface.”

Shooting Sports USA pistol cartridge kaboom safety blowout

As one who has experienced a cartridge case-head blow-out with a 9mm pistol, this Editor is very conscious of the risks involved and the damage a blow-out can do to the pistol, to the magazine, and (worst of all) to the shooter. Even with new brass, the possibility of a case failure is always present. And even if the case remains intact, we’ve seen primer failures that create a dangerous jet back towards the pistol shooter. That’s why shooters should always employ protective eyewear whenever they shoot.

Shooting Sports USA revolver forcing cone repair damage

We love our wheelguns, but there’s no doubt that forcing cone damage can occur, particularly with hot loads and if your cylinder-to-barrel gap is excessive. This article explains how to inspect your revolvers, and how to mitigate the likelihood of forcing cone damage. The article also explains how to clean your revolvers properly. This is very important to avoid build-up of lead and powder residues.

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March 24th, 2024

WindFlags — Big Benefits for All Shooting, Not Just Competition


Forest of Windflags at World Benchrest Championships in France in 2011

There’s a simple, inexpensive “miracle device” that can cut your groups in half. If you’re not using this device, you’re giving away accuracy. The “miracle device” to which we refer is a simple wind indicator aka “windflag”. Using windflags may actually improve your accuracy on target much more than weighing charges to the kernel, or spending your life savings on the “latest and greatest” hardware.

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…

Which Windflag to buy? For starters, MTM makes a simple, inexpensive flag sold on Amazon for $17.99. For more sophisticated flags CLICK HERE for Benchrest Central windflag vendors.

Miss a 5 mph Shift and You Could 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.

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.

New Wind Reading App — High Power Wind Lab

There is an innovative new Wind-Reading App, the High Power Wind Lab, that can help you figure your hold-offs in all wind conditions. This is available now for iOS devices, and an Android version is coming soon. In this video, our friend F-Class John reviews this sophisticated new Wind App:

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

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March 23rd, 2024

Access 15 Years of Shooting Sports USA Articles for FREE

Shooting Sports USA competitive shooting high power marksmanship archive SSUSA

Enjoy the Shooting Sports USA Archives
As we head into spring, many Americans will be spending more time at the range. And competitors will be shooting in rimfire and centerfire rifle matches throughout the country. Here’s an opportunity to learn competition skills, gun tuning methods, and reloading techniques from leading experts. A vast resource of great gun-related content available online for FREE. Check out the Shooting Sports USA Articles Archive. SSUSA maintains a vast digital library with hundreds of articles going back to June 2009.

Shooting Sports USA competitive shooting high power marksmanship archive SSUSAIt’s easy to find back issues of Shooting Sports USA magazine. Here’s how: First, navigate to the latest SSUSA Online Issue (March 2024). Then click on the “ARCHIVES” icon in the upper right area (indicated with red arrow). When you click on “ARCHIVES”, a window will open with a selection of Shooting Sports USA magazine covers/dates in a vertical column. The most recent issue (March 2024) will appear at the top left. You can then scroll down — use the vertical scroll bar to go from March 2024 all the way back to June 2009. Click any issue cover to read.

Shooting Sports USA competitive shooting high power marksmanship archive SSUSA
The June 2020 issue features a Palma rifle built with Eliseo Tubegun Chassis System.

How to Find and Save Articles
To search back issues, select “MORE OPTIONS” from the toolbar (top left). Then click the “SEARCH” button. When that opens, select either “Search Archives” for ALL back issues or “Search Only this Issue”. When you’ve made your choice, enter your search term(s). For example, you can search for “Camp Perry” or “Palma” or “F-Class Championship”. You can also save any archived issue as a PDF for viewing offline. Just click “SAVE” to download the article you’re currently viewing/reading.

Shooting Sports USA competitive shooting high power marksmanship archive SSUSA

Read Sample Articles
Here are a three of our favorite SSUSA feature stories from recent years. There are hundreds of other informative articles worth reading.

Wind-Reading Tips from Champion Shooters »

Shooting Sports USA Wind Reading tips

How to Clean and Maintain Match Barrels »

Shooting Sports USA Barrel Maintenance Clean Bore Scope

F-Class World Championships in South Africa »

Shooting Sports USA F-class world championship

F-Class fans will enjoy the coverage of the 2023 F-Class World Championships in the June 2023 issue of Shooting Sports USA. On the cover is our friend and Forum member Erik Cortina.

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March 21st, 2024

Good Wind-Reading Resource — The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters

wind reading book Camp Perry Miller Cunningham

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

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.

New Edition — Hardback and eBook
The latest, updated edition of The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters was released in May 2020. This 144-page book, first published in 2007, is a great 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, look below the book cover photo, and click the bar labeled “Read Sample”. This lets you preview chapters from the Wind Book, and view some illustrations. Along with the hardback edition ($22.99), Amazon offers a Kindle (eBook) edition for $14.99.

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. — The 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.

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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February 8th, 2024

Build Your Shooting Skills with Multi-Discipline Training

Michelle Gallagher Cross Training

Guest Article By Michelle Gallagher, Berger Bullets
Let’s face it. In the world of firearms, there is something for everyone. Do you like to compete? Are you a hunter? Are you more of a shotgun shooter or rifle shooter? Do you enjoy running around between stages of a timed course, or does the thought of shooting one-hole groups appeal to you more? Even though many of us shoot several different firearms and disciplines, chances are very good that we all have a favorite. Are we spreading ourselves too thin by shooting different disciplines, or is it actually beneficial? I have found that participating in multiple disciplines can actually improve your performance. Every style of shooting is different; therefore, they each develop different skills that benefit each other.

How can cross-training in other disciplines help you? For example, I am most familiar with long-range prone shooting, so let’s start there. To be a successful long-range shooter, you must have a stable position, accurate ammunition, and good wind-reading skills. You can improve all of these areas through time and effort, but there are other ways to improve more efficiently. Spend some time practicing smallbore. Smallbore rifles and targets are much less forgiving when it comes to position and shot execution. Long-range targets are very large, so you can get away with accepting less than perfect shots. Shooting smallbore will make you focus more on shooting perfectly center shots every time. Another way to do this with your High Power rifle is to shoot on reduced targets at long ranges. This will also force you to accept nothing less than perfect. Shoot at an F-Class target with your iron sights. At 1000 yards, the X-Ring on a long range target is 10 inches; it is 5 inches on an F-Class target. Because of this, you will have to focus harder on sight alignment to hit a center shot. When you go back to the conventional target, you will be amazed at how large the ten ring looks.

Michelle Gallagher Cross Training

Also, most prone rifles can be fitted with a bipod. Put a bipod and scope on your rifle, and shoot F-TR. Shooting with a scope and bipod eliminates position and eyesight factors, and will allow you to concentrate on learning how to more accurately read the wind. The smaller target will force you to be more aggressive on your wind calls. It will also help encourage you to use better loading techniques. Nothing is more frustrating than making a correct wind call on that tiny target, only to lose the point out the top or bottom due to inferior ammunition. If you put in the effort to shoot good scores on the F-Class target, you will be amazed how much easier the long-range target looks when you return to your sling and iron sights. By the same token, F-Class shooters sometimes prefer to shoot fast and chase the spotter. Shooting prone can help teach patience in choosing a wind condition to shoot in, and waiting for that condition to return if it changes.

Benchrest shooters are arguably among the most knowledgeable about reloading. If you want to learn better techniques about loading ammunition, you might want to spend some time at benchrest matches. You might not be in contention to win, but you will certainly learn a lot about reloading and gun handling. Shooting F-Open can also teach you these skills, as it is closely related to benchrest. Benchrest shooters may learn new wind-reading techniques by shooting mid- or long-range F-Class matches.

Michelle Gallagher Cross TrainingPosition shooters can also improve their skills by shooting different disciplines. High Power Across-the-Course shooters benefit from shooting smallbore and air rifle. Again, these targets are very small, which will encourage competitors to be more critical of their shot placement. Hunters may benefit from shooting silhouette matches, which will give them practice when shooting standing with a scoped rifle. Tactical matches may also be good, as tactical matches involve improvising shots from various positions and distances. [Editor: Many tactical matches also involve hiking or moving from position to position — this can motivate a shooter to maintain a good level of general fitness.]

These are just a few ways that you can benefit from branching out into other shooting disciplines. Talk to the other shooters. There is a wealth of knowledge in every discipline, and the other shooters will be more than happy to share what they have learned. Try something new. You may be surprised what you get out of it. You will certainly learn new skills and improve the ones you already have. You might develop a deeper appreciation for the discipline you started off with, or you may just discover a new passion.

This article originally appeared in the Berger Blog. The Berger Blog contains the latest info on Berger products, along with informative articles on target shooting and hunting.

Article Find by EdLongrange.

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December 16th, 2023

Long Range Experts Podcast — Bryan Litz and Emil Praslick

Long Range Grad School Podcast Guns magazine Bryan Litz Emil Praslick III Wind coaching ballistics

Applied Ballistics Founder Bryan Litz and Former USAMU and Team USA coach Emil Praslick III share their wisdom in an informative Guns Magazine Podcast. Along with being a true ballistics guru, Bryan Litz is an outstanding competitive shooter, having won F-TR National Championships, and both Sling and F-TR divisions at the Berger SW Nationals, along with many other matches. Emil is considered one of the world’s great wind-readers and team coaches, having coached 20+ championship teams.

Guns Magazine podcast host Brent Wheat asks Bryan and Emil about multiple topics including: exterior ballistics, bullet design, wind reading, ballistic solvers, BC myths, and more.

Brent reports: “Together, Bryan and Emil understand what happens from the time a bullet leaves the muzzle until it impacts the target, including the atmospheric affects along the way. Grab a pencil, listen in, and get ready to take notes.”

This Long Range Grad School podcast features Berger’s Chief Ballistician, Bryan Litz, and Berger’s Emil Praslick. Both have extensive long range competitive shooting experience, with championship titles (as shooter and/or coach) in a multitude of long range disciplines. CLICK arrow below to start podcast audio:

Long Range Grad School Podcast Guns magazine Bryan Litz Emil Praslick III Wind coaching ballistics

Emil Praslick (left) confers with Bryan Litz (right) at King of 2 Miles ELR Event.
Bryan Litz KO2M ELR podcast wind reading

In this Video Emil Praslick explains his methods for determining wind direction.

Bryan Litz coaching Team USA in Canada using a WIND PLOT.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
November 6th, 2023

Improve Your Wind Reading — Two Articles from Emil Praslick

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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October 13th, 2023

For Friday the 13th — How to Avoid Train Wrecks in Competition

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics friday 13 13th

Today is Friday the 13th. For those of you who are superstitious — maybe you should avoid climbing ladders, playing the stock market, or using power tools today.

When it comes to shooting, there are many things that shooters chalk up to “bad luck”. In fact, most of these instances of “bad fortune” just come from a failure to anticipate problems. When you have a major, critical problem at a shooting match, i.e. a “train wreck”, this can be the end of your weekend. In this article, Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz talks about “train wrecks” and how to avoid them, even if you are shooting on Friday the 13th. As Bryan told us: “I don’t believe in superstition — we make our own luck!”

How to Avoid “Train Wrecks” In Competition

In any shooting competition, you must try to avoid major screw-ups that can ruin your day (or your match). In this article, past F-TR National Mid-Range and Long Range Champion Bryan Litz talks about “Train Wrecks”, i.e. those big disasters (such as equipment failures) that can ruin a whole match. Bryan illustrates the types of “train wrecks” that commonly befall competitors, and he explains how to avoid these “unmitigated disasters”.

Urban Dictionary “Train Wreck” Definition: “A total @#$&! disaster … the kind that makes you want to shake your head.”

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballisticsTrain Wrecks (and How to Avoid Them)
by Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC.

Success in long range competition depends on many things. Those who aspire to be competitive are usually detail-oriented, and focused on all the small things that might give them an edge. Unfortunately it’s common for shooters lose sight of the big picture — missing the forest for the trees, so to speak.

Consistency is one of the universal principles of successful shooting. The tournament champion is the shooter with the highest average performance over several days, often times not winning a single match. While you can win tournaments without an isolated stellar performance, you cannot win tournaments if you have a single train wreck performance. And this is why it’s important for the detail-oriented shooter to keep an eye out for potential “big picture” problems that can derail the train of success!

Train wrecks can be defined differently by shooters of various skill levels and categories. Anything from problems causing a miss, to problems causing a 3/4-MOA shift in wind zero can manifest as a train wreck, depending on the kind of shooting you’re doing.

Below is a list of common Shooting Match Train Wrecks, and suggestions for avoiding them.

1. Cross-Firing. The fastest and most common way to destroy your score (and any hopes of winning a tournament) is to cross-fire. The cure is obviously basic awareness of your target number on each shot, but you can stack the odds in your favor if you’re smart. For sling shooters, establish your Natural Point of Aim (NPA) and monitor that it doesn’t shift during your course of fire. If you’re doing this right, you’ll always come back on your target naturally, without deliberately checking each time. You should be doing this anyway, but avoiding cross-fires is another incentive for monitoring this important fundamental. In F-Class shooting, pay attention to how the rifle recoils, and where the crosshairs settle. If the crosshairs always settle to the right, either make an adjustment to your bipod, hold, or simply make sure to move back each shot. Also consider your scope. Running super high magnification can leave the number board out of the scope’s field view. That can really increase the risk of cross-firing.

2. Equipment Failure. There are a wide variety of equipment failures you may encounter at a match, from loose sight fasteners, to broken bipods, to high-round-count barrels that that suddenly “go south” (just to mention a few possibilities). Mechanical components can and do fail. The best policy is to put some thought into what the critical failure points are, monitor wear of these parts, and have spares ready. This is where an ounce of prevention can prevent a ton of train wreck. On this note, if you like running hot loads, consider whether that extra 20 fps is worth blowing up a bullet (10 points), sticking a bolt (DNF), or worse yet, causing injury to yourself or someone nearby.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

[Editor’s Note: The 2016 F-Class Nationals will employ electronic targets so conventional pit duties won’t be required. However, the following advice does apply for matches with conventional targets.]

3. Scoring/Pit Malfunction. Although not related to your shooting technique, doing things to insure you get at least fair treatment from your scorer and pit puller is a good idea. Try to meet the others on your target so they can associate a face with the shooter for whom they’re pulling. If you learn your scorer is a Democrat, it’s probably best not to tell Obama jokes before you go for record. If your pit puller is elderly, it may be unwise to shoot very rapidly and risk a shot being missed (by the pit worker), or having to call for a mark. Slowing down a second or two between shots might prevent a 5-minute delay and possibly an undeserved miss.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics4. Wind Issues. Tricky winds derail many trains. A lot can be written about wind strategies, but here’s a simple tip about how to take the edge off a worse case scenario. You don’t have to start blazing away on the command of “Commence fire”. If the wind is blowing like a bastard when your time starts, just wait! You’re allotted 30 minutes to fire your string in long range slow fire. With average pit service, it might take you 10 minutes if you hustle, less in F-Class. Point being, you have about three times longer than you need. So let everyone else shoot through the storm and look for a window (or windows) of time which are not so adverse. Of course this is a risk, conditions might get worse if you wait. This is where judgment comes in. Just know you have options for managing time and keep an eye on the clock. Saving rounds in a slow fire match is a costly and embarrassing train wreck.

5. Mind Your Physical Health. While traveling for shooting matches, most shooters break their normal patterns of diet, sleep, alcohol consumption, etc. These disruptions to the norm can have detrimental effects on your body and your ability to shoot and even think clearly. If you’re used to an indoor job and eating salads in air-conditioned break rooms and you travel to a week-long rifle match which keeps you on your feet all day in 90-degree heat and high humidity, while eating greasy restaurant food, drinking beer and getting little sleep, then you might as well plan on daily train wrecks. If the match is four hours away, rather than leaving at 3:00 am and drinking five cups of coffee on the morning drive, arrive the night before and get a good night’s sleep.”

Keep focused on the important stuff. You never want to lose sight of the big picture. Keep the important, common sense things in mind as well as the minutia of meplat trimming, weighing powder to the kernel, and cleaning your barrel ’til it’s squeaky clean. Remember, all the little enhancements can’t make up for one big train wreck!

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