Target shooting tips - Reading the wind
Improving your shooting accuracy relies on perfecting a variety of skills. One of which is learning how to read the wind. Reading the wind combines an element of science and a dose of luck to achieve the best results.
Historically, elevation adjustments were based on best guesses for how much the bullet will drop. However, today target shooting uses modern optics, custom ballistic apps and wind flags all designed to make elevation alterations much easier and considerably more exact. Yet, estimating windage can still be a challenge for even the best of shooters.
When shooting, a fired bullet is pulled in the direction the wind is blowing. This drag, or resistance, is caused by the wind coming into contact with the bullet and the bullet then trying to stabilise itself. When a bullet is flying towards the target at nearly 600 miles per hour, as you can imagine the changing wind direction makes a considerable difference to the bullet’s path and your accuracy.
So when you’re shooting at targets with no wind blowing, you can simply align your sights with the target in the background. So long as your trigger squeeze doesn’t move the muzzle, your bullet will fly straight towards the bullseye. It’s when the wind is blowing that you’ll have to make adjustments.
So what can you do to beat the breeze? One method, referred to as ‘Kentucky Windage’ is to simply aim into the wind. This requires the shooter to make adjustments by aiming at a point horizontal to the targets position rather than adjusting the sights. This however, takes practice to know how far to move your point of aim. Yet, it does have the advantage of being a quick and simple solution.
Another method is using a scope or adjustable sights. These can be corrected so that even when you see the target in the centre of your sights, the barrel is aimed a little to the side to compensate for the wind.
Whichever method you use, you’ll need a rough idea of how fast the wind is moving so that you can learn how far to move your point of aim (or how much to adjust your sights) for different wind speeds. One method of estimating wind speed is with a flag.
Outdoor shooting ranges have wind flags positioned between the firing line and the targets. These are observed by shooters to make estimates of wind speed, which is then converted into lateral minute of angle point of aim corrections.
The flag method is the most common method used to estimate wind speed. A flag blowing in the wind will naturally blow away from the flagpole, with the angle of the bottom of the flag to the flagpole increasing with increasing windspeed.
Shooting Sports USA calculates this using the following formula:
“Divide the flag(tail) angle by 4 and you’ll get a pretty good idea of the wind speed. For example, if the flag is at a 60-degree angle from the flagpole, then dividing by 4 computes to about 15 miles per hour (mph) for the wind speed. If the flag is flying straight out at 90 degrees, then the wind speed would be about 90 / 4 = 22.5 mph.
However, this formula only works when the wind is coming from the side. When the wind comes more over your shoulder or in your face, just multiply the above number as follows:
Wind coming from about 75 degrees—multiply the answer by .96; 60 degrees—multiply by .86; 45 degrees—.70; 30 degrees—.5 and for 15 degrees, multiply by .25. So now we know that if our flag is at 60 degrees with wind coming at us from about 15 degrees, the wind speed on the bullet would be about: 60 / 4 = 15 x .25 = 3.75 mph.”
The above calculations are dependent on what type of flag(tail) you are using and a heavier material will require more wind velocity to move it than a lighter material will require. It is best to determine how much bullet movement you have with the flag at a certain angle and save the math for later.
Multiple flags are required for two reasons. First, the wind speed closest to the midpoint of range has the greatest effect on the projectile. Additionally, the wind at one part of the range will not always be the same at another part.
Consider using wind indicators in conjunction with wind flags on the range to get a better reading of the conditions. Indicators give you a good indication of the wind velocity no matter which direction the wind is blowing from.
Shop our complete range of competition wind flags for your shooting range today.
Leave a comment
Login to post comments