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Two Ways to Gauge Wind Speed For Long Shots

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October 20, 2011

Two Ways to Gauge Wind Speed For Long Shots

By David E. Petzal

“Rifle shooter must break wind first before wind break him.” —Vorislav Djubrotnij, Eastern-bloc shooter of the 1950s, making it all clear.

Recently, I attended a class on how to hit targets at 600 yards and beyond, and came away both impressed and depressed. Of all the factors involved, by far the most uncontrollable and difficult is wind. As an example, a 5 mph breeze, which is just enough to agitate the leaves on the trees, can move a 168-grain .308 bullet 16.1 inches at 600 yards.

Here are two ways to gauge wind speed.

If you can feel a breeze, it’s 3-5 mph.

If the leaves on the trees are moving, 5-8 mph.

If you see loose papers blowing, 8-12 mph.

If small trees are swaying, 12-15 mph.

OR:

If your range flag (a good-sized one, with some weight) is hanging at 60 degrees (just a bit out from the pole), 1-3 mph.

Hanging at 45 degrees, 4-7 mph.

Snapping smartly at 90 degrees from the pole, 8-12 mph.

If a cow or an outhouse flies by, you are in a hurricane and should not be shooting.

Also, I’d like to amend something I said during the first season of Gun Nuts. "Watch the wind out where the target is," I said, "not where you are." Turns out I was either half right or half wrong. It’s correct that you can pretty much ignore the wind where you are because the bullet will have its full velocity and will be moved very little, if at all.

The place to look, however, is not at the target but halfway there. If you’re shooting at 500 yards and looking for wind just short of that, it’s of no help because the bullet is at the target for all intents and purposes, and is not going to be pushed. The place to look is 250 yards, because that’s where the mischief will be worked. Makes sense to me.

There is a further amendment. Kenny Jarrett, who has fired more rounds at long range than I have had eggs for breakfast, says that you have to watch the wind between 50 and 75 yards from where you are, and whatever happens beyond that, happens. This runs counter to what I was taught, but as I said, I've seen Kenny shoot.

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from Oryx wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Wind would probably be the reason that there are available to the general public all those laser-beam fast cartridges firing slugs of fairly good mass.

Less time and more mass = less drift, right?

Speaking for myself, the only way I could hit targets at 600 meters in anything stronger than a flea's fart of a wind would be to phase my bullets into a non-windy sub-space realm and bring them back just before my target.

Close to impossible, I agree, but still more probable than me connecting at 600 in this windy part of world.

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from OutdoorEnvy wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I just hope people exercise good judgement and don't take long shots they are not capable of hitting. So many people will buy an amazing rifle but the rifle only shoots as good as the person. You can't go buy a set of Callaway golf clubs and expect to shoot par without practice. I know my limitations and thus won't be tempted by the darkside of taking very long shots I am not prepared for.

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from jcarlin wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I'll admit that I chose my cartridge based on it's very flat ballistics out to 300 yards and that was important to me. I'll also admit that I'm unlikely in a hunting situation to be presented with a shot over 100 yards and would be hesitant to take a shot over 150 yards, which is better for all involved. Which i guess makes me the stereotypical "Pennsylvani Rifleman". At the same time for me to get a shot at those distances, I'd have to hunt at a playground or a farm that I don't have permission on. I'm fairly certian i need to drive 90 minutes to get a range where I can even practice at 200. If I'm later in life blessed with the kind of free time and resources to do some hunts in more open locals, I promise I'll also have the time to make sure I'm up to the ranges involved beforehand.

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from mftkoehler wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

As a shooter, I am entirely unqualified to comment, having never shot over 100 yards, but as a scientist, I think that Kenny Jarrett is closer to the truth. With an aerodynamic bullet, you lose far less velocity out to 500 yards than you might think. Remington's ballistics tables, for example, show that the .30-06 Premier Accutip 165 grain bullet keeps over 2/3 of its muzzle velocity out to 500 yards. This means that we can probably ignore the changing velocity of the bullet as a first approximation, meaning that wind closest to the shooter is going to deflect the bullet more than wind at the target. Since you know what the wind is where you are shooting, knowing what is happening 75 yards downrange is the next best piece of information to have.

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from Oryx wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Don't get me wrong; I think having shooting skills and training at 600 M. is a good thing. I'm just not there (yet?).

My motto:

"Prepare for the worst, hope for a beer."

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from wgp wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I believe Jack O'Connor wrote in one of his books, "There are lots of 400-yard rifles, but where are the 400-yard riflemen?" or something very close to that.

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from Happy Myles wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Dave,
Reading Vorislav's quote, I have no problem "breaking wind", it is the 600 yard shot I have trouble with.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

As has been stated in our previous discussions regarding the wind and long range shooting, there are more opinions as to when and how wind affects the shot than there are directions for the wind to blow. The common agreement is that wind is the main interruptive factor particularily in the mountains of Wyoming and surrounding areas. I certainly don't have definitive answers to managing the effects of the wind other than if you are not absolutely confident with the presentation of your target and your ability to make a precision shot, just don't shoot. This is not an easy concept for some hunters to accept when they have spent thousands of dollars for a hunt. I hope to relay to you a story about six hunters who took six bulls week before last at somewhat entended ranges with none of the shooters having sufficient experience with this situation. Fortunately the outcome was good and I was able to make some interesting observations that I would like to share. Later as time permits.

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from BigBboy25 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Wind drift is a difficult thing to get proficient at, and is an indeterministic variable, meaning there is no way to measure its absolute value like you could for range and muzzle velocity. This makes it very challenging.

I shoot a lot of long range and I can tell you from experience that the mirage has been a much better indicator of what the wind is doing, better than even range flags. If you've ever been on a 600 or 1000 yard range, you'll see the wind flags on the range pointing all different directions, so which one do you believe. By looking at the mirage, I believe you can get a much more accurate depiction of what the wind is actually doing. Range flags and grass are also inaccurate because of the wind gradient. The wind a few inches off the ground most of the time is essentially zero and as you go higher and higher off the ground the wind velocity usually increases in magnitude. You have a similar issue with mirage but I've not found the error to be quite as bad as using vegetation as an indicator. Vegetation is also is only useful if you can clearly see what the vegetation is doing, With mirage you are looking at something blurry to begin with and it is very easy to distinguish the direction.

Also, wind drift is dependent on three main factors. The lag time of the bullet, the wind velocity, and the air density. Lag time is the time it takes a bullet to reach the target in reality compared to the time it would take to reach the target in a vacuum. For example, if a bullet is shot at the muzzle velocity of 3000 fps and the target is 1,000 yards away it would take the bullet 1.000 sec for the target to reach the target in a vacuum, in reality however it will take the bullet 1.4 seconds to reach the target. If you have know the lag time, you can use a simple formula that is Drift = 17.6 * wind speed in mph* lag time. Compare this to your ballistics program and see how closely it matches the output. THis shows how a bullets drift is dependent on the how much velocity it loses between the shooter and the target. Decrease the energy lost and you decrease wind drift.

This also indicates that the BC of a bullet is more important than the velocity that it is fired at. A high velocity helps, but a high BC is actually much more beneficial.

All in all, if you want to learn how to read the wind and get good at shooting in it, there are two things you can do. One, go out and shoot in the wind and see how it affects your shots. and two, pick a cartridge and bullet that will minimize the affects of wind, i.e. a high BC bullet like the Berger VLD or Hornady A-max's. Other than that I cannot think of any other way to help with shooting in the wind.

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from Ferber wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Yup. Doping wind is the hard part at long range. When I was shooting pistol with the Navy, from time to time the big-bore rifle coach would come over to the pistol benches and grab one of us to shoot rifle in a team match he was running if he was short a 'gun'. Pistol shooters know sight alignment importance damn well and can 'hold'. Of course, we tend to know nothing about wind/bullet havoc but it doesn't matter in team matches. It's the coach who tells you what to do: 'up three' right four' etc.

It was always fun and a nice break sometimes from shooting a full 2700, three-gun aggregate every day!

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from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I just dug out my Newtonian physics notes on this bedeviling problem. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the time [velocity] to target important countering wind effects? The quicker an object [bullet] gets to target the less time for outside forces [wind] to have effect.

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from Ol Krusty wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

All the more reason to keep ones shot to less than 400 yards while big game hunting. Really these 600 to 700 yard shots are just for bragging rights. I think the critters we hunt at least deserve one well placed shot right in the boiler room instead of a blown off leg from two to three feet of wind deflection. Leave the long range shootin on the range.

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from PbHead wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

"Elevation is science. Windage is voodoo." I wish I had said that.

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from Scott Jones wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

"Elevation is science. Windage is voodoo."

Thouroughly interesting topic. I'd like to have the time to shoot at long distance and play with my rifle more. But I don't; gotta eat/must work.

Does not apply to my hunting, most of my shots at game are between 30-90 degrees of elevation

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from fordman155 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Dave: I think your ways to guage wind speed are right on the mark. I'm going to tape them on my backpack.
I agree 100% that wind at the target and at your location don't effect things. In my opinion, effects of the wind 1/3 of the way and 2/3 of the way to the target is what you need to compensate for, and more so at the 2/3 mark since the bullet is going slower = more effected by a cross wind. By the time the bullet reaches the target the wind has done everything it can to the bullet. With respects to Kenny Jarret, he's probably correct in juding the wind within 100yds of your location. Its hard juding wind when you can't really feel it. Seeing what the wind does is somewhat easier, but still a huge factor.
Where I hunt it is common to have no wind where I'm shooting but strong gusts in the vicinity of the target. That is a real problem since hearing a gust is difficult, if even possible. If the grass / vegatation is not moving, then that is the best time to shoot (provided the animal is cooperating with you).
Last December a friend missed a huge white tail buck at around 300yds. There was a 20-30mph crosswind that he didn't quite hold into enough and the bullet wizzed right by the nose of the buck. If we haven't all had a situation like that, it will happen eventually.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I believe that the single most important factor your can do to deal with wind effects is to select a high BC bullet. It is best that this projectile still is hypersonic at the point of impact for maximum effectiveness on game animals. Also realize that long range target shooting from a rest and long range shooting/hunting share similarities but also possess considerable differences. Those of you who seem intimidated by shooting more than 100 yards or so keep this in mind, most any rifle you have in the .270 class or bigger has a point blank range of 300 yards or more. If you are certain of that range just hold on the hair and shoot, IF the wind is not blowing. The farther the shot the more various factors come into play. If you are really interested in this topic look at Longrangehunting.com. By the way DEP I tend to use mirage much like BigBboy describes. I do not consider myself to be more than a student of long range given than I have only 10 years experience and am still learning. DEP unfortunately if I utilized your two methods of wind speed determination where I hunt it would be off the high end of the chart 98% of the time. Of course you know this as do other Rocky Mountain folk on this blog. Another hinderence that no one has mentioned is vertical air flow, maybe combined with horizontal. Add that piece to the equation and tell me what you think.

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from ec_nick wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

See this is another reason why I enjoy bowhunting much more than riflehunting and it isnt so much for bragging rights as it is the much more intense hunt. Think about you are shooting something that is capable of hitting something you can barely see, but for me to hit it I have to get in on the action the experience is everything. that is why people still get a kick out of shooting does with a bow because it is still a challenge. Also if I rifle hunted I would be tempted to shoot at something over 200 yards and I am capable at that range but it just is not fair to the animal you know, If your deadly at 600 yards and you are on the only food source for whitetails within 5 miles They are gona have to come out there and risk being shot. For a bow I just think the playing field is leveled and I guess thats what I am all about that is why I also enjoy kayak fishing. Just remember I am not saying anything about the rifle hunters and gun nuts because I also rifle hunt and own many guns I am just saying I like to use my bow more

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from BigBboy25 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Mark-1,

You are correct that time of flight does play a part, but we only see the affects of wind in the time difference of the bullets actual flight compared to the flight time of the bullet in a vacuum. This has to do with the transfer of energy. In a vacuum, all of the lateral velocity and kinetic energy would be conserved, as air resistance would not slow the bullet down, however, with air and wind, energy is dispensed to the atmosphere, this change in energy is where wind affects the the bullet. It's just like most sciences, it's not how much total energy, it's about the transfer of energy.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

DEP,

PLEASE LEAVE THE LONG RANG SHOOTING TO US THAT DO IT ;)

TALK ABOUT BEING MOOSED UP!!

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Few of us prefer long shots on a windy, or calm, day. A recent example is six friends from down south who booked elk, deer, and antelope hunts through an outfitter near here. They each had about 10 grand in this hunt. They got their buck antelopes first day at 100 to 200 yards. In the Thorofare they had to make shots from 420 to 678 yards for their elk. They were not trained at this type of shooting, were not properly equipted insofar as optics although rifles/cartridges were acceptable, plus most had never shot at anything beyond 200 to 400 yards. Regardless with wind blowing and snow falling at 9,000 to 10,000 feet they managed to get six bulls in less than five days. They encountered large numbers of mediocre bulls plus a few 300+ animals. They were unable to decrease the distance to the animals due to being on open barren hillsides with few boulders and trees. Obviously they were in plain view of the elk. With some instruction from their guides they somehow made their shots although there were misses, one shot accidentally hit the wrong bull, one gut shot his animal requiring followup and a killing shot, amazingly three were able to reasonably hit their targets with quick killing shots to follow. One hunter killed his bull with a single round at about 500 yards. Yes they were successful in their minds but this was a terrible turn of events to my way of thinking. On the other hand if they had my two long range rifles/scopes, some instruction, and a few practice shots this mess would most likely have turned out to be six reasonable shots and six dead bulls (well I am not truly able to verify this statement not knowing exactly how the wind was misbehaving on those days). Consider that these guys did not originally intend to shoot at those ranges. They were offered no other opportunities any closer and felt that there was not any way they could minimize the distance. I do not recommend their methods and choices or admire their successes even though they managed to pull it off without wounded and lost animals. I think this scenario is not uncommon in the high mountains. Sometimes people just luck out. When we met in Cody after their hunt and they were very interested in my guns and how to use them as they knew they had "lucked out". I don't want this story to influence any of you on your first hunt "out west" to start taking long shots as your luck might not hold like it did for these fellows. Take the long shots at your range prior to leaving home and be ready when you are out of breath, on a steep mountain side, and your only bull is about to leave for Yellowstone. This long range hunting stuff is a bit "iffy" unless everything is right, if it is not then don't shoot.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Got to say, Kenny is right. LOL!

You can judge the wind on your end, but after 100 yards or so, it turns into a crap shoot at times!

I remember back in 94 on the 1000 yard line at the NRA Whittington Center, a micro burst from a storm was blowing in hard and the flags were straight up in every direction and so was the rounds going down. I went to a no wind zero and hammered the "X" once and the "10" 3 times before it changed it all going back to hell in a basket! O'SUCH FUN!

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from crowman wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I think shooting at animals at 600 yards is out of the ability of 99 percent of the hunters out there and shouldn't even try it. Another thing is most those hunters have ammo that they find on sale at the cheapest store that carries it with no thought about what the bullet can and can't do. A lot of your bullets will only perform at a certain envelope of velocity and if below a certain point will do nothing but poke a hole in them with no expansion. Read the problems they had developing the Win failsafe line of bullets that will open your eyes to how tough it is to make a great bullets. The trouble with these long range articles is the people reading them think you are talking to them and their ability and they know they can do it when they barely can walk to the refer for a beer. I have been around a lot of 600 yard shooters [ Camp Perry types ] and they practice every day from dry firing at home to firing on the range most hunters see their gun maybe a week before season opens. I have past on a lot of long range shots because I knew I could hit them but that elk may run two drainages over before they stack up and die. Yes I've seen the special rifles that can shoot 800 yards for sheep and do it well but remember when you look down at your rifle that you got at a closeout sale at Kmart it's not the same. Know your real ability because I don't think it would be fun to die from a poorly placed shot and don't believe your the one there talking about when they write about 600 yard shooters those are the lunatic fringe.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

The average person will break wind 12-14 times per day. Ladies will tell you that they never do that.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Wind were you're at or near the target?

My windage says were I'm at when shooting 1000 yards if all is steady, but what's that (steady)?!?

Half right?

Half wrong?

SSSOOOOOOOOOO??????

Which way does electrical current travel?

Positive to negative or negative to positive?

I can safely say, reaching into an energized circuit has knocked my _ick in the dirt a couple of times, MAN DAT HURT and no need for tazzer training to know what that feels like!!

Average John D. Shooter will tell you, current goes from positive to negative. During class for my FCC license, the Professor (one of those Fairbanks Alaska University know it all and I believe it 99.9%) said it actually goes from negative to positive.

O'HeLL! WHO KNOWS?

Stand there and watch while I turn on the switch,

WATCH CLOSELY.....

READY!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

AS FOR,

DEP,

PLEASE LEAVE THE LONG RANG SHOOTING TO US THAT DO IT ;)

TALK ABOUT BEING MOOSED UP!!

OK, I was off my med's, got to take it easy. LOL!

Sorry Dave sounding so caustic.

Recon it goes both ways, should leave the writing to you. ROFLMAO!

____________________________________________________

As I've been told and experienced, a no wind on the on the target end and WINDY on the shooters end has more effect.

WHY?

Glad you asked!

The bullet drift by wind, the farther the distance of deviation the more effect it will have.

one inch of deviation at 200 yards would have far more deviation if it happen at 500 yards for a 1000 yard target. Sure, the bullet has slowed down, but you're talking about only milliseconds of bullet travel.

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from BigBboy25 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Clay,

I disagree, I've heard both arguments for near and far wind affects and did some research for a fluid dynamics class last year on this theory. I tested bullets in wind tunnels and used some math to calculate the effects of a bullet at near and far range. Both theories make sense and if you go off either, and are faithful to it, I believe you will hone your skills to that method and be successful. But from my knowledge, I don't personally believe one wind is dominant over the other 100% of the time. It's not a scientific answer but I've concluded that it really 'depends' on which wind is dominant.

Think about camp perry, there is one 1,000 range (can't remember which one) that has a lane of trees on the edge of the firing line on one side for the first rough 200 yards. If you get assigned to this 'wind tunnel' as it is called, the effects of the short range wind is negligible as the wind is blocked and diverted, then you really have to pay attention the wind farther downrange. Less wind and less wind currents is always better. A lot more X's seem to come up on the target on less windy days.

This is just my opinion though.

to each his own.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

BigBboy25

Either way, it's 32 clicks up (1000 yards), 7 clicks for wind, fire one for effect, compensate and let'r rip' CHIP!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

PS

Never been to Camp Perry, wanted to, but every year whas right in the middle of my job to be dar!

That tree line what I'm told, is a bugger bear!

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from Zermoid wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

"Which way does electrical current travel?

Positive to negative or negative to positive?"

Actually, DC current travels Negative to Positive.
But in practical application it doesn't really matter much, I only found that out reading some electronics theory books.

As far as long range shots are concerned I've shot at 900 yds reasonably well on a range with rock solid shooting benches, and MISSED deer at 150 yds under hunting conditions! But what Kenny says makes sense. Wind drift is effect over distance. And the closer to the target a bullet gets, the less it is able to effect it.

Say a bullet 50 yards from it's target gets pushed 1/8 of a degree off it's path. that would be very little effect. But getting pushed 1/8 degree off at 500 yds to target could make you miss by quite a lot! Think MOA.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Zermoid

Say a bullet 50 yards from it's target gets pushed 1/8 of a degree off it's path. that would be very little effect. But getting pushed 1/8 degree off at 500 yds to target could make you miss by quite a lot! Think MOA.

Got it "BASSACKWARDS" LOL!

______________________________

50 100 200 400 800

1/8" 1/4" 1/2" 1.0" 2.0"

______________________________

500 1000

1/8" 1/4"

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

"Which way does electrical current travel?

Positive to negative or negative to positive?"

YOU ARE RIGHT!

As David said,

Half right?

Half wrong?

Just a flip of a coin is all they had!

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from BigBboy25 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Clay,

I think Zermoid was referring to a bullet getting pushed 1/8 of a DEGREE strait out of the muzzle. If you graphed a bullet's path with an 1/8th of a degree slope, it would get farther and father from the center as distance from the muzzle of the rifle increased.

I'm not sure but he was talking in degrees/radians, you have inches as units.

Just trying to clear stuff up for my own understanding on this discussion. I find the wind affects on bullets to be very interesting.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Caught it this afternoon, good catch Bro!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Regardless which way it is, the first shot will always be a calculated shot risk)

Regardless of how you slice it and dice it, what every way you make it work for you, go for it!

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from big_buck_hunter_2013 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

now im no long range shooter. I never shoot past 200 hundred yards whitetail hunting, and theres really no long range ranges in my area. furthest one probally goes 200 yards at most, but theres more 100yard ranges than there are 200yard ranges. ill keep my 100yard shots and leave the 500-1000 yard shots to the pros.

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from DaleM wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Not really long range but: I recently did some shooting with a .22 rimfire at 200-yards. At one point the wind was gusting so strongly from my left that it made me wobble sideways in the standing position. I would have guessed that I'd need to point the barrel about six-feet left in order to hit the target. However in practice the silhouette went "ting" when I held on it's left edge. The terrain between me and the target was obviously having a MAJOR effect on the wind. I don't know how you predict that unless you've got a LOT of experience shooting at that particular location.

Several years ago I decided not to take any shots at unwounded game beyond 300-yards. I haven't missed a shot since.

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from marmy wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

Hunting Elk in Colorado last year i was put in this situation. 4 days of hunting with only a glimpse of one bull. On the last day of the hunt the weather turned bad but the guide took me to an area higher in elevation than we had been in the days before hoping it would be more productive. We found a small herd with one good sized bull and 2 smaller. The guide and i hiked a couple miles up one side of a steep ridge constantly glassing the herd on another ridge across a canyon. By the time we were in any position to shoot it was after 4pm and snow was coming down and it was 25 degrees. The shot was 400 yards across the canyon in a snowy breeze with the afternoon light fading quickly. The guide said, it's now or never. Between the weather, the distance and stage freight I was more than a little intimidated. I have confidence shooting paper at 300 yards on sunny days with a 308 and 22-250 but had never attempted a money shot beyond 250 in the field. I had opted to upgrade my 270 to a 300 mag, which i purchased and modified with a Leupold 4.5-14 days before the hunt. I had barely time to sight it in and only put 15 shots downrange. The range i use only has 100 yard lanes and i decided to zero it 2 inches high at 100. I used my backpack as a rest in the prone position, lined the crosshairs on what i thought to be a couple inches high on a broadside shot to the vitals. I thought if i missed his organs, i'd land a spinal hit. I Pulled the trigger and completely missed. The bull heard the shot, not knowing the direction from which it came took only a few steps and stopped. Leaving me another good broadside shot. I looked at the guide who was glassing the bull for an indication on where my shot landed, turned and tersely snapped you missed, hurry, reload and shoot again !! I did so and this time aimed even higher thinking the last shot had most certainly dropped below the bulls chest. I pulled the trigger and once again completely missed. Now I was angry, embarrassed and humiliated but even more determined. The snow coming down must have distorted the sound of the shot because the bull barely moved. In 2 seconds i had the 3rd shell in the chamber and this time focused the crosshairs right smack in the middle of the bulls shoulder. I pulled the trigger and it dropped in it's tracks. When i got across the canyon i found i had hit the shoulder very near where i had placed the crosshairs. It was 9:00 pm when we dressed and got the bull off the mountain.

In the excitement of the moment I had dramatically over compensated for bullet drop between the zero and the inches i added for the distance.

Luck, not skill, saved me that day.

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from BigBboy25 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Wind drift is a difficult thing to get proficient at, and is an indeterministic variable, meaning there is no way to measure its absolute value like you could for range and muzzle velocity. This makes it very challenging.

I shoot a lot of long range and I can tell you from experience that the mirage has been a much better indicator of what the wind is doing, better than even range flags. If you've ever been on a 600 or 1000 yard range, you'll see the wind flags on the range pointing all different directions, so which one do you believe. By looking at the mirage, I believe you can get a much more accurate depiction of what the wind is actually doing. Range flags and grass are also inaccurate because of the wind gradient. The wind a few inches off the ground most of the time is essentially zero and as you go higher and higher off the ground the wind velocity usually increases in magnitude. You have a similar issue with mirage but I've not found the error to be quite as bad as using vegetation as an indicator. Vegetation is also is only useful if you can clearly see what the vegetation is doing, With mirage you are looking at something blurry to begin with and it is very easy to distinguish the direction.

Also, wind drift is dependent on three main factors. The lag time of the bullet, the wind velocity, and the air density. Lag time is the time it takes a bullet to reach the target in reality compared to the time it would take to reach the target in a vacuum. For example, if a bullet is shot at the muzzle velocity of 3000 fps and the target is 1,000 yards away it would take the bullet 1.000 sec for the target to reach the target in a vacuum, in reality however it will take the bullet 1.4 seconds to reach the target. If you have know the lag time, you can use a simple formula that is Drift = 17.6 * wind speed in mph* lag time. Compare this to your ballistics program and see how closely it matches the output. THis shows how a bullets drift is dependent on the how much velocity it loses between the shooter and the target. Decrease the energy lost and you decrease wind drift.

This also indicates that the BC of a bullet is more important than the velocity that it is fired at. A high velocity helps, but a high BC is actually much more beneficial.

All in all, if you want to learn how to read the wind and get good at shooting in it, there are two things you can do. One, go out and shoot in the wind and see how it affects your shots. and two, pick a cartridge and bullet that will minimize the affects of wind, i.e. a high BC bullet like the Berger VLD or Hornady A-max's. Other than that I cannot think of any other way to help with shooting in the wind.

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from wgp wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I believe Jack O'Connor wrote in one of his books, "There are lots of 400-yard rifles, but where are the 400-yard riflemen?" or something very close to that.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

The average person will break wind 12-14 times per day. Ladies will tell you that they never do that.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Got to say, Kenny is right. LOL!

You can judge the wind on your end, but after 100 yards or so, it turns into a crap shoot at times!

I remember back in 94 on the 1000 yard line at the NRA Whittington Center, a micro burst from a storm was blowing in hard and the flags were straight up in every direction and so was the rounds going down. I went to a no wind zero and hammered the "X" once and the "10" 3 times before it changed it all going back to hell in a basket! O'SUCH FUN!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Wind were you're at or near the target?

My windage says were I'm at when shooting 1000 yards if all is steady, but what's that (steady)?!?

Half right?

Half wrong?

SSSOOOOOOOOOO??????

Which way does electrical current travel?

Positive to negative or negative to positive?

I can safely say, reaching into an energized circuit has knocked my _ick in the dirt a couple of times, MAN DAT HURT and no need for tazzer training to know what that feels like!!

Average John D. Shooter will tell you, current goes from positive to negative. During class for my FCC license, the Professor (one of those Fairbanks Alaska University know it all and I believe it 99.9%) said it actually goes from negative to positive.

O'HeLL! WHO KNOWS?

Stand there and watch while I turn on the switch,

WATCH CLOSELY.....

READY!

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from Happy Myles wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Dave,
Reading Vorislav's quote, I have no problem "breaking wind", it is the 600 yard shot I have trouble with.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

As has been stated in our previous discussions regarding the wind and long range shooting, there are more opinions as to when and how wind affects the shot than there are directions for the wind to blow. The common agreement is that wind is the main interruptive factor particularily in the mountains of Wyoming and surrounding areas. I certainly don't have definitive answers to managing the effects of the wind other than if you are not absolutely confident with the presentation of your target and your ability to make a precision shot, just don't shoot. This is not an easy concept for some hunters to accept when they have spent thousands of dollars for a hunt. I hope to relay to you a story about six hunters who took six bulls week before last at somewhat entended ranges with none of the shooters having sufficient experience with this situation. Fortunately the outcome was good and I was able to make some interesting observations that I would like to share. Later as time permits.

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from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I just dug out my Newtonian physics notes on this bedeviling problem. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the time [velocity] to target important countering wind effects? The quicker an object [bullet] gets to target the less time for outside forces [wind] to have effect.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Few of us prefer long shots on a windy, or calm, day. A recent example is six friends from down south who booked elk, deer, and antelope hunts through an outfitter near here. They each had about 10 grand in this hunt. They got their buck antelopes first day at 100 to 200 yards. In the Thorofare they had to make shots from 420 to 678 yards for their elk. They were not trained at this type of shooting, were not properly equipted insofar as optics although rifles/cartridges were acceptable, plus most had never shot at anything beyond 200 to 400 yards. Regardless with wind blowing and snow falling at 9,000 to 10,000 feet they managed to get six bulls in less than five days. They encountered large numbers of mediocre bulls plus a few 300+ animals. They were unable to decrease the distance to the animals due to being on open barren hillsides with few boulders and trees. Obviously they were in plain view of the elk. With some instruction from their guides they somehow made their shots although there were misses, one shot accidentally hit the wrong bull, one gut shot his animal requiring followup and a killing shot, amazingly three were able to reasonably hit their targets with quick killing shots to follow. One hunter killed his bull with a single round at about 500 yards. Yes they were successful in their minds but this was a terrible turn of events to my way of thinking. On the other hand if they had my two long range rifles/scopes, some instruction, and a few practice shots this mess would most likely have turned out to be six reasonable shots and six dead bulls (well I am not truly able to verify this statement not knowing exactly how the wind was misbehaving on those days). Consider that these guys did not originally intend to shoot at those ranges. They were offered no other opportunities any closer and felt that there was not any way they could minimize the distance. I do not recommend their methods and choices or admire their successes even though they managed to pull it off without wounded and lost animals. I think this scenario is not uncommon in the high mountains. Sometimes people just luck out. When we met in Cody after their hunt and they were very interested in my guns and how to use them as they knew they had "lucked out". I don't want this story to influence any of you on your first hunt "out west" to start taking long shots as your luck might not hold like it did for these fellows. Take the long shots at your range prior to leaving home and be ready when you are out of breath, on a steep mountain side, and your only bull is about to leave for Yellowstone. This long range hunting stuff is a bit "iffy" unless everything is right, if it is not then don't shoot.

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from Oryx wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Wind would probably be the reason that there are available to the general public all those laser-beam fast cartridges firing slugs of fairly good mass.

Less time and more mass = less drift, right?

Speaking for myself, the only way I could hit targets at 600 meters in anything stronger than a flea's fart of a wind would be to phase my bullets into a non-windy sub-space realm and bring them back just before my target.

Close to impossible, I agree, but still more probable than me connecting at 600 in this windy part of world.

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from OutdoorEnvy wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I just hope people exercise good judgement and don't take long shots they are not capable of hitting. So many people will buy an amazing rifle but the rifle only shoots as good as the person. You can't go buy a set of Callaway golf clubs and expect to shoot par without practice. I know my limitations and thus won't be tempted by the darkside of taking very long shots I am not prepared for.

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from jcarlin wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I'll admit that I chose my cartridge based on it's very flat ballistics out to 300 yards and that was important to me. I'll also admit that I'm unlikely in a hunting situation to be presented with a shot over 100 yards and would be hesitant to take a shot over 150 yards, which is better for all involved. Which i guess makes me the stereotypical "Pennsylvani Rifleman". At the same time for me to get a shot at those distances, I'd have to hunt at a playground or a farm that I don't have permission on. I'm fairly certian i need to drive 90 minutes to get a range where I can even practice at 200. If I'm later in life blessed with the kind of free time and resources to do some hunts in more open locals, I promise I'll also have the time to make sure I'm up to the ranges involved beforehand.

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from mftkoehler wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

As a shooter, I am entirely unqualified to comment, having never shot over 100 yards, but as a scientist, I think that Kenny Jarrett is closer to the truth. With an aerodynamic bullet, you lose far less velocity out to 500 yards than you might think. Remington's ballistics tables, for example, show that the .30-06 Premier Accutip 165 grain bullet keeps over 2/3 of its muzzle velocity out to 500 yards. This means that we can probably ignore the changing velocity of the bullet as a first approximation, meaning that wind closest to the shooter is going to deflect the bullet more than wind at the target. Since you know what the wind is where you are shooting, knowing what is happening 75 yards downrange is the next best piece of information to have.

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from Oryx wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Don't get me wrong; I think having shooting skills and training at 600 M. is a good thing. I'm just not there (yet?).

My motto:

"Prepare for the worst, hope for a beer."

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from Ferber wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Yup. Doping wind is the hard part at long range. When I was shooting pistol with the Navy, from time to time the big-bore rifle coach would come over to the pistol benches and grab one of us to shoot rifle in a team match he was running if he was short a 'gun'. Pistol shooters know sight alignment importance damn well and can 'hold'. Of course, we tend to know nothing about wind/bullet havoc but it doesn't matter in team matches. It's the coach who tells you what to do: 'up three' right four' etc.

It was always fun and a nice break sometimes from shooting a full 2700, three-gun aggregate every day!

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from Ol Krusty wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

All the more reason to keep ones shot to less than 400 yards while big game hunting. Really these 600 to 700 yard shots are just for bragging rights. I think the critters we hunt at least deserve one well placed shot right in the boiler room instead of a blown off leg from two to three feet of wind deflection. Leave the long range shootin on the range.

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from PbHead wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

"Elevation is science. Windage is voodoo." I wish I had said that.

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from Scott Jones wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

"Elevation is science. Windage is voodoo."

Thouroughly interesting topic. I'd like to have the time to shoot at long distance and play with my rifle more. But I don't; gotta eat/must work.

Does not apply to my hunting, most of my shots at game are between 30-90 degrees of elevation

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from fordman155 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Dave: I think your ways to guage wind speed are right on the mark. I'm going to tape them on my backpack.
I agree 100% that wind at the target and at your location don't effect things. In my opinion, effects of the wind 1/3 of the way and 2/3 of the way to the target is what you need to compensate for, and more so at the 2/3 mark since the bullet is going slower = more effected by a cross wind. By the time the bullet reaches the target the wind has done everything it can to the bullet. With respects to Kenny Jarret, he's probably correct in juding the wind within 100yds of your location. Its hard juding wind when you can't really feel it. Seeing what the wind does is somewhat easier, but still a huge factor.
Where I hunt it is common to have no wind where I'm shooting but strong gusts in the vicinity of the target. That is a real problem since hearing a gust is difficult, if even possible. If the grass / vegatation is not moving, then that is the best time to shoot (provided the animal is cooperating with you).
Last December a friend missed a huge white tail buck at around 300yds. There was a 20-30mph crosswind that he didn't quite hold into enough and the bullet wizzed right by the nose of the buck. If we haven't all had a situation like that, it will happen eventually.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I believe that the single most important factor your can do to deal with wind effects is to select a high BC bullet. It is best that this projectile still is hypersonic at the point of impact for maximum effectiveness on game animals. Also realize that long range target shooting from a rest and long range shooting/hunting share similarities but also possess considerable differences. Those of you who seem intimidated by shooting more than 100 yards or so keep this in mind, most any rifle you have in the .270 class or bigger has a point blank range of 300 yards or more. If you are certain of that range just hold on the hair and shoot, IF the wind is not blowing. The farther the shot the more various factors come into play. If you are really interested in this topic look at Longrangehunting.com. By the way DEP I tend to use mirage much like BigBboy describes. I do not consider myself to be more than a student of long range given than I have only 10 years experience and am still learning. DEP unfortunately if I utilized your two methods of wind speed determination where I hunt it would be off the high end of the chart 98% of the time. Of course you know this as do other Rocky Mountain folk on this blog. Another hinderence that no one has mentioned is vertical air flow, maybe combined with horizontal. Add that piece to the equation and tell me what you think.

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from ec_nick wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

See this is another reason why I enjoy bowhunting much more than riflehunting and it isnt so much for bragging rights as it is the much more intense hunt. Think about you are shooting something that is capable of hitting something you can barely see, but for me to hit it I have to get in on the action the experience is everything. that is why people still get a kick out of shooting does with a bow because it is still a challenge. Also if I rifle hunted I would be tempted to shoot at something over 200 yards and I am capable at that range but it just is not fair to the animal you know, If your deadly at 600 yards and you are on the only food source for whitetails within 5 miles They are gona have to come out there and risk being shot. For a bow I just think the playing field is leveled and I guess thats what I am all about that is why I also enjoy kayak fishing. Just remember I am not saying anything about the rifle hunters and gun nuts because I also rifle hunt and own many guns I am just saying I like to use my bow more

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from BigBboy25 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Mark-1,

You are correct that time of flight does play a part, but we only see the affects of wind in the time difference of the bullets actual flight compared to the flight time of the bullet in a vacuum. This has to do with the transfer of energy. In a vacuum, all of the lateral velocity and kinetic energy would be conserved, as air resistance would not slow the bullet down, however, with air and wind, energy is dispensed to the atmosphere, this change in energy is where wind affects the the bullet. It's just like most sciences, it's not how much total energy, it's about the transfer of energy.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

DEP,

PLEASE LEAVE THE LONG RANG SHOOTING TO US THAT DO IT ;)

TALK ABOUT BEING MOOSED UP!!

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from crowman wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I think shooting at animals at 600 yards is out of the ability of 99 percent of the hunters out there and shouldn't even try it. Another thing is most those hunters have ammo that they find on sale at the cheapest store that carries it with no thought about what the bullet can and can't do. A lot of your bullets will only perform at a certain envelope of velocity and if below a certain point will do nothing but poke a hole in them with no expansion. Read the problems they had developing the Win failsafe line of bullets that will open your eyes to how tough it is to make a great bullets. The trouble with these long range articles is the people reading them think you are talking to them and their ability and they know they can do it when they barely can walk to the refer for a beer. I have been around a lot of 600 yard shooters [ Camp Perry types ] and they practice every day from dry firing at home to firing on the range most hunters see their gun maybe a week before season opens. I have past on a lot of long range shots because I knew I could hit them but that elk may run two drainages over before they stack up and die. Yes I've seen the special rifles that can shoot 800 yards for sheep and do it well but remember when you look down at your rifle that you got at a closeout sale at Kmart it's not the same. Know your real ability because I don't think it would be fun to die from a poorly placed shot and don't believe your the one there talking about when they write about 600 yard shooters those are the lunatic fringe.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

AS FOR,

DEP,

PLEASE LEAVE THE LONG RANG SHOOTING TO US THAT DO IT ;)

TALK ABOUT BEING MOOSED UP!!

OK, I was off my med's, got to take it easy. LOL!

Sorry Dave sounding so caustic.

Recon it goes both ways, should leave the writing to you. ROFLMAO!

____________________________________________________

As I've been told and experienced, a no wind on the on the target end and WINDY on the shooters end has more effect.

WHY?

Glad you asked!

The bullet drift by wind, the farther the distance of deviation the more effect it will have.

one inch of deviation at 200 yards would have far more deviation if it happen at 500 yards for a 1000 yard target. Sure, the bullet has slowed down, but you're talking about only milliseconds of bullet travel.

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from BigBboy25 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Clay,

I disagree, I've heard both arguments for near and far wind affects and did some research for a fluid dynamics class last year on this theory. I tested bullets in wind tunnels and used some math to calculate the effects of a bullet at near and far range. Both theories make sense and if you go off either, and are faithful to it, I believe you will hone your skills to that method and be successful. But from my knowledge, I don't personally believe one wind is dominant over the other 100% of the time. It's not a scientific answer but I've concluded that it really 'depends' on which wind is dominant.

Think about camp perry, there is one 1,000 range (can't remember which one) that has a lane of trees on the edge of the firing line on one side for the first rough 200 yards. If you get assigned to this 'wind tunnel' as it is called, the effects of the short range wind is negligible as the wind is blocked and diverted, then you really have to pay attention the wind farther downrange. Less wind and less wind currents is always better. A lot more X's seem to come up on the target on less windy days.

This is just my opinion though.

to each his own.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

BigBboy25

Either way, it's 32 clicks up (1000 yards), 7 clicks for wind, fire one for effect, compensate and let'r rip' CHIP!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

PS

Never been to Camp Perry, wanted to, but every year whas right in the middle of my job to be dar!

That tree line what I'm told, is a bugger bear!

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from Zermoid wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

"Which way does electrical current travel?

Positive to negative or negative to positive?"

Actually, DC current travels Negative to Positive.
But in practical application it doesn't really matter much, I only found that out reading some electronics theory books.

As far as long range shots are concerned I've shot at 900 yds reasonably well on a range with rock solid shooting benches, and MISSED deer at 150 yds under hunting conditions! But what Kenny says makes sense. Wind drift is effect over distance. And the closer to the target a bullet gets, the less it is able to effect it.

Say a bullet 50 yards from it's target gets pushed 1/8 of a degree off it's path. that would be very little effect. But getting pushed 1/8 degree off at 500 yds to target could make you miss by quite a lot! Think MOA.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Zermoid

Say a bullet 50 yards from it's target gets pushed 1/8 of a degree off it's path. that would be very little effect. But getting pushed 1/8 degree off at 500 yds to target could make you miss by quite a lot! Think MOA.

Got it "BASSACKWARDS" LOL!

______________________________

50 100 200 400 800

1/8" 1/4" 1/2" 1.0" 2.0"

______________________________

500 1000

1/8" 1/4"

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

"Which way does electrical current travel?

Positive to negative or negative to positive?"

YOU ARE RIGHT!

As David said,

Half right?

Half wrong?

Just a flip of a coin is all they had!

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from BigBboy25 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Clay,

I think Zermoid was referring to a bullet getting pushed 1/8 of a DEGREE strait out of the muzzle. If you graphed a bullet's path with an 1/8th of a degree slope, it would get farther and father from the center as distance from the muzzle of the rifle increased.

I'm not sure but he was talking in degrees/radians, you have inches as units.

Just trying to clear stuff up for my own understanding on this discussion. I find the wind affects on bullets to be very interesting.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Caught it this afternoon, good catch Bro!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Regardless which way it is, the first shot will always be a calculated shot risk)

Regardless of how you slice it and dice it, what every way you make it work for you, go for it!

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from big_buck_hunter_2013 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

now im no long range shooter. I never shoot past 200 hundred yards whitetail hunting, and theres really no long range ranges in my area. furthest one probally goes 200 yards at most, but theres more 100yard ranges than there are 200yard ranges. ill keep my 100yard shots and leave the 500-1000 yard shots to the pros.

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from DaleM wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Not really long range but: I recently did some shooting with a .22 rimfire at 200-yards. At one point the wind was gusting so strongly from my left that it made me wobble sideways in the standing position. I would have guessed that I'd need to point the barrel about six-feet left in order to hit the target. However in practice the silhouette went "ting" when I held on it's left edge. The terrain between me and the target was obviously having a MAJOR effect on the wind. I don't know how you predict that unless you've got a LOT of experience shooting at that particular location.

Several years ago I decided not to take any shots at unwounded game beyond 300-yards. I haven't missed a shot since.

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from marmy wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

Hunting Elk in Colorado last year i was put in this situation. 4 days of hunting with only a glimpse of one bull. On the last day of the hunt the weather turned bad but the guide took me to an area higher in elevation than we had been in the days before hoping it would be more productive. We found a small herd with one good sized bull and 2 smaller. The guide and i hiked a couple miles up one side of a steep ridge constantly glassing the herd on another ridge across a canyon. By the time we were in any position to shoot it was after 4pm and snow was coming down and it was 25 degrees. The shot was 400 yards across the canyon in a snowy breeze with the afternoon light fading quickly. The guide said, it's now or never. Between the weather, the distance and stage freight I was more than a little intimidated. I have confidence shooting paper at 300 yards on sunny days with a 308 and 22-250 but had never attempted a money shot beyond 250 in the field. I had opted to upgrade my 270 to a 300 mag, which i purchased and modified with a Leupold 4.5-14 days before the hunt. I had barely time to sight it in and only put 15 shots downrange. The range i use only has 100 yard lanes and i decided to zero it 2 inches high at 100. I used my backpack as a rest in the prone position, lined the crosshairs on what i thought to be a couple inches high on a broadside shot to the vitals. I thought if i missed his organs, i'd land a spinal hit. I Pulled the trigger and completely missed. The bull heard the shot, not knowing the direction from which it came took only a few steps and stopped. Leaving me another good broadside shot. I looked at the guide who was glassing the bull for an indication on where my shot landed, turned and tersely snapped you missed, hurry, reload and shoot again !! I did so and this time aimed even higher thinking the last shot had most certainly dropped below the bulls chest. I pulled the trigger and once again completely missed. Now I was angry, embarrassed and humiliated but even more determined. The snow coming down must have distorted the sound of the shot because the bull barely moved. In 2 seconds i had the 3rd shell in the chamber and this time focused the crosshairs right smack in the middle of the bulls shoulder. I pulled the trigger and it dropped in it's tracks. When i got across the canyon i found i had hit the shoulder very near where i had placed the crosshairs. It was 9:00 pm when we dressed and got the bull off the mountain.

In the excitement of the moment I had dramatically over compensated for bullet drop between the zero and the inches i added for the distance.

Luck, not skill, saved me that day.

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