Strategy for handling shifting wind

Apnea

learning
Sep 17, 2017
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CA
#1
I really got humbled this afternoon by the wind. Went 4 for 12 on a 16-18" plate at 650 yards that ordinarily presents no difficulty. 6.5 CM with 15x magnification.

There seemed to be three components to the prevailing wind:
-a fairly steady wind from about 9 o'clock that seemed like about 8-10 mph;
-a wind coming down the canyon from beyond the targets that seemed about 2 o'clock (seemed light but very hard for me to estimate, only could detect from a piece of streamer tied to a bush and effect on splashes);
-sporadic ferocious gusts from about 11 o'clock, probably 30 mph or more (enough to make the sand sting your face).

Shooting location is sort of a little valley or canyon, not shooting across a draw.

I shot a little at 100, 200, and 300 yards without much difficulty by firing during lulls between the big gusts. This did not work so well at 650 yards.

I tried holding a little off the left edge of the plate, thinking that the predominant effects on wind drift would come from the obvious 9 o'clock wind, and I could gauge its relative strength from the mirage, and thus try to time my shots to similar states of wind. This bought me a couple of hits, and my misses were less than a half mil to the right of the target. Hold a little farther left however and I would miss barely left of the target. Every few shots some gusts would come through and force me to wait for calmer conditions.

At this point I am not sure whether, by concentrating on my hold I neglected to appreciate a decrease in the magnitude of the 9 o'clock wind as told by mirage, or whether I should have been paying attention to something else.

How would you guys deal with wind in this kind of situation? For me it was confusing trying to figure out the multiple wind components.
 

demolitionman

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 26, 2013
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Ohio
#3
If I miss, I watch the splash dust(if applicable) very closely. Also, in shifty winds, if I get an impact, I shoot very fast and don't spend any time dicking around hoping that the conditions will hold through my string of fire. Mirage is good to watch as well. Also, I don't let other people tell me how much wind they are dialing because it is never the same for me, even if we are shooting the same calibers. Funny how that is but it's true.
 
Jun 26, 2012
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N. Carolina
#4
If I miss, I watch the splash dust(if applicable) very closely. Also, in shifty winds, if I get an impact, I shoot very fast and don't spend any time dicking around hoping that the conditions will hold through my string of fire. Mirage is good to watch as well. Also, I don't let other people tell me how much wind they are dialing because it is never the same for me, even if we are shooting the same calibers. Funny how that is but it's true.
Especially on a KYL rack. Get that first hit and shoot as fast as you can before that wind shift.
 

demolitionman

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 26, 2013
1,105
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Ohio
#5
Especially on a KYL rack. Get that first hit and shoot as fast as you can before that wind shift.
For sure, yeh, a 22lr is real eye opener in some shifty wind even at 50yards, but it just blows my mind how you talk to 5 different guys at a match shooting 6.5's and every single one of us will have totally different wind calls but still be making impacts. My scores went up when I finally quit listening to others, and shot what I could see happening downrange. What's the famous Frank quote; "the bullet tells the truth, believe the bullet" or something like that....

I heard you on the PodCast yesterday....was a good one about the MileHigh class. Nice shooting man and good dialogue.
 
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FatBoy

Chris Hayes, Nashville TN
Jul 29, 2001
642
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Nashville, Tennessee
#6
I don't shoot PRS style comps, so this may not be relavant... On the KD range, I will pick the one flag that seems to be most relavant and try to only shoot when THAT flag is in the previous position, but you have to be fast with your shots.

My personal take. When it comes to wind there are three ways to deal with it:

1) refer to good DOPE and do your best, accepting that at best you're swag'ing it and your percentage may not be what you expect.

2) get closer. not feasible in a comp but for real life shit, like hunting, it's almost always possible if we set ego and adrenalin aside.

3) step up in caliber and weight. My 6.5x47 shooting 142s at 2830fps gets killed at 1k compared to my 300wm with 230gr OTMs at 2800. Not even close. Bring the right gun...

Wind is what makes shooting interesting, as you can never consistently beat it. If it wasn't for wind, and venison, this shit wouldn't be worth wasting the time and money on.
 
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Jun 13, 2008
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#7
Spend more time at the plate, and when you are there, don't take your eye off the ball, or that curvy bitch will smack you right in the melon.
 

Apnea

learning
Sep 17, 2017
136
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CA
#10
If I miss, I watch the splash dust(if applicable) very closely. Also, in shifty winds, if I get an impact, I shoot very fast and don't spend any time dicking around hoping that the conditions will hold through my string of fire. Mirage is good to watch as well. Also, I don't let other people tell me how much wind they are dialing because it is never the same for me, even if we are shooting the same calibers. Funny how that is but it's true.
The splashes seemed to be blown toward me, wasn't sure what to make of that. I hadn't the presence of mind to correlate that with the nearby makeshift wind flag.

Would it make sense to dial back magnification to be able to observe more wind indicators downrange while holding the rifle on target? I'm thinking now that if wind is presenting such a challenge, a great view of the target might be of secondary importance to a better understanding of what the wind downrange is doing. Zoom out to pay attention to bushes etc.
 
Jul 10, 2014
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Humble, TX
#11
The bullet flight tells the truth...always with good ammo.

The challenge is to shoot at a given point, watch the splash, then when conditions are similar make the appropriate holdovers.

If you shoot under different conditions from the splash...fubar.
 
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Erud

Sergeant of the Hide
Jul 17, 2005
572
15
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#13
Shooting well in the wind takes a lot of experience. If you have an opportunity to shoot on a KD Range with pulled targets(f-class or NRA Prone matches) the near-instant feedback will show you a lot about what wind changes do what on target. A lot more so than on steel where any hit is fine, and a miss may or may not provide any useful info. It still takes a lot of time to be any good at it, and most shooters never will be. For me, learning to read wind has been a lot like learning a foreign language via immersion. The more I am exposed to it, the more I understand.
 
May 6, 2017
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#14
To the OP, I suspect your instincts were actually pretty good, you just didn't do the math as well as you could have.

You were dealing with at least 0.8mil - 1.0mil of wind (8-10mph @ 650 yds) and your target was a little less than 0.8 mil wide at the distance you stated. You said you were compensating most of the time by holding the edges, so you were only holding half of your needed correction or less.

In this instance, that drops your hit probability to 50% right off the bat because you were holding just enough wind to move your group center to the opposite edge.
 
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Rthur

Philomath
Apr 16, 2010
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#15
Shooting well in the wind takes a lot of experience. If you have an opportunity to shoot on a KD Range with pulled targets(f-class or NRA Prone matches) the near-instant feedback will show you a lot about what wind changes do what on target. A lot more so than on steel where any hit is fine, and a miss may or may not provide any useful info. It still takes a lot of time to be any good at it, and most shooters never will be. For me, learning to read wind has been a lot like learning a foreign language via immersion. The more I am exposed to it, the more I understand.
While not as popular as PRS, Fclass is very good at practicing wind reading/calling.
88 called/observed shots across a several hour period is enlightening.

R
 

Apnea

learning
Sep 17, 2017
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#16
While not as popular as PRS, Fclass is very good at practicing wind reading/calling.
88 called/observed shots across a several hour period is enlightening.

R
Recently did a 1k match with pulled targets and came away feeling like I learned quite a bit. Well worth the effort.
 
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Apnea

learning
Sep 17, 2017
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#17
To the OP, I suspect your instincts were actually pretty good, you just didn't do the math as well as you could have.

You were dealing with at least 0.8mil - 1.0mil of wind (8-10mph @ 650 yds) and your target was a little less than 0.8 mil wide at the distance you stated. You said you were compensating most of the time by holding the edges, so you were only holding half of your needed correction or less.

In this instance, that drops your hit probability to 50% right off the bat because you were holding just enough wind to move your group center to the opposite edge.
I'm glad you said this. I think I got so preoccupied with timing shots to the conditions that I didn't realize that this hold doesn't make much sense. I'd see the downwind miss/splash and think "the wind must have changed" when a more likely explanation would have been that my hold was too small. I was basically ignoring my dope card, but if I had looked at it, it would have been obvious that I needed a bigger hold.
 
May 6, 2017
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#19
I'm glad you said this. I think I got so preoccupied with timing shots to the conditions that I didn't realize that this hold doesn't make much sense. I'd see the downwind miss/splash and think "the wind must have changed" when a more likely explanation would have been that my hold was too small. I was basically ignoring my dope card, but if I had looked at it, it would have been obvious that I needed a bigger hold.
We all do that stuff. It's hard to slow down when there is more ammo to shoot!
 
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demolitionman

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 26, 2013
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#20
While not as popular as PRS, Fclass is very good at practicing wind reading/calling.
88 called/observed shots across a several hour period is enlightening.

R
Isn't F class shot on perfectly flat courses typically?Your not shooting across valleys, draws, swells or any natural terrain features at all that would cause alot of the confusing situations that a shooter runs into in the backcountry or at alot of PRS competitions.
 

Erud

Sergeant of the Hide
Jul 17, 2005
572
15
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#21
It’s pretty rare to find a flat range outside of a military base. About all civilian KD ranges are built over varying degrees of terrain. At any rate, every range is different regardless of whether it’s KD or PRS, so learning to speak the overall language is going to be more beneficial than learning how any particular range acts.
 

Rthur

Philomath
Apr 16, 2010
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#23
Isn't F class shot on perfectly flat courses typically?Your not shooting across valleys, draws, swells or any natural terrain features at all that would cause alot of the confusing situations that a shooter runs into in the backcountry or at alot of PRS competitions.
There may be, the ones I've shot at had terrain features that were challenging.

R
 
#24
While this sounds straightforward, I'm not sure exactly what you mean. Can you elaborate?
First understand wind is never the same from muzzle to target. Second think of it as a river of wind carving new channels all the time. The terrain has a great influence on where the the river flows an the wind speed has a great influence how it reacts to the terrain. While your contemplating your last shot the switching wind can change greatly. Read the conditions fire the shot, ready your next shot but hold until the conditions are the same as your last shot. Hold the correction until the conditions are the same then shoot.
 

FatBoy

Chris Hayes, Nashville TN
Jul 29, 2001
642
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Nashville, Tennessee
#25
chasing the last shot is something most of us fall for. As Gunfighter said, by the time you get your downrange feedback conditions HAVE changed. Maybe not enough for a correction, but the wind is almost never the same shot to shot.

Chasing the spotter, in the traditional sense, is what chasing your last shot is. For example, I shoot a 9 at 3 o'clock. Pissed, I immediately either hold 10 left, or click 3/4 MOA left and fire without really checking the wind, hoping to catch the end of the X or a solid 10. (LR1/MR1 targets) This means I'm chasing the last condition I shot in. It works 90% of the time, but that means 10% your fucked. Nobody is happy shooting 180 scores when High Master at 1k is 194+ or 197+ at 600.

If you can learn to read the wind on this KD range, you have a damn good chance of being the next national champion.

20150912_092628-1280x720.jpg
 
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Apnea

learning
Sep 17, 2017
136
38
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CA
#26
Thanks Chris and Gunfighter. This makes sense, and easy to see the miss and do just what you described. Harder to notice what I didn't quite expect and "why did the bullet do that?"
 
May 12, 2017
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#27
For sure, yeh, a 22lr is real eye opener in some shifty wind even at 50yards, but it just blows my mind how you talk to 5 different guys at a match shooting 6.5's and every single one of us will have totally different wind calls but still be making impacts. My scores went up when I finally quit listening to others, and shot what I could see happening downrange. What's the famous Frank quote; "the bullet tells the truth, believe the bullet" or something like that....

I heard you on the PodCast yesterday....was a good one about the MileHigh class. Nice shooting man and good dialogue.
I agree with you on your quote. Understand your multiple wind dirrection and speed between you and your target. Let your bullet be your guide. There is no be all answer Just my experience .
 
Jun 13, 2008
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#28
The bullet flight tells the truth...always with good ammo.

The challenge is to shoot at a given point, watch the splash, then when conditions are similar make the appropriate holdovers.

If you shoot under different conditions from the splash...fubar.
Jim, that's fine unless you are under a time constraint and the wind is inconsistent, or if you are in a transition like an approaching front or storm.

It CAN work in steady-ish state wind very well.

If a guy spends time shooting under any time constraint (as is the case in a lot of field, military, and competitive shooting), he will very quickly have to learn how to dope every single shot. Only the very, very experienced wind shooter can just look at the range, hear the cartridge, and make a call within 1/2 Minute either way.

But I've seen them and shot around them. Those guys didn't get there by waiting on conditions all the time.

chasing the last shot is something most of us fall for. As Gunfighter said, by the time you get your downrange feedback conditions HAVE changed. Maybe not enough for a correction, but the wind is almost never the same shot to shot.

Chasing the spotter, in the traditional sense, is what chasing your last shot is. ... It works 90% of the time, but that means 10% your fucked.

If you can learn to read the wind on this KD range, you have a damn good chance of being the next national champion.

View attachment 6894946
Some good knowledge there. Nice photo of Oak Ridge, too. Mean ol' bitch.


-Nate
 

FatBoy

Chris Hayes, Nashville TN
Jul 29, 2001
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Nashville, Tennessee
#29
...Nice photo of Oak Ridge, too. Mean ol' bitch.


-Nate
If Hillary did have a testical lock box, that's where she would bury it.... I think most people who shoot ORSA have a love/hate relationship with it. NO other KD range I have been on has unexplained verticle like Oak Ridge. That valley is a motherfucker.
 

Greg Langelius *

Resident Elder Fart
Aug 10, 2001
4,994
404
83
Arizona, good place for me...
#31
Some of us have shot the Carlos Hathcock Match at Cherry Ridge NJ range.

It's shooting across a valley at the towering Cherry Ridge behind. The 300yd firing line arcs over the 200yd firing line, and the valley drops out transverse to the trajectory just beyond that 200 yard line, funneling under the curve. Then, there are the tree lines parallel to the trajectory on each side of the range.

The currents and eddies become pretty tangled, and the wind flags at the far ends of the pits usually point to the opposite of each other.

It can be fun with a capital "Aw, F*CK ME!".

Cherry Ridge was also once the home of the National (now Camp Perry) Matches, as was Red Hook NJ, and Creedmore LI.

Greg
 
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Greg Langelius *

Resident Elder Fart
Aug 10, 2001
4,994
404
83
Arizona, good place for me...
#33
My mistake, I misremembered Sea Girt, NJ as Red Hook, NJ. Good call, thanks for the correction.

Back when I was living in NJ, a friend (Billy Miller) had/shared access to Sea Girt, which was (is still?) an NJ State Police facility. Pretty place.

Greg
 
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