Using the Reticle as a Wind Gauge. An idea for match shooting.

BangBangBlatBlat

Sergeant of the Hide
Jun 7, 2012
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#1
This word salad is supposed to be a more concise offshoot of the various wind-related posts I have made across the board in various threads while I try to convince people to put masking tape on their scope turret. I kind of came up with this idea from one of the threads about the Podcast episodes. Mainly my goal is to have some methodical approach to diagnosing wind during PRS matches that isn't entirely reliant on using data from other shooters, or just holding off in a direction and hoping for the best. I felt like I was getting lost trying to juggle a bunch of different mil-values, and want to be able to translate hits or misses into an actual wind value and jumpstart planning for the next stage.



The Problem
Time constraints in rifle matches require shooters to make quick and on-the-fly guesses for a suitable wind correction. The "edge of a plate" and "wind dummy" methods often works well enough but are not a methodical approach and have drawbacks.

Old school methods that work on the range get in the way of recording information that may be useful in the future. If you ask a shooter coming off the line what they did for wind, they will give you a correction in 1/10th mils for specific target distances. "I held the left edge and then held half a mil at the 1000 yard target."

The weakness of thinking of the wind corrections as a x mils at y distance is that it is not immediately intuitive to apply corrections at different distances.





The Solution (Maybe?)

Why is there masking tape on my scope turret? What are the numbers?

The numbers on the tape are how many miles per hour of wind it takes to move my bullet 1/2 mil. I used a ballistic calculator to come up with where to place the mile-per-hour markers.

The idea is to dial the range to the target, and be able to read the number on the tape to help use the reticle as a wind gauge. For instance if I dial my 1000 yard zero in todays weather, the closest number will be 4. That means I can think of every half mil marker as 4 miles per hour.



How can we use it?

First it allows us to almost instantly assess how much wind it will take to push our bullet off of the target. This allows us to get a good idea of how difficult the shot we are trying to make is just based on knowing the target distance and how much of the reticle it takes up.

For instance if we lay the rifle on a 1/2 mil target at 400 yards the number on the tape is going to be 9 miles per hour. As long as the wind guess we apply is within 9 miles per hour we should be able to hit the plate. It's an easy target.

If we lay the rifle on a 1/2 mil target that is 1100 yards away, the tape is going to be right between the 3 and 4mph mark. We know that our wind call now has to be more precise, and that 1/2 mil = 3 or 4mph (I might use 3.5)

The second thing that it allows us to use our shorter targets to provide information to use on our longer targets. For instance if we are shooting a typical walk-it-out type stage, we can fudge the wind on the shorter targets, and as long as we see our impact we can convert that into a mile-per-hour value.

An example: We have a 1/2 mil plate at 500 yards, and a 1/2 mil plate at 1000 yards. 1/2 Mil = 7mph at 500, and 3.5mph at 1000.

Let's assume a left to right wind. We have looked at the flags, grass, and Kestrel, and done a séance to get a rough idea that the wind value is around 6-10mph...and we'll call it 8 for our first shot.

We hold the half a mil of wind edge of plate at 500 yards and fire our first shot. The impact is roughly half-way to the right side of the target for a total displacement of 3/4 mil. So we look at the reticle and count by our multiplier of 7mph. We know the wind is between 7mph and 14mph; actually it is half-way between.

We aren't good at math so we take a stab at it and call it 10 miles per hour. If we did the long-division we'd come up with 10.5mph. But we make a quick note that "It's about 10mph"

We dial our 8 mils to get to 1000 yard. Now our half mil value is 3.5 miles per hour…so we can count by 3.5, or just beer math it and count by 3's and then add a little more.

Or count by 4s and add a little less. 3,6,9…9 is close to 10…lets shoot it. Or 4,8,12…12 is close to 10…lets shoot it. Our starting correction is going to be right around 1.5 mils. We can somewhat quickly come to a wind solution based on feedback from our targets.

Further Application

One huge advantage is in keeping track of data. You can come off a line and say "I held for x-miles per hour wind". Now we are thinking about the true value of the wind downrange instead of just "it was worth x mils at 700 yards."

Most shooting venues are layed out so that shooting is all going to be done in the same direction. For example, CORE and Alabama Precision both have stages that are close enough together that the conditions from one stage to the next are not radically different. We can have a competitive edge if we can recognize trends.

Another practical advantage is that you can now relay a wind value to other shooters instead of just a mil-value hold. Now .308 and .223 shooters can better communicate with people with the flatter and faster calibers. This might be a good shortcut for shooters in team matches where the secondary shooter carries a gas gun.
 
Aug 21, 2007
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#3
IMHO Wind is 50% science and 50% art.

You’re trying to science it, you need to feel it - that’s the art.

Every wind has a cycle and the science part captures the extremes of the cycle in terms of mechanical adjustment, but what you feel on your face, what you watch the vegetation do, what you note about the terrain, the lighting conditions, weather moving through...

Sortta like folks some folks shoot 'their wind’ in the cycle, while others shoot 'the wind' in the cycle.
 
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MarinePMI

Battery Operated Grunt
Jun 3, 2010
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#4
Ditto what Mike said. That being said, a baseline reference can be made "scientifically". Once this base line is established (say like a baseline of 5mph, full value, left to right, calculated in a Kestrel or dope card), then the "feel" part that Mike referred to is applied. Terrain contours, sun light (partly cloudy days), direct/angle of wind, direction/angle of sun, can all then be applied to the shot. To me, this is where countless hours on the range or behind glass (spotting) can pay huge dividends in making a correct call. Visualizing the wind as a liquid flowing across the terrain, and rising and falling based on terrain, sun light (and direction/angle of sunlight) requires a certain amount of "feel" or intuition that is (IME) impossible to "calculate" in software. The only ballistic computer that can, is the one between our ears. Understanding how sunlight heats air (and subsequently, how the rising air can draw currents in opposing directions of the prevailing wind, even up hill), where this occurs in the flight of bullet (further out obviously has more effect; not from time of flight per se, but more so from velocity of bullet (or more precisely, it's BC at that velocity)), and rising or falling as the round (literally) can impact eddies and walls of air currents of wind (think thermocline in the water; two different temps of water currents flowing next to each other, with a bullet pushing through the walls of each current).

IMO, reading the wind starts as a ballistic curve, with the mind reading all these factors and running multiple trig problems in the brain and adjusting that curve (adding and subtracting values) along its path for a wind call that can be surprisingly, very accurate.

I think Caylen Wojcik nailed it perfectly, when he described it in a podcast (forget which one, maybe a Gunwerks one) as "Understand that you are throwing the bullet into the wind, and allowing the wind to push it back on to the target" (or something to that effect). If you watch enough trace through a spotter, you should totally understand this; a bullets path is rarely a smooth and consistent arc. Quite the opposite actually. Now granted, I have watched (literally) hundreds of thousands of rounds sent down range as a PMI, but I can tell you, it didn't take nearly that much to begin to build that "feel" in the back of the brain housing group when calling wind. The challenge (IMO) is learning to be confident, and "letting go" of the hard math answer; listening to that sub conscious part of the brain that already "knows" what the call is. That nagging sub conscious voice is what (IMHO) what people refer to as being able to "feel" the wind call; the challenge is being confident enough to listen to it.
 

MarinePMI

Battery Operated Grunt
Jun 3, 2010
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#5
I would like to add something to this after thinking about this a little more (and having another cup of coffee after a previous 12 hr day, and 8 hr flight home last night). All too often in my observation, people get caught in a 2 dimensional world when thinking of wind. Flat targets (paper or steel) which are essentially 2D, cause many people to try and calculate wind and elevation in 2 dimensions, precluding them from thinking in the much more complex 3 dimensional view of a bullets path. One thing I have done (many years ago) with problem shooters, was to put a 3D target out on the range as a training aid. I would take a 3D archery target (like a deer or bear) with a "kill zone" of 10" and place it out at distance, and then hide a 10" popper behind the target, obscuring it with the archery target so that it couldn't be seen by the shooter. When they viewed the target, most shooters tended to approach how they mentally processed the wind/elevation call differently. It seemed as if it was more intuitive to them to think in 3D, if the target was 3D, and had some depth to it. This perception of depth (IMHO) allowed them to think (and listen more attentively) to what that little voice in the back of their head was saying, since they couldn't see the plate behind the target (and could only hear the impact on steel), since the target now had some "depth" to it. This helped visualize in 3D as well as build confidence in listening to that inner voice/ballistic computer that was telling them what they already knew, but was being suppressed by raw logic and two dimensional thinking (up/down, left/right only). This was akin to remedial pistol drills I would do with shooters by flipping the paper target over, so they would only see a white piece of paper with no bull. With no target to focus on, they tended to focus more on sight alignment rather than over focus on sight picture. The same logic applies to the 3D target/popper set up. Forcing them (mentally) to think of the target in 3D, and as such, the environment around them in 3D. This allowed them to better mentally visualize the wind in 3D, vice a affect that just affects the target as up/down or left/right correction.

Again, just my thoughts on this from classes given many years ago, and a believe that shooting is largely mental. I'd be curious to hear if Frank, Caylen or Phil ever tried this, or if they do try it, what they see in results from their shooters results and comments. It seemed to work for me with some of my perpetual Unk/barely Marksman requal shooters in the Marine Corps.
 
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Skookum

Knuckle Dragger
May 6, 2017
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#6
Within the context of a PRS match, I can definitely see where this would help a shooter visualize the wind bracket, error budget, whatever you choose to call it. It might be an effective way to "game" the stage a bit better.

The negatives are that:

1) You are still doing wind math, you are just working the equation from a different angle. You are still making a wind call based on what you see, or are told. You are just changing the language slightly between shooters.

2) It would be very hard for a shooter and spotter to communicate using this system on dynamic targets that are not of known size, and refuse to stand still.

If a shooter understands the BC method, the translation between cartridges as different as 308 and 6mm Creedmoor aren't any harder than the method you are proposing here. Just my opinion, take it for what you will.
 

MarinePMI

Battery Operated Grunt
Jun 3, 2010
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#7
Within the context of a PRS match, I can definitely see where this would help a shooter visualize the wind bracket, error budget, whatever you choose to call it. It might be an effective way to "game" the stage a bit better.

The negatives are that:

1) You are still doing wind math, you are just working the equation from a different angle. You are still making a wind call based on what you see, or are told. You are just changing the language slightly between shooters.

2) It would be very hard for a shooter and spotter to communicate using this system on dynamic targets that are not of known size, and refuse to stand still.

If a shooter understands the BC method, the translation between cartridges as different as 308 and 6mm Creedmoor aren't any harder than the method you are proposing here. Just my opinion, take it for what you will.
I think you're confusing or misunderstanding my comments. I'm not referring to the BC method as not being sufficient, merely that it is a basis of wind estimation. The BC method (IME) does work well, especially on a range where terrain is fairly wide and open. My comments are more in line of estimating wind above and beyond the BC method; where irregular terrain relief and environmental conditions add or subtract to the BC method's initial results, and that a simple system is good to get a starting point, but that when weird terrain comes into play, the BC method will still not account for effects that are evident at distance, and can cause some to want to pull their hair out due to "bad wind calls", or blame it on "spin drift" or some other nonsense. Also, my comments are not so much in the context of a PRS match per se, but in the context of any shooting that involves some switchy winds (like a 12 or 6 o'clock fishtailing wind) over uneven (both vertically and horizontally) terrain.

As PRS matches (I believe) start moving to more field match CoF's, accurate wind calling will become more and more crucial in driving winning scores; i.e. first round hits. All this discussion on wind calls is a good thing, and gets people thinking more about it.

Both Caylen and Phil have shot at our local San Diego range, so I'm pretty sure they get what I'm driving at in this discussion.
 
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Skookum

Knuckle Dragger
May 6, 2017
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#8
I think you're confusing or misunderstanding my comments. I'm not referring to the BC method as not being sufficient, merely that it is a basis of wind estimation. The BC method (IME) does work well, especially on a range where terrain is fairly wide and open. My comments are more in line of estimating wind above and beyond the BC method; where irregular terrain relief and environmental conditions add or subtract to the BC method's initial results, and that a simple system is good to get a starting point, but that when weird terrain comes into play, the BC method will still not account for effects that are evident at distance, and can cause some to want to pull their hair out due to "bad wind calls", or blame it on "spin drift" or some other nonsense. Also, my comments are not so much in the context of a PRS match per se, but in the context of any shooting that involves some switchy winds (like a 12 or 6 o'clock fishtailing wind) over uneven (both vertically and horizontally) terrain.

As PRS matches (I believe) start moving to more field match CoF's, accurate wind calling will become more and more crucial in driving winning scores; i.e. first round hits. All this discussion on wind calls is a good thing, and gets people thinking more about it.

Both Caylen and Phil have shot at our local San Diego range, so I'm pretty sure they get what I'm driving at in this discussion.
I agree with all you have said sir. It was my mistake that I did not reply to the OP directly. It was his initial post that I was commenting on. Thank you for your insight.
 

Sheldon N

Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut
Sep 24, 2014
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#10
One huge advantage is in keeping track of data. You can come off a line and say "I held for x-miles per hour wind". Now we are thinking about the true value of the wind downrange instead of just "it was worth x mils at 700 yards."
The squads I've shot with (which includes guys like Caylen) generally already do this. Everyone starts out scanning the stage and terrain and talking in wind MPH and any effects of features. Usually people will say things like "I think it's about a 7-10mph wind full value" or "I'm going to run it at 11mph". Then you go get your data app and build a wind chart for your stage with low/mid/high winds. When it's your turn you start out with a plan but end up shooting on the fly, generally more by spotting impacts and feel of what the wind is doing as far as being on the upswing/let-off. Shooting a single target I pretty much never think about mph, just where is the bullet going and what correction I should make. The wind grid is there to help me transition between targets. I can glance at my chart and know that I left off target #2 in my "low" wind grid and pick up there for target #3 wind hold.

Then walking off the stage we usually communicate in Mph. I might say "I started off with my 7mph dope but ended up at 12mph". You can't really talk in mil holds alone unless you are talking to a guy running the same bullet/speed. Our squad in the Utah PRS match included 6BRA w/ 105's, 6 Dasher w/110's, 6 Creed, 6.5 Addiction and 308 so everyone had different bullets and different speeds.
 

BangBangBlatBlat

Sergeant of the Hide
Jun 7, 2012
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#11
Yikes. I get off work and someone read my bullshit post.

@MarinePMI

Trust me. I understand what you are saying. I have shot myself more than my share of cleans at distance. I'm not new to wind reading, spotting, or shooting by the seat of my pants. I earned my NRA Master card for Long-Range shooting an AR10 with iron sights...that whole game is basically trust your gut and your fundamentals.

And I kind of hate working that way. Because even some of the best get lost...and when you're lost you are lost. We call em trainwrecks for a reason.

I've also shot my fair share of matches where everyones best guess gets thrown out the window and guys come off the line with the answer "I have no fucking clue."

I've also seen the way a lot of the International Long Range teams work and they really try to recognize trends and conditions on ranges. Part of the reason for the tape is for me to be able to put in my notes that "The wind is worth x miles per hour" in my notebook more quickly than I normally would.

Knowing that the true wind downrange in Alabama is 20mph to 25mph on one stage can save you points on the next stage because half the match is shot on one big open field. And it does get that windy.

There are also matches where there wasn't really readable mirage, or the winds are moving in from almost 12 o clock.

Or there are places like CORE where the lanes are narrow enough that what you see on the line is not going to be the same as downrange because the trees are a windbreak.

I came up with this for myself to help me stay on track during matches because in my mind there are basically two kinds of challenges in PRS; there are targets to test your fundamentals, and there are targets to test your wind reading ability.

I just know as a matter of fact that the PRS barricade stage that every match has is more about being solid on the wall...if I just favor into the wind I can get all the hits.

I know the stage at Alabama where they shoot from 800-1200 yards is about wind reading and because of how high the winds can get that taking the time to apply this method might earn me an extra point if I pay attention to where my bullets hit on 800 and 900 yard targets. (Yes I know wind isn't the same at every distance, but the stage I am mentioning, your bullet is still flying through most of the same air to get to 1200.)

Thinking of the reticle in miles per hour of wind doesn't change my stage prep process or consulting with the wind committee. I'm still looking through glass and watching other shooters.

But it's there as a tool to help me stay on track for when the whole wind seance fails because now the wind is coming from a different direction.

And it's also there for those big target/small target stages where you do get to pick your target. I can look at my reticle to see roughly how wide the target is, look at my elevation setting, and see how accurate I have to be with the wind. There is a stage at the last match I shot where that would have helped a lot. The small targets were worth twice the points and I'm pretty sure looking back I could have hit the 2 small targets that were closer and still got the same points on the far ones. That's 4 more points and would have put me into 4th place.
 

BangBangBlatBlat

Sergeant of the Hide
Jun 7, 2012
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#12
The squads I've shot with (which includes guys like Caylen) generally already do this. Everyone starts out scanning the stage and terrain and talking in wind MPH and any effects of features. Usually people will say things like "I think it's about a 7-10mph wind full value" or "I'm going to run it at 11mph". Then you go get your data app and build a wind chart for your stage with low/mid/high winds. When it's your turn you start out with a plan but end up shooting on the fly, generally more by spotting impacts and feel of what the wind is doing as far as being on the upswing/let-off. Shooting a single target I pretty much never think about mph, just where is the bullet going and what correction I should make. The wind grid is there to help me transition between targets. I can glance at my chart and know that I left off target #2 in my "low" wind grid and pick up there for target #3 wind hold.

Then walking off the stage we usually communicate in Mph. I might say "I started off with my 7mph dope but ended up at 12mph". You can't really talk in mil holds alone unless you are talking to a guy running the same bullet/speed. Our squad in the Utah PRS match included 6BRA w/ 105's, 6 Dasher w/110's, 6 Creed, 6.5 Addiction and 308 so everyone had different bullets and different speeds.
I know I end up shooting on the fly. The tape is there as a reference to be more intelligent on the fly because sometimes the wind plan can go to crap or a target you thought was big and easy is actually a lot more difficult because it's further.
 

Sheldon N

Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut
Sep 24, 2014
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#13
I know I end up shooting on the fly. The tape is there as a reference to be more intelligent on the fly because sometimes the wind plan can go to crap or a target you thought was big and easy is actually a lot more difficult because it's further.
Yeah, I guess what I was getting at is that in the moment of shooting a single target for repeat engagements I don't think about wind speed, just use the reticle to get a corrected hold off seeing my miss then add any additional correction if I think the wind is picking up or letting off. No math, no thinking about distance vs correction factor multiplier, just shoot/see/correct with some gut feel anticipation of the wind. I don't have the mental capacity to do much more than that. Any spare room in my head I try to focus on seeing the big picture conditions.

Example stage from a couple weekends ago in Utah. Single distance target at 820 yards, decent sized plate but cross canyon with no easy wind indicators between you and the target. 10 rounds, 90 seconds, 3 positions that were semi-prone natural terrain where you had to find your window for line of sight between bushes. Started out with a baseline wind call of 1 mil for a 10mph wind. First round goes 1.5 mils, miss right. I correct right at 1.5 and next round misses right again with impact at 2 mils. I hold 2 mils and then miss left, too much wind. Wind goes from everywhere between a 0.5 mil hold to a 2 mil hold (5-20mph) in the span of 90 seconds, constantly up/down. Just building positions and target acquisition takes up a third or maybe half the total time, so actual shooting is roughly 6 seconds per shot.

Aside from the fact that the wind raped me on that stage, my biggest takeaway was that I need to be on the anticipation side of the wind curve rather than reacting to what happened 10 seconds ago. The things that get in the way of that for me are stuff like building a position, adjusting a bipod to get line of sight, target acquisition, general stage adrenaline, and anything that takes too much thinking. I seem to do best when I clear my mind and pay attention to the bigger world around me beyond just the plate and what's in the scope.
 
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TexasTightwad

Sergeant of the Hide
May 30, 2018
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#14
It seems like a really good idea to me. It seems similar to the difference between using a mil or moa scope. Both work and both require math, but an individual might find one more suited to them. I am just starting out in LR shooting, and I think I will try starting out with this method. Nothing to relearn!
 
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