Calling the wind is the single hardest thing for a long range shooter. Going beyond 1000 yards in tricky conditions is even harder, here is one of the ways I address the problem of wind at ELR distances.
Sniper’s Hide Bullet Point, Engaging the Wind at ELR Distances
Reviewing new rifles like the Ashbury Precision ASW300WM is always fun. Going out each week under a variety of conditions exposes me to all sorts of varying winds. Some days I am fortunate to have consistent or even moderate winds, other days are subject to big swings in the highs and lows. This past Tuesday was no exception. Heck the winds were so crazy they even knocked over my C Stand and boom mic, that makes for some sporty shooting.
Earlier in the week someone asked in the Sniper’s Hide forums how guys account for winds at ELR Distances. These are generally distances beyond 1000 yards, and because my personal range goes to 1 mile, I often shoot past 1k. With the APO ASW300WM, I was hoping for favorable conditions to hit that 1 mile mark. Driving up Route 52 passing the local airport, I noticed the wind sock sticking straight out and knew that wasn’t gonna happen. I never scrap the day, I just shoot a bit closer, it’s still outstanding practice for me to shoot under these conditions and provides a learning opportunity for all.
VIDEO: SNIPER’S HIDE BULLET POINT DANGER SPACE
I keep a series of notebooks on everything I do when at the range. Recording the conditions is very important. With each new rifle comes a new set of challenges. From mounting the scopes and zeroing, to chronographing and doping out to distance, I treat each rifle as if they were mine. Collecting this data allows me to compare my real world experiences from platform to platform. It broadens my experience so I can better address problems when teaching a precision rifle class.
Today, my conditions were:
Barometric Pressure: 25.14
Temperature: 93 Degrees
Density Altitude: 8000ft
Now for the winds, this is tricky
High : 14.5MPH
Average: 8 MPH
The tricky part, the gusts came in two sets of waves, we had the low guys which were 5MPH to 8MPH and the high gusts, 10MPH to 12.5MPH with a couple of spikes over 12MPH to has much as 14MPH. Like waves on the beach, but with a bit more variety. Wind does not move in a straight line, nor does it stay constant. It’s a challenge to understand where the shot will fall as the conditions are always changing.
As I figured this was a learning experience, I planned on filming at the target as well as mid range. So when setting up the steel, and moving back to the firing line I would stop off and record the conditions. The range has cows on it, they like to rub up against the steel and often knock the targets over. In this case I needed to replace the T Post at 1250 yards, so I figured that was a good place to shoot the 300WM.
The range is my videos has a gentle slope up towards a natural berm, but also has a high point on the right side blocking the wind past 1k. From 900 to 600 yards, the right side is open, and lower, and it rises back up from 500 to the firing line. In other words, Terrain. Normally my wind is from 9 O Clock where it’s much more open before terrain becomes a problem, but today with a series of fronts moving about, it was from 2 to 3 O Clock were terrain is a much bigger factor.
Wind is like water, and terrain is like putting obstacles in a stream. The more obstacles you drop in the water, the more turbulent it becomes. Same thing with wind, so studying the terrain and how it effects the path of the wind is important. You don’t always have the best indictors to work off of. In my case, you cannot see the area from 600 to 900 yards in the wind’s path. There is a small rise in my way. Gauging what is going on at the mid range point is hard, very few indictors to work off of. Mirage also only works in lighter winds, once the wind goes over 10MPH the mirage just lays over and only gives you an indication of direction not so much velocity. Determining a 10MPH mirage from a 14 MPH one is not going work. Especially alone, and from behind the rifle. You can back the scope’s focus off and pick up the mirage at the target, but again, this is not very practical under these conditions. I already know what direction the wind is coming from.
The bullet I was shooting the Swiss P / RUAG 220gr 300WM. I had chronograph data at 2835, but for JBM to line up correctly I used 2750fps. Also bringing the wind in line with my actual hold was 12MPH.
This drop chart also matches up to known data, so for the purpose of this article, it lines up nicely. What you see is super close to actual data used in the video.
As you can see from the drop chart, we are over 100 Inches of wind drift. That is over 5x wider than the plate I am shooting.
Having a Plan
So how am I doping the wind to get a hit on target ?
First, I monitor the wind for approximately 2 minutes to get an estimate of the Highs, Lows, and Average. Then taking that data, I use my TRASOL solver to determine my drop and my wind hold for each of those values. I want to know what my mil hold for each one is. From there it’s all about the fundamentals of marksmanship and recoil management.
Recoil management is what allows me to see the results of my impacts when operating alone like in all my videos. I am by myself when filming and shooting. So I have to see what is going on downrange so I can make the appropriate corrections. Under the conditions I was experiencing a first round hit at 1250 yards pretty hard. But a second round hit is a practical expectation. Seeing the results of my impact, believing the bullet and correcting is the order of the day. No Horus reticle necessary, I just see and correct using the Mil-R reticle in the NF BEAST Scope I am using.
Stick to the plan, use the data collected and after the first round flies, believe the bullet.
I noted that when checking the wind downrange, the wind at the target was much lighter than the wind at 900 yards. That opening in the terrain increased the velocity by as much as 6 MPH on average. It was very clear, but you don’t always have access to go downrange and record the data. Instead I dope the wind at me. It’s the starting point for all calls. I can read it with a meter, I can see what the wind is doing around me, and I hear the changes in my electronic muffs which can assist in fine tuning adjustments. It has to start some where and that is at you.
My group downrange was 3″ in size which is great, but only the second and 3rd shots hit right off the bat. The wind changed dramatically causing me to shift my hold by as much as .5 Mils and then for that 3rd shot in the group, back to my original hold. I had several other hits on the plate, but they were in different locations. So the 3rd shot in that small group was actually my 5th shot on the plate. All thanks to the ever shifting winds. I could have just highlighted that and looked like a rockstar, but that was not the reality of the situation. Keeping up with every changing winds never lend to rockstar status. I could have easily recorded the hits at 900 yards as those were consistent, one right after another. And I did record them with my Proof Research 260REM. I hit pretty much every shot I took at the 900 yard plate. Extending my range to just 1250 increased the challenge dramatically. Believe me, this stuff is no linear. It’s never 1 inch at 100, 2″ at 200, 10″ at 1000. It’s more a compounding error factor that grows the further you go out.
You don’t throw rounds at ELR distances, it’s too far and the ammunition costs too much money. So you have to make each shot count. Without an actual plan, you might as well waste the money and walk em in. I get it, lots of people walk the rounds in and enjoy it just the same. For them, a hit is a hit, doesn’t matter if it’s shot 2, or shot 17, hey, they hit the plate right. But I want know what is real, and what is creative editing, the only thing missing in the image above is my tactical thumb. Honesty in my shooting keeps me hungry for doing better next time. It motivates me study and record the data so I can understand how to do it better the next time I faced with a challenging wind call. There is no shortcut to success.
Hope this helps, and like always thanks for watching !