Where on Wednesday twenty five: Decreasing wind uncertainty

in #whereonwednesday9 months ago

You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. - C. S. Lewis

I like this saying. It sort of means that only in standing tall and facing things can one confront them, understand them and overcome them. Me likey. Anyway, that's not what this post is about...

As a long-range shooter I'm always chasing accuracy; It simply doesn't make any sense to go to the amount of effort required to shoot at long range only to miss one's target be it a steel sporting target, an animal or targets that one might find in a military or law-enforcement scenario.

Many elements have to come together to shoot accurately: Ammunition quality [I make my own], weapon-system set up [rifle and scope], shooters technique, determining range, reading the environmental factors, ballistics data or data on previous engagements [DOPE], spin-drift, aerodynamic jump, aerodynamic and mechanical properties of the projectile, barrel harmonics, coriolis effect and much more. It's complicated.

Sending an accurate shot to 1000+ metres is much more difficult than it looks on the movies and a great deal of science goes into it.

Fortunately I have spent a lot of time working on the science of it, understanding the concepts and putting them into practice. I shoot accurately to 1500 metres [1640 yards] with a hit-percentage of around 90% give or take a little; I'm a good shooter and have the best equipment and training. I practice a lot too. Why? Because I want to.

So, a lot comes into play in long range shooting...But all that effort can go to waste if one is unable to perform one of the most basic of elements; Basic, yet incredibly difficult to master...Calling the wind; Speed and direction.

Wind affects accuracy obviously, the hit-percentage, so it makes sense that improving ones' ability to accurately call wind speed and direction will improve the outcome. The best situation is to eliminate wind uncertainty altogether however in the field that is not possible, so one needs to increase the ability to accurately determine the wind - A skill I practice a great deal and am pretty good at. [Not ego, just fact.]

I call the wind at somewhere around +/-1 mph which is considered excellent. Sure, I'm not always right, but I'm right enough times. A novice shooter may only hit +/-3 mph accuracy in wind calling. But what does that mean to the shot?

To demonstrate allow me to use the .308 Winchester calibre in a rifle/ammunition combination that shoots at 0.5MOA in accuracy at 100m with a standard deviation (SD) in muzzle velocity (MV) of 10 feet per second (FPS). Let's also use a standard human-chest-sized steel target.

In a zero-wind environment it shoots at 100% hit-percentage, meaning all rounds on target.

Add +/-1 mph of wind uncertainty and some of the shots miss the target. An 87% hit-percentage is gained. Just with the wind call being inaccurate by plus of minus 1 mph! Remarkably with a +/-2 mph wind uncertainty that percentage drops to only 55%...Certainly not acceptable.

Interestingly, a +/-3 mph wind uncertainty only drops hit-percentage down to 42% - A pathetically poor accuracy and certainly bad enough to make the shooter not take the shot.

It is pretty clear that learning to call the wind expertly is critically important to accuracy.

As a novice shooter some 28 years ago I was pretty clueless - I didn't know I was clueless at the time but the more one shoots the more one comes to know how much one doesn't know. As my demand for accuracy, improvement in hit-percentage, grew so did my appetite for the knowledge and understanding that would improve it. So...I started learning, not just shooting.

But how did I learn the wind? It was quite simple really...I just grabbed my Kestrel Meter [an environmental meter that measures altitude, humidity, the wind, latitude, temperature and wind [among other things] and started reading the wind...Everywhere I went.

I'd look at the trees and call the wind then check it against the Kestrel...Over and over again. I'd look at the dust, sand, paper or leaves blowing, flags on poles, grass, wheat, wheat-stubble, cows tails, horses manes, waves/water on the ocean and lakes...Literally anything that was moved by the wind. Slowly I became better at it.

From there I recruited other people...Mates also learning the wind, my wife Faith, whomever agreed to come with me. I'd equip them with a CB radio and my Kestrel Meter and send them downrange a kilometre (1000m) and I'd stay back looking through my rifle scope at trees and things calling the wind downrange getting them to call back the actual speed to me. They'd kick up the sand or dirt, throw handfuls of grass in the air, even just stand with loose clothing on so I could call the wind as it blew. Once my proficiency improved I sent them further away and practiced some more.

I even started calling the wind from the mirage I saw through my scope. A mirage boiling vertically indicates no wind. A slow-mirage, say 30° means 1-3 mph, 60° some 4-7 mph and a fast mirage at 90° some 8-12 mph. Of course there's other factors here and mirage is always verified with other wind observations.

I'm pretty good at it now, but like a top pro golfer I practice my swing so to speak...Over and over. It keeps my wind calls sharp and at a high level of accuracy. A note...It's very important to observe how the wind affects different things...A gum tree will behave differently than a palm tree, wheat crops differently to winter grasses etc.

Just a word on calling wind over distance. I've shot over terrain where the wind is going in one direction at say, 300m, the opposite at 700m and opposite again at 1000m! In this case each wind call is averaged out to provide an acceptable wind call. Swirling wind is very challenging but with practice it is still shootable. The wind has the greatest affect on the projectile at greater distance as the bullet slows nearer the target so that's the wind call to get most accurate, and the one I lean to in this difficult situation.

Anyway, this is getting long!

Wind typically brings the greatest uncertainty in long range shooting and causes the most misses; Higher-performance rounds like the 300 Win Mag are affected much less, but are still susceptible and the requirement to call the wind speed and direction accurately is always a necessity when shooting at long range.

Over the years I've studied the effect of the wind on my long range shooting, analysed the results in many different situations and recorded the data, the DOPE. This enables me to take shots now with the minimum of fuss and maximum hit-factor which, for a shooter in any circumstance, sporting, or in a military or law enforcement application, is critical to operating at a high level.

Aim small miss small, but get the bloody wind call right!

Thanks for reading.

Tomorrow isn't promised - Design and create your ideal life, don't live it by default Discord: galenkp#9209 🇦🇺

Images show my custom cerakoted 6.5mm Creedmoor long range rifle. You will note a red and black band around the base of each round...That's the marks I add when I make them to identify them against other shooters' cases. (I collect them after firing for reloading).

Some data has been lifted from Accuracy and precision for long range shooting by Bryan Litz.


Hell ya! This was incredibly interesting for me. I love to shoot and have always had a natural inclination and ability to factor in things in like windspeed and gravity (I shot the SHIT out of break barrel pellet guns and .22's when I was a kid and made a lot of 'impossible' shots lol.) I always have wanted to learn the math behind accuracy when firing a high powered rifle long range. I knew the coriolis effect had a role, but have never known the formulas one would use to crank out an accurate spot. That little fact about the accuracy percentage levels in different wind conditions is illuminating. Thank you @galankp I enjoyed the fuck out of this post and nice gun! When asked my favorite color my entire life, by the way, you know what my answer has always been? "I don't really have a favorite color it's more a color combination. I like red and black together." Ask my girl! It's true hahaha. Cheers to STEEM! Cheers to GUNS!

Thanks mate. This is just a small part of what goes into an accurate long range shot and it gets very complicated. The mathematics is extremely difficult and often the time isn't available to make the calculations so a ballistics calculator is is used to get a field firing solution.

Having said that, the ballistics calculator needs information to be able to spit out an answer and it's that information that determines how accurate the FFS is. Things like barrel twist rate, projectile weight and type, ballistic coefficient, scope height and offset from barrel, density altitude (altitude, humidity and temperature combined), azimuth, angle of shot, range, plus the wind direction and speed of course. (Plus a few other things)...

Then one needs the right equipment, set up correctly. And accurate ammunition which factories can't really provide...Each round needs to behave the same. I take a lot of care to ensure the seating depth of each bullet is exact across all my rounds, that the exact amount of powder is in each one based on my load development research and that the the standard deviation (SD) in muzzle velocity between rounds is under 10fps.

I've been doing this for a long time and have had some of the best training available. It can certainly be taught...But not on steem. I write these only for fun and to promote to people that shooting isn't just about beer and bad choices. It's an activity that requires a lot of effort, dedication and understanding, especially when one makes their own ammunition as I do. That's a whole different thing altogether.

Thanks for being interested.

Well, wish I could take a trip to the outback to learn! Maybe, one day. You clearly have a lot of knowledge in the field, and that is valuable knowledge in my opinion. It could be very valuable. You never know how this world will turn our or what you might have to do to protect those you love, family, country, and whatever anybody gives two fucks about. :)

I like teaching people. My wife Faith shoots at a kilometre (1000m/1094yards) - She doesn't get all the science behind it, but she can shoot! I like having these, and other, skills. It makes me feel a little more prepared for all sorts of eventualities - Survival skills and things I mean. I see shooting as a part of that.

I am on the same side of the same glass, but I'm firing with iron sites... working on getting my optics upgraded.. in life generally that is. Happy new year, man, 2020 is gonna be great.

Yep, it's a kick ass year ahead I think. I have connections in high places and I'm assured me, and everyone I know, is going to have a cracker! :)

I am a Keebler Elf.

Legolas was an elf and he was cool. You are too. :)

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Happy New Year my friend @galenkp. I didn't read your post, sorry, no time, we are busy with taking care of the family and our new baby.
Just wanted to say, best of health and happiness for this new year 2020. Biff, sounds like the future is already here, 2020????
Sending hugs to you and your lovely wife Faith. Peace be with you.❤

Hey there, no problem, most never read my posts anyway. I'd expect you to have more important things to do right now like be with your newborn so no apology is required.

I'm hoping for a great 2020 for ourselves and everyone we know...The greater community. It'll be what it is though and as usual we'll deal with it. I hope to end 2020 with a smile on my face, good health and with a good stock of awesome memories. I wish you the same. x

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Thank you.

Howdy sir galenkp! Are there any movies you've seen that accurately portray the distance shooting? Like American Sniper?

This is a good question. Most of the movies don't depict all of the stuff that happens prior to the shot being taken...It's boring I guess...American Sniper was ok I guess, but it didn't show anything of substance. I guess I'll have to say no, I haven't seen one single movie that has portrayed distance shooting accurately. Although one sniper movie I like a lot is Enemy at the Gates. Worth a look.

Oh man, that was quite the movie! Very powerful story. I was wondering if Shooter with Mark Wahlberg was any good in that way, it seems like it had quite a bit of technical information about distance shooting.

Yep, that movie added some of the technical element as he mentions spin drift, coriolis temperature and wind...But only briefly. It's difficult to make all those things as sexy as they need to be in a movie I guess...Consumers want to be entertained, not educated...It's a plague.

lol..yes it's definitely a plague. All the masses care about are having a good time and being entertained. Then when something serious hits they're in shock and rendered helpless.

Rendered helpless and become a drain on others...Seems to be the way of it these days.

Yeah there's a good argument to be made that says to keep your supplies and preparations a secret!

I agree...It's the same on here...People can presume whatever they like based on what they see...Doesn't make it the reality though. We are very private people in real life and typically very few know anything about anything. Works for us.

 9 months ago Reveal Comment