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Wind reading

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Last post
LJ Fraser
Wind reading

Forums need activity to keep the focus on the sport so i propose to open forum discussions on gear, tactics, wind reading, group centring, rifle zero, true wind zero, case preparation, rest selection and many more.

First thread_

Wind reading - wind reading is a skill that is in every precision rifle sport from rimfire to large bore, Short range benchrest is one of the sports where you have the opportunity to gain insight into the effects of your current conditions on the impact point of your shots.
other disciplines only have the luxury of limited sighters and business shots to count.

The common elements in all shooting sports are Wind direction strength and effect, Mirage direction intensity and visual effect on sight picture, lighting.

What are the strategies that you employ at the bench pre start time, what do you look for, what is your awareness of the surrounding information about the conditions you are about to shoot in. Do you have a plan.

Let's hear from shooters, what your thoughts are, there is no right or wrong, it is about what you have learnt and can pass on, for those who like to fence sit on topics like this be my guest you may learn something, please don't turn this learning experience into a debate it is your thoughts to share only.

Over to you all for comment.

cheers Les

John B
John B's picture
Good topic Les

This is a very interesting topic as I'm sure everyone has their own technique and way to "read" the wind.
Well here goes, this is my way of dealing with conditions.

Firstly, I try not to shoot on dead still condition when the flags are not showing any movement. I have been burnt shooting a dead still condition where I shot a .450 group at 100yards with seemingly no wind to speak of. My belief is that the reason for this phenomena is that there are parts of the range, especially early morning when there may be some dew on the ground and the sun hits certain areas causing columns of air to rise disproportionately with areas further down your line of fire, which then causes varying bullet dispersion, mostly vertical. That's my thoughts anyway.

I also try not to shoot a hard blow no matter what direction. If the tails are already horizontal you have no way of knowing if or how much the wind velocity increases. So the idea for me is to shoot while the flags are readable, I can either hold off when there is a velocity change or wait to get the same condition. I also prefer not to shoot a straight tail or head wind as I find it a bit harder to read the flags, but I will shoot this if this is the prevailing or constant condition mostly by watching flags to my right or left as they will give me a better angle then the flags directly in front of me.
I will at times shoot the "red/green" where a couple of flags are showing a left to right and one or two flags may be showing opposite as long as it's fairly soft and taking care that every shot is on same or similar condition.

Ideally the condition lasts long enough to fire off 5 shots on to the business target but if not, I will stop once the condition changes and either wait for it to come back or go to sighter to work out or just estimate amount of push and hold off for the remaining shots. I rarely "machine gun them down" in order to beat the change, I prefer a steady (not slow or fast) rate of fire. I have found that most times, no matter how tough the conditions are when the commence fire order is given, you will find that during the 7 minutes the condition will calm down or change enough to put a few shots on the target.

One other thing, I believe that in a well tuned rifle, the bullet is stabilized and the wind has less effect on it compared to an unstable bullet.

Just my 2cw

chrisjon65's picture

Well this topic is definitely a doozy.
I am going to put what I have been told over my short time in benchrest into a few small comments
1. Watch the flag 1st flag at Canberra
2. Watch the 3rd flag at Canberra
3 Watch the flags on the far right hand side at the 150 mark at Canberra while shooting 200 yds
4. Wait for the drop in the tails
5. Wait for all the flags to be the same
6. Watch the tails
7. Watch the props
8. Shoot when the flags are pointing towards you
9. Shoot when the are pointing away from you .
Holy crap no wonder I am confused as a new shooter .
I would love to hear from some our great shooters as to which path I should follow.

LJ Fraser
Wind reading

Wind / conditions is more a control of your thoughts once you get the hang of condition effect on your loads at the two ranges set out for short range. 100 yards has its own inherent problems in that shooters often hold over two much and push their own shots out of the group. So this is how i read the wind. Firstly flag set up is very important and to know where on the 100 to 200 journey you put your flags to provide the best indication of the wind effects. I don't like using surveyors tape I much prefer to use the green BRT tails that come with the flags this is because the wind speed is detected on the angle of the flag from vertical. As for direction if the wind has a predominate cycle then i will try and look for the either the change over or the pick and shot this in the sighters. Wind has pararmeters to shoot in so concentrate on how long this parameter last look at your stop watch before the match starts time the wind cycle you want to shoot in. I with practice you can get 5 shots of in 4/7 seconds if you have your set up right. The biggest mistake you can do is try and see every shot if you have two on top of each other and you are looking for the third chances are you are not running that condition once you stop. The other is to know when to stop shoot with both eyes open. You can control your mind to visualise either eye it takes practice and you can do it whilst you are sitting at home or driving. Concentrate on your left it and see each guide post then change to the right whilst still looking forward. periforal vision is with everyone learn to use it when are are shooting your string if the flag changes stop shooting shot a sighter and reassess then continue with your string.

What ever technique you use there are alot of books and very good articles on wind reading I will try and get a list together after Australia Day and post it up for everyone.

Wind conditions are visualised by every shooter differently. If i am on the range at any shoot and a new shooter whats some advice I provide them with some guidelines and something to think about it is up to them if it is a comp to either try the concepts out of go on their own journey.

Good luck to everyone at Australia Day see you all soon. This is a great conversation thread lets keep it going .

cheers to all Les

My Rimfire thoughts

I really only play at 50m rimfire and mostly on the IRB or RBA target with 25 individual scoring rondels, lots of sighters, 25 minutes so some aspects might be different.
I tend not to shoot much at home and travel to comps at ranges I only shoot once a year or new to me. This means for me setup is critical.
I use 5 dual vane flags and 2 wind probes over the 50m. I use a string line to mark the distance out for each flag and probe and also extra strings on the main line to mark the offset from middle. In this way every time I set up, things are as close as possible to the same.
Seven wind reading devices in 50m seems like a lot and could provide too much information and be confusing. At my home range if I shoot every week and had a really good understanding of the wind movement inside or across the range I could use less. When I travel I put them all out and use the practice day and sighters to determine which are the most important on the day and concentrate on them.
My Probes and the flags determined to not be critical are not used to decide when to shoot or where to aim but when not to shoot, This is really important.
The dual vane flag gives me a much better indication of direction quickly by the amount of the inside of the dual vanes can be seen either at the front or back. I use the lighter surveyors tape most of the time, but carry the BRT tails for windy days. I use the propeller for wind speed especially at the higher end.
The wind probes tell me some wind speed and when its OK to shoot.
I usually find 2 conditions to concentrate on, primary (my preferred) and secondary for when time is getting tight. I allow time at the start of shooting to test the conditions and my holds then I get started. Once started on the target I use the sighters only to test my thoughts on condition and aim point if required. I also use each shot as a sighter for the next shot to decide if I go back to the sighter, make micro adjustments, or keep running the shots.
I also prefer to shoot with some wind push especially from mid morning onwards. Really early in the morning at ranges like Newcastle and Coffs I am happy to shoot the still dense air. Lately I have struggled in the higher wind speeds and need more practice in these conditions.
My Shooting rhythm is controlled by the wind, my natural shooting speed if there is no wind to be concerned with can have the IRB target finished in 10 minutes. Add the wind and I have used 24 minutes and 55 seconds plenty of times. If I have to hurry I can run a full target in 6 minutes. I am lucky my rifles are happy to wait 2, or 5 minutes and still shoot the same without needing to fire a sighter to warm it back up. So, it is very normal for me to shoot a string of 3 or 5 shots in a hurry while conditions suit, then wait till they return for the next string of shots.
On a really good day with plenty of practice and confidence behind me I get as close to a "flow" state as I am going to get and it all just clicks and works no matter the wind, these are the best days but they are rare and becoming more rare sadly.

John B
John B's picture
Probes and flags

Hi Brett,
Interesting that you use 5 flags and two probes up to 50 meters. In CF we generally use 4 flags to 100 yards and then usually another 2 from 100 to 200. I know some prefer not to have too many flags but depending on the range, I think it is beneficial to have an extra flag between 100 and 200. I also like to have an overall view of all the flags on the range as it gives me an idea of what's coming.
I did try a little bit of rimfire and the bullet is certainly pushed a bit more by the wind. Takes some adjusting from CF and vice versa.

LJ Fraser
Australia Day Wind Majura range Canberra

I am sure after the Australia Day Match there would be lots of thoughts on wind reading and comments from competitors. A rough day at the office to say the least. 100 was catchy with mirage and wind but 200 was certainly an opportunity to learn from mistakes. Coloumb 64.4gn Bergers at 200 Yards I found in sporter to be very wind sensitive compared to BT projectiles in the other classes. The setting up of flags also plays a big part in how well you can understand the conditions.
What did you look at Majura and what did you learn?

chrisjon65's picture
Oz day wind

As You stated Les it was tricky.
I found the 200 wind to be easier to read but the 100 was a mystery.
I think it’s important firstly to ensure all the flags are operational and similar in performance.
We had 3 or 4 different flags types and each reacted differently but I am fully aware every shooter experience the same conditions
I guess as I’ve told and read traditionally there is 4 flags at 100 and another 4 out to 200 , 8 in total.
One would assume they are around 25 m apart, with one almost at the bench and the last one 25 metres from the target
Something I like to do at Silverdale is stager 2 rows of 5 flags with one flag about 5m from the target and one 10m from the target so in practice I only have 10 m gaps down range between the 2 rows .
The reason I do this is because of the nature of the range and how wind swirls a lot there due to many mounds being present .
The late Steve Sori always setup way out at bench 29 / 30 because he knew that area wasn’t effected as much by the wind and mound issues.
So I guess what I am trying to say is would 5 flags work better with each bench having a flag close to target and one close to the bench and the rest staggered at 10m intervals to close the gaps between flags .

Canberra had a few mystery fingers of wind that had many top shooters baffled and me as well .
When all the flags are showing a red blow and your round goes a hard left on target that was frustrating to say the least .
I would like hear how other shooters approached these tricky conditions.
Cheers Chris

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