PRO TIPS with USAMU - Setting the Right Zero

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Reading the Wind


Sergeant Grant Singley explains the effects of wind.

In high power rifle competition, there are several factors besides the shooter and the rifle that can effect your shot placement down range. Today, I’m going to talk to you about reading the wind during high power rifle competition. The wind blows a bullet off its intended path as it moves down range.


A five mph crosswind at 600 yards will move an 80 grain .223 bullet about 15 inches. You can see that being able to accurately read the wind will greatly enhance your success on the rifle range.




To adjust for the wind, you have to determine its direction and velocity. We use the clock method when talking about winds.

From two-to-four and eight-to-ten o’clock are considered full value winds. 





Winds from one, five, seven, and eleven o’clock are considered half-value winds. 





Six and 12 o’clock have little or no effect on the round, and are considered no-value winds.


You now have to determine the velocity of the wind. There are many indicators you can use. The most accurate is an electronic wind meter. You can also look at objects on the range such as flags.



Here are some guidelines on how the wind affects objects. Zero-to-three mph, is hardly felt on the shooters face, but smoke will drift.

Three-to-five mph is felt lightly on the shooters face.

Five-to-eight mph keeps leaves in constant movement.

Eight-to-12 mph will blow dust and loose paper.

12-to-15 mph winds cause small trees to sway.





The primary method shooters use to judge wind is by reading the mirage. 

What exactly is mirage? Mirage is the reflection of light through layers of air that have a different temperature than the ground.  These layers are blown through by the wind, and can be monitored through a spotting scope, to detect direction and speed. You can see what appear to be waves running across the screen. This is the mirage. 

The waves appear to be running right to left, which indicates a wind coming out of the right. To clearly see the mirage through a spotting scope, you bring the target into focus, then adjust the focus about a quarter turn counter clockwise.




Now that you’ve seen what mirage looks like, let’s watch as the coach read the mirage, and adjusts for it. Remember the two things you must determine, in order to adjust for the wind redirection and velocity. Learning to read the mirage, and adjust for changes in the wind are skills that are acquired over time, and take lots of practice. 

We’ll see you on the rifle range. Until then, stay Army strong.



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