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Rifle Shooting Tip: Reading the Wind

Reading the wind is the art of estimating the wind speed and direction. By following a few simple observations, you’ll be able to compensate for any wind that would affect your bullet when making a shot. You can observe the wind wherever you are and practice your ability to read the wind. It will be easier to apply this when you’re hunting after spending some time practicing.

You will be learning how to determine the wind speed, the wind direction and be able to assign a value to the wind. You’ll find this useful even on the shooting range.
To determine wind speed, follow these guidelines:
– 0 to 3 mph Wind is barely felt, but smoke drifts
– 3 to 5 mph Wind can be felt lightly on your face
– 5 to 8 mph Leaves on trees are in constant movement
– 8 to 12 mph Dust and loose paper are raised
– 12 to 15 mph Small trees begin to sway
The direction of the wind is easily detected by flags at a shooting range or competition. In the field, if you have a small handkerchief, it can help you determine the wind direction if you can’t feel it clearly.

Next you need to assign a wind value. Visualize a clock face. You face twelve o’clock. Wind from twelve o’clock and six o’clock will have no value, they will not affect the bullet. The same wind from three o’clock and nine o’clock, however will have full value, and you’ll need to correct for a strong wind from these directions. Visualizing the clock face, full value will cover from two to four o’clock and from eight to ten o’clock. The areas between twelve and two, four and six, six and eight, and ten and twelve are given half value. These areas may require some compensation on your part if the wind is strong enough.

Now that you know how to evaluate the wind value, let’s imagine you’re in the field. You ask yourself, “How much is the wind worth?” The wind will affect your bullet through a combination of several factors, like the weight and caliber of the bullet, its ballistic efficiency and the time of its flight.

Let’s take a look at an example. If your target is 600 yards away, a 1mph Full Value wind will move your bullet approximately 3 inches off target. At 600 yards, your 3 inches is equal to one-half Minute of Angle (MOA). This is a 1mph constant. So, if you know your wind’s value and speed, you can estimate a fairly accurate adjustment.
Let’s try another. The wind is blowing from the right to the left, so you have a right wind. This wind is a Full Value wind from three o’clock (remember our imaginary clock). Your estimation of wind speed is approximately 8mph. If our 1mph constant is .5 MOA, you multiply 8 times .5, giving you a correction of 4 MOA. If the wind were at half value, you would adjust only 2 MOA.

As you can see, a minor adjustment on your part can make a big difference in your accuracy in hitting a target. Practice reading the wind and you’ll be able to hunt in many different weather conditions successfully.

Scott Peters is an avid outdoorsman and hunter. For more informaton please see Nikon ProStaff Scope.