Wind Estimation and Compensation | Long-Range Rifle Shooting with Ryan Cleckner

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as the bullet travels to the target it's

affected by different environmental

factors now the biggest is also the

easiest to account for and that's


but the second biggest factor is a

little bit harder to work with

that's wind hi I'm Ryan collector with

the National Shooting Sports Foundation

we've been putting together a series of

videos to help you with some long-range

shooting and taking my experience as a

sniper team leader in 1st Ranger

Battalion and as a sniper instructor and

turning that into something that you can

use on your next hunting or long-range

shooting trip now when we're dealing

with accounting for wind we're going to

start to bring a little bit more of an

art to the signs there's some right

answers there's some calculations we can

make but you know what a lot of this is

going to come down to what you're used

to and practice of seeing something


trying to account for and seeing the

results now we need to be able to figure

out how to judge the wind speed I know a

lot of people will judge where they're

standing at they can feel the wind on

their face and have a good idea about

how fast it's blowing I've even seen

people take out wind meters and try and

get an accurate reading of what's going

on well the wind meter gives you an

accurate reading where you're standing

but that does nothing for you 500 yards

down range so you can look at things

downrange - you can look at vegetation

you can look at let's say flags or

something that's blowing around

downrange or you can do what I like to

do which is look at the Mirage

now Mirage is just the term we use to

describe the heatwave as you see through

a scope now if you have a high-power

scope it can be the rifle scope or a

spotting scope and you're looking

downrange you can actually see the heat

waves rising up even in snow you can see

these heat waves so you can use it in

almost all environments the trick is

going to be getting your eye to get used

to seeing these waves and being able to

read them so when you focus on the

target with a scope I suggest you back

the focus off a bit maybe to about

two-thirds of the way to the target that

way you're not actually looking at the

target you're looking at the air between

you and the target when you do that you

should be able to see some of that

Mirage in your scope now this is what

the Mirage is going to look like if you

have no wind you're going to see Mirage

that goes like this just straight up we

actually call that boiling Mirage and

that means you either have no wind or

the wind is coming straight at you or

straight away from you

so you can't see any side-to-side change

now once you start seeing that Mirage

changing angles

a little bit you know there's something

going on down range with wind if you

have a little bit of an angle to the

Mirage you can call that maybe zero to

three miles an hour if you have more of

a change maybe about five to seven now

when it gets straight flat to the side I

see that at about ten miles an hour so

if we have straight sideways I call that

a ten mile an hour wind and I can tell

when it's more than ten when those lines

flatten out a lot that means the winds

moving a lot quicker we can be around

the 12 mile an hour range at that point

and by looking at these heat waves and

how they're reacting downrange you're

going to get a better idea what's going

off the wind and what's nice about this

is if you focus your scope at those

different distances you can actually

then pull back even further and check

maybe a third of the way to the target

and don't be surprised especially if

you're out hunting over hills that you

see mirages it looks like this at the

target but mirages it's going the exact

opposite direction closer than the

target that's going to happen between

your hills and valleys the wind is

actually going to change direction and

by using mirages you can actually look

at each section all the way to the

target and figure out what's going on

put all that together into a better

picture so you can figure out what you

need to do to compensate for that

whereas if you have a wind meter or

you're just looking at the vegetation or

brush in a certain area you're only

going to get a good idea of what the

wind is doing there and not all the way

to the target and now it's important to

know the whole way I hear people say

only the wind that the shooter matters

or know only the wind of the target

matters well the fact of the matter is

all of the wind matters even though the

bullet is less affected by the wind at

the shooter than it is at the target you

still need to know at all and I'll say

when I say it's less affected I don't

mean to say that because the bullets

moving faster for some reason it's not

going to get moved I'm just saying it's

exposed to the wind for a shorter period

of time so if you were shooting and

here's your target now I draw a line

halfway the distance doesn't matter

we're just going to talk about the first

half in the second half we know that the

bullet going from the end of the rifle

to the halfway mark it's going to get to

that halfway mark faster then the bullet

is going to get from the halfway mark to

the target because the bullet is still

slowing down so if I have a 10 mile an

hour wind going from straight right to

left and a 10 mile an hour wind going

straight left to right the second half

this 10 Mon our wind is going to have a

little bit more of an effect again not

because the bullets necessarily just

because it's going slower that it's

going to be moved more but it's because

it's getting that time on our wind

longer so might get blown to the left

for one second

but it's going to get blown back to the

right for a full second and a half when

it's flying that second distance so just

knowing that wouldn't help you in this

situation and just knowing this wouldn't

help you you would need to know both to

get a full picture of what's going on

all the way to the target now so you

know how fast the winds blowing so what

you need to know what that winds going

to do to your bullet when it goes

downrange one of the oldest systems I

hear about is going to be a wind formula

they teach in some sniper schools you

can find in manuals all over the place

now this wind formula seems simple

enough and in a way it almost seems like

it's the most accurate but it seems the

most accurate if you're doing

calculations people tend to think well

that's got to be the right answer look

what the calculator told me well as

you're going to see this formula can

work but it's not always going to be the

best answer for you now here's the

formula you take the distance to the

target in hundreds of yards I'll explain

what I mean by that in just a second you

multiply that by the wind speed in miles

per hour then you divide all of that by

a constant now I say you divided by a

constant but you're going to see real

quick here it's not really constant

because it changes we're just calling it

a constant because it makes sense for

the formula now when you work this

formula out you're going to end up with

your answer in minutes of angle we

covered this in earlier videos and

talked to all the minutes of angle R and

what they can do for you if you need a

refresher go back and check out what

those are first so you can understand

what we're going to do with this later

now this constant changes with distance

now again this is what some of the

sniper schools in the military use and

in some manuals this is only going to

work for the 308 round that's set up

coming out of one of those sniper rifles

but the system says that from 100 to 500

yards you should be using a constant of

13 at about 600 yards you should be used

a constant of 12 from about seven to

eight hundred yards a constant of eleven

and then nine hundred and Beyond using a

constant of ten so like I said it's not

really constant that changes but these

are the values you can use now if you

see the other videos I don't like things

that are complicated I want to be able

to do something easily in the field

that's easy to remember and I can use

each time so I just look at these and

even though the numbers get smaller s in

these really far distances I like to use

twelve for everything that's a good mix

for me and although that's not

technically right I'm going to show you

how it's going to be close enough so I'm

going to leave these constants down here

so you can refer back to them and you

can see the difference so let's work

this out for a couple examples I said

first you take the distance the target

and hundreds of yards so let's say we

have a 500 yard target and we have a 10

mile-per-hour wind that we're trying to

account for and I want to figure out

what effect that's going to have on the

bullet well the distance in hundreds of

yards is five because there's five

100-yard increments in there really all

I'm doing is I'm bringing the decimal

place over if it was five hundred fifty

yards I would get five point five so I'm

going to take the distance in hundreds

of yards which is five multiply it by my

wind speed in miles per hour let me

divide it by my constant well over here

my constant says I need to be using 13

so I'll do it the right way first with

13 and show you what we get but then I'm

also going to show you how far off I am

if I just use 12 like I like to in all

distances so let's take our calculator

out my five times my 10 is 50 I divide

that by 13 and I up end up with three

point eight four minutes of angle that

means that wind is going to shift the

bullet that much and the direction the

wind is blowing at five hundred yards

now let's look at the 12 that I use

again we have the five times 10 is 50

divided by my 12 gives me four point one

six minutes of angle well that's a


it surely is but let's figure out what

these minutes of angle are going to be

at that distance

well that three point eight four minutes

of angle

there's five inches per minute of angle

that distance gives me nineteen point

two inch difference that's how far the

winds going to blow to that distance

let's figure it out down here now

my four point one six minutes of angle

times five inches per minute of angle at

that distance gives me twenty point

eight inches not that big of a

difference if you think about it matter

of fact I'd be happy to be able to guess

the wind accurately enough that I'm only

going to be about an inch off you see if

I don't get this wind proper it's

actually going to be more of a problem

than using a different constant here's

what I mean if it actually was let's say

eleven miles an hour and I guessed it

was ten it's probably pretty hard to see

the difference between ten and eleven

miles an hour downrange so let's figure

out what that problem would be if I had

five times the actual 11 but I still

thought that it was ten and I'm using my

proper constant at 13 because I want to

be accurate let's see what that does for

us five times 11 is 55 divided by the

correct constant of 13 gives me an

answer of 4.2 3 minutes of angle just by

getting the wind wrong by 1 mile per

hour and even using the technically

correct constant gives me a bigger error

than even using my constant did it made

a jump not too 4.16 but a jump all up to

4.2 3 just by guessing the wind speed

wrong so when there's going to be this

big of a difference just on your

interpretation of the wind I would just

like to use 12 and make everything easy

but again still going to be up to you

now keep in mind your caliber your rifle

these are all going to react differently

to the wind so it's up to you to figure

this out and find a good formula for you

so instead of having to go around and

try and find this perfect formula what's

probably going to be easier to find is a

ballistic calculator there are plenty of

programs you can find on the internet

that you can either pay for and some are

even for free that you can put on your

cell phone you can have out there with

you if you want that you can plug in

certain features about your rifle system

and you can get these data charts for

you and they can even give you your wind

drift in these ballistic charts there's

even companies where you can buy index

cards what's already printed up for you

now although these are simple because

they give you the answer right there

they're also not 100% accurate because

no gun that's even the exact same color


a mammal is going to behave exactly the

same with every distance but it gives

you a great starting point but you can

check out and see what's going on then

you can take the rifle out and try it

out now those ballistic cards are going

to give you what's going to happen to

the wind usually at a fixed winds like

at a 10 miles an hour and for this

example I gave you when at a 10 mile an

hour but that only matters if the wind

is going straight side to side at 10

miles an hour we like to call that a

full value wind so if we go back to the

overhead view I had before if you're

shooting up towards the target and the

wind I had blowing one way or the other

well if it's going straight one way or

the other we call that full value

because what happens is the wind has a

full effect on the bullet and you end up

using the full value of the wind in the

formula so if this was a 10 mile an hour

wind we use the full 10 miles an hour in

the calculation now what if the wind is

instead going at a 1/2 a 45 degree angle

we actually call that a half value wind

now the wind can still be 10 miles per


but because it's going at an angle it's

not going to have the same full effect

on the bullet matter of fact it's going

going to have half the effect on the

bullet so we call a wind that comes at

either angle in either direction we call

this half value wind so what we do is

when we're working our calculation and I

tell you where to put the wind in in the

speed and miles per hour you just use

half of this value so even though it's

10 you do the calculation using 5 which

is half that value or you have one of

those ballistic cards that tells you

what a 10 mile an hour wind does at that

distance you can just take that and half

that you see what's nice about working

with wind is it's completely linear what

I mean by that is double the wind has

double the effect half the wind has half

the effect so if I'm looking at my card

and the some of the calculations we

figured out before and I have a 20 inch

change at a certain distance with a

certain wind let's just say that was a

10 mile an hour wind and the distance

doesn't matter we're just going to talk

about this number if this is what my

chart tells me and I'm out shooting at

the range and I see five mile an hour

wind I can just take that it goes into

half to five I can take that in half to

ten and I know I have a 10 inch change

if it's actually a 15 mile an hour wind

take that in half again and know it's

going to be a 30 inch change it's really

that easy to work with so what I suggest

you do is actually make your own card in

the previous videos we've also talked

about how to make your own ballistic

card or like a cheat sheet for you when

you go out hunting you can already have

your middle range estimation formula

figure it out you can already have your

elevation adjustments needed written all

over the card at the certain distances

you can reference this we know what

instead of just having the distances and

so on and then having the elevation that

you need in minutes of angle I'm just

guessing here well your what your scope

might be might as well make a second

column now and go ahead and put in wind

values I like to just use 10 as a

baseline right above it to remind

yourself at 10 miles an hour and work

your calculations and write in the

effect that that wind is going to have

at 10 miles an hour full value then when

you pull this out to reference how much

you need to come up for that 300 yard

target you can also see what a 10 on our

winds going to do and you can have that

if you need to if it's a half value wind

you can have it if the winds only twice

f is strong or you can use it as it is

and it's going to provide you just with

one more reference point

we covered a lot of information here and

it requires you to get good at figuring

out what the wind is doing and then

doing some calculations to figure out

how to compensate for that but even if

you don't want to go into this depth of

it I tell you at the very least you can

still account for the wind a little bit

let's say you're shooting out of the

target or even if you're hunting I'm not

going to try and draw an elk let's just

say that whatever distance at whatever

size this is an acceptable area you'd be

happy if your bullet went into so if

it's part of the target you want to hit

maybe the part of the animal you want to

hit let's just call this you'd be happy

with a hit anywhere in here if you're

shooting at this size this area and you

have a straight left-to-right wind and

you're not going to do any of the wind

calculations but you calculated your

distance properly don't start off by

aiming right in the center you know

there's a wind it doesn't matter how

strong the wind is it's going to have

some effect on the bullet it might be a

little it might be a lot the point is if

we know the wind is blowing left to

right you might as well start off aiming

over here because if the wind dies all

of a sudden you pull the trigger the

bullet leaves the barrel and that gush

that was there disappears and now the

bullets can go exactly where you aimed

well that's a hit remember you were

happy with a hit anywhere in here

congratulations that's successful but a

little bit of wind will blow up more

into the target even a big wind might

blow it into the target well you might

ask what if it's such a big wind that it

blows it out and makes a mess anyway

well if you were aiming here you would

have been even further off so at least

by compensating a little bit by aiming

into the wind even if you don't do any

calculations on a quick shot you're

going to have a better chance because

now you have the full width of that

acceptable area to deal with when you

have that wind going on out there I hope

this makes sense I hope you try it for

some people this is a little too

confusing or it seems like too big of a

challenge I've even known some guys not

to go shooting because the day was too

windy but I tell you what next time it's

a windy day go shooting take this

challenge and see what it does for you

you see the more difficult it is at

least for me the more fun it is if it

was easy if there was no wind involved

anybody could do it

it's up to you to go out and practice

when there is wind so next time you're

on that big hunt

you don't have to miss that shot and

just because it happens to be windy you

will have taken the time to practice

getting used to seeing what the wind

does in the scope what that translates

into for a wind speed you'll figure out

how that wind effects your bullet and

you're going to learn how to compensate

for it what that's going to mean is

you're going to be a better all-around

shooter to really compensate for all

these factors if you need a place to go

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