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Shooting Tips: How to Read Wind

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October 24, 2012
Shooting Tips: How to Read Wind - 3

The wind had undone many a shooter. Accurately reading the wind’s effect on a bullet’s flight is something that requires a lot of trigger time and concerted effort to develop the skill.

One of the most impressive shots in the wind I’ve witnessed occurred during an antelope hunt in Wyoming a few years back. The last guy in our party was trying to fill his tag when a blizzard descended on us. He was using an AR chambered in .223 and though I don’t recall the specific bullet he was using, I’m sure it was one of the heavier 60-plus-grain loads.

We finally spotted an animal for him and made a stalk. The wind was ripping across from left to right and at 200 yards my friend held off about two feet, making a perfect killing shot. (The 6 inches I had held off the day before with my antelope, using a .260 Remington, was a pretty tame by comparison.)

This is an extreme case, but wind is often a factor when hunting the West and you better know how to handle it and, more importantly, when to not pull the trigger.

There are plenty of sophisticated ballistics programs out there that’ll help you figure out how your load will perform in the wind. I’ve taken to using Kestrel’s wind meters for this task. The 4500 I have is expensive ($589), but, in my mind, worth it for anyone who wants to get serious about making first-shot hits under challenging circumstances.

It gathers all the relevant environmental data and even has the ability to calculate your hold-off no matter the vector of the wind. (You do this by taking a full-value reading of the wind and then rotating the meter to point at your target. The internal compass then determines the correct value for the wind at that angle.)

It also can hold data for numerous rifles, a nice feature for guys who have more than a single go-to gun.

As good as the Kestrel is, however, it only reads the wind at the shooter’s position—which can be vastly different from what’s going on down range. So you can’t rely on that single measurement, especially when shooting in hilly regions where the wind moving through canyons will swirl and shift at a moment’s notice. To master this requires learning how to read mirage. (This assumes that the wind isn’t blowing too hard. After 12-15 mph, mirage lays down and becomes difficult to impossible to access.) And this is where the art of reading the wind—honed by practice—comes into play.

Comments (3)

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from Kevin R. Wheeler wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I hope he was using some other cartridge for the hunt. 223 is illegal for big game in Wyoming. Even for Antelope. I lived there for 15+ years. I know.

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from illinoisburt wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

WY regs from their 2011 hunting guide

Firearms and Handguns: For big game, Wyoming
statutes authorize the use of a firearm with a barrel
bore diameter of at least .23 caliber that is chambered
to fire a center-fire cartridge of not less than two inches in overall length and includes a soft or expanding point bullet seated to a normal depth. Common .22 caliber
center-fire calibers such as .222 Rem., .223, .22-250,
etc. are not legal for big or trophy game hunting.
Cartridges that may not meet the two-inch criteria
are legal if they are at least .35 caliber and develop at
least 500 foot pounds of energy at 100 yards.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dtg wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

Is shooting an antelope in WY with a .223 legal?

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from dtg wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

Is shooting an antelope in WY with a .223 legal?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin R. Wheeler wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I hope he was using some other cartridge for the hunt. 223 is illegal for big game in Wyoming. Even for Antelope. I lived there for 15+ years. I know.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from illinoisburt wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

WY regs from their 2011 hunting guide

Firearms and Handguns: For big game, Wyoming
statutes authorize the use of a firearm with a barrel
bore diameter of at least .23 caliber that is chambered
to fire a center-fire cartridge of not less than two inches in overall length and includes a soft or expanding point bullet seated to a normal depth. Common .22 caliber
center-fire calibers such as .222 Rem., .223, .22-250,
etc. are not legal for big or trophy game hunting.
Cartridges that may not meet the two-inch criteria
are legal if they are at least .35 caliber and develop at
least 500 foot pounds of energy at 100 yards.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)