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Old April 9, 2013, 01:28 PM   #1
Pond, James Pond
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How do you estimate wind speed?

As the title suggests... what tools are available to the shooter, out in the field, to estimate wind speed?

I don't mean wind socks and the like, namely because they don't grow where I live!!

It seems to me that most shooters find wind speed to be the hardest variable to account for and I can't see me being any different in that respect.

My guess is using vegetation, debris and dust. However, what speed does that equate to how can I translate flexing blades of grass or uprooting trees into actual wind speeds that I can use to calculate click adjustments?

The only one I've found so far is the Wind Force scale from 0-12.

Any other tips?
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Old April 9, 2013, 01:31 PM   #2
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Re: How do you estimate wind speed?

I have a Kestrel that gives me the wind speed at my location. Aside from that, it is all about practice and being able to read environmental factors. Trees, plants, dust, and (what I use most) mirage.

I take my kestrel out with me when I'm walking around the farm so that I can get an idea of how much each wind speed affects vegetation. After that, it is just about practicing and learning.
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Old April 9, 2013, 02:03 PM   #3
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One thing I learned about wind and shooting is that wind where you are standing and wind at the target are not the same thing. Using wind flags it's common to have flags a 100 yards apart facing opposite directions on a given moment in time. That's simply called a "condition". We tried to take shots on the same condition. A constant cross wind is something I have heard about but never shot over. Air motion and wind direction are not so connected at the ground.
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Old April 9, 2013, 02:12 PM   #4
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Wind Speed Beaufort Category How to Judge the Wind
1-3 mph Light Air Smoke drifts. Wind cannot be felt.
4-7 mph Light Breeze Wind felt on face. Leaves rustle. Weather vanes move.
8-12 mph Gentle Breeze Leaves and twigs in motion. Light flags are extended.
13-18 mph Moderate Breeze Wind raises dust and loose papers. Small branches move. Flags flap.
19-24 mph Fresh Breeze Small trees in leaf sway slightly. Wavelets form on ponds and lakes.
25-31 mph Strong Breeze Large branches move. Telephone lines sing.

wk
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Old April 9, 2013, 02:26 PM   #5
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A few years ago I started getting on the various online school weather stations to get an idea what the general wind speeds were. Then I'd step outside (live in the country) and observe what it felt like and what the trees, grasses, etc were doing. After a bit you get to where you can make an educated guess as to what's happening. That educated guess will get you on critters at sane distances.
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Old April 9, 2013, 05:58 PM   #6
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Mirage is the best wind indicator out there in my opinion.

I recommend getting a wind meter, doesn't have to be a fancy one. Then set up your spotting scope so's you can see the mirage. Look what it's doing then check you wind meter to see what value wind makes the mirage do what it does.

In addition, carry your wind meter every where. Every time you see grass blow, tree sway, smoke and dust drift, check the wind meter to see what the value of the wind.

Also be sure to check direction. A wind coming from 3 or 9 o'clock would be a full value, 4-5 or 1-2 would be half values, Meaning a 10 MPH wind would give the effect of a 5 mph wind.
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Old April 9, 2013, 06:15 PM   #7
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.

I've never had the opportunity (?) to hunt/shoot where a crosswind is a factor, so I simply adhere to the old adage - hold on hair.................




.
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Old April 9, 2013, 09:46 PM   #8
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kraigwy's got the answer . I've seen him post that same thing at least ten times . He's got to be getting sick of saying it .

Although I don't have a wind meter yet I do all the other things he talks about and will do the whole carry my wind meter every where I go .I would love to see what I look like some times .I'm always checking out thing and how they are moving in the wind . I'll stop right in the middle of something and just look around , close my eyes , open them again , lick my finger and hold it in the air . look around some more climb up on something to get the feel at 15 or 20 feet to see if its the same . look around some more . I bet I look like a freak . . I think I have a good idea of what 0 to 4 mph looks like anything more is just that more. The thing I'm having a hard time with is direction . I can't really tell by looking at trees or shrubs . Anything that can fight the wind just seems to be swaying back and forth at random . I'll get it , it will just take time .

Anyways just practice ,practice , practice .
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Old April 10, 2013, 01:07 AM   #9
Pond, James Pond
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I've also read Kraigw's references to mirage. For that reason I don't doubt it usefulness.

However, mirage is a rare thing here, in Estonia.

It does not get especially hot, high 20's celsius being a toasty day, and the summer months are few in number. So, most of the time, mirage may not be as prevalent as one would like.

It is for that reason that I'm looking at any and all means, the Beaufort scale being the first one I've found.

Points about wind direction, as stated above, are very useful to add to that.

On a more serious note, if my walking around the neighbourhood with a wind meter and a range-finder ruins my hard-earned "man about town" image, I'll be blaming the members of TFL!!
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Old April 10, 2013, 05:08 AM   #10
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If you don't have mirage (which is nice because it does occur around the world), then you do need the wind meter and need to learn what the things in your environment do with given wind speeds, most notably the plants. It is not always possible to stand up and toss leaves in the air or light a cigarette and even if you do, it only tells you about the wind speed where you are, not down range. Depending on their height and structure, trees can be quite variable in what they tell you. Some trees move a lot more than others in the same winds, for example. So you can make your own chart based on your own observations

Also see...
http://www.longrangehunting.com/arti...ading-wind.php
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p026Y0WUy6Q

Seeing mirage isn't always easy, but you should get it in a lot of situations.
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Old April 10, 2013, 08:09 AM   #11
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send a bullet (for those of us are math challenged )
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Old April 10, 2013, 08:11 AM   #12
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Mirage is a good indicator. My experience is that mirage is just about always present, sometimes not very noticeable, sometimes very prevalent. I've seen mirage so bad on some very cold days with full sun over a snow field, it was almost impossible to get a good shot off. Varying conditions will dictate how much you will see.
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Old April 10, 2013, 08:54 AM   #13
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Kraig's right about reading mirage or heat waves. Focus your scope about 2/3rds the distance to the target and you can see the heat waves wrinkling across the field of view. Dwyer makes good, inexpensive wind meters.

Wind at the firing point has much more effect on drift than wind close to the target. As the bullet gets closer to the target, it moves more sideways per yard of downrange travel due to its ever decreasing speed.

Kraig, half of your effective clock values are not quite right. 11, 1, 5 and 7 o'clock winds are correct as you state and exactly half value or 50%; equal of the sine of the 30 degree angle which is .5. But at 10, 2, 4 and 8 o'clock, they're about 90% (exactly .866 ir 86.6% to be exact) the sine of 60 degrees. And at 45 degree angles to the line of sight at 10:30, 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30, they're worth about 3/4ths full value; 70.7% (.707's the sine of 45 degrees).

Note also that wind speed at different heights above ground ain't the same. Depending on the terrain and ground cover, winds 15 feet above ground can be near twice as fast as they are 1 foot above ground. And a .308 Win. bullet's no more than 3 feet above the line of sight for a 600 yard zero; 2 feet for a .300 Win Mag. Thanks to Kraig for pointing this out to me not too long ago. I knew there was a difference but not as much as I found out after a bit of reasearch on the subject.
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Old April 10, 2013, 11:59 AM   #14
Brian Pfleuger
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Knowing the wind is one thing, knowing what it does to your bullet is another thing all together.

I find even the most accurate ballistics calculators to drastically over-estimate the effect of wind at relatively close distances.

Now, I'm no 1,000 yard shooter and don't claim to be able to hit a mountain-side at that range, say nothing of a "target", but shooting as I do, at woodchuck (groundhog) sized critters at 400 or so yards and under, with ultra-high velocity, small-bore cartridges like 4,435fps 22-250 and 4,050fps 204 Ruger, the calculators tell me that the drift will be, sometimes, multiples of what I see.

Some of this, for sure, is that the wind isn't exactly what I think it is, it isn't full value, yadda yadda, but that's "real world".

In any case, in the real world, I rarely see 400 yard drifts with those cartridges of more than 3 or 4 inches. Little enough that I just hold slightly on the wind side of the critter and call it good.

Long winded way of saying, you estimate the wind by bullet bullets on target and learning what the wind does.
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Old April 10, 2013, 03:16 PM   #15
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The antique ,but still valid, wind estimation method involves dropping a tissue, pieces of grass, or other light weight material from about shoulder height. Point to it with a straight arm. Guess the angle between your arm and body and divide that by 4. This will give a very rough wind speed. When you have no meter or other indicators it can be useful. Some of the old shooters had an almost clairvoyant ability to call wind. It is something acquired over time
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Old April 10, 2013, 05:01 PM   #16
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Brian, why would the most accurate ballistics calculators drastically over-estimate the effect of wind at relatively close distances?

Doesn't a given bullet traveling 1300 fps a thousand yards down range have the same drift at 1100 yards further as well as leaving the muzzle at 1300 fps and its drift at 100 yards?
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Old April 10, 2013, 05:11 PM   #17
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real world most mean the shooter getting the wind speed and angle correct . It's always correct in the computer .
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Old April 10, 2013, 10:59 PM   #18
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I bought a Brunton ADC Windmeter a couple of years ago. Seems like it was $40-50 American. I tested the thing by holding it out the window of the truck and driving at different speeds and comparing the speedometer to the wind meter. It is pretty accurate by that standard.

Using the wind meter while shooting is pretty handy. By holding it out at arms length and slowly turning as you watch the wind velocity you can determine generally which direction the wind is blowing right where you are shooting from, as well as getting a pretty good idea of the wind speed. Otherwise, it just a WAG.

I also agree with Brian. The effect of wind is easy to overstimate, if you put too much faith in the calculators. It seems like doing the calc's would be more practical. I have made some pretty long shots on prairie dogs with a side wind measured at 5-7 mph, and had only 2-3 inches of windage adjustment, where the online calculator suggested 7-10 inches. The best method in the field is to use a rifle that allows you to maintain sight picture (like the 204 Ruger) and watch where the dirt flies at impact.
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Old April 11, 2013, 07:42 AM   #19
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I agree with a lot of the information people have given already, so I choose to give you coping advice when hunting or shooting small game targets at long range without assistance of wind meters, etc.

1. If possible and safe, especially when hunting in fields/prairies, try to approach known varmint colonies, etc. UPWIND. (This probably doesn't work for scent-reliant varmints/game, but probably less important on long shots.)

This approach helps you make the shot because:

a. horizontal wind deflection is reduced when less than 90 degrees to the line of flight, near zero when directly behind (or ahead);

b. because following, but slightly angled wind generally has less effect on bullet flight because it is deducted from relative velocity instead of adding to it (test this by running into an angled wind then turn around and run with the angled wind);

c. Because when wind is at your back, YOU feel gusts before they affect the bullet's flight path and you can hold the shot until the gust has passed the target;

d. Because mirage is vertical, so it won't tend to move the target image laterally.
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Old April 11, 2013, 11:27 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart B.
Brian, why would the most accurate ballistics calculators drastically over-estimate the effect of wind at relatively close distances?

Doesn't a given bullet traveling 1300 fps a thousand yards down range have the same drift at 1100 yards further as well as leaving the muzzle at 1300 fps and its drift at 100 yards?
Bart,

I don't completely understand what you're asking but I'll try to clarify.

I should have qualified my statements a bit more.

First, I've really only verified the calculators with small-caliber cartridges, mainly .204 and .22-250.

Second, the way I wrote it seems to indicate close-range only and not long-range. I assume the calculators would be wrong at long-range too, I just don't shoot far enough to know.

Third, if it were just wind drift, I'd say it was entirely the fault of the shooter not knowing the wind but it's not. I found the drop calculations to be significantly pessimistic too, and the G7 drag functions are much closer to reality even for bullets that aren't supposed to be G7 drag. The G7 function tends to be slightly optimistic instead of pessimistic but it's a lot closer. The distance is a whole lot easier to get right, obviously, with laser range finders and whatnot, so I know it's not shooter error.

For instance, using a .204 32gr V-Max at 4,050fps and with all weather parameters entered, JBM Ballistics thinks that a 2" vital zone MPBR zero will be 260 yards and 2.1 inches low at 300, 6 inches low at 350 and 11.3" low at 400.

If I sight-in at 100 as it suggests, 1.5" high, I find that the 350 yard POI is no more than 3" low and the true MPBR, that it predicts at 298 yards, is closer to 320 yards.

There aren't any major shooter input errors. The MV is chronographed and the guns shoot reliable enough groups to know the POI reasonably. Weather conditions are taken from stations with a few miles and close enough to not matter any significant amount. Shooting multiple guns, in multiple places, multiple shooters and years worth of hunting. The calculators are consistently pessimistic.
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Old April 11, 2013, 11:36 AM   #21
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Quote:
I've never had the opportunity (?) to hunt/shoot where a crosswind is a factor, so I simply adhere to the old adage - hold on hair.................
For 99.9% of hunting this is the #1 rule to live by. Forget all that other crap. Learn your 10mph drifts and angles and make educated guess's. I can't count the number of blown shots I've witnessed (and blown myself) from hunters over estimating wind and range. Think the critter a bit long, aim high on the back. Think it's a bit windy, aim a few inches right/left. Use your head and the info you gathered but always be on hair.

Note: Only time this doesn't really apply would be for long range, small varmints.
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Old April 11, 2013, 11:59 AM   #22
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Brian, I've no idea why your firing tests are not within 5% of what ballistic software calculates. I ran your bullet's numbers on Berger's software and they agree within 5% of what JBM Ballistics says it has; close enough.

I've shot 30 caliber Sierra bullets from 155 grains up through 200 in different 30 caliber cartridges at ranges from 100 through 1000 yards. Sierra's software (G1 drag factors) calculates trajectory data accurate enough to be within 1/4 MOA of what actual shooting produces.

Therefore, I think there's some difference between your ammo and how it's shot compared to the software calculating results. Finding out what it is may well be a frustrating task, but the answer is there; someplace.
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Old April 11, 2013, 12:17 PM   #23
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Could be, Bart.

I find the stability calculators are wrong for small-caliber bullets too. I discussed that with UncleNick at one point and he mentioned something like .243 and under, they seem to be pessimistic. I can't remember exactly. I just figured that the ballistics calculators suffered the same flaw. I suspect that the most likely answer for the ballistics is that the stated BC is incorrect or inconsistent.
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Old April 11, 2013, 08:18 PM   #24
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Brian, I agree that stated BC's for bullets may not be correct. Sierra and Berger both measure time of flight between two points as well as start and end velocities at each one. That's the most accurate way for calculating BC's. I don't know what Hornady and other bullet company's folks use. And a given bullet will have different BC's in different velocity bands; I don't quite understand how Berger's G7 BC single numbers could be accurate. Sierra lists up to 6 BC's for their bullets across a wide range of velocities.
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