By Jack Peterson, Producer of Best of the West TV Show
Anyone that has spent much time in Wyoming knows that the wind can really blow here. According to the University of Wyoming’s website at www.uwyo.edu, “Wyoming contains over 50% of the United States’ top categories for wind energy resource”. Whether it’s the plains of eastern and southern Wyoming or the mountain valleys and peaks of the western Rockies, the wind can be a factor for hunters on any given day of the year. As the birth place of Huskemaw Optics, Wyoming has been the premier place to develop rifle scope technology and to put our scopes through the most rigorous field tests. From wind drifted roads and trails, to wind-proof tents and clothing for hunters, wind is a reality that must be dealt with on many different levels. In this article, we will cover some of the effects wind has on the flight path of a bullet and what can be done for both minimization and compensation.
The truth is it doesn’t take much of a wind to have a significant affect on a bullet.
Diagram A is ballistic data for a Nosler Partition example round. This bullet was developed decades ago and has remained the standard for comparison to other bullets. It has been known for both its superior penetration and bullet weight retention characteristics. A good 30-300 yard bullet, however, not a great long range bullet choice.
You will notice that with a 200 yard zero and with a 10mph full value crosswind, there is already 5.9 inches of wind deflection at 300yds. At 400yds and with almost a foot of deflection, this could put the bullet completely out of a kill zone. Of course, this is depending on the size of the animal and the angle and position it is in. If we look at the 1000 yard information in the diagram, we have over 85 inches of deflection, and at this distance the bullet could wind up in the next county. This tells us that in a stiff to strong wind and with a low BC bullet, if we do not have a way to know how much wind we are dealing with, we really can’t shoot ethically past 300 yards.
Now many of you have watched us on our “Best of the West” TV shows and videos shooting successfully at very long ranges and sometimes in higher wind situations. It is imperative that you understand that in each of these scenarios we did know what the wind value was before we took the shot. We also had a way to hold these values using the hash marks on the horizontal line of the Huskemaw “huntsmart” reticle.
Notice the hash marks on the HO reticle design in this picture. There are 8 total hash marks on each side of the center cross hair. Each mark is 1 MOA apart at the scope’s full power. With this design if a user needs to hold 5 MOA they instantly know it is one hash mark past the tallest 4 MOA hash. With many reticle designs it is necessary to count each hash mark and concentrate on the correct one, so as not to lose track and have to recount. When you are in a hurry shooting at a changing target, this can make all the difference of a hit or a miss.
Obviously making these kinds of shots are not as simple as I just explained. I will try and demonstrate some of the things we can do to minimize wind deflection.
The first thing we can do to improve our ability to shoot in windy conditions and at longer ranges starts with bullet selection. Like range finders and scope technology, bullet designs have evolved over the past couple of decades. With our advanced understanding of aerodynamics, engineers have been able to apply better and more efficient designs to all kinds of products. Our airplanes, boats and vehicles are all much more streamlined than in the decades before. The same can be said for bullet designs. Long range bullets are designed for flatter trajectories and this increases their ability to resist some of the effects of the wind. Below is the design features of Hornady’s new ELD-X, Extremely Low Drag-expanding bullet.
Heat Shield Tip
Defies the effects of aerodynamic heating,
retains its shape and maintains BC over its entire trajectory. Match accurate hunting bullet
Streamlined secant ogive with optimum
boattail design Devastating conventional range performance
With high velocity, 0-400-yard impact, the bullet continually expands throughout its
The thick shank of the jacket and high Interlock ring keep the core and jacket together.