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How to Shoot Uphill and Downhill

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Old 05-16-2013, 03:42 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 21
How to Shoot Uphill and Downhill

There is a ton of information out there on how to shoot at angles, but a lot of it seems to be either incredibly technical, flat wrong, or just not comprehensive enough. In a quest to make the topic of how to compensate for steep angles more approachable I just published a piece that can be found here. backcountrymaven - Journal - Understanding Uphill and Downhill Shots in Long Range Shooting: A*Primer Let me know what you think.
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Old 05-16-2013, 03:57 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 36
Re: How to Shoot Uphill and Downhill

Nicely done.

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Old 05-16-2013, 11:13 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The rifle range, or archery range or behind the computer in Alaska
Posts: 3,508
Re: How to Shoot Uphill and Downhill

Not too bad.

Below is a link to an article I wrote a few years back. I think you'll find that it pretty much agrees with what you're saying here.

The 'How To' of shooting on an incline. - Long Range Shooting - CouesWhitetail.com Discussion forum

One of the real dangers to the riflemans rule that gets overlooked is that when you set your scope up for a 500 yard shot versus a 900 yard shot due to the angle (say a cosine of .56) the MOA values at those ranges Are vastly different. In other words, .25 MOA per click equals 1.309" at 500 yards and 2.356" at 900 yards. This compounds the problem. A true 500 yard shot may take X clicks to get there but the same amount of clicks are too much for the same shot used in this example where 900 yards is the line of sight but 500 yards is the horizontal distance. The target is still 900 yards away and the click or holdover values need to be used accordingly. That is one of the few reasons that the MOA or MIL * cosine works so much better than the yardage * cosine method. But like was pointed out, if your zero is a given yardage such as 300 yards and your angled shot is 300 yards, it doesn't work. This is why the bore line drop must be considered. Ballistic software takes that into consideration.

I like to use the illustration of zeroing a rifle at 1000 yards horizontally. Then moving the target 1000 yards straight up. 90 degrees * cosine (0) = 0. The
Scope is then not adjusted because the math said 0. When you shoot at the target the bullet ends up behind you because the barrel is pointed beyond 90 degrees.
Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (where the shot goes, how big the group is, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.
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Old 05-17-2013, 09:47 AM
Gold Member
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Colorado
Posts: 582
Re: How to Shoot Uphill and Downhill

Wow, very interesting and informative thread and now I feel like a complete dummy! As a long time golfer and someone who is fairly new to long range shooting (over 500 yards), I just assumed that I could use my range finder that adjusts yardages for slope. However, it looks like that won't work because an uphill shot would make the distance farther instead of shorter. So a couple of questions on all of this:

1) Can I still use my range finder to get me the actual slope and then adjust the numbers accordingly?
2) Between your two articles, it looks like there are three different ways to calculate the slope, but all provide very different results (especially if you start using the examples out around 1000 yards). So which one is the most accurate out of all of these? Does anyone have any first hand experience in trying all of these methods to determine which is the most accurate?

Thank you both for the information you provided, great learning experience!
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:56 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 323
Re: How to Shoot Uphill and Downhill

Nicely written, thanks!
I'm a geometry nut so all your examples clicked just fine.

Thanks also for comparing the Rifleman's Rule vs. the Improved version as this had not yet occurred to me.

-The flexibility of your adaptability is the true measure of your intelligence-
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Old 05-23-2013, 08:41 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Colorado
Posts: 582
Re: How to Shoot Uphill and Downhill

I want to bump this up again because I would really like to know if yardage finders that calculate slope actually work for shooting or not...
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Old 05-23-2013, 07:05 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Colorado
Posts: 582
Re: How to Shoot Uphill and Downhill

I have been researching this because it is driving me nuts. I think everything that Rockymtn and Michael posted in their articles makes sense, but uphill shots should never 'play' shorter than a flat shot. With that in mind, I think this is what you need to do: If the target is above you, then the distance will be the adjacent side of the triangle and the slope distance will be the hypotenuse. Whereas, if the target is below you, then the hypotenuse will be the actual distance and the adjacent side will be the slope distance. Does that sound correct? Maybe that was in the articles and I just missed it...

Anyway, with all of that said, I think rangefinders that calculate slope do truly work then, which is what I wanted to know
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