Re: Mirage - Why don\'t you want to see it???
Mirage is a double-edged sword. It can help you judge the wind conditions for a first round hit but it can also provide you with an unclear or "dancing" target or what they call a phantom target. This is a target that looks like it is here when it is really over there. Like when you see a car coming down a black top highway a few miles away in the summertime and it looks like the car has no tires and seems to float above the blacktop. You know the car has tires and it is probably driving straight down the road but it doesn't look that way.
I like to have a little mirage but sometimes, when it looks like you're shooting through chicken soup, things get tricky.
I really like to see mirage at upper levels above the target and see less at the target. At a match I shot in last weekend, I managed to take home more than my fair share of winnings but not necessarily because I was the best shooter or had the most accurate gun. I simply paid more attention to the mirage than most the other guys. They were intent on watching mirage, but they watched it in the wrong place. They were concerned only with mirage in "line of sight to target" and then would watch where the dust would blow from the bullet impact. Well, the target was on a hill that was sheltered from the wind fairly well and the mirage straight to the target just showed a little wiggle and the dust confirmed it when it just hung in the air. But what my competitors didn't realize was that during it's flight to 1000 yards, most bullets are as much as 20 feet or more above the line of sight. So I simply looked above the target where the bullet was flying and could see that the mirage was SCREAMING right to left. So I dialed in 3 minutes of wind and held on the right hand edge of the target (which in this case was an 8" dinner plate) and I nailed it with one shot damn near every match.
But, that being said, here's where mirage became a hinderance to me: During one match, there was a three way tie between me and two other guys. We all went 9 for 9 plates at 1000 yards so we decided that was too easy and set out a clay pigeon to brake the tie. Well, the mirage was still showing me how to dope the right to left wind, but now I was aiming at such a small target (about 1/3 moa) that the mirage was distorting the target vertically. The bottom edge of the pigeon was going up and above my crosshair and then the top edge of the pigeon came down below my crosshair in an up/down bounce. So I would look to see where the image would "snap" back to and try to time it so the crosshair was over the majority of the pigeon when I touched the trigger. Well, it proved to be too much mirage for that small of a target as we all shot circles around that dang thing and no one ever hit it. I had three shots that went so close past the target that half the divet in the dirt behind the target was hidden by the pigeon!
Mirage at 100 yards can be ugly as well. When it gets real bad, it will turn my 1/8 moa 6ppc into a 1/4 moa to even a 1/3 moa gun.
Here's a fun way to test mirage. Get your crosshair set up on a distant target. The farther away the better. Do this on a dead rest so that you can not touch the gun but it will still stay on the target. Do this in the early morning before the sun comes up or the mirage sets in. Then wait for a couple hours until the mirage gets really, really bad. Then go back and look through your scope and see if the crosshair is still on the target. Bet you'll think the gun got bumped off!
So mirage can be your friend and it can be your enemy. Clear as mud right?
If it's not far, it's boring.