To wind meter or not to wind meter?

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by goattman, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. goattman

    goattman Active Member

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    As I sit here contemplating this question it seems ridiculous, obvious, and silly. Yet at the same time, a really excellent question. That fine line between genius and insanity? Here goes:

    How useful is a wind meter? For context, let's assume we are shooting 300 yards and further.

    Obviously, they must be of some value as I am adding data or removing a variable from the equation. Yet, at the same time common sense tells me that the data is of limited use because it is only telling me the data at my shooting position. Now, if this is the only place the wind is blowing or it is consistent all the way to the target the value is quite high. However, the chances of this are not very good.

    If there is value, is a basic $100 Kestrel or Windmate with speed and temperature enough? If I am willing to spend $300-400 for a top of the line (which I am not) is it worth the upgrade or would I get more benefit from practical experience of sending $400 worth handloads down range and paying attention to the environment around me?

    In the front of my mind during all this is also the old dead battery, smashed meter thing. I still don't have a GPS and rely on map and compass and my ability to use them correctly!

    Please support your reply with examples or empirical data to support your claim.
     
  2. Stanm70

    Stanm70 Well-Known Member

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    I bought a 30$ caldwell wind wizard, money very well spent. It really helps me learn to identify mirage trends when practicing my Doping.
     
  3. angus-5024

    angus-5024 Well-Known Member

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    If you live and hunt in an area without alot of elevation change, tempature, humidity or air density changes, then you would probably be okay. If your not shooting past somewhere around 700 yards its probably not a big deal.
    I find after between 600-800 yards, you need all the atmoshpheric conditions that come with most good wind meters, just to make it a little easier on yourself. The wind part of the meter is a bonus. If you have a way already to measure all those conditions, then buy the cheap caldwell one, it will read the wind just as good as a krestel.
     
  4. yobuck

    yobuck Well-Known Member

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    north central pa. probably has about as big a concentration of long range hunters as any place on earth. having been there as long as i have i know
    quite a few of them. none, repeat none of them that i know use a wind meter.
    i suppose most of the devices available today have at least some value.
    but none will ever replace an experienced shooter with an experienced spotter.
     
  5. BrentM

    BrentM Well-Known Member

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    I think the key is an experienced shooter might not need 1. However, inexperienced shooters probably benefit the most. I bought a Kestrel NV 2500 for $150. At first I used all the gizmo's on it but now pretty much only the wind and sometimes temp. The reason I use only the wind now is due to the fact my Leica gives me absolute baro. Temp is a strange one. I don't really see significant POI changes beyond 1000 yards until I see 20 degree temp changes. However, I don't have to be exact with the temp. So in the morning if there is frost, 30F, in the afternoon it is comfortable 45F. I can cover 55 degress of temp changes with those two guesstimates and be pretty dang accurate.

    I also used the Kestrel to get much better at wind reading. The difference between 6 and 8 mph at 1000 yards is a hit or miss, or worse, a wounded animal. I don't mind wounding rocks, I do mind wounding animals. Bad decisions are made all the time and if a Caldwell cost $35 to make a good decision then I highly recommend it.
     
  6. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    As Angus pointed out distance plays a huge role here. I too agree you will "get away" with far more at distances below 600 or 800 yards.

    There are many ways to accomplish an experienced long range shot. One using experience from lots of hunting and practice and a correction for a second shot (if needed) that could include a spotters call for you. The another would be what I prefer and that is to use all data from atmospheric field conditions, spin drifts, coriolis drifts (past 1200) and any wind call I could input for a first round cold bore hit. I strive to be good at this and would be in deep do do without a good reliable hand held weather station.

    As for reliability of my kestrel.... Well if you saw the deep scratches, gouges and wear from dragging it in the mountains for 6 years you would understand they are one tuff unit. I carry a spare battery, but to be honest, I haven't changed it in at least 3 years. I have never seen it dead even in sub zero temps. I change the battery out of guilt.

    I live and hunt is an area where elevation changes of 2000 feet are common in a one day hunt, much more on some days. When you change this much in elevation you also encounter ambient temperature changes of 20 degrees or more as well. These factors are all a part of every shooting solution for all long range shots I take, and also very valuable to a successful first shot.

    As for just the wind meter part of it. Well I purchased a less expensive Caldwell for $19 years ago. It had temp and wind speed. Problem is when I finally bought a quality unit, ( Kestral 3500) for $180, I then seen with my own eyes, how far off the less expensive unit was. A couple three MPH on a shot past 700 yards will ruin your day. Period!

    Now as for multiple winds, well this is where many hours of shooting in winds in the terrain you hunt pays off in spades. There are indicators for down range winds we can learn to read. Degree of vegetation or tree movement , mirage, dust off animal feet, exhaled game breath on cold days etc. But, None of these are as important as the wind at the gun. It is the first wind that starts the bullet off path. This will magnify the distance error from point of aim with every yard as the path and heading continue to widen. The first drift the bullet encounters does the most. With time and experience you can learn to add or subtract from the wind at the gun from what you see or know about down range winds. But where are you going to be if you start off with a guess or an inaccurate reading at the gun? Buy a good Kestrel for $150 to $180 bucks if you want to stack the odds in your favor for a first round hit. Or, be ready quickly for a follow up shot if you get one.

    Jeff
     
  7. BrentM

    BrentM Well-Known Member

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    Well put. Exactly why I have kestrel. Same unit we used in the military and our gunners were shooting arty a lot further then we shoot bullets. I debated over cost but went with a name that was proven. To Jeff's point I missed a rock at 980 a week ago on a cold bore first round shot due to 2 mph incorrect read. My fault, not kestrels. If that had been an animal it would have a hit, but not a good hit IMO. It would have required a follow up. If en elk was facing left, shoulder, facing right, back side of lungs toward front of guts. 9" left of center of aim point.
     
  8. Bravo 4

    Bravo 4 Well-Known Member

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    I see it as both a useful tool and a crutch...if a shooter is solely dependant on it.
    Since a GPS was mentioned I will use that as an example of what mean. In today's Army soldiers are getting too spoiled (lazy) and rely on GPS' to navigate. I train a lot of soldiers every year. So when we are training in the field I give them a map, compass, coordinate scale (aka protractor), map pens/mechanical pencil, and a DAGR (Defense Advanced GPS Receiver). They will always just input a route into the GPS and take off walking keeping an eye on the screen following the arrow. I let them walk for a good distance and then take it away from them. Very rarely can they point out their location on the map and/or find their objective. With me they learn quickly to use it to confirm; as a tool not a crutch, as it should be. This is the same way I do them with a wind meter/hand held weather station. Keeping a good data book is just as, if not more, important. Use the electronic gizmos to backup what you already confirmed.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not against them at all. I use them all the time, I just don't totally rely on them. Plus they are good for training on wind speed.
     
  9. ChrisAtl

    ChrisAtl Well-Known Member

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    Like Broz said: the wind at the muzzle matters much more than the wind at the target. If you can learn to adjust for and compensate for varying wind along the path of the round then excellent. If someone is just starting out then at least having a correct wind reading at your position will help you be more accurate.
    A Kestrel is a good tool
     
  10. cohunter14

    cohunter14 Well-Known Member

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    That's very interesting information Jeff. You obviously have the experience to back up what you are saying, so I trust you completely. It would just seem to me that the further the bullet gets from the muzzle and the slower it is moving, the more the wind would come into effect.

    As an example (and more than likely this would never happen), say you have a 1,000 yard shot with a 5 mph wind at 3:00 for the first 500 yards and then a 5 mph wind at 9:00 for the last 500 yards. Wouldn't the bullet be more effected by the 9:00 wind? I'm just curious and hoping to learn something!
     
  11. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    That is the easiest thing to assume, but lets look at it this way. These are my own opinions and what works for me most of the time:).

    First problem would be getting this info that was solid, and not a changing wind. But we will go with what you proposed. Remember, the first wind started the bullet off path, (turned the steeling wheel a bit if you will). By 500 yards the bullet is now .9 moa off track or roughly 4.5" left from the 3:00 wind. The bullet will continue on this path with an final impact left of 2.1 moa or close to 22" at 1000 yards because of it's heading that started at the rifle. Imagine the line of sight to the target and the bullet path being a "V". So the opposite wind that starts at 500 has a less effect because it has a much bigger job to do. It has to correct the bullet path back, and the first wind already has a 500 yard head start at this point. The second wind will do some correcting, and in result lessen some of the effect of the first wind, but in my estimation the bullet would still impact left from the path the bullet took from the first 3:00 wind. So can you see where the second wind would have to be a stronger wind to correct the bullet that was started off path from a 1000 yard angle? That is the key, when the bullet starts off path its error from point of aim increases with yardage. So, the second wind has a bigger job to do, and less time and distance to do it.

    Hope this made sense??

    PS: I left spin drift clear out of my solution.

    Jeff
     
  12. BrentM

    BrentM Well-Known Member

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    Most trainers address the affects of wind at the muzzle and down range. They break the range into 2 parts, for example: 1000 yard shot. 1st 500, 2nd 500.

    1st- bullet flight time is less than 2nd, initial bullet push is X.
    2nd- bullet fight time is more than the 1st, secondary push is Y.

    It is the component of both units of time, distance, and push that must be accounted for. If you shoot from a wind hide the wind may be zero until you hit 300 yards. From 300 to 1000 the wind is X. OR you could shoot from a wind prone spot, ie top of bare knob down, into a draw. From 0 to 300 wind is x, from 300 beyond it is zero.

    This is where experience and math helps a person understand the greatest affect of the wind. It is also the reason some people choose 250-300 grain bullets from large calibers with high BC's. Much less affect and much less understanding of overall wind affects.

    I will give an example of a recent shot at 1200 yards: wind was from the right to the left at 6 mph at shooter. At target the wind was 6 mph left to right. Both winds did come from back to front at about 45 degrees to line of bullet path.

    Here is the test question: would you shoot for zero wind since theory tells you they cancel each other? If not, what adjustment would you make for wind?
     
  13. goattman

    goattman Active Member

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    Well, I will assume the wind changed direction at 600 yards, this makes the math easier.

    The wind started R to L and ended L to R. The velocity and angle of the wind were the same, so the winds should balance each other meaning shoot for zero. However, the last 600 yards the bullet is traveling slower, so there would be a little more L to R effect meaning the bullet would impact slightly to the right of center.

    This is all based on a 600 yd / 600 yd wind effect. We don't really know where the wind shifts.

    I, having limited experience would consider it as laid out above and shoot for zero, make changes and learn from the experience. I would only take a shot that long at paper or steel, so ethical shot is not a consideration.

    Please critique my reply.
     
  14. BrentM

    BrentM Well-Known Member

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    Well I really like the statement about ethical consideration.

    Result- not able to see any vegetation movement in the area of the target, decided to shoot solution to gain experience.

    Solution said 2.8 MOA right correction at muzzle. Shot 2 MOA right, subtracted for spin drift .6. and easier to hold 2 MOA line. POI off target. Dust blew left to right. Tough to tell how far to right impact was. Sent 2nd round to confirm with 1 MOA R adjustment. POI on rock and about 2MOA Right.

    New solution of 1.5 left, 3rd round sent. 3" left of dead center. 4th round sent 3" right of dead center. 5th round sent, POI in same hole as 4th round. Left my GF shoot 6 and 7. 6 off target, 7 right 6" of rounds 4/5.

    While going to the target the wind switched around 400 yards from muzzle and traveled the direction of bullet path. Somewhere around 700 yards the wind starting moving L to R.