Reading the wind part 1 – trust your sighters

Reading the wind accurately and consistently can make the difference between winning and losing. Expert benchrest shooter John Carper gives his take on what’s needed to succeed. In part 1 he discusses how to make the most of your sighting shots. Check back next week for part 2 and John’s tips on windflags and ammunition batches.

Shooting in the wind is one of the most difficult adjustments for a new benchrest shooter. It is never cut and dried. There are plenty of wind rose graphics that are just rules of thumb, otherwise the bullets would always go where they are supposed to. The best way to learn is to shoot in the wind during practice sessions. The windier the better. This will teach you to not be daunted by this force of nature. Always practice with the same windfalls and probes that you would use in a match. Never believe that there is a ‘no wind’ situation. There is always air moving to affect the path of a bullet. 

One of the best ways to learn to shoot in the wind is to trust your sighters. If your gun and ammunition are working well, the points of impact tell you the story. If your bullets are impacting in a fashion that defies a wind rose depiction of point of impact for a specific wind, then trust in your rifle and ammunition. A bullet is affected in a direction away from the impacting wind. What many new shooters do not realize is that they are also affected vertically by the wind, depending on the direction and angle. The wind rose graphics are a great tool for new shooters to start with. When one progresses to the next level you can forget the wind rose, you know what the points of impact are supposed to be.

When the points of impact are defying the wind rose and printing differently, you have two choices. Either you can wait for the conditions to change until you get text book impacts, or be forced to anticipate where they will print on the target before you run out of time. This is where great shooters prevail. They use their time wisely and know, when the time is ticking away, that they must be able to anticipate where to hold off with their sights to get the best score. Learning to shoot well in bad shooting conditions will get you more match wins. Use your sighters to find which winds will provide higher scores than others.”