We’re recently reviewed and wrote about the best home wind turbines, however those we’re high-end home wind turbines which means they are mostly expensive. We’ve decided to review five more home wind turbines that are more affordable without compromising quality.
The Vevor 400 Watt wind turbine is a small and lightweight home wind turbine with an attractive design. It’s made from high-quality aluminum alloy and stainless steel with a magnetic circuit motor that runs smoothly and quietly. The operating temperature of its fan is from 30-60 degrees, which makes it applicable for most parts of the world.
The Taishi 400W is a 5-blade horizontal home wind turbine that is ideal for home use, monitoring use or boat use. This home wind turbine has a low wind start-up, and it automatically adjusts to wind direction. Although it’s a real powerhouse, it produces low noise and vibration. This wind generator is famous for battery charging mobile homes, gazebos, boats, etc.
The Eco-Worthy 400W is the cheaper counterpart of its 600W model. Its maximum daily output is 1.4KW and works even if there’s only wind power or solar power, hybrid or single power. Just like other Eco-Worthy home wind turbines, the 400W is ideal for remote homes or cabins that are windy areas.
✔ Aluminum housing design that’s good for heat resistance
✔ Lightweight but durable built
✔ High-performance nylon fiber blades
✔ Unique electro-magnet design for low startup wind speed
✔ Aerodynamic blade elasticity for over-speed protection
✔ Hybrid controller for wind turbine and solar panel
Packing: 27.1 x 14.4 x 8.3in
Solar Panel: 39.3 x 26.2 x 1.38 in
The SHZOND 400W home wind turbine generator is ideal for the leisure industry. It has become famous for battery charging on mobile homes, gazebos, boats or chalets. It almost has the same specs with Eco-Worthy 400W minus the Solar panel making it cheaper.
It also has a Charge Controller function for each wind turbine allowing you to get the most power out of this home wind turbine as well as to protect your home wind turbine from overcharging.
✔ User-friendly design
✔ Lightweight and easy DIY installation
✔ High wind power utilization
✔ Low vibration
✔ Blades are made from reinforced glass fiber
✔ Optimized structure and aerodynamic shape
Wind Turbine: 27 x 14.4 x 8.3 in
Controller: 5.9 x 3.4 x 1.1 in
Startup Wind Speed:
Wind Turbine x 1
Controller x 1
Nose Cone x 1
Set Screws and Nuts x 1
Blades x 3
Instruction Manual x 1
The Happybuy 300W Wind Turbine Generator is the cheapest home wind turbine on this list. If you’re on a budget and a newbie, this is the one for you. It is perfect for the home yard, boats, advertising signs, telecommunications tower, etc. It might not produce as much energy but it sure it will help on for its purpose.
✔ Clean and aerodynamic lines
✔ Quiet and continuous operation
✔ Fully automatic with the brake system for over-speed protection
This week we learn from Professor Martin Horejsi more about WeatherHawk myMet digital Wind Meter. myMet is a powerful portable wind meter that measures the local weather conditions and shares the information using your wireless device.
The original article was written by Martin Horejsi, Associate Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Montana and posted on the blog of National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).
You are checking the wind speed on the Slickrock trail in Moab, Utah. The air was moving at a steady 18 miles per hour. Just enough to make you a little nervous when bicycling along cliff edges. As you can see in the picture, the neck lanyard is being pushed away by the wind. Until another indicator was added, the lanyard was used to position the meter correctly for accurate readings.
Instruments to measure wind speed are just one of the many facets of exploring climate science. Wind or the noticeable natural movement of air is created and changed by many well-known factors including temperature, barometric pressure, landscape, and time of day, among others.
The use of a digital anemometer allows students to put a quantity on wind speed and a compass will provide direction. Add temperature, and you can calculate wind chill. Note the time of day, and you can create a detailed date picture of local air movement.
TheWeatherhawk myMET is a powerful portable wind meter to measure wind speed and temperature as both a standalone device and in tandem with a tablet such as the iPad. Alone the myMET wind meter provides wind speed, air temperature, and wind chill. But paired via Bluetooth to a comparable iOS or Android device, the meter’s measurements are recorded on one of three screens as well as a data overlay on a photograph taken by the tablet’s camera. myMET outputs the wind speed in miles per hour or meters per second, and temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius. Here are some examples:
Temperature and windchill.
Average and Maximum wind speed along with a compass using the onboard tablet sensor so there must be alignment between the myMET meter and the tablet.
Altitude and GPS information.
To assist in keeping the myMET perpendicular to the wind direction, Weatherhawk offers a tripod-mounted weather vane attachment that holds the myMET. For my tests, I used the included lanyard to position the meter, but later added a length of yarn since the meter could drop if the neck strap is not used correctly.
Below are some images where the myMET wind speed meter was tested along with some lessons learned along the way.
In this image, the wind speed is gusting 33 miles an hour. In the background is a semi-truck and trailer that blew over on the interstate highway when the gusts were a little higher just minutes earlier.
Here is a closeup of an accident. It must have been some gust since this northbound truck was mirrored by a complementary southbound vehicle that also blew over just a few hundred meters away. Here is a link to the local news outlet mentioning that there were no severe injuries of anyone involved.
Balanced Rock in Arches National Park is a shocking artifact of erosion. The massive boulder is continuously buffeted by wind on the high desert plain. Using the iPad camera and myMET meter, the image documents both the place and the wind speed.
Wind farms are cropping up where the wind is both steady and directionally consistent. High-speed wind or heavy gusts are not ideal. In the photo, a steady 8 mph wind is spinning the massive turbines just fine. Also, you can see the yarn added to the meter to help keep the meter perpendicular to the wind direction.
With the increased emphasis on green energy, especially wind power, they are being able to collect accurate numbers for air movement both over time and maximum speed the beginning of some great science and discussion. Hearing or reading a wind speed value is a daily occurrence, but understanding what the numbers feel like takes first-hand experience.
This chart shows the miles per hour of wind compared to physical indicators. (Source: UCAR.edu)
smoke drift indicates wind direction
weather vane moves, leaves rustle
leaves and twigs in constant motion
dust and loose paper raised, small branches move
small trees sway
large branches move, wind whistles wires
whole trees move, walking affected
twigs break off trees, walking difficult
slight structural damage occurs, branches break
trees uprooted, considerable structural damage
severe and extensive damage
While Weatherhawk does offer a padded case for the myMET, I opted for a rugged case that could take rough student handling. The myMET seems quite durable on its own, and the retracting case that protects the moving parts is probably plenty for most uses. Their padded case is a notch above that. And my Outdoor Products hard case (for sunglasses) is yet another notch higher.
A heavy-duty crush-proof case was used to carry the myMET meter.
Back in the classroom, I wondered about using the meter to answer a question I’ve had for a while. What is the wind speed of various sizes and types of fans at different distances? The results will blow you away.
Using the myMet to measure air movement from fans.
This article discusses why any shooter should consider long-range marksmanship and rifle training. It also explores how to affordably practice the discipline using equipment you already own.
However, the experience can be enhanced with some low-cost accessories and weather instruments – such as portable wind meters.
Reading Time: 15 min
“One Shot, One Kill”
This somewhat bloodthirsty epithet has become the ultimate expression of the rifleman’s art. The expression is most closely associated with the battlefield sniper and long-range marksmanship. However, it is not hard to appreciate that this mentality can, and should, apply throughout all shooting sports.
Every time you pull the trigger, a ballistic event is initiated which can be predicted, described, and measured. Ultimately, the most important measurement is “did the round hit the target, and were the results what the shooter intended?”
Ballistics is the science that measures and observes the factors that influence that result. The cold science of ballistics does not care if the weapon is a high-tech sniper rifle, which costs as much as your car, or the deer rifle in your closet. For that matter, ballistics apply to many things. Think shotguns, rifles, and handguns, but also slingshots, compound and traditional bows, medieval trebuchets, catapults, even baseball pitchers and football quarterbacks.
Do you need to have an intimate knowledge of ballistics to become a good long-range shooter? No, you do not. All that is really required to consistently hit your target is a firm grounding in basic long-range marksmanship. This emphasizes safety, sight picture, shooter’s position, and trigger control.
By learning and consistently practicing these elements, you and your rifle (or pistol, shotgun, bow, slingshot, or trebuchet) should be able to hit the target almost every time. Understanding the science of ballistics will make that practice more meaningful and profitable.
Focus on safety, sight picture, shooting stance and trigger control.
There is no replacement for practice. The “professional shooter”, whether military, law enforcement, a hunting guide, or a competitive target shooter, will get plenty of practice during training. Even if they are never called upon to fire their weapon in an actual tactical situation they spend hours at the practice range.
This guide is written for the “non-professional shooter”. Someone who keeps their rifle in the closet most of the year and only takes it out to fire a few sight-in rounds every fall.
It will also apply to a homeowner who keeps an assault rifle for home defense or the armed citizen who carries a handgun for personal security. It may even be relevant to the family wanting to introduce their kids to firearms.
Studying ballistics will make you a better overall shooter. Experts agree that there is no better way to study ballistics than by practicing long-range shooting. While “realistic” practice of the shots you may take in real life is important, long-range precision shooting enforces the basics of marksmanship. This is because every tiny, seemingly insignificant mistake is magnified by extreme range.
How to Get Into Long Range Marksmanship
A sniper, with his ability to engage and eliminate targets from a half-mile away and further, has been called the “King of the Battlefield”. Military leaders once considered snipers undesirable and even dishonorable, the modern-day sniper is often the best of the best. Before being selected for sniper training, a soldier is required to demonstrate superior discipline, leadership, and superb long-range marksmanship.
A military or police sniper will have access to the most advanced tools and technologies. Technology alone, however, will not make a shooter into Carlos Hathcock. A state-of-the-art sniper rifle can cost thousands of dollars, and the rifle itself will not make you a better shooter.
An accurate shot of a quarter-mile is well within the capability of most off-the-shelf bolt action hunting rifles with little or no modification. Of course, building a dedicated long-range rifle can be a lot of fun, and much less expensive than a full-on, customized tactical sniper rifle.
As a beginner, you won’t be a better shooter only by owning a state-of-the-art rifle.
Long-range rifle accuracy is more dependent on understanding the local conditions than the rifle used to take the shot. How these conditions affect the shot will be covered in greater detail as we discuss external ballistics. For now, simply recognize that wind and the atmosphere will have a huge impact on how the projectile flies toward a target.
The basic equipment to get started practicing long-range marksmanship are as follows:
Rifle For Long Range Marksmanship
Obviously, a precision shot will require a precision rifle. However, as mentioned previously, most rifles on the market (or in your closet) are more precise than the shooter who uses them. Theoretically, a customized sniper rifle will shoot more accurately than the 30.06 passed down from your granddad. But, unless you are already a superior marksman, there is little to be gained by spending the extra money.
A good long-range rifle requires a precision sighting system. It is theoretically possible to hit distant targets with iron sights, but, long-range marksmanship will be better served using a telescopic sight. This will simply make a distant target visible to the shooter.
The scope for long-distance marksmanship is usually more powerful than a hunter’s scope. This is because the shot will be taken from a resting position.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of a sniper rifle is the installed bipod. While the bipod makes a readily available rest in a tactical situation, it will add weight and complication to the rifle. Cross-sticks, a shooter’s staff, or even sandbags make very stable and effective rests, and since they are not attached to the rifle, the piece can still be carried for hunting.
“Hand-loaded” and “match-grade” are ammunition terms that are thrown about in the long-range shooting community. All they really mean is ammo which will perform consistently from round to round to ensure consistent results. Usually, a hand load “recipe” will be developed to get optimal results from each rifle/ammunition combination.
Again, the beginner will be faced with the question of how good is good enough? A hunting rifle with factory ammo should be able to print a group on less than half an inch at 100 yards. The custom rifle/match ammo combo may have a theoretical performance of a quarter inch at the same range. If the shooter himself is only able to shoot a three-inch group on his best day, how much potential is wasted?
A Place To Practice Long-Range Marksmanship
A quick search of the Internet can put you in touch with long-range precision shooters in your area to help you find a place to shoot. They are probably more than willing to provide coaching and instruction to help you get started in this fascinating pastime. However, shooting with a club or organization often means adopting the style of shooting they are interested in.
The minimum requirements for a place to practice long-range marksmanship are:
A place where it is legal to operate a firearm
A safe area behind the target for bullet impact
A clear range between the shooter and the target
Naturally, these places will rarely be found in suburban or even rural areas, but they can usually be accessed without the need for extended wilderness travel.
When a shooter takes a long-range shot, the more information he has, the more likely he is to actually hit the target. Many of these aids will be part of the tactical rifle system, but a casual or competitive shooter may be better served with dedicated instruments.
This is an advantage of learning from a more experienced shooter or club, as they will already have the equipment. However, the novice is more likely to absorb their preferences rather than make his own decisions about which purchase best meets his needs.
Spotting scope and spotter. Using the sighting scope for spotting is generally an unsafe practice. The spotting scope will be more powerful and tripod mounted, allowing the spotter to call the shot and suggest corrections.
Rangefinder. These may not be completely necessary if you are shooting on a formal, marked range. Range finder technology is becoming cheaper and more accessible as hunters discover its value. A range finder is indispensable if you are practicing on an informal or non-regulated range.
Wind/Weather Gauge. The air that a bullet flies through has an incredible influence on its performance. Most of this will be covered in the external ballistics discussion. For now, keep in mind that weather gauges are another example of getting what you pay for. However, what is best for one shooter is not always what is best for another. The shooting community has embraced Kestrel handheld wind gauges which feature preloaded ballistics software. Many shooters prefer a simpler but just as informative interface such as found on the WeatherHawk line of handheld wind gauges. The most common parameters you need to measure using your Wind/Weather Gauge are temperature, wind speed & direction, humidity, and altitude.
One interesting habit of long-range precision riflemen is their use of D.O.P.E., “Data on Previous Engagements”. In its simplest form, doping entails
1) “calling” the shot, or predicting where on the target practice or sighting round will impact,
2) evaluating where the sighting round actually hits, and
3) applying corrections to the rifle sighting system before firing for effect.
This will work on the range, but in the field or a tactical situation, the shooter will not have an opportunity to safely take a practice shot for doping. That trophy bull standing on the ridgeline is not going to let you take a shot in his direction, wait for you to adjust your sights, then let you take another shot! In the real world, the first shot is likely the only shot.
D.O.P.E. = Data on Previous Engagements.
With this in mind, precision riflemen usually carry a D.O.P.E. This shot data book is used to record as many environmental, equipment and physical factors of each shot (or “engagement”) as possible. By studying the collected data, they will eventually be able to apply proper dope for each shot without the need for a practice or sighting round.
Being able to put that first round on target entails the ability to observe those factors and understand the ballistic variables which affect the shot.
Before Moving On To Expert Long Range Marksmanship
At this point in our discussion, the weekend rifleman should have a good idea of whether or not the discipline of precision long-range marksmanship is worth exploring. If it is, they will also know what they need to begin their “study”.
Briefly, these will include:
A reasonably accurate rifle. Although a purpose-built long-range rifle is nice, almost any modern bolt-action rifle can be pressed into service as a precision firearm.
Ammunition. The advantage here goes to the experienced hand loader with the time and resources to find which works best in an individual rifle. Note here that branded factory ammunition will work for most shooters. Save the expense of “match-grade” ammo for actual match shooting.
A Place to Shoot. A formal rifle range may have some helpful coaching available. But, if a “place in the woods” is more convenient and is a safe place to shoot, you are likely to get in more practice.
Shooting Aids. These are in addition to a bench or pad for prone shooting, and a steady rest for the rifle. They include instruments needed to evaluate the shot and the environmental conditions.
Spotting Scope. To allow the target to be accurately observed from the firing line and evaluate shot placement and conditions
Spotter. Hopefully, someone who is experienced with precision shooting to help establish DOPE for each shot
Range Finder. Determines precisely how far the bullet must travel between the shooter and the target
Wind Gauge/Weather Meter. To evaluate the wind conditions at the firing line. As we will discuss in an upcoming section, wind and air resistance have the greatest influence on whether the shot hits the point of aim after basic marksmanship principles.
With these basics in hand, you are ready to begin practicing long-range marksmanship. As long as you have the proper tools, an understanding of the science behind them is not strictly necessary. However, if you do take the time to learn and understand the science, you will better understand the tools and be able to use them more efficiently.
The Hard Science of Ballistics
Great shooters understand that long-range precision marksmanship is a combination of art and science. Up to this point, we have mostly been discussing the artistic part of the shot. Every great artist begins by understanding his tools and how to use them.
These tools include the rifle, the ammunition, a place to shoot, and shooting aids including environmental sensors like wind and weather gauges. Like any other artist, the long-range rifleman needs to practice to become proficient with his tools. A chef needs to sharpen his knives and cook, a musician needs to tune his instrument and play, the rifleman needs to get on the range and use his equipment to put rounds on target.
Taking some time to understand the ballistics basics will definitely improve your shooting skills.
Science is observing and understanding the factors which contribute or detract from success. The chef learns that the best ingredients are spoiled if the pan is too hot or too cold. The musician knows how to strum the strings of his instrument, but if his fingering is not correct the notes may be sour. A shooter needs to understand the science of what happens between the time he pulls the trigger and the round impacts the target. The science of shooting is called ballistics.
Ballistics is a science of mechanics which deals with the launching, flight, behavior, and effects of projectiles through space. These mechanics are based on measurable and predictable Newtonian physics. They will apply whether the projectile is a bullet, a bomb dropped from an aircraft, a stone launched by a kid’s slingshot, an intercontinental ballistic missile, or a baseball thrown by a major league pitcher. The mechanics and the physical laws are the same for all of them.
Scientists further break ballistics into three or four distinct categories.
Internal ballistics deal with everything to do with launching the projectile. Another definition is everything that happens inside the gun itself.
Transitional and external ballistics are often discussed together and include everything which occurs from the time the projectile leaves the gun until it impacts the target.
Terminal ballistics study what happens at the end of the bullet’s flight and how the projectile’s energy is transferred to the target. It may seem somewhat academic to the target shooter on the range whose goal is to simply hit the target precisely. However, it is of terrific importance to the tactical shooter or hunter as what the bullet does to what it hits is the whole reason for the shot.
Some observers consider internal ballistics as everything that happens from the time the trigger is pulled until the bullet leaves the muzzle. Actually, it begins with the primary design of the firearm.
Every firearm which uses cartridge ammunition goes through an eight-step cycle of operation. They are:
1) Feeding – stripping a round from a magazine or manually placing it before the breech or bolt face,
2) Chambering – pushing the round into the firing chamber,
3) Locking – the firing chamber is locked closed and the mechanism of the firearm is aligned to fire the round,
4) Firing – the trigger is pulled and the firing pin impacts the primer, causing the propellant (gunpowder) to ignite, the expanding gasses of the burning propellant push the bullet through the bore where it engages the rifling, imparting spin to the projectile,
5) Unlocking – occurs with the backward motion of the bolt or slide in an automatic or semi-auto weapon, manually in a bolt, pump or lever action,
6) Extraction – the spent cartridge is pulled from the firing chamber,
7) Ejection – the spent cartridge is thrown out of the firearm, and
8) Cocking – the firing mechanism is readied to fire the next round.
These eight steps are most readily observed in the cycling of automatic and semi-auto firearms. They can be applied to muzzleloaders as well as launching arrows from a bow, perhaps even a pitcher throwing a baseball. The steps are most simple and controllable in bolt action rifles, and why they are the preferred tool for long-range marksmanship.
Although there are differences between rifle models, the basic steps can be seen in the video below of a bolt action mechanism. They do not apply to the discussion of precision rifle shooting, observing the cycles of a Glock pistol, a Colt 1911 pistol and the M16 semi-automatic rifle can aid in understanding internal ballistics.
The cycle of firing a rifle is only the beginning of internal ballistics influence on accurately placing the round on target. The construction of the piece will govern how precisely it shoots.
A mass-produced surplus infantry weapon or sporting gun is generally thought to be less precise than a tightly fitted custom-made firearm. This is due to the slacker tolerances necessary for mass production versus the tighter control of one-off construction.
Modern manufacturing techniques allow tightened production tolerances, and why modern hunting rifles make acceptable tools for precision shooting and long-range marksmanship.
Barrel length is another important internal ballistics factor. A longer barrel is thought to be inherently more precise and accurate than a shorter barrel. As the bullet travels down a long barrel, the expanding gases of the propellant have more time to build pressure and transfer more energy and velocity to the projectile.
Understand Precision vs. AccuracyFor Long Range Marksmanship
Ammunition selection is considered as part of internal ballistics. The powder charge must be sufficient to propel the projectile to its target. However, an excessive charge can damage the firearm and even injure the shooter.
Every rifle, even those from the same production run, will have an optimum combination of powder charge and projectile. This gives it the greatest accuracy and is an advantage of handloading over factory ammunition. However, higher grade factory ammo may be even more precise than hand loads and this consistency can have a greater effect on overall accuracy.
This is a good place to discuss the difference between precision and accuracy. The long-range marksman needs both, of course. Precision is related to how small a group you can shoot with your rifle and ammo. Generally, precision is thought to be the mechanical qualities of the rifle and ammunition combo.
A precise rifle will place the shots in a tight grouping every time. Accuracy is a function of the shooter himself, and depends on his ability to achieve a proper sight picture, maintain breath control while pressing the trigger, and understanding and compensating for the influences of external ballistics as the projectile flies toward the target.
Most people assume that when a rifle is fired, the bullet travels in a straight line to the target. In fact, due to the effects of gravity, the projectile needs to follow an arced path toward its target, flying slightly upwards first until gravity forces it to begin falling towards the earth, impacting the target on its downward path.
An advanced shooter, especially when engaged in long-range marksmanship, realizes that there are many other factors that affect external ballistics. These include air resistance, humidity, wind speed, even the rotation of the earth (the Coriolis effect). Since a bullet flying 300 yards or further spends more time in flight than a pistol round at a range of 15 feet or so, external ballistics are of great importance to the long-range shooter.
External Ballistics Begins in Transition
The physics of every shot fired is essentially the same, no matter the weapon or the range. One thing not very obvious to the shooter is that the spinning projectile which we expect to fly true all the way to the target actually wobbles a great deal during the first part of the ballistic arc.
We can see the same effect in slow-motion replays of a long-distance football pass. The quarterback’s fingers impart spin to the ball, just like the rifling in the barrel, but the ball will wobble in flight. What is important is that the further the ball flies, the steadier it becomes.
This wobbling is less noticeable in pistol rounds since the projectiles are usually shorter in comparison to their length. This means they stabilize much faster. A rifle bullet may fly as far as 50 feet before it stabilizes on its axis of rotation.
Wobbling can be minimized by matching the load to the rifle, but never completely eliminated. This is why increasing the powder charge to a round may increase its velocity but can destroy its accuracy.
If you’re only interested in knowledge regarding the specific subject of Long Range Shooting, then you can check the “Long Range Shooting Handbook” by Ryan M. Cleckner. This #1 Best Seller on Amazon will guide you through all aspects of long-range shooting; from calibrating your rifle to using your wind speed instruments and calculators.
Flies Through The Air with the Greatest of Ease
We can use the quote “What Goes Up Must Come Down” and claim to understand bullet trajectory. But, we know there is a lot more going on that influences a projectile’s flight than gravity.
Granted, gravity is a pretty big deal any time a shot is fired. The moment the projectile leaves the muzzle, gravity begins pulling it toward the center of the earth. Most shooters understand that the bore of the rifle is aligned so that the bullet will fly slightly above the line of sight. In this way, the bullet will arc back down to impact at the point of aim. What is harder to see is that the downhill side of the arc is slightly steeper than its climb.
Not only is gravity pulling the bullet down, air resistance is slowing it down so that it has time to fall further. This means that the high point of the bullet’s arc is not at the midpoint of its flight, but closer to the target. It seems like a small point, but it is one that is magnified over distance and important to long-range marksmanship.
When we begin considering how air resistance affects a shot, we also see the influence of the weather. Air resistance is greater when the shot is fired at a lower altitude. Barometric pressure, or the amount of air that is stacked on top of you, is greater at sea level than it is in the mountains.
Air resistance will decrease as the temperature rises, as humidity rises, or as the barometer falls. These conditions combine to generate a figure called “density altitude”. An illustration of density altitude is the fact that a shooter on a sunny 90-degree day in Dallas will face about the same air resistance as a shooter in Denver on a cool 20-degree day.
As stated by NOAA, density altitude is “the pressure altitude adjusted for non-standard temperature.” Simply put, increasing temperature at a given atmospheric pressure will cause the air density at that pressure to appear as though it resides at a higher physical altitude.
Density altitude increases as barometric pressure decreases which reduces air resistance. Indeed, a falling barometer may also indicate approaching storms meaning increased wind, which will have its own effect on long-range marksmanship. It is commonly understood that a five-mile-per-hour crosswind (blowing directly perpendicular to the shot) can deflect the path of a .308 round as much as 3 inches over 300 yards. In fact, the wind is probably the most common excuse for missed long-range shots.
Judging the effects of wind for a long-range shot is fraught with variables. The first is determining just how much wind there is.
An old standard of wind speed is the Beaufort Scale. It provides a series of observations (how much leaves move, whether the sea is calm or rippled) to help estimate wind speed. This can be notoriously inaccurate unless the shooter has a good deal of practice with the observations and an accurate scale to go by.
The simplest, most accurate scale would be the anemometer of a weather station, but few firing ranges have one installed. A handheld wind gauge is an important piece of a long-range shooter’s kit. It may not be available to use in a tactical or hunting situation, but on the practice range, it will contribute to eventual success in the field.
A common complaint about handheld wind gauges is that they will only give you wind data at the firing line, and not at the target or in the space between. This is true and there is no way to accurately judge the wind velocity at the target. However, if you have accurate data at the firing line, you will be better able to make an estimation of wind velocity down-range.
Some ranges have flags to indicate wind speed and direction between the shooter and the target. At other times the shooter will simply have to base his estimate on how the vegetation is reacting to the wind at the target. Indeed, in both cases, accurate data at the firing line is the best data to have.
Check these quick tips to approximate the wind speed at the point of target:
Use a portable anemometer to measure the crosswind speed while you analyze your target. Now you have the wind speed at your current standing position.
With your high magnification rifle scope analyze the heat waves or “mirage” caused by the atmospheric distortions. With a crosswind wind speed of zero, the “mirage” is perpendicular to the ground. If the mirage waves tip at 45 degrees from left to right this indicates a wind direction from left to right at approximately 5mph. Horizontal waves indicate wind speed is at least 10mph. Be aware that higher wind speeds will still indicate a horizontal “mirage”.
Keep in mind your wind meter value and the “mirage” patterns while analyzing the environment such as grass, leaves, tree sways, floating seeds, or even spider webs.
This method combined with the right ammo choice should help you in approximating the wind speed and direction.
Improving Long Range Marksmanship Using Portable Wind Meters
Another reason for the importance of accurate data at the firing line is the wind will have its greatest influence on the flight of the projectile early in its flight. Remember our discussion of transitional ballistics? During the phase immediately after the bullet leaves the muzzle it is still wobbling in flight. It is at its most vulnerable to be blown off course. Then, gyroscopic stability sets in to help the bullet fly true.
What are the characteristics to look for in a shooter’s portable wind meter? The most obvious attribute is accuracy and consistency. As with everything in long-range precision shooting and marksmanship, small inaccuracies add up. Ensure that your data is correct before you begin to make corrections.
What do you need to read with your handheld wind meter before pulling the trigger? Crosswind, Wind Speed & Direction, Air Pressure, Density Altitude, Temperature and Relative Humidity.
The next thing to consider is the ease of use and ruggedness. You need to be able to gather the data easily so as not to have to waste concentration on things that have nothing to do with making the shot. This is where ruggedness comes in. Ideally, the portable wind meter can be turned on, provide the data needed, and then set aside with no further thought. A unit that can be closed to protect its impeller and then simply placed on the shooting bench or even the ground will be more useful than one which is so fragile that it needs to be carefully placed in its case after every reading.
While it is true that you get what you pay for, long-range shooting is an expensive pastime if you are not being paid to do it. A top-of-the-line portable wind meter may be a worthwhile investment for a tactical operator where lives are on the line. The extra expense is questionable if the purpose of the shot is simply to put holes in a paper target.
One of the reasons the price of the wind meter goes up is its list of features. The casual shooter probably only needs a simple gauge that will show little more than wind velocity.
As the portable anemometers move up in sophistication, they will add extra features. A compass, temperature, and humidity gauges, used for wind-chill and heat-index readings and a barometer for weather prediction. However, as we discussed above, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure can be combined to calculate density altitude. Some of the latest wind meters are provided with special software for ballistics. Check our latest review for the best shooting wind meters.
There are portable wind meters that are designed specifically for shooters such as the Kestrel Elite with Applied Ballistics. Often, these units will carry ballistics software that will calculate the dope the shooter needs to apply for a particular shot. Again, these are features that may have value when lives are on the line, but there comes a point when extra features interfere with simply reading and applying the data and taking the shot.
It’s the complete solution specially designed for Long Range Shooting
Putting It All Together
Admittedly, by itself, ballistics is pretty dry science. For the average person, the only thing that makes ballistics exciting is actually pulling the trigger and seeing the mechanics of it in action. Then the dry science becomes very exciting!
The “spray and pray” type of shooting we see from Hollywood can be a lot of fun, but is expensive and not at all productive. Instead of burning your way through several boxes of expensive ammo, you may only shoot a few rounds during a precision shooting session. However, every one of those shots will teach you something and is vital for long-range marksmanship.
Put your kit together and get on the range this weekend.
Getting behind the rifle, calculating conditions, applying the D.O.P.E. and finally taking the shot is a rather long process. It may be one that you may not have the luxury of in a “real world” shot. However, there will be a surprising number of crossovers between a precision shot and one in the field or during a tactical engagement.
The Rest. Precision long-range marksmanship will require a shot from a rock-solid prone position, or occasionally from a solid bench, the rifle supported at its fore-end by a bipod or sandbags. This factor alone accounts for an increase in accuracy in comparison to a weekend shooter firing from a standing, off-hand position. After you get used to firing from rest and/or a prone position, you are more likely to take the time to find one in a hunting situation.
The D.O.P.E. A precision shooter usually zeroes his sights to conform to the D.O.P.E. he observes before the shot. A sportsman may “get away” with using the 100 yard “zero” he found while doing his preseason sight-in. This is because with most modern hunting rigs, whether the range is 20 yards, 50, or 150, the actual point of impact will be within a couple inches of the 100 yard zero. Acceptable accuracy at hunting ranges when the vital organ target area (“kill zone”) of a big game animal is around 10 inches. However, just like precision shooting, ‘little things’ which can spoil the shot add up. The discipline of long range marksmanship should carry over to keep the sportsman from taking an unethical shot as well as increasing the ethical range of a shot.
The Conditions. A long range marksman develops an intimate sense of range and environmental conditions, as well as an awareness of how these conditions will affect his shot. Although they verify them with instruments, range finder and wind gauge, using the instruments teaches them to make these observations and corrections in manually. They will not only have a feel for how to compensate for a gusting 7 knot crosswind, but also develop an awareness of the wind to the point that they make the corrections instinctively. A wind gauge may not be important in the field, but using it on the range will make your “real life” shots more accurate.
The Shot. A “spray and pray” shooter in a tactical situation or the once a year hunter with “buck fever” will waste ammunition and ultimately put lives in danger. Sometimes even those he is trying to protect. In the rush to get a round (or several rounds) down range, accuracy suffers to the point where actually hitting and killing the target is more luck than skill. Even when the situation does not allow for all the time normally taken for a shot, they will still be methodical enough to be accurate. One-shot, delivered accurately on target, is infinitely more effective than two, three, or even a dozen shots that miss.
“One Shot, One Kill.” It is a high standard to strive for, but with dedication, discipline, and best of all fun practice, it is a very attainable standard.