Hard winter shooting


February 2, 2013, 06:11 PM
Took my FNAR out to the range today. Gusty cross winds from 5-20, periodically snowing so hard I couldn't hardly make out my target at times.

I shot some groups, was easy to read the wind when the snow was falling, but it was coming it spurts. During the periods the snow stopped, I had no wind markers whatsoever. All the vegetation was either frozen to the ground or just stalks with no foliage, and not moving.

I was shooting 6" circular shoot n' sees with no backing, so if I misjudged the wind AT ALL, I was off target completely. With 168 grain 308 matchkings launched at 2650 fps, 5mph crosswind gives 3.59" of drift, while 20mph gives a whopping 14.36". Complicating this was a cut in the hill about midway to the target, which caused the wind to channel up, and give a slight updraft.

On a fair day, I can put together 1.5" groups with this rifle at 300 yards all day long. But today the drift spread was not just bad with the horizontal component, but that updraft drove me NUTS.

Overall, it was also a very humbling experience. When it was snowing, and I had a wind indicator, I was able to put all of my rounds on target (and a lot of those went in the X ring). But during the periods when the snow stopped, I missed the majority of my shots completely!

It was frustrating the hell out of me. I couldn't find a wind marker to save my backside. I was shooting from shelter and couldn't feel the wind, but there weren't any apparent visual markers I could key on. (I never shoot with flags.)

Today was some of the most difficult shooting I've ever done.

I need to get out more in foul conditions like today. It's really challenging!!! It also reminded me that the human component and trigger time is much more important than squeezing that last little .02 MOA out of a handload. :)

Think I'm going to skip benchrest shooting this year and just pick the nastiest, ugliest, crappiest days I can find to go shooting. I've hit the limit of what I will ever do on nice, calm days. I need more practice with crappy, real world conditions. Not more practice with squeezing another half inch off a group.

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February 2, 2013, 06:46 PM
Maybe when I was younger but no way now. The cold and snowy winters are reserved for loading and the indoor range. Snowed most of today, I looked out the window from a nice comfortable warm house and tended to a few guns. I'll see the 200 and 500 yard lines come March / April.

Congratulations on the stamina and dedication to shooting outdoors. :)


February 2, 2013, 07:58 PM
Truth be told, I didn't WANT to go today. But I'd been arranging this outing for a month, one of my friends brought a new shooter with him, and wanted me to help out with teaching him rifle marksmanship. Due to work schedules, if we delayed, the next window where we could all get together was late March. After I got there, I had a great time. But I had zero motivation until that point. I would have rather stayed warm. :)

So I dug out my thermals, and sucked it up. Getting new shooters on the firing line trump Saturday laziness.

We did make the concession not to shoot pistols. Too frigging cold outside for that crap. After we were done at the rifle range, the other two went off to visit an indoor range, and I retired to my home with a fresh pot of coffee to warm up. :)

Next time I have a free weekend day, and I have no motivation, I'm going to try to remember the challenge today. I'm sure that all the practice in the wind will come in handy at some point. And on such a cold day, barrels don't get overheated. More time on the trigger, less time waiting for gear to cool off!

February 2, 2013, 08:55 PM
We had one of those crappy days here today, 72 degrees, wind 5-10 out of the southwest, the sun was way to bright. Actually it was around 60 when I arrived at the range early this morning so I had to wear a sweatshirt for a while to keep warm.

February 2, 2013, 10:16 PM
We had one of those crappy days here today, 72 degrees, wind 5-10 out of the southwest

Ya, I know what you mean. -10 degrees below 0 with the wind out of the northwest at 25 mph. Right now it's a steamy 10 degrees above 0. We must be having a heat wave. They are talking about 20 above tomorrow, perfect shooting weather.

Jim (Northern Illinois)

Strange Bob
February 2, 2013, 11:20 PM
Snow? Snow? What's dis snow you speak of????:evil::neener:

Browningguy ... I'm about 90 miles NNE of you

February 3, 2013, 03:14 AM
You Texas boys.. you can just suck my Glock.

Tomorrow's forecast here. Looks like it'll be frosty tomorrow when I go out. That K31 thread in this forum has me wanting to dig out my old Swiss rifle and spend some quality time with iron sights.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 26. West northwest wind 8 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph.




THAT is going to make for some interesting 300 yard shooting.

West Northwest is going to be blowing AT me, with a crosswind component. The lay of the land is going to cause ugly downdrafts.

28mph crosswind on that K31 is going to give 35.89" deflection.

But if it's cutting in from the northwest at a 30 degree angle, it'll only knock my shot off 20.15".

And if it dies down to 8mph, it will only change my flight path 5.85".

That's some wild variables to windage. A potential 30 inch difference in point of impact depending on how strong the wind gusts, and what direction it is hitting me from. With the hills at the range it'll be changing direction several times over the course of the range.

300 yards with iron sights is a challenge for me on a good day, with the conditions tomorrow... I'll be lucky to get shots on paper. :)

I'll be thinking of you Texans when I'm wiping frost off my beard. 9 degree wind chill, mostly in my face.

February 3, 2013, 04:06 AM
Im in the Arctic, I have no sympathy, but I do know what ya mean :D

February 3, 2013, 04:51 AM
Im in the Arctic, I have no sympathy, but I do know what ya mean :D

What's really crazy, is four days ago we had 70 degrees and thunderstorms. Tuesday we had a high of 69 and a low of 17.

Only in Illinois, do you go from wearing a T-Shirt to work in the morning, to donning arctic thermals to take the dog out for his midnight dump.

Thermal undies are indispensable for cold weather shooting. I bought some cold weather gear off Midway that are holding up real well to cold temps. I also got some shooting mittens at Bass Pro that have a zippered pocket for thermal heat packs, can slip some or all of my fingers out. Even has a flap to flip off to clear my thumb, which really helps since my phone (which has my ballistic proggy and dope charts) is touch screen, and touchscreens don't work with gloves on. :)

8" waterproof boots with thick socks, and two pullover stocking caps tops off the arrangement. (If it's REAL cold I can slip a heat pack between the two stocking caps to keep my head toasty warm.)

When goose hunting last year, I sat perfectly stationary for 5 hours in subzero temps and didn't get cold. Didn't see any damn geese, that day, either. They're smarter than I am, evidently! :banghead:

February 3, 2013, 09:59 AM
OK...I give you credit...today you win the "who is harder than who" award.

If I'm being honest I'd say that if you called and invited me to go shoot guns in the freezing windy snow I'd have declined politely, then sat home drinking hot coffee and playing Black Ops II.

Good story...you can definitely learn a lot under those conditions.

February 3, 2013, 10:59 AM
Haha funny you should mention that. I asked my son this morning "you going shooting with me today?"

He said "oh heck no, I'm going to sit at home and shoot virtual guns where it's warm."

Looks like I'll be alone.

When we were out yesterday, there were no tire tracks in the snow when we arrived and unlocked the gate. About an hour in to things, I hear someone pull up to the pistol range. I look over, they don't even shut off their car or put up targets. Guy gets out, shoots about 4 magazines at the backstop, gets in his car, and leaves.

Guess he couldn't wait to test a handload!

I have to tell you after looking outside this morning, I have my doubts about heading out. But my gear is packed, and I'm about done catching up on news and drinking my morning coffee.

The view from my window is not inspiring me! :what:


February 3, 2013, 12:09 PM
Haha funny you should mention that. I asked my son this morning "you going shooting with me today?"

He said "oh heck no, I'm going to sit at home and shoot virtual guns where it's warm."

The view from my window is not inspiring me! :what:

Two things:

- your son will probably be kicking my butt in an online video game :D

- when I looked at that picture I went and bumped the thermostat up a few degrees.

Take a picture from the range for us.

February 3, 2013, 03:14 PM

February 3, 2013, 03:24 PM

My old battered K31:

My old battered face:

And the anomometer. Just pulled it out from inside my jacket (was on a neck rope) so it's reading the wrong temp, but that's a sustained 11mph wind and I saw gusts as high as 20mph; actual temp was 24F and dropping steadily after 1PM, a touch warmer than the estimated high for today)

At 100 yards that K31 was averaging 1.5" groups (6x 5 shot groups).

At 300 yards... I think I need to get my eyeglass prescription checked, I had a hell of a time making out the target:


First 20 shots were right handed, second 20 shots were left handed (my right shoulder was getting really painful by the 50 round mark...).

I scored 7 / 20 on the 6" target shooting right handed, and hit NONE left handed. Which is kind of odd, because I could SEE the target better with my left eye. I guess I'm just not as steady shooting left handed, because I was holding the same point of aim. Also at that point I had been exposed to the cold for 2.5 hours and was shivering pretty good.

What I learned?

You don't shoot nearly the same, or as good as usual, when you're freezing your butt off!

And, shooting stuff is fun, even when the weather is unpleasant. I had that shooting range all to my lonesome today, was a great time (except for the cold part).

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