To wind meter or not to wind meter?


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Goattman
April 17, 2013, 08:01 AM
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.

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45_auto
April 17, 2013, 08:18 AM
How useful is a wind meter? Not very.

Google "shooting wind flags".

stubbicatt
April 17, 2013, 09:56 AM
I can say that a good anemometer is a good piece of kit. If you are at the range with flags, that is swell too. If you are shooting in open country, often there are aspects of nature which can be helpful. Grass blowing, trees swaying, dust, leaves, etc. The anemometer will help you get a read on what the wind is doing *generally*, so that you can calibrate your observations of nature's wind flags. Too, it will assist in determining the general direction of the wind.

Like any tool, it is up to the user to determine how to use the tool, and to properly analyze the feedback or data he receives.

So, yes. I say get you one.

taliv
April 17, 2013, 10:24 AM
good question.

i strongly recommend the kestrel 4000NV. (You can get them cheaper on amazon or ebay or some place.)

It tells you two vital pieces of information for practical precision long range shooting: wind speed and density altitude

You do not need this if you
a) always shoot on an NRA range with windflags AND you know how to read them (and whether they are heavy or light flags) AND
b) you are shooting large targets, so a few tenths of error left or right won't matter AND
c) you get sighters and can spot your misses and then hit your target AND
d) you are shooting in mild wind under 12mph

ask yourself, can you tell the difference in a 15 and 20 mph wind by looking at trees or grass or wind flags?

In my experience, wind out in the plains and the West is usually blowing the same direction, but a good bit faster. Wind in the hillly East is usually slower but swirling around every which way, including up. Around here, you definitely need to make wind call at the shooter and at midrange to the target and maybe more.

The most important thing a kestrel does for you is calibrate your senses and wind detecting ability. Carry it everywhere you go. At random times through the day, make a guess at the wind speed and DA, then pull out the kestrel and verify it. After a few weeks (to give yourself time to see different conditions), you may find you don't need it much anymore.

btw, the 4000 and up models have DA while the 3000 and lower don't. So 4000 is the cheapest you can go and still get DA. Also, the 4500 has bluetooth, which might be cool if you have an android ballistic app, but it won't work on an iphone ballistic app (not kestrel's fault) so all it would do for me is drain my battery faster with the bluetooth radio. I think it also tells you wind direction, but geez, I think I can figure that one out on my own :)

303tom
April 17, 2013, 10:31 AM
We never used one in the ARMY.................

taliv
April 17, 2013, 11:44 AM
the ARMY definitely uses them now.................


however, i'll add one more thing that i just learned 2 weeks ago. sailboaters use this handy gadget to measure wind speed. it's under $30 and doesn't use batteries. It doesn't do DA though.

http://www.dwyer-inst.com/Product/AirVelocity/Windmeters/PortableHandheldMeter/Ordering

holdencm9
April 17, 2013, 11:56 AM
I have always read that wind 2/3 of the way to the target is the most important. Or rather, if you integrate the gradient of the wind across the entire trajectory, and average the velocity of the projectile as it travels, you essentially are mimicking the results most nearly by taking the wind at 2/3. Everything is just an approximation.

Grunt
April 17, 2013, 01:39 PM
Depends on where you are and what you're needs are. If my shooting is confined to a KD range where there are range flags, no, probably not really something you need. When I was stationed in the land of rust and rot of NW Florida where the winds were blocked by all the trees and even then, where a long range shot was maybe 200m, again, I'd say no, you probably wouldn't have much use for one.
However, growing up in North Dakota and today living in Wyoming, ranges start at 200m and get a LOT further from there. Again, on a KD range with range flags, probably not really needed but out hunting, they come in VERY handy! At 600m, a 5MPH wind variable can mean the difference between a clean kill and a crippling shot or even a clean miss. This is where wind meters really are worth having.
True, wind meters can only tell you what the wind is at your location at a certain time and winds can shift further down range and gusts can occur that a wind meter doesn't help you deal with. However, out here, the winds stay mainly in one direction and gusty conditions can be minimized by watching the winds effects on the terrain just prior to taking the shot.
As far as wind meters go, I stick with the Kestrel brands. I keep a 4500NV in my pack as well as a simpler 1000 in each dope book for all of my long range rifles. Kind of the "2 is 1 and 1 is diddle" line of thinking I suppose. I used to have a Dwyer wind meter but I found it to be an inaccurate POS! After getting a couple of Kestrel wind meters, I compared their identical readings to the Dwyer wind meter and found the Dwyer to be way off to what the other wind meters were reading. I'm generally not the kind of guy that throws much out but that was one item that found it's way into the trash can! Stick with Kestrel wind meters and cry once is my best advice.

taliv
April 17, 2013, 02:04 PM
grunt, when we were playing with the dwyer, there was apparently some technique to it. when each of us first played with it, readings were all over. then the guy who owned it said "no, do it like this" and then it was spot on with the kestrel.

Walkalong
April 17, 2013, 04:30 PM
I have always read that wind 2/3 of the way to the target is the most important. It moves the bullet from start to finish. A wind near the muzzle can have a great affect on impact. Assuming similar wind force from muzzle to target, I would worry about everything near me first. A slight change in angle there will move the POI farther than the same slight change in angle farther away. No, if you are shooting from a place where wind is light, and it will cross an area of high wind further away, that will be more important. There is no easy answer. As posted, in some places the wind will be blowing left to right at the muzzle, quartering away to the right further away, and blowing right to left even further away.

Even at 100 yards the wind can be blowing different directions. Set up wind flags from here to there one day and just sit back and watch them for awhile. Strange little swirls and changes of direction. You'll even see a flag tail shoot upwards on occasion.

Assuming good technique and a good load, 99% of Benchrest was reading the wind. 1% was luck. A split second difference in letting a shot go can be in or out of the group with no sign from the flags anything changed. Bullets blow into a group sometimes too. ;)

taliv
April 17, 2013, 05:10 PM
you know, it is an interesting internet argument, near wind vs far wind. the argument for near wind is that it's angular, so a small wind at the muzzle translates into a proportionally very large shift on the target. the argument for far wind is that a bullet that left the muzzle at 3200 fps might only be doing 1400 fps 800 yards later, so the far wind acts on the bullet for much more time. (iow, a constant 10mph right wind causes the bullet to follow a curve, not a straight line)

seems like it would be pretty easy to grab a ballistic calculator and find the drift from a 10mph left wind out to 667 yards and then drop the muzzle velocity and calculate the drift from a 10mph right wind for another 333 yards, and see where that puts you. but i've just been too lazy to do it.

and the truth is, that's just not how i read and calculate wind in the field. so i'm not sure knowing the answer would really change anything for me. but i've been wrong before. who knows?

Walkalong
April 17, 2013, 06:16 PM
Yes, we "calculate" what we think it will do in our mind, and adjust accordingly. The impact gives our mental computer instant data to add to the memory bank.

A calculator could figure it out for any condition, but conditions are never the same. Similar at times, but rarely exactly the same. I can't count how many times I see the question. My rifle shot to a different spot today?

Let's see, the wind is on the back of my neck, the flag at 35 yards is blowing lightly left, the flag at 85 yards is barely moving, the flag at 125 is blowing left to right, the flag at 175 is blowing away lightly, the mirage I see between me and the 200 yard target is running up a little......

Where do you hold?

Hmm, think I'll shoot a sighter. :)

Reloadron
April 17, 2013, 08:01 PM
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.

Enter the problem.

Do a Google of Benchrest Wind Flags to see where I am going with this.

The range I shot at for over 10 years and plan to join again (retiring) is Kebly's here in Ohio. It is a benchrest range where the annual Super Shoot is held. During this event it is not unusual to see hundreds of wind flags placed every 25 yards down range at the shooting positions. The place looks like a flower garden with spinning daises and little flags.

The truly great shooters love wind and will tell you it separates the men from the boys on the range. These guys can actually read these things and are real good at it. Talk about going OCD with the wind. Knowing the wind at the muzzle is one thing but unless you know the wind all the way downrange you really don't have much.

I am not a benchrest type shooter. I just happen to like that range very much. So even with a super anemometer at the muzzle I don't know the wind at 50, 100, 200 or more yards. So as to the question:

To wind meter or not to wind meter?

I would say not. That being just my take on what I have seen.

I like Walkalong's suggestion... Shoot a sighter. :)

Just My Take....
Ron

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