LONG RANGER

Gary Chilling­worth con­tin­ues his in­ves­ti­ga­tion of long-range ac­cu­racy PART 3

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Gary Chilling­worth con­tin­ues his mini- se­ries on long- range ac­cu­racy – this month, wind drift

Last month, we looked at the vi­a­bil­ity of hunt­ing be­yond 40 yards with a sub-12ft.lbs. air ri­fle, and if you could get a tight enough group to make a hu­mane kill. We looked at cal­i­bre and whether or not a .177 or a .22 was more ef­fi­cient at long range. Our ini­tial test­ing seemed to show that a .22 was af­fected more by the wind then a .177 and I couldn’t com­pletely un­der­stand why.

So, this month I thought we would look at wind drift and how it af­fects pel­lets in both .177 and .22. I must ad­mit that be­fore I started the ar­ti­cle, I was of the opin­ion that a .22 would take more wind be­cause of the mass and size of the pel­let. Be­fore I be­came a train driver, I used to drive trucks and as we all know, an HGV weighs con­sid­er­ably more than a car, but due to the larger sur­face area of a lorry, they are af­fected more by wind and can eas­ily be blown from one lane to an­other.

My other the­ory was that wind at the bar­rel was more im­por­tant than wind fur­ther down­range. My be­lief was that if you could move a pel­let off line by a de­gree or two as it ex­ited the bar­rel, by the time it ar­rived 40 yards down­range, it would be a cen­time­tre or two off line. Well, be­fore I go any fur­ther and just in case you stop read­ing at this point – and I wouldn’t blame you if you did – I WAS WRONG!

NEAR OR FAR?

My plan was to set up a desk fan at the end of the bar­rel, I used my anemome­ter to mea­sure the wind speed ( 6mph) and then fired a se­ries of shots. With the fan switched off, all my shots landed on tar­get – shoot­ing a ver­ti­cal line – and with the fan run­ning, all my shots landed bang on tar­get and touched the line; it had no ef­fect. I then tried a hairdryer, which got the wind speed up to 13mph, and even though a few of the shots landed slightly to the left of the line, it was only by about a pel­let width. Even though a 5mph wind would cer­tainly move a pel­let, the short amount of time that the pel­let was pass­ing by the fan and hairdryer was not enough to af­fect the flight path.

I am plan­ning to hit the char­ity shops to buy about 20 hairdry­ers to re­peat the ex­per­i­ment, but that will have to wait. The good news is, Mal­don and Dis­trict AGC is close to me, and I have man­aged to work on a few things and come to a conclusion. Luck­ily, at M. A.D. we have some nice open land and some con­ve­nient fenc­ing, so I was able to hide be­hind this bar­rier and pro­tect part of the flight path of the pel­let.

By shoot­ing in both direc­tions, with a con­stant wind from left to right, I found that the wind down­range is far more dev­as­tat­ing to a pel­let’s flight path than wind at the bar­rel. When ly­ing in open ground, with a 10mph side wind, and shoot­ing into a shel­tered area, the pel­let hardly moved, but shoot­ing from a shel­tered po­si­tion into an open field, the pel­let al­ways hit about 1.5cm left to right. To me, this made no sense,.

FOL­LOW THE NO­MADS

On Sun­day, I shot at No­mads HFT club at the Spring Re­coil­ing cham­pi­onship, and No­mads is the home of Air­gun World’s Jim Tyler. Jim is quite sim­ply one of the clever­est chaps I know, and when I get con­fused I al­ways speak to him. I asked him why the flight path was af­fected more down­range, and why a .22 ap­peared to be worse than a .177, and this is what he told me:

‘It’s all down to flight time. When the pel­let leaves the bar­rel, it’s trav­el­ling at just un­der 12 ft.lbs., but the fur­ther it gets down­range, the slower it be­comes. As the pel­let is trav­el­ling slower, this al­lows the wind to have more time to af­fect its flight path. This is also why a .22 strug­gles in the wind more than a .177 – it trav­els at a much slower pace than a .177, and this added flight time gives the wind more time to blow it off course’.

This leaves me with the prob­lem of how we can judge wind down­range, when we are out stalk­ing. Well, this is where some plan­ning comes in, and if you are new to hunt­ing or tar­get shoot­ing, judg­ing the wind will be more im­por­tant than judg­ing range.

When you are in the field, you can ob­vi­ously use a anemome­ter. If there is lit­tle cover be­tween you and where you want your pel­lets to land, there is a good chance that any read­ing you take at your ri­fle will be sim­i­lar down­range. The prob­lem is, if you are in a shel­tered po­si­tion and shoot­ing into an open field, tak­ing a read­ing where you are, it’s of no use, and walk­ing over to a rab­bit war­ren to take a read­ing will work, but you won’t see any bunnies for the next few hours.

LEARNED SKILLS

So, this is where prepa­ra­tion and field­craft comes in. Learn your plants

I now un­der­stand a lit­tle more about the way Mother Na­ture af­fects my pel­lets on those windy days”

and how they are af­fected by the wind. When you go out, take a pa­per tar­get with a ver­ti­cal line drawn on it and place it in an ex­posed area. Take a mea­sure­ment of the wind and write it down, then shoot the tar­get and see how far off the line the pel­lets move. Then watch the grass, cow pars­ley, leaves on trees and note down how much they move, do this for all dif­fer­ent wind speeds and build up a data base – after a time, it will be­come sec­ond na­ture.

An­other op­tion, if you shoot in a reg­u­lar place, is to leave windi­ca­tors around – small bits of rib­bon tied to trees, or maybe a small stick pushed into the ground with a rib­bon at­tached. After a while, the rab­bits or other quarry won’t even no­tice it, and you will have a per­fect in­stru­ment to use. Just re­mem­ber, if you are shoot­ing along the ground, don’t use the tops of the trees to judge your wind. The higher you go, the windier it gets, so al­ways judge your wind by where you are shoot­ing.

I ad­mit this has been a learn­ing curve for me, and I am pleased to say that I now un­der­stand a lit­tle more about the way Mother Na­ture af­fects my pel­lets on those windy days, but no mat­ter how hard I look into things, in­clud­ing the kit I can use, I can­not see any way that any­one should be us­ing a sub-12 ft.lbs. air ri­fle in any cal­i­bre, to shoot any liv­ing thing at more than 35 yards un­less the con­di­tions are ab­so­lutely per­fect – and even then, I wouldn’t go out be­yond 40.

I will fin­ish this piece with an ex­tract from an email, re­ceived from a reader who wishes to re­main anony­mous.

‘Gary, if you are go­ing to take rab­bits at long range, then use an FAC gun, whether this be a .25 cal­i­bre, 40 ft.lbs. air ri­fle, 17HMR or 22LR, and if you don’t have ac­cess to a ri­fle like this, then work on your field­craft. The coun­try­side gives us free food and great sport, and we owe it to the an­i­mals we take, and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of hunters, to treat our quarry with com­pas­sion and re­spect’.

I say, ‘hear hear’ and wish you all happy shoot­ing.

Shel­ter­ing next to a fence showed me that the ini­tial flight of the pel­let is not that im­por­tant

RIGHT: Tar­get shoot­ers use the bend in the string to gauge wind di­rec­tion and speed

FAR RIGHT: As you can see, in the same con­di­tions, the .22 takes nearly dou­ble the wind of a .177

RIGHT: Place a tar­get next to grass and weeds and watch the cor­re­la­tion be­tween pel­let im­pact and move­ment of the fo­liage

ABOVE: Any­body can at­tach wool to their ri­fle to give an in­di­ca­tion for wind di­rec­tion

RIGHT: Jim Tyler is a walk­ing en­cy­clo­pe­dia for all things air­gun

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