When is a wind not a wind? The Guru knows ...

Air Gunner - - Contents -

What is ‘phan­tom windage’, and should you be aware? Our guru will tell you what it means, and how to deal with it

Dear Guru, I over­heard my club mates talk­ing about some­thing they called ‘phan­tom windage’ and I was too em­bar­rassed to ask what it is. I’m a new mem­ber and fairly new to the sport, so I didn’t like to ask, but I’m won­der­ing if this phan­tom windage is some­thing I need to know about. Any ad­vice would be ap­pre­ci­ated! TONY

Hello, Tony, and thanks for con­tact­ing me. Be­fore I ex­plain what ‘phan­tom windage’ is all about,

I’d like to give you a bit of ad­vice. Never be afraid to ask ques­tions of more ex­pe­ri­enced shoot­ers. Most air­gun­ners are only too happy to help new­com­ers, and do­ing just that is a large part of what the club sys­tem is about. A po­lite ques­tion shows in­ter­est and the de­sire to learn, and these are al­ways pos­i­tive things. So ask away, OK?


In ba­sic terms, phan­tom windage oc­curs when the ri­fle is canted as the shot is taken. If the ri­fle is held ver­ti­cally, the pel­lets should land on the scope’s ver­ti­cal cross- hair, pro­vided there is no ‘real’ wind, of course. When the shooter leans the ri­fle to the left or right, the cross- hair moves away from the ver­ti­cal and the pel­lets ap­pear to strike to the side of it. This looks like the wind has blown the pel­lets to the side, but that’s not what has hap­pened, hence ‘phan­tom’ windage.


There’s a quick, easy fix for phan­tom windage, and that’s to make sure your scope is fit­ted with its ver­ti­cal cross- hair per­fectly ver­ti­cal, and to keep it that way each time you shoot. Many shoot­ers, me in­cluded, set up their scopes us­ing a plumb line. A length of cord with a weight on the end, hang­ing from a tree, is per­fect for this.

Once your scope is cor­rectly fit­ted, get your­self a scope lev­eller and at­tach it to your scope so you can see it dur­ing your shoot­ing se­quence. Match­ing the scope lev­eller to the plumb line as you set up your scope is the ideal fix for phan­tom windage.


With ev­ery­thing set up and per­fectly level, get some train­ing in and teach your­self to be aware of the bub­ble in your scope lev­eller, with­out need­ing to con­cen­trate on it. The bub­ble should be in your pe­riph­eral vi­sion, and shoot­ing with both eyes open is the best way to achieve this.

Both eyes open? Well, that’s a ‘Guru’ in it­self and I’ve al­ready been asked about it, so I’ll deal with that next month. Mean­while, happy shoot­ing, Tony, and I’m sure you’ll soon be per­form­ing at your level best!

There are all sorts of scope- lev­el­ling op­tions around these days

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