Recoil Magazine, the premier firearms magazine, just published an article of mine on the environmental effects of long range shooting. You can head over to their website for the preview of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Target and you can read the full article by picking up Issue 22 at your local retailer or by subscribing on their website.
In the article, I cover (at an extremely basic level) the main effects on a bullet in flight: gravity and wind. I then explore how environmental effects such as temperature, air density, humidity, and more can change how much of an effect gravity and wind have on the bullet’s path to the target. As a taste for those who want to really get into the details, I also briefly discuss spin drift and the Coriolis effect. Of course, each of these topics is explained in more detail in my book, the Long Range Shooting Handbook.
Why is this an update on the website for a law practice? Simply, I shared it to help reinforce that I am a true gun-guy and a firearms industry insider who actually understands firearms and their use as much as I know firearm laws.
Just Because You Missed Doesn’t Mean You Suck
You zeroed your rifle and gathered data out to 1,000 yards on a range in Austin, Texas. You just tried using that data in Flagstaff, Arizona, and it didn’t work. You missed the target, and you can’t figure out why.
Why did you miss? Simply put, there are external variables that can affect the bullet’s path on the way to the target. If you don’t understand the effect these variables have and compensate for them, you might just keep missing. The theory and technique of precision shooting is often explained in an overcomplicated way. It’s true that the subject is complex and can take a lifetime to master. However, this article is an attempt to explain the external effects on a bullet in flight in a simple way that shows how they’re related. This isn’t an advanced course; it’s merely an introduction.
For all of the examples in this article, we’ll use a 175-grain Sierra HPBT bullet fired from a .308 Winchester rifle. You probably have one lurking in the safe, and most people cut their teeth in the long-range game on the good ol’ 7.62 NATO.
Bottom Line Up Front
There are really only two external forces that change a bullet’s path on the way to the target, namely gravity and wind. There — you’ve just gotten all you need to know on the subject. Well done, carry on