Natural Point of Aim and Holding for Wind
We all know, muscling the rifle is a bad thing. With the Fundamentals of Marksmanship, we have Natural Point of Aim as the very first one. We describe NPA as, body pointed to the rifle, rifle pointed to the target. In other words, we are relaxed, lined up straight behind the rifle.
This all changes when we hold for wind. Thanks to video we can see just how much a wind hold can result in muscling the rifle to line up the shot. Doesn’t seem like much until you look at it from the other side.
Shooting my 20” 308 with a muzzle velocity of 2575fps out to 1125 yards, in even a modest wind of 7MPH I need a 2 Mil wind hold. In the video I show you just how far that hold moves the rifle. It’s more than you realize.
So when do we hold, and when do we dial. That is the next logical question. If holding do we have the time and opportunity to adjust our NPA ?
While everyone is different, I have a few suggestions to consider:
- Hold for the entire wind when it’s less than 1.5 Mils or 6 MOA
- Hold for the entire wind between 200 and 800 yards.
- Dial back to the center when the hold goes beyond 1.5 Mils
- Distance should give you time and opportunity, use that time to properly line up the shot including the wind hold
Now this may not work for every situation, you have to be dynamic when considering these factors. Don’t let the question confuse or slow you down. But create a series of small rules of thumb for yourself.
Looking at the Wind
As I have advocated in other lessons, it’s important to have a plan when attacking the wind. I dope the wind using a kestrel for about 2 minutes so I can establish the Highs, Lows and Average wind speed. I think give a value to these speed in mils based on the system I am shooting. This allows me to attach an actual number to the wind call.
Much like people do with multiple targets at multiple distance, you want to look the wind as 3 different values. These 3 wind calls will have 3 separate holds. Knowing those holds will not only speed up your shot process, but it will also help you learn to dope the wind quicker. You not only visualize what is happening downrange, but you have a value for those visualizations. If you dope the wind at 6 MPH and your hold is 1.2 Mils, and the shot needs 1.5 Mils to hit the target, you just learned something about your call.
Muscling the Rifle
In the prone your NPA is not as critical as it can be with something like Sling Shooting, or even Alternate Positions. NPA is much more critical when you are off the ground. Because the rifle is suspended above the ground, it will be subject to your natural point of aim. A bad Natural Point of Aim doesn’t necessary effect the group size, but will instead move the groups off center. If you muscle the rifle to the left, when you body experiences recoil, it will relax and move the rifle back to where it is naturally aligned.
Think about this action with a heavier magnum. Much more recoil, much louder bang, and a bigger chance the body will reaction in a negative way. You see many more shooters flinch with a magnum vs a 223. If you are using a magnum, shooting much farther, these little details are critical.
It could be one of the reasons your wind calls do not line up. Because your NPA forces you to increase the call due to muscling the rifle. Instead try dialing back to the center, doping the average and holding the gusts or lulls in the wind.
In other cases, try to line up your NPA based on the wind hold and not just on the center of the crosshairs.
At the end of the day, you want to believe the bullet. See the results of your shot, and adjust based off what you see in the reticle
When hearing of people having difficulties with recoil management you have to wonder if this would not result in the rifle moving because their NPA is compromised ?
There are a small errors that can add up to a miss, especially at long distances. If you are compromising a fundamental of marksmanship you maybe inadvertently causing a problem.
See what your sight picture looks like after holding the wind, and look at your sight picture after dialing closer to the center ? if you see a difference, NPA might be the problem.