Online Training Lesson, Danger Space
I posted a video online in response to a Facebook post attempting to demonstrate “Danger Space” using two paint cans. While this can show the difference, it was very deceiving so I wanted to clarify this aspect of Precision Rifle shooting
Danger Space is described as the area above and below the point of aim that will still allow the bullet to hit a specific sized target at any given range.
This is important when you engaging unknown distance targets, hunting, or shooting at ELR Distances. It’s also important to help you understand the error factor in our trajectory. As been stated, the Flatter shooting the cartridge the more “Danger Space” we have, which is good, we want more. For the competition shooter this helps that take up any errors associated to compromising their holds in order to make up time. A shooter with a bigger danger space can skip the actual adjustment for a favor and still hit the target.
Danger Space Details for the Rifles in the Video
Here are the JBM Charts detailing the Danger Space for the rifles used in the video. You can ask JBM online, a free resource to include a Danger Space Column. I find this very useful and will opt to include every time.
Demonstrating Danger Space
The way to debunk the paint can image was to use two paper targets back to back at 600 yards. This does not necessarily show danger space as much as it shows drop for each caliber at 600 yards. With a 5 yard spread between the target we only have maximum of 1.5” of drop. So an error that small in dope or ranging can easily be absorbed in most rifles used today.
This does help use realize were an error might fall when it comes to both gathering dope the old fashion way as well as using a ballistic calculator.
Verifying both your actual range and POI is important. We can’t take for granted that public range you are using is giving you a correct distance to the target. We can still score a solid hit on target while having incorrect information. So for gathering dope consider a water mark on steel or using paper to confirm Point of Aim with Point of Impact.
My second demonstration is a better representation of Danger Space. I took my 800 yard target, a large 18”x24” plate and doped all the rifles for that, point of aim to match point of impact. Next I placed an 8”x12” plate 10 yards in front of it, directly in line with my firing point. It was a bit high but was right there, it covered the top portion of the back plate. But aiming at the two plates I was easily able to hit the front plate with all three rifles. Including the 20” 308, that is because the Danger Space was greater than 10 yards. It was actually 12 yards for the 308 hence the hits. Adding .2 mils the dope easily put the rounds over the first plate hitting the second.
This is important to understand from your Dope perspective again. How small errors in dope can have an impact on your hits or misses.
Ranging errors are a big problem. Danger Space illustrates this very well. But giving you the spread of ranges you can still hit the target helps you understand your error budget.
Reticle ranging is a legacy skill, but one many uses without understanding the limitations. Even with a proper reading on both the target size and mil reading, you can still be off the range by as much as 5 yards. Not every correct answer with reticle ranging matches the target distance perfectly.
Reticle ranging was designed for 600 yards and in, and a well accomplished shooter can manage about 800 yards on a fairly large target. In fact the bigger the target the better. We have to have a target large enough to reduce the ranging error in order to stay within the Danger Space.
For ELR distances, Reticle Ranging is a no go. You just can do it unless you are ranging something as big as a car. Instead the method most taught is solving the Right Triangle by running an azimuth across more than 100 yards of offset.
At ELR distance your Danger is incredibly small. Because the bullet is launched so high into the air, it is dropping at a very steep angle. This angle is what shrinks your Danger Space. If you ever shot at ELR you may notice a round hit the plate, but then the 2nd round hits low, and the 3rd round hits high past the plate. That is usually due to your Vertical Spread on the load being used. That vertical spread is enough to cause you to miss despite having the correct dope on the rifle.
For the ELR shooter, your load development is the single most important aspect of target engagement. A load with a double digit Standard Deviation can have a negative effect on your hit percentage. I click in either direction can be a miss with when the Danger Space is reduced to inside a single yard.
Which brings us back to ranging ELR distance targets. The danger space here matters, so do your homework and check what the Danger Space might be. It will help manage expectations.
Danger Space is a tool, take the time to understand the pros and cons of your methods by studying the Danger Space informationnull