Wind indicator

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This is a guest blog on building and using wind indicators, by reader Hank Vana 2.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me. Now, over to you, Hank

Wind indicator
By Hank Vana 2

Wind indicator

The Wind Indicator consists of a wooden post, some stiff wire, a bit of bead-chain, a tie-wrap and a length of flagging tape.

This report covers:

• Wind Indicators
• Range Setup and Wind Indicator Use
• Bending the Wire Arm
• Fitting the Bead Chain
• Putting It Together
• Conclusion

Wind Indicators

There are a number of forces that affect the free flight of a pellet. Forces like drag and gravity are easily compensated for by adjusting the rifle’s sights to agree with the point of impact. Compensating for the wind is not as easy. Because it is so variable in direction, strength and consistency, it is a force that plays havoc with our shooting unless we are constantly aware of it.

It is difficult to allow for a force that you can’t see, so adding wind indicators to your target range will show you the direction of the wind and with what strength it is blowing. Being able to see the winds you are dealing with is a huge benefit in determining how to compensate for it.

The wind indicator shown in the picture above is designed to show the wind direction and strength without tangling or twisting. It is economical to make and durable. Occasionally spraying the bead chain with a moisture-displacing lubricant or replacing a damaged flag is the only maintenance required. My indictors have been out in the elements for 2 ½ years and I have only had to replace two flags.

Shooting range setup
I have Wind Indicators setup every 5 yards along my shooting lane.

Range setup and wind indicator use

My permanent range is 55 yards long and I have wind indicators positioned every 5 yards along my shooting lane. The presence of the wind indicators allows me to relate the amount the pellet has drifted away from the point of aim to what wind I can feel on my face and see by how much the indicator flag is off vertical.

Without being able to see the wind it is easy to assume that it blows evenly and consistently all the way down range. Wish that was true. The first 15 yards of my range is partially protected by a slope and tall grass, the next 15 is open and flat with the remainder passing through a bush and wooded area. A few minutes spent observing my wind indicators will quickly show how much a breeze swirls and how much foliage and terrain influences the air flow.

When practicing I shoot at paper targets and spinners. I pay close attention to the wind indicator flags and shoot at the paper targets without allowing for wind drift. The difference between the point of aim (POA) and the point of impact (POI) shows me the amount of compensation required for the current conditions and rifle that I am using. Once I have the compensation pegged I start shooting the spinners.

There are spinner targets scattered along the lane and I will shoot at varying ranges adjusting my compensation as required. If I am hitting consistently then all is good. If I am having trouble at a specific range I will spend some time watching the wind indicator flags, set up a paper target and check my POA to POI. I want to know where my shots are going; there is no point in guessing.

After a while it gets so that you can take a quick look at the indicator flags and know how much to compensate for the shot. It’s real satisfying to snap shot at a spinner and smack it good!

Wind indicator wire arm detail
Wire Arm bending detail.

Bending the Wire Arm

The wind indicator arm is made from 16 inches (about half a coat hanger) of 1/8-inch diameter stiff wire. It serves as an outrigger to keep the flag from tangling on the supporting post, and as a means to capture the bead chain.

A pair of linesman pliers is great for cutting and bending the wire, and the jaws are a convenient width for measuring the bends. I strongly recommend filing off any burrs and sharp edges before bending the wire. There are 4 steps to bending the wire arm.

Step 1. Make two ½ inch long bends to form a shallow V (about ¼ inch deep) at the end of the wire. This V is used to wedge the arm into to a hole drilled in the wooden support post.

Step 2. Form a ½ inch U shaped loop at the other end of the wire.

Step 3. Bend the loop 90 degrees to the main wire.

Step 4. Make a second 90-degree bend in the main wire 4 inches up from the loop as shown in the picture.

Wind indicator bead chain detail
Bead-chain attachments.

Fitting the Bead Chain and Indicator Flag

An indicator flag attached directly to the wire arm would provide some idea of the wind direction but it will twist up quickly and without any weight (resistance) it would not show the wind strength very well. Adding 4 to 6 inches of bead chain between the wire arm and the indicator flag adds enough weight to be able to read the wind force by the angle of the flag and the chain will allow the flag to spin freely.

Capture the bead chain by fitting it into the loop in the wire arm and then crimping the loop tight with a pair of pliers.

The indicator flag is made from flagging tape. It’s the weather (cold and UV) resistant tape used for surveying and marking hiking trails. This tape is readily available in hardware and sporting goods stores.

To make a flag, fold 12 inches of the flagging tape in half and fix the folded end to the bead chain with a tie-wrap. String or wire can be used to tie the flag to the bead chain but that requires four hands where as I can manage by myself if I use a tie-wrap.

The length of the flag is not critical but it is important that all the flags are the same and that it suits the length and weight of the chain. If the flag is too short it will flutter too much and won’t have the wind resistance to pull the bead chain off vertical.

Putting It Together

All that remains now it to attach the wire arm assembly to wooden posts positioned along the shooting lane.

The posts can be 1×2 or 2×2 in size and 3 or 4 feet long. I ripped mine out of a 2×6 with the table saw. Cut a point on one end if you are going to install the wind indicators permanently or add a base if you want them to be portable.

I use my wind indicators for measuring distances on my range so I took some time to position them accurately spaced and in a straight line. A laser level is useful if you want to mount the indicator flags in one plane, I didn’t bother with that.

To mount the wire arm assembly to the post, drill a hole a bit bigger than the wire diameter and force the “V” bent end into the hole to wedge it in. You may have to adjust the bend or the hole to get a tight fit.

747 cross wind landing
Even large flying objects can’t ignore the wind.

Conclusion

Heavier pellets are better than light ones in a breeze but all objects in flight are affected regardless of size. Watch planes landing in a strong cross wind, even huge commercial jets like the 747 in the picture above need to compensate to hit the runway.

A bit of practicing using wind indicators for reference will give you a good idea on how much compensation to use to make the shot in breezy conditions. With a lot of practice you will compensate for windage and elevation automatically without thinking about it.

70 thoughts on “Wind indicator

  1. Nice article Hank.

    Wind flags and such are definitely important. I use them even when I fly my RC airplanes along with when I shoot.

    But I don’t have any wind flags out at 60, 80 or 100 yards. And really nothing to watch move out at that part of my range. All that’s out there is 8″ tall corn stalks left from when the farmer harvested the corn. And it’s pretty rigid. So no good for wind indicating.

    So what do I do. Well all I can do is take a shot and watch we’re it hits. Then compensate my hold opposite of how it hit.

    But yes for sure if can use something as a wind indicator I do. Whatever it may be. And I like your easy to do wind flags. I will have to make a couple and try them out. And I like making stuff out of coat hangers too. 🙂


  2. Vana 2,

    You’re a genius! What a great design. I think it was Chris USA and I that were communicating about 2 weeks ago about how we were each looking for and trying to design an effective wind sock. We both were having trouble coming up with something that didn’t get all twisted up eventually and this looks like it should work perfectly. Much better than anything that I have come up with for sure. Thanks so much for sharing and providing the pics with dimensions.

    Half


  3. Hank,

    Super! article. I like the simplicity of the mechanism. (I stress,.. actual mechanism). I have been playing off and on with a design, but have run into various issues on optimal performance. Perhaps over thinking on my part or a case of me trying to re-invent the wheel ehh??? Naw,… I would never do that! 😉 I will give up for now and just use your superb and proven idea.

    I love your range. A virtual buffet of targets! 🙂 I do believe you did an article on the 45 degree hanging targets in the past, or at least posted a pic.. I did not see any of the 3 legged “aliens”. You should post a pic of one of those today if you can slip it in.

    Superb job on a guest article w/nice visuals. Good Day to you and to all,….. Chris


    • Chris,

      Yes, did a blog on the spinner targets a while back when I was making up a bunch of them – have them scattered all over the property. Great entertainment on a walk-about.

      “3 legged aliens” LOL! Like your description 🙂 I don’t have any pictures of those target butts but I need to make up a couple when the weather improves, its about – 5 degrees F right now. I don’t know it they would be of general interest, I’ll ask B.B. if he thinks it is worth blogging.

      Glad you liked the wind indicators.

      Hank





            • Chris
              Check out the Quackenbush Air Guns web pages. Dennis has made quite a few .58 pistols and only a few of the .58 Short Rifles. They really grab the attention of folks at the range who are shooting powder burners. My Hope is to take Feral hogs with them. Ever since 2009 downturn a number of hog farmers went bust and lost their farms in the Shenandoah; many just turned out the livestock and moved on. I’m still learning the .58 caliber even though I have had a DAQ .458, B.B.s favorite caliber Quackenbush Big Bore, for a long time. Going from .177 10M to a powerful .25 Sporter airgun is a similar jump. The PUSH recoil can only be witnessed! I have read (MINED) all of B.B.s big bore blogs over and over again and consulted with muzzle loader hunters and references recommended in B.B.s blogs. Great fun this airgunning

              shootski

              (I’m NOT )


          • shootski,

            The aliens that Chris is referring to are the target butts that I make from a 16 to 20 inch diameter pine log that stands stable and level on three legs. They kinds look like the “Wars of the World” alien machines and hence the name.

            I make PCP sized butts but have one for target shooting with my 30-06, I’m sure we can make one to accommodate your .575 🙂

            Hank


            • Thanks Hank, I wasn’t certain if BUTTS was a typo but all is clear now. “War of the Worlds” was one of my favorites on the radio drama, scared the snot out of me as a little kid! Loved the original movie B&W . If I remember correctly with green colorized death rays! I’m certain I can’t thump them as hard, even with the Quackenbush 58cal. (.575) Short Rifle (the barrel optimized for 283 grain. round ball) as you can with a 30-06
              We are hoping to get rid of some feral sows and hopefully some boar at a friend’s orchards.

              shootski


      • Hank,

        I was referring to just a pic so that other readers could see another idea of yours. I am not so sure they would be blog worthy. Your wind indicators for sure are though! Again,.. nice!


      • Hank you have a great KISS wind flag system ••••• 5/5!!!
        Thank you for taking the time to put together a solid Guest Blog to share with us.

        Loved the photograph of the Jumbo on short final crabbing into the right to left crosswind…with some “pretty” bad overshoot. Not up to a Wings of Gold standard!

        shootski


        • shootski,

          Glad that you like the indicators!

          It is amazing what you can make out of coat hanger,, snare wire, duct tape… 🙂

          I have done some flying (as in piloting), landing in a stiff crosswind is only “fun” after you are on the ground and both you and the plane are undamaged.

          Cheers,
          Hank


      • Hank,

        My indicator idea was to make one with various length indicators, assign wind speed to each length via anometer?, which I think we have at work for checking air flow, thereby having a gauge to judge actual wind speed. More precise was the idea I guess.

        Heck, of course if a person was to get really serious, they could just get little wind meters that come with the better weather stations and set those out.


        • Chris,

          Guess you could use different lengths of chain and calibrate the wind indicators (sounds like an interesting project eh?) but at that point you would be best off with one of those weather stations that you mentioned or a hand-held unit.

          Hank


          • For a range that or your KISS system Hank works for me. Out in the woods and fields I prefer trying to read the wind with what nature provides; I always forget to bring spare batteries. I also use a 6″ long yarn Tell Tail on the end of my barrels. The rest is just how you change your POA once you have the wind doped. My dad taught me to aim small with upwind hold off or clicks if the wind was steady.

            I’m more of a shooter than a tinkerer!

            shootski

            (I’m NOT Polish)



  4. Han
    Fabulous, can’t wait to build my own! No twist, easy to make, durable what’s not to love! The precision of your bends are textbook and using copper wire has so many benefits. I especially liked the opportunity to see your range which Is beautiful and surely contributes to your ability to achieve shooting zen. And lastly the airplane photo was an awesome example of the affect wind can have on moving objects. Looking forward to your next installment.
    Carl



    • Carl,

      I am using 1/2 a coat-hanger which is about 1/8″ diameter steel wire (copper would not hold up, even stress hardened it would bend too easily).

      The tie-wires used for supporting hanging ceilings would also work well.

      Hank





  5. An off-topic question here..

    I recently purchased the Crosman 1377, and I am a little frustrated that I cannot seem to get near the accuracy of my Beeman P17, which I realize has a better trigger. Is the P17 a more accurate shooter than the 1377, or do I just have to do my part and work a little harder? Also, what are your thoughts on adding the shoulder stock for helping me with accuracy? My only reluctance is that it is no longer an air pistol – more of a carbine… Thanks.



      • Yes, “accuracy” is a vague term…
        Most of my shooting is off-hand and informal at targets 25-30 feet away. It just seems the P17 is easier to hold on-target and I can keep my shots in an inch or so. Shots are more predictable… Maybe I am unfairly expecting the same results from the 1377 out of the box. I am just wondering if I need to shoot the 1377 more to break in the trigger, or is it a matter of more practice to get the same results? I use pellgun oil for the pumping head. I can’t remember if I did an initial barrel cleaning…?


        • Jeff,

          Okay, now I understand. Yes, the P17 is easier to hold, mostly because of its much lighter weight. But the 1377 can be very accurate and maybe you just haven’t found the pellets it likes yet. Crosman Premiers would be ones to try — both weights. Also JSB 10.34-grain domes.

          After that I think it’s just practice. How many pumps for you give each shot? I would try either 4 or 5.

          B.B.


          • Yes, I use 4-5 pumps – I like to save my strength for longer shooting sessions. That sounds very promising. I will try different pellets (and practice more…). Thanks for your help!


  6. Gunfun1,

    I left this same message on yesterday’s blog but I was not sure that you would see it.

    I am going to have to pass on the 300 at this time. We had some unexpected medical expenses in January, and since the deducible had just rolled over, were not covered by insurance.

    Thanks for the offer,

    Jim




        • RR
          Don’t remember what you was talking about. But why I was thinking about selling it is I have another gun coming beside the Gauntlet I just got. I really don’t need to sell it. But thought about it.

          But why what do you have in mind?


          • GF1,

            Well, remember me talking about those girls that were needing to move out of RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns? There is a Diana 46E that could use a good home. There is also a Talon SS project underway that would be great for a machinist to take on.


            • RR
              I would of probably been interested doing something with the Talon SS you have if we would of connected sooner.

              I just ordered a .25 caliber Condor SS with the spin lock tank yesterday. So that’s why I thought about selling the FWB 300. Not really wanting to trade now. Was going to sale to try to recoup some money buy selling the 300. But don’t particularly want to let it go. It’s a very good shooter. It way surpasses it’s 10 meter intensions.

              So that’s the scoop.



          • Carl,

            The 46E is the 46 where they later added the E for export. As far as a plain stock, I think you are thinking of the RWS 48 and 52. This stock is nicely finished with checkering. It has a raised cheek piece on the right, but otherwise it is ambidextrous.

            The Diana 46 was this company’s answer to the TX200 and the HW97. The earlier ones had a T01 trigger. This one has a T05 trigger. I have heard several complaints about the plastic trigger blade, but it is really a non issue. IMHO this trigger is sweet, and I am a trigger snob.






      • R.R.
        Those are nice I’m going to start with the adapter first, nail down the height then upgrade. But man they are proud of them, if it weren’t for all this ot I would say they were made from unobtainium.
        Carl


        • Coduece,

          They are indeed expensive, but they are really nice. I mounted my scope and by adjusting them I had the rifle almost zeroed before I did any reticle adjustments. They are very well made. They receive the coveted RRR (RidgeRunner Rated).



            • Carl,

              LOL! Oh, I am certain that there are many more here who are most serious shooters, although I am serious about my airguns. My airgun collection is rather small in comparison to many here. Part of the reason is that I insist on keeping it small. I do not want a room full of airguns collecting dust and rust. I can only shoot one at a time.

              Another reason is although I see a lot of airguns I would like to play with some, I have a most critical eye for who gets to move into RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns. I want the absolute most quality I can afford. The quality of many of the antique air rifles and pistols is exceptional and many are reasonably priced.

              The HM1000X is one of the top shelf air rifles made these days and the only reason I have it is I had a small windfall and my loving wife allowed me to buy it, otherwise I would still be dreaming about it.

              You have a most serious air rifle rig you are putting together there. I would consider letting one of those move in. 😉


      • R.R.
        Ok just curious what kind of scope sits on top of this most serious of airguns with the most serious rings I’ve ever seen. I guess the adjustability helps with elevation for long range shooting ?
        Carl


        • Coduece,

          Why, a UTG bubble level scope. A most serious scope for a most serious air rifle with most serious rings. If you have not used it yet, you are really going to like it on that TX200 which by the way is a most serious air rifle also.

          They are also available in Picitinny if you should decide to put an adapter on that TX200, which is not a bad idea.





  7. Nice range. This brings to mind a comment from my high school rifle team coach. He said that at Camp Perry sometimes the wind flags blow in different directions down the course at the same time. How is one supposed to deal with that? Presumably by adding up all the wind contributions and finding the net effect although you would also have to weigh the value of near versus far winds which is an unresolved problem. Anyway, I doubt there would be such a complex problem at airgun distances.

    Michael, I’ve also encountered memory palaces in the fictional series on FBI Agent Pendergast which I recommend. He is a man with multiple Ph.D.s and a veteran of a super-secret commando unit, among other things. As one character says, “a very weird man.” But he also makes use of memory palaces. In his case, as well as Hannibal Lecter, the memory palace goes beyond rote memorization to become a kind of virtual reality.

    ChrisUSA, you may recall my errant protege on the shooting range. At last report he was living out of his car and working at the local grocery store without a high school diploma. The other night, I bumped into him, and he proudly explained that he was leaving his job and only source of income. Why? He pulled open his shirt to reveal a t-shirt with a U.S. Army logo. So, he has joined the colors. Here we’ve got someone who couldn’t finish school or clean his room who is now going under the regulations of the U.S. Army. Should be interesting. It’s like an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. One of them is going to be surprised.

    Does anyone know when the biathlon is scheduled for the Winter Olympics? So far, I find myself unexpectedly taken with snowboarding. Not the crazy acrobatics. But apart from that, they look so effortless zooming around on the snow.

    Matt61


    • Matt61
      The wind is probably more of a problem for air guns than firearms in a sense.

      Remember we are shooting scaled down air guns in power and distance compared to their firearm counterparts.

      Try shooting any caliber air gun out at a 100 yards and you will see what I mean.


    • Unfortunately Matt(61) Biathlon is tucked into the NBC broadcast lineup as an after thought.

      The USA has not done well in this sport in the Olympics…even though it is a direct outgrowth of the USA’s
      Military Persuit. That sport was shot with .30cal rifles at 100 yes back in the early to mid Twentieth Century. It has gained a little attention since it is more popular in the rest of the winter world than it’s close second Cross Country Skiing!

      shootski
      (I’m NOT Polish)


      • CORRECTION! The name of the precursor event is Military Patrol.
        Getting old is it’s advantages I can blame it on to much information stuffed in too small of a space

        shootski

        (NOT )


    • Matt61,

      Thanks for the update. Yes,.. someone will be in for a surprise. My guess is it will be him. I am sure the Army has seen many like him. I have heard that the armed forces have turned many a bad apple around, so who knows? I wish him the best. Do 20 and out with benefits. A good option as long as you can land something where you will not be getting shot at! Quite a smart way to go actually.

      I do think that the better jobs go to people that have shown some (real) initiative prior to going in though. With his past, they might just put him in charge of grenade testing? Just kidding,.. really I hope that it works out for him.

      Chris


      • Chris & Matt
        In boot camp they have a counseling session to determine where you are assigned and what you do.
        They rely on an aptitude test that does not rely on your previous employment or education although it will be considered if it can support their determination resulting from the test.
        Now, they do have quotas to fill for ‘Grunts’ and unless you stand out from the rest on the test you will probably be heading to a war zone with a rifle instead of a tool box.
        I scored very high in mechanical aptitude and was offered aviation maintenance with training. All I did before that was relative was work on cars as a hobby but I knew how power steering worked to fix it. Resulted in a life long career.
        Later on you used to be able to pick your trade if you completed the required courses and tests and there was an opening you could fill someplace. It takes a lot of determination to change your assigned field.
        I hear promotions can happen faster as a ground pounder if your good at that.

        Where I live I can sit outside and watch two trees 20 ft. apart blow in opposite directions, have it change directions in a few seconds, stop dead or get caught in a dust devil. My only help most times is a heavy 25 cal in a high powered PCP and being at a relatively close range. 🙂
        A calm day, or a specific time is usually required for any serious target practice or sight in here so mostly I just plink.

        Having a few flags on a range is a great idea especially for a competition event or practicing for one or just shooting better with various airguns.


  8. Hank,

    What a wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing it.
    Do you have them calibrated? i.e. a 5 degree from vertical = 5 mph, etc….
    What if different flags are blowing in opposite directions?

    I’m still pondering the question, if you have to shoot in 15-20 mph winds do you want them at your back or at your face? Any thoughts? Anybody?

    Well done Hank,

    -Yogi


    • Yogi,

      Your idea is kind of what I was after, making mine. I want some data! 🙂 Another idea was to have a “paddle” (arm) that would catch the wind. It would have a pivot point, and, a short pointer on the other end of the (arm) would have a “needle”, that would pivot/swing over a “protractor like” scale. The problem with this idea is that the whole thing would need to pivot and thus the “scale” would not always be visible to the shooters line of sight. Perhaps an electronic reader that could measure secondary arm movement and give a digital remote readout? Calibrated of course! Or,.. perhaps I am over thinking all of this? 😉 Naw,… I would never do that! 🙂

      Second thought, Hank’s wind indicator is looking pretty darn good!

      I will take a back wind any day over a head wind. The side wind’s is what will get you.



        • GF1,

          Less (wind upon pellet) influence,.. I would suppose. For me South is to my back. I am fairly heavily wooded. Cross winds are the main thing I deal with. My West is banked with a hill and the house and the deep woods. If I have wind, it comes from the east, which is pretty rare, but it happens more often than not, despite the weather/wind coming from the West, which is the usual weather pattern in Ohio.

          Thus the importance of wind indicators. What you “think” is happening,.. may actually be something totally different.


    • Yogi,

      As much as I have tendencies similar to Chris USA, (just teasing Chris) I never intended calibrating them.

      When target shooting I note the flag angle and where an uncompensated POI is relative to the POA to give me an idea as to how much I have to adjust my aim. I also check the flag nearest me for its angle and pay attention to how it feels on my face. Guess that I am calibrating myself so that I can better judge where the wind will blow the pellet.

      When the wind is blowing all the flags all over it means that luck and not skill determines the results. In those conditions I go and cut the lawn 🙂

      Hank




      • Hank,

        I picked up the materials earlier today and made 4 of your Windicators in about 30 min. I have enough chain to make 3 more and enough marker ribbon to make 196 more. I think it all cost around 6 bucks. I need to find another metal hanger or two, though. Again, a great simple design. Thanks for sharing it.


  9. Vana 2,

    Nice job on the blog and graphics! Yesterday was a busy one and I didn’t get a chance to chime in sooner. I need a backyard with more than 20 yards of space in it, ha!


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