Article 6 – 2011
Question: I have been shooting lately at a farm with some friends on a small portable trap. We have invented a few events that we conduct amongst ourselves shooting clay targets ranging anywhere from 15 metres to about 50 metres. I am getting better except when it is windy. Is there any tricks to shooting in the wind and do you allow for the shot pattern to bend when shooting in a cross wind? I am told a shot pattern can vary by a couple of meters on very windy days.
Jack Cameron, Bendigo VIC
Answer: It is a good question, one also which is hard to answer. Certainly the shot charge will be affected by wind and gravity at longer distances. The smaller shot size you are using will no doubt have vulnerability in the wind than larger ones. (remember shot size 6 is a larger pellet than shot size 9 even though it has a smaller numerical number).
Not long ago I patterned a shotgun at my home club in Werribee. This is a range that is notorious for its difficult wind. After doing a few percentage tests at 13 yards to verify the height of the shot pattern I went back to 40 yards to simply see what effect the wind was having. On this particular day I would guess we had a very strong 70 kmph plus cross wind. Using 24 gram shot size 7 ½ loads I fired what I considered to be a fairly steady shot at the centre of a 1.5 metre wide pattern plate and barely laid one pellet on the entire board. The wind had moved the entire pattern to the left. I repeated this several times for similar results. On most ranges in Australia shot size number 6 is the largest permissible shot allowed with many clubs restricting the use to number 7 as the largest. In Olympic events shot size 7 of 24 grams in payload is the maximum in any event. There is no doubt if I was competing on this particular day then shot size 7 would have given me a small advantage over the 7 ½ pellet due to its slightly heavier weight. In either of the two Olympic clay target trap events the typical maximum distance for the second shot would be around the 32 to 35 yard mark (when talking shot shell patterning “yards” are still the preferred measurement over “metres”).
Having that factual knowledge of how the wind can affect a shot pattern can it be practically applied? I would say in Olympic events where you have tenths of seconds to decide where and when to shoot I would say no. You simply do not have enough time to “trick” your brain into shooting a metre down one side of a target especially when you have trained yourself to build up a sight picture so sub consciously your brain telling is telling you to pull the trigger at a certain point near the target.
On your farm however if you a shooting a lobbying target which will be shot at 55 yards and you have the luxury of being able to track or “rifle” the shot for several seconds prior to pulling the trigger then I have no doubt you would be able to “bend” the shot pattern in the right direction with a little practice. I guess this is somewhat similar to what full bore rifle shooters have to do regularly at 1000 yards in a Queens Prize competition.
About the only thing that I do in the wind which I have found helps is to wide your stance slightly to try and gain a more stable base to hold yourself a little steadier whilst your waiting for the target to appear.