DEALING WITH RAIN, MIST, AND FOG


 


Although we would all hope to be able to shoot a match on a perfectly clear, warm, and sunny day with a gentle steady breeze from one direction, it almost never happens that way.

Anticipating and preparing for adverse weather conditions before they occur can help you stay focused on the job at hand — shooting the best score possible!

Wind Is Probably The Worst

From my perspective, the worst weather condition that you will ever have to contend with is strong, gusting, unpredictable winds. Wind is the one weather factor that can have the most impact upon the flight of the bullet, and shooting in wind conditions that could conceivably push your bullet 25 or 30 feet off course before reaching the target, is something that I hope I never have to deal with. But a gusting 25 to 30 mile per hour wind can do just that.

Next On The List

Next on my list would be rain, mist, and fog. Why? Because these three elements can not only affect your ability to clearly see the target, but they can:

1. Damage your equipment.

2. Make the shooter miserable.

3. Make everything you do several times more difficult.

4. Cause you to lose focus, become disorganized, and elevate your level of stress significantly.

Rain

Rain is my least favorite of the three. Rain will find its way into every piece of equipment you own. It will fog-up your spotting scope and rust the barrel and exposed metal parts of your rifle. It will soak your shoes, socks, pants and shirt.

When you’re on the firing line it will cloud your shooting glasses, soak your shooting mat, and make it nearly impossible for your spotter to write down anything legibly on your scorecard (which oftentimes turns into mush after getting wet).

If you happen to be in the pits when it starts raining, the target will become more and more difficult to patch with the self-stick pasters that you use to cover the bullet holes, because the paper that the target is made with starts to get wet.

And all the while you’re probably asking yourself why you didn’t stay home to (you pick one):

• Cut the grass

• Paint the house

• Clean the garage

• Wash the car or the dog

• Etc…

At least with a strong wind you can see the target, your equipment is not in jeopardy, and unless you’re shooting in a gale late in November, you probably have enough extra clothing with you to stay warm.

#1 — Protect Your Equipment

Now, your priorities may be different than mine, but the first thing I want to do when it starts to rain is to protect my equipment. If a downpour starts during the match, I want to be able to quickly and completely cover my Shooter’s Cart with some type of plastic cover or tarp. Once it’s in place, I want to be able to secure it to the cart so it won’t blow away if the winds pick-up.

This is my Shooter’s Cart with everything laid out on the ground. It all has to fit inside the cart when I move to the next firing line.

When I built my Shooter’s Cart, I cut a piece of plywood 36” x 54” (about 4” larger on all sides than the plastic bin that made-up the body of my cart). The plywood lays on top of the cart frame, and the cart body lays on top of the plywood. Then everything is bolted to the cart frame. That provides me with a 4” lip all the way around my cart that I can use to clamp my cover in place. I use 8 small plastic spring-loaded clamps to do the job.

Here’s a picture of my cart covered with a blue rain cover. Notice the spring-loaded clamps holding the cover in place. They are clamped to the 4” lip provided by the plywood panel under the body of the cart.

#2 — Protect The Shooter

Next, I want to protect me. I always carry a 2-piece rain suit in my Shooter’s Cart. If I’m expecting rain sometime during the day, I’ll usually just slip the rain pants on before the match begins, and wear them all day long. I also wear high-top hiking shoes that are as waterproof as possible. Running around in thick, wet grass while wearing tennis shoes is one way to make yourself miserable.

#3 — Protect The Paperwork

I would recommend that you visit your local OfficeMax or Office Depot store and look at the various types of clipboards that they carry that have some type of hinged lid with a storage area inside.

This type of clipboard will not only give you a solid surface to write on when you are scoring your fellow shooter, but it will also serve as a central location to keep everyone’s score cards, along with extra pencils / pens / rubber bands / paper clips, etc… In addition, it will also keep your scorecards dry and readable.

# 4 — Prepare Your Gear For Rain

Keep a can of “Sheath” or some other type of water-displacement spray with you in your Shooter’s Cart. Thoroughly spray your rifle, your spotting scope stand, and anything else that could possibly rust after getting wet. Be careful when you are spraying your gear not to let the overspray get on the optics of your spotting scope or drift over to a fellow shooter’s equipment inadvertently.

A $ 5.00 can of water displacing spray can protect your gear from serious damage due to rust. Always carry at least one can with you at all times.

#5 — Bring Dry Clothes (Just In Case)

Put together a small bag with an extra pair of socks, a small towel, and even an extra pair of pants if you think the weather conditions are going to be bad. I would rather have something with me and not need it, than need it and not have it. That’s especially true when it comes to staying warm and dry.

The Decision To Shoot Is Up To You

Depending upon the conditions at the time you are scheduled to shoot, you may decide that you simply don’t want to risk getting your rifle and equipment wet. Many BPCR Long Range shooters have spent thousands of dollars to have custom-made rifles made to their specifications. Their rifles are prized possessions and many shooters will skip a relay or two rather than expose their expensive gear to potential damage. The choice is yours.

I have been at matches on several occasions where shooters have chosen to go home early or skip their relay because it was sprinkling or about to rain.

Mist

There’s probably not a lot to be said about “Mist”. It’s just a less severe form of rain, and all of the same precautions apply. If you’ve already taken the proper steps to deal with rain, then you should be ready to deal with misty conditions as well.

Fog

Fog is nothing more than a low hanging cloud — an accumulation of water vapor that stays close to the ground. I’m sure that we’ve all had occasion at one time or another to drive in foggy conditions.

Now, imagine having to shoot a target 800, 900, or 1,000 yards away under those same conditions. Fog is one of those elements that can seriously affect your ability to see the target.

An Exhausting Experience

At the last Long Range match that I attended, we had foggy conditions at the beginning of the day on Sunday. As luck would have it, I was scheduled to shoot in Relay #1. I have to say that shooting under those conditions was the most mentally exhausting experience I have ever had in all the years I have competed.

Each and every shot took everything I had in terms of concentration and mental effort just to be able to see the target, let alone hit it with any degree of accuracy.

Adapt to the Situation

But I did learn a couple of things that day and I’ll share them with you, so that the next time you’re faced with not being able to see the target clearly, whether it’s because of smoke, fog, or low light conditions, you can try these steps to adapt to the situation:

1) Change The Lens Color In Your Shooting Glasses

If you wear shooting glasses with removable lenses, and you have several colors from which to choose, see which one gives you the best combination of brightness and contrast. Many shooters prefer to wear shooting glasses that have a yellow or orange lens. These colors block haze and blue light. The brighter the yellow, the better its performance in low light conditions.

Experiment with different lens colors to see what works best for you under different lighting conditions. It could make all the difference in the world at a critical time.

2) Change The Size Of Your Front Sight Insert

Pick an insert that is several steps above the one that you would use under normal conditions. If that doesn’t help, use the largest insert you have available. If you still can’t see the target clearly, take the front sight insert out altogether and use the globe housing of the front sight to center your target.


3) If All Else Fails, Aim At Something That You Can See


If you’re still having trouble seeing the bullseye on your target, take aim at the large number board that is located either above or below your target. Focus on it as if it were your target.

If you can see the number board better than you can see your target, then you’re in business. Adjust your rear sight setting as follows:

a) If the number board is located above and behind your target, bring your rear sight down by 10 Minutes of Angle (MOA). That will move the point of impact of your bullet down by 100 inches.

b) If the number board is located in front of and below your target, bring your rear sight up by 10 Minutes of Angle. That will move the point of impact of your bullet up by 100 inches.

Now when you take your sighter shots, hopefully your spotter will be able to see where your rounds are impacting. If they are hitting the target, simply make the same adjustments that you would have made if you were actually using your target as your aiming point.

Chances are that you won’t shoot the best score of your life in this situation, but I think you’ll be amazed at just how well this technique works!

By Darryl Hedges
 

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