How to Estimate the Wind Speed for a Sniper

by Jeremiah Blanchard
Sighting in the weapon

Sighting in the weapon

Windage is the influence of wind when shooting and is an important consideration when trying to hit a target from a long distance. Wind values start at zero and get higher as wind strength increases. Zero represents either no wind significant enough to change the path of a bullet or a wind that is blowing in the same or opposite direction of the shot, since neither will affect its course. Wind blowing left or right across the path of the bullet requires sighting adjustments.

Observe visual indicators to gauge wind speed. Many snipers utilize windage flags when on a target range to estimate wind speed. If you observe the flag waving slightly, then dropping, your wind speed is a fluctuating variable of 3 mph. A flag blowing significantly, or at a full horizontal direction, is indicative of a wind speed of more than 10 miles per hour.

Fire a group of three shots at the center of the target. Observe the strike points of the rounds on the target in relation to the center of the bull's-eye.

Adjust the windage knob on your scope to compensate for windage. If you have calculated by flag position and round placement on the target, you should have a good estimate of wind value. For example: A windage flag slightly blowing to the right indicates a left wind at 1 or 2 mph. If your round strike point has landed slightly to the right of the target, adjust the windage for a left wind by turning your windage knob to the left one click. Fire a second group of rounds to assess your adjustment calculations.


  • You also might utilize other visual indicators to estimate windage. Use the left-right movement of grass blades near the target or the movement of blowing sand to estimate wind value.


  • Never point a weapon at anything that you do not intend to shoot.

Photo Credits

  • soldier and his rifle image by Daniel Wiedemann from