Sunday, May 21, 2006


A) Apologies for the picture posts below. Depending on the OS and the browser, they either show up, can be clicked and viewed, or are otherwise just fucked.

Mirage is one of the aspects of long range shooting that has long fascinated me. From the time I started trying to get past 200 yards, it has been problematic. In the southwest, mirage takes three shapes: left to right, right to left, and a boil. We deal with this shit 11 months out of the year. When it's that bad, it's an optical illusion that may put the target as far as 6 feet from what you view as the target. It's a commonly held belief, down here, that shooting into a boil is just wasting ammo.

Mirages also come in all shapes and sizes. Left to right mirages may also boil badly, leaving you with just a SWAG as to what the actual location of the target is. Before Boomershoot, the Old Man and I were practicing mil-holds. This is challenging with wind, but with hardass mirage, it is Herculean.

On a bad boil, a spotter can watch the trace of the bullet up until about 20 feet before the target. At that point, trace disappears and you have no way of knowing where the bullet hit, unless you get audio feedback. Basically, you will get a half of an hour where your spotter is calling "No Call."

This is my experience in New Mexico. Now let's move to the Northwest.

One exercise that we performed up there was trying to recognize mirage. At the mere proposition of this lesson, I felt like taking a nap in the truck. Nonetheless, I partook. Now seeing that I hadn't ever seen any mirage in Idaho (I've only gone for 2 years), I was a bit curious as to what the instructor would say about a range with no effective mirage. I was not disappointed.

One gentleman at the clinic did not even know what the fuck mirage looked like. That's a sheltered life. We lined up with spotting scopes and the instructor advised us to focus on a 400 yard target. Well and good. I accomplished that task in 30 seconds. Next up, he told us to dial back (this point can't be made enough: you dial back not forward the focus) the focus to about 20 feet in front of the target. I did this, not expecting to be impressed. Once he told me I should see mirage, I put my viddie back into the lens. Sure as shit, there was the most subtle mirage I had ever seen, serenely floating from left to right.

I realized I could actually determine wind direction and speed, at the target, based off of this. Holy Cow.

The question is, what's the defining line between mirage that is helpful and mirage that is detrimental? I still have not been able to learn shit from a New Mexico boil.

I was really looking forward to Gene Econ's instruction on mirage. The old line, "it's wind you can see," indicates that it really should be helpful, but of course it's not.
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