wind calls - featured

Wind Calls – Digital VS Analog

In Blog by Rich4 Comments

This week I want to show you guys two ways of coming up with your wind calls. One should work for everybody and is a more traditional way of coming up with a wind call. To do this I advocate the use of the 10mph Full Value wind baseline. You then modify the baseline to match the conditions you encounter while shooting. The second method will benefit the guys with an Applied Ballistics Kestrel. While we all should know how to do it the analog way, why not examine the digital alternative? We buy devices like the Kestrel to make tasks easier. So we’ll also examine the digital way of coming up with your wind call this week.

Analog Wind Calls

When discussing wind calls we have to discuss the basics. I’ve talked about this before. Run your DOPE charts with the wind set for 10mph and Full Value (90 Degree Angle). This is your analog way of coming up with your wind calls. Say you’re taking a 500 yard shot with a 6.5 Creedmoor. Your DOPE sheet says you need 2.7 MILs elevation and 0.8 MILs for the 10mph Full Value wind baseline. Maybe the wind is really coming from about 10:30 and not 9:00 (90 Degrees/Full Value). How do you modify the solution to work for the scenario? What if it’s a 5mph wind and not a 10mph wind?

wind calls - old school

Old school…use a Density Altitude drop chart and modify it based off a precalculated baseline

First adjust the value for the angle. It’s easier to work with larger numbers. Wind coming from 10:30 is about a 45 degree angle. People used to refer to this as half value, which is incorrect. The true wind value for a 45 degree angle is closer to 0.7 which means a 45 degree angle is really a three quarter value wind. What’s 3/4ths of 0.8 MILs? It’s 0.6 MILs, right! There’s your angle adjustment. Wait, it was also a 5mph wind and not a 10mph wind. So divide 0.6 MILs by 2 and you wind up with a 0.3 MIL hold after adjusting the baseline. If it were a 15mph wind, you would add 0.3 MILs and hold off 0.9 MILs for your wind call. It’s fairly easy to make wind calls this way with some practice. I do suggest you practice it because digital devices fail all the time. You need to be able to do the math on paper if the calculator fails.

Digital Wind Calls

The second method is really only going to benefit the guys with Applied Ballistics Kestrel models. However, there’s quite a few of those out there. Since we invent gadgets to save time, why not save time on the wind calls? It’s important to know the analog method as a backup. However, if you have the gear to save yourself time, why not use it? I’ve had the fun of owning the original Kestrel 4500 Applied Ballistics kestrel as well as the new Kestrel 5700 Elite Applied Ballistics over the years. They both function in similar ways. Since I’m using the 5700 these days everything may not translate perfectly to the 4500 but it should be close.

To make your wind calls the digital way, start off in the Ballistics side of the Kestrel software. Scroll down to the TGT portion of the menu. Enter that menu in order to set your direction of fire. The Applied Ballistics Kestrels all have a digital compass. As long as you’ve already calibrated that, you can use the Kestrel to find the direction of fire (DOF). Highlight DOF and hit enter. Then look for a “capture” option. Point the Kestrel in the direction you’ll be shooting and select capture. The Kestrel will automatically populate your direction of fire based off a digital compass reading. It’s even easier on the Kestrel Elite. You can just move the cursor so TGT is underlined and hit the red capture button.

wind calls - kestrel capture button

Now highlight the WND menu and enter it. You can now aim the Kestrel into the wind, holding it upright, and select Capture again. Now the Kestrel will automatically read the wind angle and speed. It will then populate an average and a high wind reading into the solution. With the 5700 Elite you can even cheat by aiming the Kestrel into the wind and hitting the red “capture” button and it will automatically do the same thing without the menus. Just like with the direction of fire.

Garbage Wind Calls

Remember the Kestrel is only as smart as the user. If you are shooting WEST off a ridge in the morning and EAST in the afternoon you have to update your direction of fire. If you aim the Kestrel at the target while capturing wind speed, and the wind is coming from another angle, your solution will be wrong. The good news is that if you practice the analog way of making wind calls it will make you more wary when you go digital. Remember the wind is always changing. At the last match I went to I was competing from approximately 0900AM until about 1430PM. Around 5.5hrs. During that time the wind started at around 5mph in the morning. Kicked up to 15mph and as high as 20mph around lunchtime. Then it tapered off slightly to around 10mph in the afternoon.

The angle was fairly constant but the speed was in a constant state of flux. That’s why I like how the Kestrel displays two wind speed corrections in the solution. WS1 is the correction needed for the average wind speed measured by the Kestrel. WS2 is the wind speed needed for the maximum wind speed measured by the Kestrel. That’s extremely useful information because it gives you both the likely and maximum corrections you’ll need to hit the target. However, it’s still up to the shooter to figure out whether the wind is around the average, the maximum, or somewhere inbetween.

Wrapping Up

Like anything else making accurate wind calls requires practice to master. Not saying I’m a master, but I’m pretty good at it these days. Remember that everyone misses, even the professionals. The difference between the truly great shooter and the novice is how often they miss. I strive to miss less and hit more of what I shoot at. So even I practice this stuff. You can read the wind speed on the Kestrel and make a wind call based off a DOPE sheet. Write it down. Now use the Kestrel to specify your direction of fire. Then measure the wind speed and angle and see what the Kestrel says for a firing solution. Compare the wind calls to each other. How did your analog wind call compare to the digital version? This way you teach yourself how to make the call while you learn to be fast with the Kestrel. Comments? Drop ’em below!

Owner and Proprietor of AccuracyTech, LLC. Rich is a Firearms Enthusiast, Precision Rifle Competitor, and Writer. He is committed to bringing readers quality reviews and articles related to the Precision Shooting Sports. If you have any questions for him, please use the contact form on the site.


  1. Good stuff Rich, but in the analog section you would multiply by 1.5 for the 15 mph wind for 0.9 mil hold. Made some great points about practicing with both methods and bracketing average and max wind values. Thanks!

    1. Author

      Good catch! I always go through and spell check but sometimes I forget to check my own math to make sure I didn’t goof something between different drafts of an article.

      Corrected it!

  2. Thanks Rich. This type of article is precisely why I value this site so much. I recently heard of an ‘edge to edge’ wind call system. The jist of it being a correction (two) that has you hitting far left, and the other far right, of the plate. So target size and distance were factors in determining holds. Not sure how common this is, but if you are familiar, would love insights here, direct email, or perhaps a future article. Wind is the biggest challenge many of us amateurs tackle. Thanks.

    1. Author

      I’ll work on it, Dan, it’s just a way of using the plate as a reference. Reticles are better but not everyone has one calibrated in MIL/MOA

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