Snipers Math and Physics

Discussion in 'Optics & Mounts' started by luisdurazo95, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. luisdurazo95

    luisdurazo95 New Member

    I wanna know what math does a sniper use for windage, elevation and anything else.
    Please include formulas
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  2. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

    Which generation?

    Modern snipers have all the best gear like laser range finders, Kestrel wind meters, downloaded apps to field smart phones and all sorts of nifty gadgets.

    The Vietnam era sniper relied on usage of a special reticle called A Mil-Dot, which allowed them to site in on known size objects (a fence post, a vehicle's height, a mail box, a guard standing duty) and using the following formula could calculate range.

    One mil equals 3.6" at 100 yards, or 36" at 1,000 yards. So if you are ranging a fence post that you figure is 36" inches high, you work backwards from that known height to how many/how much of a mil is covering the target.

    So the height of your target in yards (36" inches) times 1000 gives you the distance to the target.

    Here is a really great article with several formulas to help you grasp the Mil Dot application.

  3. jordan89

    jordan89 New Member

  4. TekGreg

    TekGreg Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    Dillinger has it down pat! Modern sniping is about knowing how to apply your equipment to the situation properly. Apps handle bullet drop compensation, velocity, wind, bullet weight and a number of other factors to tell you how to set your scope. Barrett has a scope with all of this built into it and it adjusts itself after all variables are entered. However, it's a sniper's experience that tells him what to do if a target is 100 yards closer than expected or the wind shifts from left to right just before pulling the trigger. In cases like those, there is no time to recalculate and you just have to "feel your way.". There are several good books on actual sniping technique from publishers like Paladin Press, if you're interested.
  5. jpattersonnh

    jpattersonnh Active Member

    Eastern Blok countries used a system similar to the Mil-dot. It was a graduated scale in the scope that was set for a 5'8" man. Put his feet at the bottom, where his head was, was the distance. Windage was a guess-tomit. I like my WW2 Era Snipers. even more primitive, but they could control an intire section of a battlefield. The K31 was the thought That a superior carbine and rifleman could control passes into Switzerland. They were correct. Take out the roads for armor, the infantry can be cut to peices by a few marksman, not snipers.
    Simo Häyhä had 505 confermed kills, most of which were w/ done w/ iron sights to present a smaller target to his enemy. A scope forces you to present a larger target because your head is elevated.

    Qoute:The Soviets tried several ploys to get rid of him, including counter-snipers and artillery strikes. On March 6, 1940, Häyhä was shot in the lower left jaw by a Russian soldier during combat. The bullet tumbled upon impact and exited his head. He was picked up by fellow soldiers who said "half his head was missing", but he was not dead: he regained consciousness on March 13, the day peace was declared. Shortly after the war, Häyhä was promoted from Alikersantti (Corporal) to Vänrikki (Second Lieutenant) by Field Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim. No one else has gained rank so quickly in Finland's military history.
    [edit]Later life

    Simo Häyhä in 1940 with his jaw deformed due to injury from an enemy bullet.
    It took several years for Häyhä to recuperate from his wound. The bullet had crushed his jaw and blown off his left cheek. Nonetheless, he made a full recovery and became a successful moose hunter and dog breeder after World War II, and hunted with Finnish president Urho Kekkonen.
    When asked in 1998 how he had become such a good shooter, he answered "Practice." When asked if he regretted killing so many people, he said "I only did my duty, and what I was told to do, as well as I could." Simo Häyhä spent his last years in Ruokolahti, a small village located in southeastern Finland, near the Russian border."

    The Boers tore the Brits apart in the Boer war using the 1893 Mauser. Why? They could out range the brits by a few hundred yards w/ only Iron sights. The U.S. developed the 1903 Springfield becase of the beating they took in the Spanish American war. We won, but at a great cost. The Spanards also used the 1893 Mauser.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  6. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

    First, it is a matter of knowing the ballistics of the round and rifle you are using.

    Second, being aware of the environment. A wind meter at your position does not tell you the wind at 600 meters downrange- but knowing how to observe the environment will. Dry or humid? 105 degrees or -45 degrees? ALL will affect bullet path.

    Third, knowing the dope of your scope, and how to use the equipment you have. Range finding is excellent- but what about shots that are markedly up or down hill? A moving target- how much do you lead? BTW, the target is moving at a 45 degree angle to you. Runiing, walking, strolling?
  7. Ploofy

    Ploofy New Member

    As for the physics aspects, at certain angles of shooting you need to be aware of the Earth's rotation. Like a pendulum, the bullet will not move with the Earth, so if you're shooting over far distances at a small target, e.g. a head, you need to compensate for that. Also, bullet drop over different angles. The most effective angle to maximize distance/effectiveness for a projectile like a bullet is 30 degrees; if you're on top of a hill with a 30 degree slope, accounting for bullet drop will make you miss your target.

    Less "physics" and more "ballistics" that a sniper needs to worry about are things like the widening cone caused by the rifling. A bullet rotates as it comes out of the barrel, and that causes it to start to move in the air instead of going straight. That's why MoAs are relative to distance.
  8. Durangokid

    Durangokid New Member

    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
  9. BlueKooEKoo

    BlueKooEKoo New Member

    I ve got the "STRELOK" app on my phone. Allows you to enter all sorts of information to figure your shot.
  10. Craig_Junior

    Craig_Junior New Member

    I have an idea of my own. I found this out after looking over a selection of Rifle Scopes. I also got some plausible ideas from a video game I bought a while back, called "Sniper Elite V2". First off, what kinda scope do you have? Do you have a Basic Scope with simple old-fashioned crosshairs, a Scope with a mil-dot setup, or a Scope with a Ballistic setup. I prefer the Mildots, cause every dot in elevation stands for 50 yards. Dead center in the crosshairs is 100 yards. The dots that go down the crosshairs means a longer shot, and every mil-dot reads from 100 yards, to 150, then 200, and so on. However, going up means shorter distance, which means 100 to 50, and finally 0. As for windage, I came up with this trick to help me out. Any Hunter or Sniper is going to have more than a scoped rifle, excluding a possible Spotter, it's common sense. They'll need tools of their own, and I came up with an idea to keep track of windage... A Windage Dial, basically a small fan that rotates as the wind passes through, it indicates what direction and speed the wind is going. However, in keeping track of windage on the horizontal portion on the crosshairs, that even trickier from my understanding, since I don't know how to measure wind with mildots. You'll have to calculate speed and direction of windage, as well as the movement of your target. However, windage is perplexing at first, but it's gets simpler as you get use to using the rifle and it's scope. And the idea of the Wind Dial might be a good try. However, I also learned that it's possible that Wind Dials don't exist anymore, but I might be wrong. If I'm right of them not being around, you may have to commission someone to build one for you, but that's if you want to get one; hell, I plan to get one myself.
    Now, as for the game I mentioned. "Sniper Elite V2" features physics in the game, which is actually called "Ballistics" when Sniping or Hunting. It may not offer a whole lot of information, might not help at all, but it may help grasp a better idea on tracking Elevation and Windage. The better you get at the game, the better you'll get at using a Scope, from what I understand, and if it even works.

    For Simple Crosshaired Scope, that setup is the earliest form of Scoped Shooting, and was updated to Mildot during the 1960's period, when the Cold War and Vietnam War were present. They were only good at 100 yards, and the rotation of the dials for windage and elevation was a key part in Sniping, plus they didn't use spotters during those times.

    Ballistics are by far the most recent and revolutionary setup for Scopes, excluding IR Scopes. Calculating windage and elevation was easier to calculate by the crosshairs design. Another thing is that Ballistic Scopes can also zoom farther, from 2 to 8 times the usual magnification. However, the idea of zooming in farther kinda perplexes me, 'cause fro my understanding, you get a clearer and closer view, but it ****s up your calculations for windage and elevation.
    Another thing to worry about, which i forgot, is the rifle's Muzzle Velocity, which depends on the ammunition you use, it plays a role in distance because of the powder and grain of the bullet. I suggest getting use to the guns Iron-Sights before using a Scope, it helps a hell loads better if you stay with a certain ammo and getting use to it! Crap, I Monologued again, my bad. Well, hope that helps yah. Seeyah later.
  11. purehavoc

    purehavoc New Member

    I have a cabelas app that I bought for my phone it has a ballistics function and it lets you choose the brand and specific ammo and bullet gr. also have a current conditions so if the wind is blowing 15 mph it tells you how much drift and drop in inches that you will have at a particular yardage
    today particular conditions o, cross wind at 15 mph and zeroed at 200 yards will have a 55.37 ft drop and a 30.2 ft drift in the cross wind at 1000 yards . at 500 drift is 72" and drop is 56.3".
    at 300 21.4" drift with 8.0" drop . this is with 55 gr remington UMCs

    it lets you put your zero in at what ever yardage you want out to 1000 yards , sight height , and lets you choose all your stats out to 1000 yards . it give you the current conditions where your at , wind speed, temp, barometric pressure, relative humidity , and altitude .

    Im sure its not 100% perfect but I can tell you its pretty close out to 400 for sure, I dont have any where around here to go any further without shooting across a road
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2012
  12. Chainfire

    Chainfire Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sniping is not all about ballistics. A good trainer can teach anyone to shoot well. The art of concealment, the patience to wait for hours or days, the ability to move as quitely as a cat, the mental ability to explode the head of another human being while you are looking in their eyes are some of the tougher parts.

    Laying in the mud, with every imaginable insect sucking your blood, hungry, thirsty and with people trying to kill you, is a lot different from playing sniper in the airconditiond comfort of your computer room. It is also quite different than sitting at a bench, under cover, and plinking at steel targets at some fantastic range, knowing that in an hour and a half you are gone to a cold beer and a warm woman.
  13. TCH2FLY

    TCH2FLY New Member

    I'm guessing you are younger and new to the sport but be careful using a game as your foundation for knowledge it isn't always a good idea. :)
    I think the game is using a mildot like a ballistic drop and it isn't really designed that way. The mildot markings on the reticle are not meant correspond with a particular distance from the shooter but rather indicate the angular measurement at a distance in order to calculate the distance to a target (knowing the approx size of the target).
    1 mil (short for milliradian) is the space between the dots and indicates approximately 3.6 inches at 100 yds (7.2"@200 yds and so on).
    The human torso (waist to head) is approximately 36 inches so if you look at the figure of a man and his upper body takes up 2 mils in the reticle then he is approximately 500 yds out (1000/36 x target height / number of mils). Then you use the specific drop for your bullet, which you get from your "dope" (Data Of Previous Engagement) card, adjust the elevation dial or hold over using the mildots on the reticle and fire.

    I think you are talking about a wind meter, they are extremely common click Wind meters for examples. They can tell you the wind where you are but not at the target; you need to learn to read wind down range too (watching trees, dust, etc).

    Ballistic drop reticles are fine if your rifle/round match what is built into the reticle. Many people still need to calculate the exact values for their rifle.
    A scope with a ballistic reticle does not have any better zoom than is available for any other style of reticle. A scope with a ranging reticle (mildot, ballistic drop, etc) are built in First/Front Focal PLane (FFP) or Second Focal Plane ( SFP). With a FFP reticle the subtension (measurements) will always be correct regardless of the zoom setting. A SFP scope will only be correct at on zoom setting (usually max).

    There are many great resources here and elsewhere to help you along, cheers. ;)
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2012
  14. TekGreg

    TekGreg Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    Chainfire makes a good point: ballistics are probably the easiest part of being a sniper. Ballistics are a learnable science that does require a bit of art, but most of it is calculable and reproducible. The psychological stresses are what break most men that decide to leave this profession.

    I remember hearing an account of a real sniper in Vietnam. He was in a hide and watching a Viet Cong soldier and was about to shoot, when he realized the VC was sitting down for lunch. He kept him in his scope for 10 minutes, waiting for him to finish his lunch. He couldn't bring himself to shoot the VC while he was hungry and eating. As soon as the VC was full and ready to get back to waging war, the sniper dropped the hammer at just over 200 meters and the VC fell dead. Every person has some problem with the hunting of other humans when it is personal. Firing a machine gun is easy compared to tracking, hunting and then shooting a person whose face you can see in your scope.
  15. mountainman13

    mountainman13 New Member

    Not really valid for sniper work but a fun formula to know.
    Velocity squared (velocity times velocity) divided by 450240 times grain weight of bullet equals fpe (foot pounds energy)
    Let's you know just how much punch you're packing.
  16. Jim1611

    Jim1611 New Member

    Carlos Hathcock
  17. Sniper03

    Sniper03 Supporting Member Supporter


    For those of us who picked up the gun even prior to the new technology that is out that we use today. Here are some of the formulas we used.
    Regarding the wind there is a different effect of each caliber.

    For example one formula is for the 223/5.56 and one for the 7.62X51/308. Figured on Full value 10 MPH Wind

    5.56 R x V Divided by 10 So if we were shooting at (R) 100 yrds in a (V) 10 MPH Full Value Wind the formula looks like this
    The 5.56 Formula:
    1 X 10 = 10 Divided by 10 = 1 MOA of Adjustment or 1 inch into the wind.
    The 7.62/308 Formula is:
    1 X 10 = 10 Divided by 15 = .6 MOA (we would go with 1/2 MOA or 1/2 inch.

    For wind you can also use a streamer of a stick or a flag. If the flag is flying at a 40 degree angle with the flag pole you divide the degrees by "4" and that gives you the wind speed. Also it will also indicate wind direction at your fire point. But the wind may differ at a different yardage from your fire point.

    The other thing is the wind. 1-3 MPH Barely feel the wind on your face. 3-5 Leaves rustle slightly. 5-8 Leaves on trees move constantly. 8-12 Dust and loose items will blow 12-15 Small trees will sway. 20-25 Large trees will begin to sway.

    Then there is Full Value Wind, Half Value, Quarter Value and so forth.

    With the Mil-Spec Scope we use this formula for ranging a target. It is less complicated that the original ranging formula we use to use. It is the the size of the target in inches X 27.8 Divided by the number of Mil-Dots = Actual Range to the target. There is also ranging using the standard Duplex Scope Reticles if anyone is interested we can post that also.

    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012
  18. Redarrow18

    Redarrow18 New Member

    the physics behind taking shots like these is that as soon as the bullet leaves the barrel, it is affected by gravity, and the path of the bullet is curved. This picture is a dramactic example of what it looks like. (Don't mind the equation).

    Other factors such as wind speed and direction, temperature, and at long range in the rotation of the earth is taken in to account. That is basically the physics behind it, and all the ballistics that everyone else has listed. That's pretty much the physics, and everyone else summed up the ballistics to try and compensate for the physics. =)

    This goes a little deeper in the physics stuff about projectiles
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2012
  19. calshooter

    calshooter New Member

    I'm not a sniper by any means but I was a grunt in the marines and I remember this from shooting on the qual range. It gives the basic idea of wind value if you didnt understand that part.

    Attached Files:

  20. Alpha1Victor

    Alpha1Victor New Member

    What can I teach you? I was a scout sniper in the United States Marine Corps for almost 6 years.