PRO TIPS with USAMU - Angle Shooting

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SFC Emil Praslick – Angle Shooting


Spotter: Alright Joel you see those rusty cars out there about 400 near that dusty road?

Shooter: Yeah.

Spotter: O.K. Go to the ten O’clock you got an E-type at 500 meters. Go ahead and let me know when your crosshairs are center mass of the target.

Shooter: On it.

Spotter: We’ve got about a 12-degree angle, so why don’t you come down 3 quarters from your 500 dope. 

Shooter: On the gun.

Spotter: OK give me a very light right favor. Tango Down.


SFC Emil Praslick: Nice job fellows, lets make sure that rifle is safe. What you just saw, were two of our shooters identifying, and successfully engaging a target down range by first determining the angle to the target, applying that corrected data to the rifle, and the firing. Which leads us to the topic of our pro tip today. Which is how to determine the angle to your target, and then how to include that to change your data necessary to hit your target on the first shot.



In this situation Sgt. Mageone has an angle that is 30 degrees to the target. This will cause a ballistic trajectory to his target. Gravity is a consistent pulling force that causes the bullet to fall to the ground the moment it leaves the rifle barrel. This pulling force is the same regardless of whether the bullet is fired uphill or down hill. 



To properly identify this affect we most understand two terms. First straight line distance. This is your distance to the target as range estimated, or determined by a laser range finder.



The second term is flat ground distance. This is the actual distance that the bullet will feel gravity’s effect pulling it to the ground. This distance will get less and less as the angle to the target increases.



To properly determine the flat ground distance from yourself to the target, first you take the Cosine of the angle between yourself and the target. Then you multiply the difference of that consign by the distance from yourself to the target.




That might seem a little confusing, so lets simplify it using Sgt. Mangenoe’s rifle. It had an angle of thirty degrees to the target. The cosign of 30 degrees is .87. 

Our range to the target, straight line, is 400 yards as obtained by a laser range finder. Point 87 times 400 equals 348. Or a flat ground distance of 348 yards to the target.

That’s a distance of 52 yards less than our straight-line distance. 

The effects of angle shooting are increased with a greater angle and with greater distance of the target. So unless the angle is really severe, you’re really not going to notice these effects at ranges of 200 yards or less. 

So how does this apply to the shooter going on an elk hunt in the mountains of New Mexico? Well you have to do some homework. What I would do is formulate a cosine chart for some of the angles you’re likely to encounter on your hunt.


Secondly, you need to have an accurate ballistic chart of your rifle and your ammunition, out to the distances. Then once you are in your hunting spot, take out your angle device and estimate the angle and calculate the range to some of the likely points you might see quarry. Then you’ll be prepared using the information we’ve given you, to bring home a trophy.





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