Mirage: It Makes Air Visible--and Targets Move!

Mirage: It Makes Air Visible--and Targets Move!
A .22-250, fired prone from 500 yards, yielded these five consecutive hits. Wayne watched the mirage and shaded into it, pausing during boils.

On a warm, sunny day, you'll see heat waves, or mirage, shimmying off the ground. Mirage is especially pronounced on flat, hard surfaces that collect heat, such as pavement and steel rails. Fire your rifle repeatedly, and mirage from the heated barrel will distort your sight picture.

Watch distant mirage through your spotting scope or high-powered rifle-scope, and you'll see it "run" or "boil." The flatter the mirage, the stronger the wind and the greater your bullet deflection. When the waves get tall and slow, deflection will be less. Boiling mirage appears to climb straight up. A boil may indicate a let-up in the wind, or a reversal. In either case, if you shoot during a boil when zeroed for a breeze, you'll miss to the leeward side. If a reversal occurs while you're squeezing the trigger, you'll miss badly.

Mirage is most useful as a wind indicator, but it can also visually displace distant targets. In heavy mirage you'll be aiming at a bullseye that's not where you see it. A zero correction may be in order, if such a condition is expected to remain during a match.


Savvy shooters focus their spotting scopes at mid-range, so they can read mirage not only at the target where the rifle-scope is focused, but halfway along the bullet's path, where conditions can be quite different. A bullet's course "bent" by wind near the muzzle does not re-align with the bore unless an opposite wind downrange nudges it back.


Recommended for You

Want to get into the long-range game and not go broke? Check out the Mossberg MVP Precision Rifle. Reviews

Review: Mossberg MVP Precision Rifle

J. Scott Rupp - March 21, 2019

Want to get into the long-range game and not go broke? Check out the Mossberg MVP Precision...

Thompson/Center Arms rimfire rifles are available with Traditional Hardwood and Flat Dark Earth Black Grit finishes. Rimfire

Thompson/Center Arms Adds Stock Options to Rimfire Line

Rifle Shooter Digital Staff - April 16, 2019

Thompson/Center Arms rimfire rifles are available with Traditional Hardwood and Flat Dark...

Big game hunters in search of an accurate, long-range rifle need look no further than Browning and the new X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan. Bolt-Action

New Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Long Range McMillan Rifles

RifleShooter Online Staff - November 07, 2018

Big game hunters in search of an accurate, long-range rifle need look no further than Browning...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Scott O'Brien from Steyr Arms sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to take a look at Steyr's new tactical heavy barrel sniper rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor.

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - BULLPUPS

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - BULLPUPS

Joe Mantegna talks about the origins of Bullpups.

Delta 5 - Daniel Defense

Delta 5 - Daniel Defense's New Precision Bolt Action Rifle

Those looking to explore precision rifle shooting without going broke will be well served by Daniel Defense's new Delta 5.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Thompson/Center and S&W's Performance Center team up to build an entry-level long-range chassis rifle. Bolt-Action

Review: Performance Center-Thompson/Center LRR

Alfredo Rico - April 09, 2019

Thompson/Center and S&W's Performance Center team up to build an entry-level long-range...

Wilson Combat's new Ultralight Hunter in .300 Ham'r puts the sport back in modern sporting rifles. MSR

Review: Wilson Combat Ultralight Hunter

Brad Fitzpatrick - March 18, 2019

Wilson Combat's new Ultralight Hunter in .300 Ham'r puts the sport back in modern sporting...

Big game hunters in search of an accurate, long-range rifle need look no further than Browning and the new X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan. Bolt-Action

New Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Long Range McMillan Rifles

RifleShooter Online Staff - November 07, 2018

Big game hunters in search of an accurate, long-range rifle need look no further than Browning...

See More Stories

More Shooting Tips

 The ability to shoot running game is certainly a valuable skill for a hunter; here are some tips to take that toughest of all shots Shooting Tips

Running Shots: 5 Things to Consider

Brad Fitzpatrick - June 12, 2012

The ability to shoot running game is certainly a valuable skill for a hunter; here are some...

A simple test shows how runout can affect the accuracy of your rounds. Shooting Tips

The Rundown on Runout

Joseph von Benedikt - May 13, 2019

A simple test shows how runout can affect the accuracy of your rounds.

Making precise hits when shooting downhill and uphill has morphed from dark wizardry to science over the past several decades. Shooting Tips

Bullet Trajectory: Shooting Downhill and Uphill

Joseph von Benedikt - November 14, 2015

Making precise hits when shooting downhill and uphill has morphed from dark wizardry to...

See More Shooting Tips

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.